News & Announcements



The Ann Arbor YMCA Board of Directors is excited to announce the promotion of James Highsmith to President and Chief Executive Officer, effective May 1. With a proven track record of cause-driven leadership, James is committed to bringing dynamic, collaborative, and visionary leadership to our Y and the communities it serves.

Highsmith brings over 13 years of YMCA experience to his new role, having most recently served as the Chief Operating Officer at the Ann Arbor YMCA. In this role, he oversaw the operations of the $9.8M association. During his tenure at the Y, James has played a key role in strategic initiatives, including capital planning, program mergers and expansion, changes to operating structures, and revenue diversification. James is also highly regarded by the YMCA staff and community members for his leadership style and his contribution to an open, welcoming and inclusive environment for all.

“We are truly delighted to see James step into this role. His collaborative leadership style, depth of knowledge of the community, and his passion and dedication to the Y and its mission are second to none. We are confident that our Y, and our community, will continue to flourish and thrive under his leadership,” said Muffy MacKenzie, Board Member and Chair of the Search Committee.
As President and CEO, Highsmith will now take responsibility for the 166-year legacy of the Ann Arbor Y, including three childcare centers; Y on the fly programs in schools, apartment complexes, churches, community centers, and libraries across Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, Manchester, Pinckney, Chelsea, and Superior Township; Day Camp offerings in East Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti; and Camp Birkett on Silver Lake in Dexter; as well as our overnight Camp Al-Gon-Quian on the shores of Burt Lake in Northern Michigan.
“The Ann Arbor Y has been a formative part of my journey, and it’s a privilege to serve as CEO for an organization that means so much to me personally and professionally,” Highsmith said. “This is an exciting time to lead our Y as we expand our reach within the community.”

In addition to his work at the Y, James has been an active Ultimate Frisbee coach for youth, teens, young adults and adults since 2017. In 2023 James was named the National Coach of the Year in the sport for his work in the adult men’s club division. In his spare time, James enjoys spending time with his fiancée, Kelsy, and their long-haired, hypoallergenic cat, Loki.

The Y anticipates a series of community events across our service area this spring and early summer where community members can get to know James if they have not yet met him at the Y. Details regarding these events will be posted on the Ann Arbor YMCA website soon.