Soheila Hayek named new World YMCA President during Officer elections

New World YMCA leadership is in place for the next four years, as three Officers were elected on 5 July at the 20th World Council in Aarhus, Denmark.

Soheila Hayek of YMCA Lebanon was chosen as the new President of World YMCA by in-person and online voting delegates. Soheila has most recently served as a member of the Executive Committee.

A citizen of four countries who has lived all over the globe, Soheila said: “I see myself as a citizen of the world, and my experience has taught me that, no matter our differences, we all face the same challenges and harbour the same hopes and aspirations.”

Ronald Yam of the National Council of YMCAs of Hong Kong was chosen to serve as Deputy President. He continues his service as an Officer, having been the Treasurer for the past four years.

The newly elected Treasurer is CiCi Rojas of the YMCA of the USA. An executive and entrepreneur, she has served on the Executive Committee for the past four years.

World YMCA elections are held every four years, as the World Council selects three key Officers and Executive Committee members. (Elections for the latter will be held on 6 July.) The Committee carries out the policy and specific instructions of the World Council and monitors the work, finances and personnel of the World YMCA.

Outdoing President Patricia Pelton was earlier presented with flowers from World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee, and given a standing ovation and rousing applause from attendees.

Immediate Past President Peter Posner then had the honour of announcing the new Officers who will lead the YMCA over the next four years.

Along with extensive experience with nonprofit organizations, Soheila has experience in policymaking, strategic planning, governance, budgeting and more. A priority for her, she said, is youth empowerment.

“Our world is changing rapidly. New parameters are emerging, which today’s youth understand intuitively. They are best placed to build a better future, and they will be the ones who will live in it,” she said. “Empowering them and providing them with all the needed physical, mental, ethical, scientific, social, and leadership-related means is a pressing necessity.”

Ronald Yam said being a part of the YMCA has transformed how he approaches service. “The Biblical teaching ‘To serve and not to be served’ has been the major driving force for my service at the YMCA over the past 15 years,” he said, adding his story began with the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong where he has been serving as a Director and the Honorary Treasurer since 2007. “The experience has been transformational, likened to something of a ‘re-baptism’ for me. Along the path, I have been transforming from yet another policy volunteer with financial expertise into a passionate servant leader.”
Cecilia, or Cici as she is known, is a C-Suite Executive turned entrepreneur, having built enterprises both in for-profit environments and for economic, political and social change. She most recently served the Kansas City, Missouri, USA, business community as President and CEO of the Central Exchange. As CEO, she provided vision, voice, and operational oversight for the 1,000-plus members dedicated to the advancement of professional women from throughout the Kansas City area.

Financial stability is her priority. Said Cici: “If we are to be the changemakers we want to be, we will need to ensure we are sustainable for the short- and long-term.”