My first YMCA experience
as a child was actually getting
kicked out of a YMCA.

Mary Zoller


Mary Zoller grew up with aspirations of working in the YMCA. Getting caught sneaking into the YMCA as a child and unsuccessfully applying for camp positions during high school did not deter her ambition. Upon graduating from college in 1975 with a degree in Recreation Administration she secured a part-time assistant camp counselor position with the New Orleans YMCA. This opened the door for Ms. Zoller to pursue her passion for working with youth. Early in her YMCA career, she demonstrated her gifts for developing quality programming and her advocacy, at the national level, for youth programs including Youth and Government led to her being asked to apply for the Program Consultant for the YMCA West Field office with the YMCA of the USA. While at the national office Ms. Zoller annually coordinated 34 Program Schools and Membership Universities in addition to playing a key role in creating the first ever YMCA Program Expo. This experience coordinating large program training events led to her playing an important role in instituting YMCA General Assemblies under Solon Cousins.

In 1999 Ms. Zoller left the YMCA of the USA to become CEO of the YMCA of Greater New Orleans. During her tenure, they hosted the 150th anniversary of the YMCA in the United States which remains the largest national YMCA event ever held with over 8,000 in attendance.

Coordinating the 150th Anniversary event reminded Ms. Zoller of her true passion for coordinating events that provide opportunities and experiences for participants. In 2002 she joined the North American YMCA Development Organization (NAYDO) where she played a critical role in growing membership from 600 to 6,000. These efforts have led the NAYDO conference to become the most successful annual YMCA conference. Ms. Zoller continues to serve the YMCA Movement through her NAYDO Operations and Conference Director role.

Ms. Zoller has been an active contributor to the YMCA profession authoring numerous works including YMCA Youth Sports Administrator’s Manual (1990), YMCA Teen Leadership Programs (1992), Active Older Adults in the YMCA: A Resource Manual (co-author, 1992), Principles of Youth Work (2004), and Arts-Friendly YMCAs (2006). In 1985 she was awarded the A.G. Knebel award by the Association of Professional Director (APD).

Community and Board Service

In addition to her YMCA career, Ms. Zoller has also served on the Association of Professional Directors (APD), Board member; Each One Save One, youth mentor; and Greater New Orleans Senior Olympics, Assistant volleyball coordinator, and 2016 World Senior Games athlete.


Ms. Zoller studied political science at Loyola Marymount University and received a degree in Recreation Administration from California State University, Hayward today California State University, East Bay (1975).


‟I was never one that had a five-year plan.”


‟…I think we are only as good as the people that we hire and we recruit as volunteers.”


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‟…it’s the Association that brings people together and unifies communities…”