By Steve Yablonski
She was working as an accountant with a CPA firm in Manlius when in 2014 she got a job with the YMCA in Oswego. Today she is CEO of the organization
Cheryl Baldwin’s title got shorter at the Oswego YMCA earlier this year. The board of directors removed the “interim.”
Since Feb. 16 Baldwin, 54, is the chief executive officer. She had served as interim CEO since the first quarter of 2021.
“It is a privilege and honor for me to lead an organization that is deeply committed to improving lives of those in the community we live in,” she said.
Family is what brought her to the Oswego YMCA, she said.
“At the time I was working as an accountant with a CPA firm in Manlius, and it was brought to my attention by a family member that a business manager was needed for both the Fulton Family and the Oswego YMCA,” she said. “This possible opportunity would bring me closer to home and allow me more time for my family.”
“So, with that consideration and many discussions and interviews, when the offer was extended for the position in January of 2014, I accepted,” she added.
“Being part of the YMCA has allowed me to accomplish many things over the past eight years,” she said. “It has allowed me more time with family and to become more engaged with my community. It has also allowed me to do what I enjoy, which is managing a business — but now it has meaning and purpose.”
According to Baldwin, the Y has touched the lives of many people, including her own children.
“For me, the Oswego Y is an extended family and I am thrilled to lead its mission,” she added.
She said she feels “a great sense of accomplishment” at being appointed as the CEO of the YMCA.
“I am grateful for the opportunity and excited to continue the mission of our YMCA, strengthening and expanding our community programs and partnerships,” she said.
“I was born and raised in Oswego County, in the Phoenix area. I attended school in the Phoenix school district,” she said. “I have an older brother and a younger sister. And, I have two cats! Currently, I still reside in the Volney area.”
She and her husband, Andrew, have been married for 32 years.
They have four children: Amy (Baldwin) Leotta (34), Andrew Baldwin II (30), Adam Baldwin (23) and Aidan Baldwin (15).
“Amy is currently the executive director of the Fulton Family YMCA. Andrew II was previously the sports coordinator and Adam was recently the health and wellness director. Aidan currently volunteers when needed,” she said.
She also has two grandchildren, Noah and Niko Leotta. They both participate in YMCA programs, she added.
When she was younger, her ambitions always steered her in the direction of business — “from understanding what it takes to build, manage and maintain a business,” she said.
The focus of her advanced coursework was on accounting and economics.
She is a graduate of SUNY Oswego, where she earned a degree in accounting and a minor in economics.
“I obtained my degree in accounting and really enjoyed the theory of economics so much I received a minor in economics, as well,” she said.
“I would have to say that my least favorite subject was geography,” she added.
Evolving and improving
Change is a part of evolving and improving, she said.
“The YMCA has made some wonderful and impactful changes through the years,” Baldwin said. “Our focus now is on looking ahead, not back. We’ll continue to move forward with positivity and progress.”
Her immediate goal is to get to know and connect with the Y’s members and the people served by the Y.
“Planning for the long-term, our goal is to advance our Y’s mission to serve and nurture the potential of individuals of all ages, abilities and backgrounds,” she said. “It is so important that our programs will continue to improve our community’s health and well-being and provide opportunities to give back and help neighbors in need.”
“Connecting with the community and our members is a key component to the success of our organization. I will continue to meet with our members and our community partners to gain a better understanding of what we can do to meet those needs,” she explained. “Everything we do at the Y is centered around our community. We create a roadmap to guide us in a direction that is sustainable, flexible and allows us to meet our community’s needs.”
Find your passion
“When you find your passion and enjoy what you do every day, it is not a job; it is a part of you. Coming in every morning to our Y, seeing our members and our staff enjoying conversation and sharing a laugh with friends, or having our little ones (the children) peeking in my door before pre-school to say hello, being silly or just telling me about their day — it makes this the best position to be in,” she said. “There is really nothing that I can say that I am not fond of here. I enjoy what I do and enjoy the team that I surround myself with.”
Outside of the YMCA, she said she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, volunteering and connecting with the community.
“Just spending time with family and friends is where I like to spend most of my time,” she said. “But I like spending time outside gardening when time will allow.”
She also volunteers wherever she can.
“Most recently, I’m an ambassador for Fulton Block Builders, which is an amazing program in the Fulton community.”
An accessible, interactive leader
Trish Levine has been with the Y in Oswego for several decades. “In more than 30 years with the Y, I’ve served in many roles — as a volunteer, board member for more than a decade and since 2013, as the director of health and wellness. I’ve worked with four previous Oswego YMCA CEOs. What resonates most about Cheryl is that she understands the importance of being present,” Levine said. “She’s in the building, every day. She’s not just a face, but an accessible and interactive leader.”
What’s been most impactful for the organization is that Baldwin is following through — “and I believe our community partners, members and staff place great value in and appreciate this kind of leadership,” Levine added. “Cheryl knows we got caught up in the ‘what’ and forgot about the ‘why.’”
The focus at the Y is to continue to serve as the community’s provider of human services — for healthy living, for youth development and for social responsibility, Levine explained.
“We are pivoting to meet these needs, improving and expanding programs for our Oswego community and beyond,” Levine said. “Cheryl’s rebuilding and retelling our story which needs to happen so that our Y can continue to thrive.”
Name: Cheryl Baldwin
Birth date: June 12
Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting and minor in economics from SUNY Oswego
Affiliations: Ambassador and event planner for Fulton Block Builders neighborhood revitalization program.
Family: Husband, Andrew Baldwin; Daughter, Amy Leotta (Baldwin); Sons, Andrew Baldwin II, Adam Baldwin and Aidan Baldwin: Grandchildren, Noah Leotta and Niko Leotta
Hobbies: Gardening and spending time with family and friends.