If I hadn’t found the YMCA or the YMCA hadn’t found me, I would still be on the streets and probably getting into trouble.

Richard A. Collato


Rich Collato famously says that he was “sentenced” to the YMCA. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950s, Mr. Collato bonded with a group of kids who were known for causing trouble. One day, their shenanigans went a little too far and he was arrested. The judge in Mr. Collato’s case gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse: join the YMCA or go to juvenile hall. Mr. Collato accepted the judge’s offer to join the YMCA, and though he didn’t realize it at the time, the judge’s proclamation would turn out to be a life sentence. Not only would he join the YMCA as a member, Mr. Collato would dedicate a career of service to the Movement for 41 years.

After graduating from the College of Insurance in 1967, Mr. Collato was offered a position as the Director of Health and Physical Education for the YMCA of Greater New York (for the Highland Park Branch). He worked for the YMCA of Greater New York for four years before accepting a position as the Executive Director for the YMCA of West Orange County (the Huntington Beach Branch) in California in 1971. Three years later, in 1974, Mr. Collato would become the Executive Director at the YMCA of Metropolitan of Los Angeles before accepting his final YMCA position as the President and CEO of the YMCA of San Diego County in 1981.

While working for the YMCA of San Diego County, Mr. Collato would achieve his greatest accomplishments. First, Mr. Collato played a major role in paying off the YMCA of San Diego County’s debts and raising over $100 million for capital expansion, growing the YMCA of San Diego County into the second largest YMCA. Mr. Collato also developed and empowered his 4,500 YMCA of San Diego County staff to become “Top Guns” in the YMCA Movement through a decentralized management structure. In addition to these accomplishments, Mr. Collato helped engage the Hispanic population in his community by developing a task force to initiate national strategies to attract and retain more Hispanic members to the YMCA. He retired from the YMCA of San Diego County in 2010.

Community and Board Service

In addition to his YMCA career, Mr. Collato continues to be dedicated and involved in his community. He served as a board member for several organizations including Sempra Energy, WD40 Company, San Diego Foundation, PepperBall Technologies, Surge Global Energy, The Bank of San Diego, Y-Mutual Ltd, San Diego Gas & Electric, and the YMCA Retirement Fund. He is also a current board member for Project Design Consultants, an engineering and land planning business.


Mr. Collato received a bachelor's degree from The College of Insurance, now part of St. John's University (1967) and a MBA from Pepperdine University (1975).


‟And I remember my dad and the judge made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”


‟I had two priorities and two goals.”


‟...we started a program for the little kids, before school and after school.”


‟…put the right players in the right spot...”



Career Highlights

Director of Health & Physical Education, YMCA of Greater New York- Highland Park Branch, Brooklyn, NY  

Executive Director, YMCA of West Orange county- Huntington Beach Branch, CA

Executive Director, YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles-San Pedro/Peninsula Branch, CA

Vice President of Operations/Executive Director, YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles, CA

President & CEO, YMCA of San Diego County, CA

1999 – 2010
YMCA Retirement Fund Board of Trustees


2011 – 2017
Retiree Liaison