Search Committee


This Search is being promoted and administered through the Geneva offices of Badenoch & Clark.


Thank you for your interest in this important opportunity. This Information Package contains a message from the World YMCA President, an overview of the YMCA, an outline of the role of the World Alliance of YMCAs, an overview of the Secretary General position and a description of the skills and leadership competencies required by the candidate.

Important dates to note in your calendar:

•    15 September 2017 Job is first advertised.

•    30 October 2017 All fully completed applications for the position to be received by the undersigned

•    30 November 2017 Long List of candidates presented to the Search Committee.

•    December 2017 – January 2018 Long list interviews via Skype.

•    19-21 February 2018 Short List interviews in person in Geneva, Switzerland;

•    February – March 2018 Conduct reference and background checks, negotiate employment offer.  .

•    July 2018 Successful candidate is presented to the World Council of YMCAs in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Some of the material and dates may be subject to change. We will do our best to keep you informed of any new developments over the course of the search.

Additional information about the World YMCA can be found at
We encourage you to visit the website and to contact us should you have any specific questions regarding the role, the organization, or the process.

Yours truly,
James Peck
Director Corporate Functions Western Switzerland
Middle to Top Management recruitment

Rue du Rhône 23 – 1204 Geneva
T: +41 (0)58 233 35 16  M: +41 (0)79 773 72 30

b.Message from the President

Peter Posner, World YMCA - President
Peter Posner, World YMCA – President

Thank you for your interest in this opportunity. The World Alliance of YMCAs is at an important stage in its evolution as we embark upon this search for our next Secretary General, the senior executive officer of the World Alliance of YMCAs.

As one of the world’s oldest, largest, and most respected charities, the YMCA is a household name with an exceptional breadth of services and programs that reach some 58 million people world-wide.

The YMCA has been successful over the years because we have evolved and transformed to adapt to the world around us. The World Alliance office has played an important part of if this success. Over the recent past, the organization has undergone a significant transformation and has become stronger as a result. The focus for the coming years will be to build on the key strategy of Youth Empowerment, while ensuring the sustainability and growth potential of the organization.  This will not be without its challenges.

Most of the challenges can be managed by adopting sound and innovative business practices and enhancing the level of cooperation and unity across the YMCA. Our World Alliance office will play a core role in this effort as catalyst, convener, and facilitator.

We are in a great position to leverage our international scale and scope to do great things for the people and the causes we serve.

Fundamental to all of this will be the leadership of our new Secretary General. Collaborative, cooperative, inspiring, innovative, and an achiever, our next Secretary General will work with peers and leaders across the Movement, and with our many partners around the world, to address a number of critical questions that will position us well for the future to better serve our communities.

This would be an extremely fulfilling role for a leader who is passionate about the impact that the YMCA has on the lives of all those we serve, and especially on young people.

As an Executive Committee, we are looking forward to this next chapter with a new Secretary General at the helm.

Peter Posner
President of the Executive Committee
World Alliance of YMCA

c.About the YMCA

An international charity rooted in more than 12,000 communities around the world, the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) is one of the oldest and largest movements for youth in the world. Founded in 1844, it now operates in 119 countries and reaches more than 58 million people. The YMCA works to bring social justice and peace to young people and their communities, regardless of religion, race, gender or culture.

The YMCA addresses issues affecting communities by developing programs and activities, with special focus on young people, to build a human community of justice with love, peace and reconciliation for the fullness of life for all creation.

The World Alliance of YMCAs was founded in 1855 at its first World Conference, which was held in Paris, France where conference participants developed the YMCA’s first mission statement, known as the Paris Basis:


‘The Young Men’s Christian Associations seek to unite those young men who, regarding Jesus Christ as their God and Saviour, according to the Holy Scriptures, desire to be his disciples in their faith and in their life, and to associate their efforts for the extension of his Kingdom amongst young men.

Any differences of opinion on other subjects, however important in themselves, shall not interfere with the harmonious relations of the constituent members and associates of the World Alliance.’

Paris Basis
Paris Basis

Since then, the YMCA’s mission statement has evolved to reflect contemporary realities, first in 1973 with what was called the Kampala Principles, and most recently in 1998 at the 14th World Council of YMCAs, in Frechen, Germany with Challenge 21.

