Mukilteo YMCA gains new executive director

Cynthia Kelly aims to create an inclusive environment in the community


Last updated 11/27/2019 at 1:41pm

The new executive director of the Mukilteo YMCA has two decades of experience working for various branches across the West Coast. 

Cynthia Kelly aims to use her new position to help create a brighter future for youth in the community. She wants to serve the whole community by creating a safe space for everyone to get along. 

Kelly has experience working at branches in Boston; Denver; Los Angeles; Porter Ranch, California; Monroe; and Seattle. Most recently, she was the executive director at the downtown Seattle YMCA for five years and at YMCA of Greater Seattle for two years. She also instructed aquatics in Seattle.

Before, Kelly got a degree in speech therapy from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachuttes. She also joined the Peace Corps and traveled to Malawi, Africa.

The avid mover knows one thing will stay the same wherever she goes: the YMCA community.

“As long as there is a YMCA, I’ll find my people,” said Kelly. “If there is a community, I know I will have friends.”

Ultimately, Kelly wants to save the world by working out. She loves field hockey, swimming, crew, soccer, skiing, hiking, and pickleball. Anything with a slightly competitive nature is right up her alley. 

“We are about winning. We want everyone to win,” Kelly said. 

She said the Mukilteo YMCA offers 110 classes per week, including yoga, pilates, pure barre, zumba, cycling, TRX, weightlifting, and much more. Various programs focus on weight loss, diabetes prevention, and healthy lifestyles.

The YMCA also offers e-Gym, although members must complete an orientation prior to using the equipment. The e-Gym program consists of 10 fully electronic stations that cover all major muscle groups. Machines are arranged in a circuit and a timer tells members when to start and stop to ensure a full workout in 30 minutes.

There are also programs for members with arthritis, cancer, Parkinson’s, and other illnesses or disabilities. There is something for everyone, Kelly said.

Stacie Byars used to travel constantly, spreading her knowledge of communications and marketing to the world. In 2016, she suffered a severe ischemic stroke and faced a long path to recovery.

The YMCA helped her regain balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength through various therapeutic programs. She said the YMCA is a large reason for her progress and recovery, while also helping to build confidence. Byars now serves on the board of directors for the Mukilteo Family YMCA. 

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“It’s like family; there’s just community here,” Byars said. 

In addition to therapy, the YMCA offers active older adults programs to give seniors the opportunity to maintain a healthy lifestyle and positive outlook on life. Programs include water exercise, yoga and stretching, strength and aerobic conditioning, and walking clubs.

Kelly also wants to make connections with younger generations and create a safe space for kids to go after school. She wants to grow partnerships in the community to provide opportunities to educate youth about choosing either college or trade. 

She plans to focus on Casino Road by adding English language learning classes and programs for disadvantaged children. The YMCA also provides a Stevens Ski Program for students to bus up to the mountains six times throughout the winter. Coats, pants, and additional ski clothes are provided to those without any snow gear. 

Kelly’s goal is to grow membership in upcoming months. She understands the perception that dues are costly. She aims to help members see the value of where the money goes. 

Higher membership dues provide more opportunities for creativity in programs and activities, Kelly said. It allows the organization to put more work into the community and produce new events for youth. Additionally, it pays for more knowledgeable instructors.  

Kelly has been focused on leveraging partnerships and figuring out how the YMCA fits into the community. She has been active with City Council in efforts to put a crosswalk between the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club to make safer walking routes for children. 

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Above all, she wants to build an environment of inclusion where everyone knows one another. Kelly encourages people to try something new, voice opinions, and create a healthy lifestyle.


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