Alice Sawyer had an illustrious career in the YMCA spanning three decades. She is perhaps most recognized for her motto, “If you don’t feed the staff, they will eat the members!” Ms. Sawyer’s relentless advocacy for investing in part-time and front-line staff led to her being recognized by her peers as a true leader.
Ms. Sawyer’s YMCA career began in the late 1970s during a time when women began actively joining the YMCA ranks as both staff and members. During this period of rapid change, she mentored countless young women to consider a career in the YMCA. Her insight that many YMCAs were excelling in attracting new members but struggled with retention led her to pioneer a renewed focus on customer service training for front-line staff called Making Your Caring Power Known.
After 14 years at the YMCA of Delaware, Ms. Sawyer worked for the East Field office and the Philadelphia Management Resource Center and later the YMCA of the USA, where she continued to develop best practices and offer training’s for YMCA staff and leadership that focused on staff development and retention.
In addition to her YMCA career, Ms. Sawyer is active in her community through a variety of channels. Her involvement in organizations outside of the YMCA includes serving as a board member for Friendship House; Peninsula United Methodist Homes Foundation; Delaware Humanities Council; Police Athletic League of Wilmington, Delaware; and Trustees of Color. She is also active in her faith community, serving as the Senior Warden of the Vestry and various other positions at the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew.
Ms. Sawyer received a bachelor of arts degree from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts (1968).
‟The YMCA, it's a force for good...”
‟If you don't feed the staff...”
‟My main purpose was to impact movement...”
‟They really need to have a strong vision...”
YMCA of Delaware,
Associate MRC Director, Philadelphia Management Resource Center,
Marketing and Membership Consultant,
East Field Office of the YMCA of the USA,
King of Prussia, PA
YMCA of the USA, Chicago, IL
F. William Stahl Award, Association of YMCA Retirees