This week's Behind the Board feature is our Board member, Laurie Goganzer, President & CEO of the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County. Thank you to Laurie for taking to time to talk with us!

1. What made you want to serve on the Grunin Foundation board?
The Grunin Foundation has been an incredible friend and supporter of the YMCA for years. They were a champion for the merger in 2019 when The Community YMCA and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County came together. The Y and the Grunin Foundation share a mission to improve the quality of life for all at the Central Jersey Shore. Both organizations are believers in the power of connection and that coming together makes us stronger. I am grateful for their support, and this is an opportunity for me to pay it forward by being a part of their impactful legacy. Personally, I love that I can help make a difference in the place where I grew up. Serving on the Grunin Foundation Board gives me the opportunity to help support and strengthen nonprofits and the entire community.

2. The Grunin Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life for all members of our community by using philanthropy to drive economic excellence at the Central Jersey Shore. What does economic excellence mean to you?
To me, economic excellence is creating a dynamic, innovative and sustainable environment that enables all people, businesses and nonprofits to grow and thrive.

3. Of our grantmaking pillars (arts, education, healthcare) which are you most passionate about and why?
While each pillar is critical and connected to driving economic excellence, I am most passionate about healthcare. As a leader of one of the largest social services organizations in the area, it’s engrained in what I do for a living. At the Y, we strengthen the community by building a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Regardless of background, age or income, we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to grow, thrive and live healthy, active lifestyles. Healthcare has never been more important than now as so many are struggling with mental health issues in the wake of the pandemic. The Y has such a strong connection to the health pillar. Health is wealth and without it, people can’t reach their full potential.

4. We strive to ensure that all our partners are committed to advancing equity. How do you (or how does your organization) work to advance equity in the community?
What I love most about the YMCA organization is that we truly are for ALL. One of the most significant ways we embrace equity is by opening our doors to all people; everyone is welcome. We provide financial assistance on a needs-basis, and we don’t turn people away for the inability to pay, whether it’s for swim lessons, childcare, summer camp or mental health counseling. We fundraise so we can provide this critical financial assistance and in 2021, we raised over $900,000 to strengthen families at the Central Jersey Shore. Because of the generosity of others in the community, we are able to provide services to help individuals and families who need us most.

5. What is your favorite part of the Central Jersey Shore and why?
I love the entire Jersey Shore. We not only have the beach (which is my favorite), but we are close to so many exciting places like NYC and Philly. If I had to pick a favorite spot, it’s Long Beach Island. I grew up in Southern Ocean County and would often go to LBI. You’ll find the best beaches, restaurants and entertainment on the island. I left New Jersey to start my career in New York, then eventually headed to the West Coast, but I couldn’t stay away. About five years ago, my wife, son and I moved back to New Jersey. I am grateful that I can work, live and play in a place I love so much.