Challenge 21 states that:

“Affirming the Paris Basis adopted in 1855 as the ongoing foundation statement of the mission of the YMCA, at the threshold of the third millennium we declare that the YMCA is a world-wide Christian, ecumenical, voluntary movement for women and men with special emphasis on and the genuine involvement of young people and that it seeks to share the Christian ideal of building a human community of justice with love, peace and reconciliation for the fullness of life for all creation.

Challenge 21
Challenge 21

Each member YMCA is therefore called to focus on certain challenges which will be prioritized according to its own context.  These challenges, which are an evolution of the Kampala Principles, are:

•    Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and striving for spiritual, intellectual and physical well-being of individuals and wholeness of communities;
•    Empowering all, especially young people and women to take increased responsibilities and assume leadership at all levels and working towards an equitable society;
•    Advocating for and promoting the rights of women and upholding the rights of children;
•    Fostering dialogue and partnership between people of different faiths and ideologies and recognizing the cultural identities of people and promoting cultural renewal;
•    Committing to work in solidarity with the poor, dispossessed, uprooted people and oppressed racial, religious and ethnic minorities;
•    Seeking to be mediators and reconcilers in situations of conflict and working for meaningful participation and advancement of people for their own self-determination;


•    Defending God’s creation against all that would destroy, and preserving and protecting the earth’s resources for coming generations.

To face these challenges, the YMCA will develop patterns of co-operation at all levels that enable self-sustenance and self-determination.”

Working to deliver the mission laid out in Challenge 21, YMCA Associations are strongly rooted in their communities. Depending on the local and national context and the priority issues affecting young people, YMCAs operate in a wide range of program areas including:

•    Sustainable Development
•    Education & Vocational Training
•    Gender Equality
•    Climate Change
•    Health & HIV/AIDS Prevention
•    Inter-faith dialogue
•    Food Security
•    Leadership Development
•    Migration
•    Civic Engagement & Human Rights Education
•    Emergency Response
•    Peace-building

In addition to undertaking research, awareness-raising, and training in these program areas, YMCAs also advocate to ensure adequate national and international public policies that protect and promote the rights of youth and women in particular.

Through these actions, YMCAs are creating long-lasting change in the lives of millions of youth and the communities of which they are part.  In all activities, strong emphasis is given to youth leadership and youth participation.

The YMCA Movement is organized as a federation of independent national associations linked through the World Alliance of YMCAs, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

d.Role of World YMCA

The World Alliance of YMCAs (World YMCA), based in Geneva, Switzerland, is a federation of National Councils of YMCAs around the world.


The World YMCA’s headquarters is the international office of the Movement and was created to serve the interests of its members. It has three primary roles:

•    To provide inspirational leadership;
•    To represent the global movement; and
•    To facilitate cooperation among the national associations.

The Our Way Strategy is the 2014-2018 strategic plan of the World YMCA, which was adopted at the 2014 YMCA World Council which is the foremost Governance structure of World YMCA and the world Movement.  It is made up of members of the National Councils of YMCAs around the world.  The Our Way Strategy is focused in the areas of:

•    Youth Empowerment;
•    Movement Strengthening;
•    Resource Mobilisation;
•    Communications, Branding & Constitution; and
•    Governance.

To deliver on these commitments, The World YMCA:
    Strengthens the capacity of National YMCA Movements by providing training and technical support, sharing good practices, resources, and minimum standards;

    Advocates globally on issues affecting young people in collaboration with, and on behalf of YMCAs;

    Represents the YMCA at global level with media, donors, United Nations bodies, ecumenical organisations and other civil society partners;

    Develops programs to promote youth leadership;

    Provides leadership to the YMCA Movement on thematic and mission issues;

     Coordinates YMCA emergency response efforts; and

    Facilitates communications within the world Movement through publications and multimedia.

The World YMCA is supported in its work by the Global Staff Team (GST). The GST is an informal group comprising the Senior Executive of the Area Alliances and some National Movements.

