Jeff Collen, who serves as the president of the Racine Family YMCA, announced plans to retire. His replacement will be Ahmad “Q” Qawi, who currently serves as the chief operations officer.

Collen, who served the local nonprofit agency for 13 years, will end his tenure on June 30. Qawi has been with the organization for 17 years. He starts his new position on July 1, according to an announcement released by David Holland, chairman of the board of directors.

“We have had the good fortune of Jeff’s steady leadership for the past 13 years and it is with a tinge of sadness that we wish him all the best as he embarks on his newest adventure,” Holland said.  “Jeff’s many achievements have touched the lives of thousands of children and families in southeastern Wisconsin, all for the better. His work has helped make the Racine community a place where people thrive and where body, mind, and spirit are tended to with great respect.”

Holland thanked Collen for his leadership and vision, which included naming Qawi as his successor. Over the years, Qawi has worked closely with Collen to help the organization transition.

“Reflecting on his many accomplishments, Jeff has much of which he can be proud, including the opening of the Sealed Air and Bray Neighborhood Y branches, and the ‘Safety Around Water’ partnership with SC Johnson and the Racine Unified School District, as well as the creation of programming like Credible Messenger, Focus on Fathers and others designed to address very specific needs in this community. It is not the bricks and mortar or dollars raised that we will remember most, it is the lives Jeff touched and those he inspired that come to mind,” said Holland.

Read about the Bray Neighborhood Y and the Safety around Water program.

With deep roots in the community, Qawi joined the organization when the Racine Youth Leadership Academy merged with the YMCA. He will be the first African American to serve in the role of president and CEO of the Racine Family YMCA.

Qawi brings “enthusiasm and energy to the position” and enthusiasm. He has also helped the organization grow, Holland said.

“We’re excited about the future for the Racine Family YMCA and it is reassuring for the Board to know that someone with Q’s talent and experience will help guide us as we work to fulfill our important mission. We are confident in Q’s ability to lead the overall vision, growth, and management of the Racine Family YMCA,” Holland said.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.