...it’s just been my life and something I’ve been devoted to.

John E. Danielson


John Danielson spent his life with the YMCA. In his youth, he was a regular participant in Y camps and was also active in the YMCA youth development programs Gra-Y, Jr. Hi-Y, and Hi-Y Clubs. During high school, Mr. Danielson worked as a junior counselor at YMCA Camp Hazen in Chester, CT. There, YMCA staff saw his leadership potential and encouraged him to attend Springfield College in order to become a YMCA professional. Upon graduation (with high honors), he was appointed Boys’ Work secretary at the Newton Massachusetts YMCA.

In 1956 Mr. Danielson moved to Cleveland, Ohio to become the branch executive for the Addison Road YMCA. There, he learned first-hand the role the YMCA can play in strengthening a community, particularly the inner city. During his tenure in Cleveland he progressed through the ranks becoming secretary for program and membership, and then secretary for administration and personnel. In 1970, Mr. Danielson became the executive of the Greater Boston YMCA. Mr. Danielson brought his passion for serving underprivileged communities, which was cultivated through his experiences in Cleveland, and became a staunch advocate for the Boston YMCA’s involvement in juvenile justice programs.

Mr. Danielson became the deputy executive director for the YMCA of the USA in 1981. There he restructured and oversaw the field service delivery model, as well as provided support for the Management Resource Centers and the National Committee on Membership Standards. Mr. Danielson was inducted into the National YMCA Hall of Fame at Springfield College in 1997.

Community and Board Service

 In addition to his career, Mr. Danielson served as president of the Employees Alliance for six years, a YMCA insurance program.


Mr. Danielson received his undergraduate degree from Springfield College in 1950.


‟…the urban group did have a sense they wanted change.”


‟...you know, people think of it as physical education.”


‟Well, the Y has really been my life.”


‟I’d suggest the YMCA serve the city.”