In July 2018, there will be the next World Council meeting when it is anticipated a revised global Strategy will be adopted.

e.Overview of the Secretary General

Overview of the Secretary General’s Role at
World Alliance of YMCAs (“World YMCA”)

Reporting Relationships

Reports Directly to: Executive Committee (equivalent to a Board) of the World YMCA

Directly Manages: A team of Executive Secretaries recruited to suit the futures needs, plus a small staff team within the office

Relates to: World YMCA, YMCA Area Alliance Organizations, National YMCA Associations

Total Staff: Typically around 10 people

Budget: Typically around CHF 2.5 million per annum


In order for the Secretary General to succeed in this role, he or she must do the following well:

Build Relationships

The Secretary General must work in collaboration and cooperation with others. This includes:

•    Taking the time and making the effort to be or become credible in the eyes of the National General Secretaries (the chief executive officers of national YMCAs) by developing an understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the YMCAs in member countries.

•    Supporting National General Secretaries as they fulfill their mandates to effectively serve their communities.

•    Working with the Area Alliances and the Global Staff Team as they fulfill their mandate of supporting the work of the global YMCA.  The Global Staff Team is an informal group comprising the Senior Executive of the Area Alliances and some National Movements.

•    Developing existing partnerships and new partnerships with like-minded organizations, especially those organizations serving young people.

•    Strengthening the Movement’s capacity to have international impact through partnerships and collaborations with a range of (I)NGOs, Government
Organizations, not-for-profit organizations and the private sector.

•    Building a strong Secretary General / Executive Committee partnership and actively engaging the various sub-committees in important discussions.

•    Engaging key volunteers to support a culture of high quality governance which will increase the World YMCA’s effectiveness and legitimacy.

Develop and Execute Strategy

The Secretary General plays a critical strategic development and execution role which will require him/her to make the case for change and build the necessary consensus to deliver on that change. This includes:

•    Maintaining a sense of long term focus, vision and purpose, and articulating clearly what the role of the World YMCA is, is not, and will be.

•    Playing a lead role in finalizing and implementing a new strategic plan for 2018-2022.

•    Leading World YMCA staff in such a way that they focus on delivering the outcomes of the strategic plan.

Ensure Operational Sustainability

The Secretary General and the World YMCA team models efficiency and support the efforts of the YMCA to be more financially sustainable and have greater impact.  This includes:

•    Achieving greater impact and financial sustainability at World YMCA.

•    Strengthening the level of engagement with national YMCAs and promoting greater collaboration and cooperation within the Movement.

•    Facilitating efforts to build stronger movements with greater capacity and impact, and improved financial performance.

•    Leveraging resources, and identifying innovations that support a stronger, more financially viable and sustainable YMCA movement.

•    Developing a culture of philanthropy and investors to attract new resources to the YMCA and improve its impact and financial viability.

Provide Advocacy and Thought Leadership

The Secretary General will play a leadership role on behalf of the YMCA. This includes:

•    Having a voice on key policy issues that impact the YMCA’s mission or the ability of its members to deliver on its mission.

•    Developing a proactive international outreach and advocacy strategy.

•    Supporting YMCAs to advocate on national matters that align with an overarching advocacy strategy.

Provide People and Team Leadership

As the chief executive officer, the Secretary General plays a critically important leadership role at World YMCA. This includes:

•    Being an inspiring leader who provides clear, strategic direction to World YMCA staff.

•    Motivating the World YMCA team around a shared vision for World YMCA and its role as a supportive catalyst, facilitator, and thought leader across the Movement.

•    Promoting a culture of innovation that taps into the energy, passion, and commitment of the team.

•    Personifying and fostering the values of collaboration, cooperation, honesty and accountability.

•    Promoting formal and informal mechanisms and opportunities for professional development and mentorship.


f.Job Description of the Secretary General

Job Description
Position Title: Secretary General
Reporting to: Executive Committee of the World YMCA
The purpose of the Secretary General’s position is to collaborate with Members of the world YMCA movement and to lead and direct the work of World YMCA Secretariat in achieving the goals of the World YMCA.  The Secretary General is appointed by the World YMCA Executive Committee and is the chief executive officer of the World YMCA.

