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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Riverdale Y’s versatile leader prepares to step down

By Maya Rajamani
Posted
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
The Y’s Marti Michael spent so much time at her job that she used to joke she sleeps in Scarsdale, but lives in Riverdale.

After 28 years working at the YM-YWHA in Riverdale, Marti Michael said she plans to retire from her position as executive director in the spring.

Ms. Michael, who started at The Y as a part-time public relations consultant, rose through the ranks of the Riverdale institution and helped build and expand its programs and services for the community.

Before her time at The Y, Ms. Michael worked at the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, Inc., where she helped raise money for the current building’s construction in 1986.

After working in public relations at the Y, she spent time in human resources, operations, community relations and the special events department. She has been The Y’s executive director for the past four years.

“I can’t think of an office I haven’t been in this building,” said Ms. Michael, who plans to travel with her husband after she retires.

Retirement may be hard for Ms. Michael to adapt to after immersing herself in the Riverdale community for the past 30 years.

In her time as executive director, Ms. Michael has created a Green Market, which sells local foods at the David A. Stein Riverdale-Kingsbridge Academy (M.S. 141) on Sundays from May to November, started a summer performing arts camp for kids and organized Christmas Day events for Jewish families, while expanding youth, teen and senior services. These services include enrichment programs for elementary school students and programs for seniors who might otherwise have become isolated.

“I can’t sit still,” said Ms. Michael, who jokes that she sleeps in Scarsdale but lives in Riverdale.

Among the myriad of projects she has carried out, she says one of her proudest achievements is the “Shul in the Mosque” project.

After a synagogue in Parkchester was forced to sell its building, an imam at the Islamic Cultural Center of North America on Westchester Avenue invited the congregation to set up a synagogue in his mosque. Ms. Michael recruited Jewish, Muslim and Catholic teens to renovate the synagogue. “I’m very proud of that,” she said. “The teens really got to see each other as people and learn about each other’s cultures.”

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