The Greater Green Bay YMCA is welcoming a new Youth Outreach Director! Ben Gunderson is a Bloomington, Minnesota native with a heart of green and gold.
Ben’s life and career experience made him a perfect fit for this role. With 15 years of experience serving community youth, his involvement with the YMCA began just out of college as staff for programming such as Summer Uproar and Summer Extreme which served as a day camp for teens. Then at 23, Ben became the Youth Development Coordinator, serving programs such as Youth in Government and Youth Sports. Most notably, Ben participated in Y Scholars Program, an after-school program for academic and personal enrichment, as well as took part in the YMCA Sioux Initiative, which aides First Nation’s children of the Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
Ben graduated Luther College with a degree in Political Science and Theater/Dance, but his education expands far beyond the borders of his school. During his college career, he was a vocalist and bass guitarist for a cover band named “10:42.” He also traveled abroad to Japan where he studied the relationship between theology and theatre. He then traveled to South Africa and Namibia where he sang in a 300-year-old stone church.
Now making his way to Green Bay, Ben is excited to immerse himself in the culture of the community. Ben emphasizes his desire to work with other local organizations, especially getting youth involved in the community through the Leaders Club – a program focused on community service.
Additionally, Ben is interested in reviving Youth in Government. Youth in government is especially important to him as he believes that youth’s understanding, participation, and voice is crucial to a brighter future.
One such story that Ben was a part of was with a girl at a pool party who sat alone.
He sat down with her and after talking for a while, Ben discovered was interested in the policies of state and country. Ben sold her on the idea of joining Youth in Government with the prospect of attending a convention where kids have the chance to pitch their ideas and potentially see them turn into law. In joining Youth in Government, Ben said he was inspired by her as he watched her find her voice and passion in activism – she now works in the Minnesota State Capital.
“We help them figure out what their dream is, and then they own that dream and pursue it.”
Happy to have you here, Ben! Welcome to the Greater Green Bay YMCA.