The Hamilton Area YMCA Board of Directors has announced Hamilton native Diana Zita will be the company’s new interim chief executive officer.
David Kisselback, who had served as the chief executive for nearly two years, left the post last month. Mercer County Freeholder John Cimino, the YMCA board chair, wished Kisselback well in a statement, and said Zita brings with her a strong financial background, a love for her community and a commitment to the YMCA’s work.
Zita is a Hamiltonian, born and raised. She grew up on Kuser Road, where her parents, Maria and Ersilio, still live. A graduate of McCorristin High School, Zita went on to study accounting at Manhattan College and later, to pass the CPA exam.
She worked for many years in corporate accounting, in New York and Clearwater, Florida, before taking some time off to start a family. Then in 2010, she joined the Hamilton YMCA as its chief financial officer.
Zita is a member of the board of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as well as the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health Advisory Commission. An avid concert-goer and outdoor enthusiast, she resides in Yardville with her two sons, Conner, 14, and Alexander, 8. Conner attends Reynolds Middle School and Alexander goes to Yardville Elementary School.
Zita spoke to the Hamilton Post by phone Feb. 17, three weeks after being made the interim CEO.
You’ve been with the Hamilton YMCA for seven years now. What have been some of the most interesting developments in that time?
We have so many great programs, really, but the healthy living program really hits home because it touches so many people in the community. It ranges from our Thrive program that supports people with cancer to programs for childhood obesity. To see those programs and the impact they’ve had in the community is phenomenal.
What are some of the resources the YMCA offers that in your opinion don’t receive enough attention?
Well, we have an incredible facility, but I downplay that because we have so many other programs that are increasingly more important to the community. The swim program has been so important to so many people for years. We have an incredible camp which I think doesn’t get enough promotion, a beautiful 60-acre camp right here in Hamilton and there’s nothing like it in this area. There’s always something new to do and camps kids can attend through the entire summer.
After a long corporate career in New York and Florida, what has it been like returning to your hometown?
Hamilton was always home to me, even when I was in Florida. But I didn’t gain a full appreciation for Hamilton until I came back. A place like Clearwater, although very beautiful, doesn’t have that strength, that family feel. People generally stay in Hamilton, or eventually come back, and there’s a reason for that. It’s a family environment and that’s where I wanted to raise my kids.
The YMCA is starting its annual campaign March 23.
Yes. Many of the programs we operate at no cost to the community. We’re here for the community, but to fund those programs we reach out to the community and ask them for donations to support them so we can continue to do our mission work. We subsidize and/or give financial aid of over half a million dollars. We’re looking to really subsidize our healthy living programs this year and to help provide financial support for our campers. That’s where the biggest need is.
We’ve heard you enjoy going to concerts. What’s the best concert you’ve been to recently?
Well, I went to see the (Red Hot) Chili Peppers on Monday night, and they were spectacular. At the Wells Fargo Center (in Philadelphia).
And you like to spend time in the great outdoors. What are some of your favorite nature spots?
I love the Jersey Shore. When summer rolls around, my kids and I are there as often as we can get there. We started surfing last summer. It was a lot of fun. We normally end up going to Belmar, and it’s nice because it’s family friendly.
Do you hope to continue in the position and be named full-time CEO?
I’m hoping. I have my Hamilton background and my passion for the Y, and given my personal position—single mom with two kids—I’ve actually been a recipient of a lot of the Y programs. I genuinely appreciate the work that we do. When you can really get emotional about what we do because it’s personal, I think it helps the cause.