Key Responsibilities
The responsibilities of the Secretary General are to:

•    communicate and interpret the vision and mission of the YMCA, and in particular, the World YMCA, with the primary goal being Youth Empowerment;

•    maintain and strengthen the unity of the global YMCA Movement;

•    work with national YMCA Movements, regional Area YMCA Organizations (Africa, Asia and Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East) and with Canada and the USA, Committees of the World YMCA and related YMCA groups to achieve objectives;

•    facilitate the design and delivery of the global Strategy for the World YMCA.

•    ensure transparency, good stewardship, and financial stability of the World YMCA;

•    develop, lead and implement philanthropy and  investor strategies to ensure success of the global Strategy and increase capacity for impact and financial stability of the World YMCA;

•    ensure that the policy directions of the World Council (the foremost governance structure of the World YMCA and the world Movement) and the decisions of the Executive Committee are implemented, within the available human and financial resource base;

•    organize the staff team and the work of the World YMCA staff to deliver  the approved functions and achieve the priorities determined by the Executive Committee; and

•    enhance the work of the world Movement by promoting inter-YMCA cooperation, extension of the YMCA, and internal and external collaborations and through strategic alliances.

•    A university degree or equivalent professional designation, or an acceptable combination of education and experience is required.

•    The ability to communicate effectively in English is required. Ability in one or more of the other official YMCA languages (French, German or Spanish) would be an asset.

•    Leading a national or international organization, with a complex governance model, in a senior role;
•    Managing financial resources including budgeting and investment decision-making on at least the scale of World YMCA;

•    Managing human resources including recruiting, mentoring and coaching;

•    Working with and/or advocating for youth;

•    Applying a strong spiritual conviction and a deep Christian commitment to the exercise of ecumenical principles and practices;

•    Influencing various audiences through effective use of the written and spoken word;

•    Applying the principles and practices of raising funds through philanthropy and investors, both inside and outside an organization;

•    Promoting diversity and inclusion; and

•    Negotiating and resolving conflicts.

Knowledge and Skills
•    Identifying risk factors for the organization and developing mitigation strategies for each;

•    Understanding of the types of legal factors affecting international non-governmental organizations (“INGOs”) and not-for-profit organizations;

•    Understanding of the best governance practices of INGOs and not-for-profit organizations;

•    Ability to advocate successfully for a cause; and

•    Ability to use current technology, including social media, in a business environment.

Personal qualities
The ideal candidate will be passionate about the work of the YMCA and demonstrably enthusiastic about Youth Empowerment. The candidate will place a high value on collaboration and cooperation as a way of working with all members of the global YMCA movement, and with the staff of the World YMCA.

The candidate will be charismatic, innovative, motivated to achieve excellence, and have a demonstrated ability to motivate others. The candidate will be adaptable and able to manage him or herself in a way that inspires confidence and trust. As a servant leader, the candidate will be visible and available. The candidate will be accountable for the resources of the World YMCA.

Summary of Employment Terms and Conditions
The World YMCA offers a range of working benefits.

•    This is a full time position with a contract of 4 years. There may be an option to extend the contract subject to agreement by both parties.

•    The salary paid on a monthly basis will be appropriate to the seniority of this role and will take into account the not-for-profit nature of the YMCA.

•    The position is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

•    Residential accommodation is available.

•    The successful candidate will be expected to travel extensively in carrying out the responsibilities of the role; typically up to 100 days per year.

•    Contractual hours of work are a minimum of 40 hours per week Monday through Friday, but additional hours may be required for the effective performance of the role for which there will be no additional remuneration. The successful candidate must be willing to work during the evenings and at weekends, when necessary.

•    The holiday entitlement is x days per annum, plus public holidays in the country where the position is based.

•    The World YMCA has a pension plan and a medical plan – full details will be provided upon employment.

•    Relocation support will be provided.

•    The offer of appointment will be subject to:

–    Three satisfactory professional references.
–    A criminal background check (with no record of serious incidents)
–    Medical clearance to indicate being fully fit to carry out their duties as required by the role.
–    A reference check of relevant previous employer(s).
–    Confirmation of eligibility to work in Switzerland (or the ability to obtain the appropriate work permits, at the World Alliance of YMCAs expense).