Growing up in Fremont as a child, Jeremy Winn was a frequent attendee of the Fremont Family YMCA.
It was a place to run around, shoot some hoops and hang out with his friends.
Now, as of Dec. 1, Winn is officially serving in the capacity of Chief Operations Officer, a position created by the Fremont Family YMCA’s Board of Directors in an effort to restructure the organization’s staff members; making him the non-profit’s second in command.
“The Board was looking at our staff structure, and talking with Jerry Rinne, our CEO, and they wanted to do a restructuring of the staff and see how everyone fits into the system,” Winn said during a Tuesday afternoon interview with the Tribune. “And they wanted to create a Chief Operations Officer position to free Jerry up to focus more on the fundraising part, and then have me focus more on the operations moving forward.”
Winn has worked at the Y serving in many capacities for 18 years. He was hired in Nov. 1999 as a youth sports program director, which he served as for three years before being promoted to senior program director. Prior to joining the YMCA, Winn graduated from Fremont High School in 1993 before attending Wayne State College, which he graduated from in 1997.
“I’ve been lucky to have spent my entire career here at the Fremont Family YMCA, it’s really been a great experience,” he said. “It’s been a great job, and in my time here, I’ve been part of four major expansions. The Ice Rink, the Wellness Center, the Camp Lodge and the pool (new aquatic center.)
Winn’s extensive experience working for the Fremont Family YMCA and his ability to effectively network with members were a few of the key things which led to him being appointed as Chief Operations Officer, Jerry Rinne said. The search to fill the position wasn’t simply kept in-house, Rinne said, it was a process which entailed finding the absolute most qualified candidate.
“We actually went on a nationwide search to fill the position,” Rinne said. “We had probably over 30-some applicants that we looked at, and then brought in four or five people for interviews. The interviews were led by me, some other YMCA board members and also some outside YMCA people.”
After interviewing candidates, talking and debating, Rinne said that the determination was made that Winn was the best candidate for the position.
“The nice thing is that Jeremy really has a lot of great connections here in Fremont, he knows a lot of people, he is well-respected in the community, he knows all about the programs that we already have and he knows some of the needs that we need to address,” Rinne said. “Through his interview process he came up with a lot of great ideas and applications, and that is why he was selected.”
While it would be impossible for Winn to know exactly what would be in store for him when he started working for the YMCA, he said that he always worked toward achieving ambitious goals.
“You always want to have goals, and my ultimate goal is to be a CEO of a large YMCA, and to be the C.O.O of the largest YMCA is really a great accomplishment for me,” he said. “Starting out in the profession, I knew that sports was my main thing, and as I spent 2 or 3 years doing that, you always want to achieve a goal and continue working toward new ones.”
Outside of his full-time job, Winn still is immersed in the sporting world, serving as a high school basketball and football referee.
“I’ve been a high school official for 20 years doing football and basketball with the NSAA,” Winn said. “And it’s been a great part of my life. Still being able to stay involved with athletics and being around the kids from different schools, traveling the state a little bit and working the state tournaments has always been a lot of fun.”
With additional responsibility comes the increase in work hours and stress, but overseeing the day-to-day operations of an organization with more than 10,000 members is something that Winn enjoys and takes pride in.
It’s fun being able to say that he plays an important role in the world’s largest square-foot YMCA, but at the end of the day, that is a pretty minute point.
“We just want to be the best, the square footage is great and the big facilities are great, but we just want to provide a safe environment and a great learning environment for as many people as possible,” he said. “We want to touch as many people as we can and just be there for people from all walks of lives and backgrounds. And that is one of the big reasons I’m excited about this position, because it allows me to do that.”