Meet Berwyn’s Entrepreneurs: Jamie Kucera of the PAV YMCA

Welcome to Meet Berwyn’s Entrepreneurs! Berwyn has become a hot spot for urban professionals, entrepreneurs and creatively minded individuals. From musicians to crafters, small business owners to dedicated team members, Berwyn is home to a remarkable group of movers and shakers who keep our community vibrant. This segment give us a chance to get to know what makes our local leaders tick!

Meet Jamie Kucera, The First Female CEO of the Pav YMCA

Hometown: Berwyn, IL
Current Residence: North Riverside, IL
Jamie’s Bio: Growing up in Berwyn, Jamie is the product of School District 100 and Morton West High School. She attended Northern Illinois University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. She’s mom to Allison Kucera, a junior at Riverside Brookfield High School, daughter of John (late) and Judi Swicionis and sister to three older brothers, John, Jim and Jason.
The Business Side: Jamie has built her sensational career from the ground up! She began working at the Pav YMCA as a lifeguard, an after school care worker and a part of the membership staff in 1999. In 2000, she became a full time Youth and Family Director and within one year, the Childcare Director.  Jamie was promoted to Senior Program Director in 2005, overseeing all programs that the Y offers and in 2012, became the first female CEO in Pav YMCA history at the age of 34.

Describe yourself using 3 words and explain why you chose them.
Selfless. I always have and always will put the needs of others before myself. The greatest reward in life is feeling like I can impact others’ peace and happiness.
Dedicated. Whether in my personal parenting role or professional CEO role, I am committed to being the best and giving my best at all times.  There is no greater pride than receiving great benefits through hard work.
Outgoing. I am known for being able to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger; whether at work or in a social setting, everyone has a story and most people enjoy talking. I like to meet people and become someone that people can trust and talk to.

What inspires you? 
The ability to be a female leader in a male dominated CEO world. I feel blessed to have had people give me the chance to lead our non-profit organization so early in my career.  I use that as a focal point when I meet women in business.  It’s empowering to tell my story and be supportive of women who often meet the same struggles that I have seen in business.

Tell us something that people might not know about you.
I am the Y story.  I came to work at the YMCA as a single mother and I needed community support.  Although I had a degree, I had little money and didn’t have the skills needed to be a single parent at the age of 22.  I needed someone to believe in me so that I could make a greater impact on the community that I am so passionate about.  The Y gave me that opportunity, which is why I am so passionate about raising money for our scholarship program; because other single parents, veterans and seniors on fixed incomes sometimes need community support.

What makes you laugh?
Haha! I laughed at the question itself! I make myself laugh often—I seem to put myself in comical situations occasionally or think that I am funnier than I really am, often resulting in me laughing at myself. Aside from that, the obvious: funny movies, jokes being told by others, and stories of funny experiences told by others.

If we were to hang out, what would we do?
We would most likely be watching a soccer game.  Having a daughter that is exceptionally talented at the sport, I spend quite a bit of time supporting her and her passion.  There is also a good possibility that we could be enjoying a nice cold beer (or glass of wine!) at the end of the work week.  I enjoy social opportunities with friends and family in ANY setting that allows great conversation and a ton of laughter!

What gets you through a rough day?
Knowing that tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start! At the end of the day, I know that I am blessed, even through challenges.  I have wonderful family, friends, a great job, good health and a house of my own.  I get to go to bed each night with a reflection on what went great and what went awful.  I use that thought process to create opportunity for the next day and conquering the challenges of the “rough” day.

Join the Pav YMCA for the 2017 Robert W. Teeter Award Celebration, where they will be honoring Beverly Shaughnessy, on Friday, May 12 at 6:00pm. Learn more here!

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