Leading the 'Y' into the future
New executive director oversees first summer day camps
To parents and students, it may seem like any other summer for the Tri-Valley YMCA as it plans to kick off its summer program of day camps here in Pleasanton next week, but the organization actually underwent a major change last year when Executive Director Kimiko Leong moved on to other opportunities and Kelly O'Lague Dulka was named to the position. Dulka assumed the role in August of last year, making this her first summer with the organization.
Although the YMCA offers activities year-round, such as the Y-Guides and Y-Princesses Parent/Child programs and after school day care, summer is a big time with eight week-long day camps happening from June 25 to Aug. 17.
Dulka has experience overseeing large programs through her past work as director of faith and ministry formation and adult programming at the Dioceses of Oakland.
While her work at the Y may seem like a jump from this position, Dulka actually has a background in clinical psychology where she mostly worked with children.
"I really wanted to get back to a focus on kids," Dulka said.
It's been a long, varied road for Dulka to get where she is now. She started out as a political science major at UC Berkeley with plans to go to law school until a serious car accident forced her to take time off of school when she was 20 years old. Her recovery took two years and it was during that period that she became interested in social work.
"It was the first time I experienced social work first hand and it got me interested in the field," Dulka said. "When I returned to UC Berkeley for studies, I switched to the social welfare major and stayed on to do my grad work there."
After completing her graduate studies, Dulka worked as a clinical social worker at the Children's Health Counsel in Palo Alto. She left the field to have her three children, re-entering later as the Director of Children's Programs for her Catholic Church parish.
"My work as a clinical social worker has always been focused on helping people over come obstacles to being their best selves through things like therapy for kids and parent education and counseling" Dulka said. "That relates to the focus of the Y mission, building strong kids, strong families. I wasn't very familiar with the YMCA before, but I was very intrigued by how it fits with my commitment to doing those things--helping to build strong kids and strong families."
Tri-Valley YMCA Board President John Green said Dulka's experience working with children as a clinical therapist was part of the organization's interest in hiring her for the position.
"I remember that Kelly was not looking for a new position, but a friend told her about the YMCA opportunity knowing how much Kelly wanted to be in a role that works with youth," Green said. "We were glad that Kelly found us because we were very excited about her previous experience, energy and desire to be active in running youth programs. It was also a nice bonus that she has been a licensed clinical social worker with over 25 years of experience working with children and families."
Looking to the future, Dulka said she hopes to increase the YMCA's city and business partnerships, as well as facilitate a focus on health and wellness, which is being implemented at YMCA's across the country. The program will start this year through the summer day camps.
"Seeing the potential for collaboration is really exciting," Dulka said. "There are so many people who share the same mission who we aren't really targeting and we can bring together those who share aspects of the mission."
YMCA Day Camps
The YMCA week-long day camps begin June 25 with session 1 and ends on Aug. 17 with session 8. Camps include games, arts and crafts, off-site trips and more. Camps take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mohr Elementary School multipurpose room. Extended care is offered beginning at 7 a.m. and until 6 p.m. for no additional charge. The camps cost $199 per week.