Len Wilson began his YMCA career in his youth when, at the age of 14, he and some friends snuck into the Patchogue, New York YMCA. Once discovered, Mr. Wilson and his friends worked off their debt and earned their membership by sweeping, cleaning, and painting the YMCA. It was during that time that Mr. Wilson’s budding leadership skills were identified and he was asked to become a counselor in training for the summer.
After college and a tour in the navy, Mr. Wilson joined the Norfolk, Virginia, YMCA as the Boys Camp Director and Boys Work Secretary, where he successfully turned around a struggling camp. An encouraging visit three years later from a representative of the national office saw Mr. Wilson moving to Louisville, Kentucky. At the Greater Louisville YMCA, he revitalized a struggling camp and matured through the ranks, cultivating his leadership skills and deepening his understanding of the YMCA Movement.
Transforming “troubled” YMCAs became a signature skill for Mr. Wilson. He was able to assist YMCAs throughout the Philadelphia area and East Coast while managing the Philadelphia MRC and the East Field. Mr. Wilson’s final professional YMCA role was in 2001, when he became the Director General of the Jerusalem International YMCA in Israel. In the shadow of 9/11, his guidance allowed the YMCA to expand into Arab villages and develop a model teen and youth adult program with YMCAs in the Unites States. Mr. Wilson was inducted into the National YMCA Hall of Fame at Springfield College in 2016.
Prior to joining the YMCA, Mr. Wilson worked for Procter and Gamble and was a Duty Officer in the United States Navy. He also served in the US Navy Reserves for 21 years.
Community and Board Service
In addition to his YMCA career, Mr. Wilson is active in both his faith community and the retired YMCA community, where he has served as the National Chair of the Association of YMCA Retirees (2011-2013) and as Editor of the World Fellowship of YMCA Retirees Bridges.
Mr. Wilson received a bachelor of arts degree from Wesleyan University (1962) where he studied American history and Psychology and an M.S. degree from the University of Louisville’s Urban Study Center (1971). Mr. Wilson’s dissertation focused on the YMCA’s role as a community development agent.
‟...that was my first real experience with the YMCA.”
‟...had some kind of flaw that needed to be corrected by hard work.”
‟So it's kind of divine intervention how your career succeeds...”
‟It's a symbol of what the YMCA as a Christian organization can do...”
Boys Work Secretary/Boys Camp Director, Norfolk YMCA, VA
Various positions, Greater
Louisville YMCA, KY
The Community YMCA, Red Bank, NJ
East Field Director, YMCA of the USA, King of Prussia, PA
Jerusalem International YMCA, Jerusalem
Inducted into the National YMCA Hall of Fame,
Springfield College, MA