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David Duro

The new CEO of the Treasure Valley YMCA has big shoes to fill—but he's ready

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David Duro started working for the YMCA in 1982 as a janitor at the downtown location. He was attending Boise State University and took the job to help pay for tuition, never imagining it would become his career.

Though Duro pictured himself as an attorney, he went from being a janitor to working at the front desk to teaching fitness classes to becoming a branch manager, then Chief Operating Officer, then Senior Resources Director and—ultimately—Treasure Valley YMCA chief executive officer. Duro stepped into the position after Jim Everett, who served as CEO for nearly three decades, retired in November 2015.

"This career was by accident," Duro said. "It's not how I drew it up all those years ago, but I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Why did you take the job as a janitor all those years ago?

I came from a pretty modest family, [raised by] a single mother in Nampa. We didn't have a ton of money, but I made up my mind that I wanted a college education and if I was going to get one, it had to be on my own. I just needed money, really. That's why I started at the Y. I worked the night shift after class. I had no idea the power that the Y had to change people's lives.

Were you the first person in your family to go to college?

I guess I was. I never really thought about that. I'm a first-generation college graduate. My son has a bachelor's degree from the University of Idaho and he will finish his MBA this spring. My daughter is a junior at Boise State.

How does your upbringing affect how you do your job today?

It makes me empathetic. We had a great mom, but we didn't have every advantage. We weren't members of the Y as kids growing up, and we would have been on financial assistance if we were. I know what that's like.

With our financial assistance, we try to be really confidential and accommodating. Our goal is to make memberships affordable to everyone. We recently added a new tier of membership for young adults—people under the age of 29—because it's different now to be a young adult. You're trying hard to stabilize and establish yourself. We thought, that's a group that needs help. We changed because the community is changing.

Before you took this job, you spent three years working for YUSA [YMCA of the USA]. Tell me about that.

I got to live here, but the office was in Chicago, so I traveled a lot. Last year, I flew to Chicago 18 times. I got really good at being productive on airplanes. You can get a lot of things done just standing in line. I got to see a lot of the country. I had a team of people, and we supported YMCAs in 19 western states. I got to go to YMCAs I didn't even know existed. We helped them build strategic plans and resource management.

Now you're taking over for Jim Everett, who is a famously cool person in this community. How do you deal with that?

People say, "What's on your to-do list?" And I say, "The top thing is, replace a legend." Jim and I are great partners and great friends. Of my 34 years at the Y, I've worked with him for 26 of them. I know him really well and I've learned a lot from him. He's a unique individual who's made enormous contributions to this community, and he did it for 28 years as CEO. That's almost unheard of.

People say, "Man, you've got big shoes to fill." No one is going to fill those shoes, but I did bring a pair of my own.

Do you think this is the last job you'll have?

I think it probably is. I'm 53. When you get to this point in your career, you really ask yourself, "What difference do I want to make?"

We need to be able to serve this entire community. If you live close to downtown or in West Boise or Caldwell, you can access our programs pretty easily, but if you live in Meridian, it's harder to get to a Y. The project that we're working on now is a new location at Eagle and Amity. There's an elementary school being built there now, and our project will be attached directly to that school, and a library and a city park. We hope it'll be finished by the fall of 2017.

Your walls are still pretty bare here.

Eventually, I might get rid of this Brady Bunch wallpaper but, to be honest, it's not the top thing on my agenda. We've got bigger fish to fry.

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