After six years as the executive director of the Bronx YMCA in Soundview, Elizabeth Toledo is headed to Brooklyn. The move is actually a promotion, but it’s bittersweet for Toledo.
“Today I said, I can’t believe this is my last commute to the Bronx for work,” Toledo said on her last day. “Although I won’t miss the Cross Bronx, that’s for sure.”
The Bronx YMCA is a 5 million dollar organization—a large facility in its own right. But the Dodge YMCA, where she will serve the same role, is a $9 million Y, and therefore comes equipped with new challenges. “It’s more responsibility, even though it’s the same title,” said Toledo. “I should be thrilled, but I do love working in the Bronx, and the people here have been so good to me.”
The higher-ups didn’t even make Toledo interview for the new position. Her co-workers say there was no need. “She’s become a pillar for us, she has made this Y into a magnificent place,” said Lisa Sorin, a boardmember at the Bronx YMCA, located at 2 Castle Hill Avenue. “It’s a big hit for the board to lose her, even though we know it’s bigger and better things for her. But we’re selfish that way.”
Sorin also jokingly called Toledo a “traitor.” The two worked closely together through Bon Appetit, which is the YMCA’s annual food-tasting fundraiser. It was Toledo’s idea. When the event started, it was small, and had 10 or 12 restaurants that sent some dessert or pastry people. It has now become a major event with over 30 restaurants sending chefs.
Toledo has two children, one in college at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the other in middle school. She lives in Bergen County, in New Jersey, but grew up in Manhattan. “I only reside in Jersey, my heart isn’t there” she says. A true New Yorker.
“What I didn’t know when I lived in the Bronx, years ago, was all the players and elected officials and non-profits,” Toledo reflected. “They all welcomed me with open arms.”
Among the groups that Toledo is most grateful to: the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, the Yankees, the New York Botanical Garden, and Montefiore Hospital. “The people here really care about others around them, and you’re never alone,” she said of the borough. “It feels like we’re all in it together.”
In the time to come, the YMCA won’t be “in it” with Toledo any longer, but it’s clear she will be sorely missed.Howeveer, she insists that she will still attend all Bronx Week events.
“I’ll definitely be at the Bronx Ball,” she said. “Any excuse to get dressed up!”
Reach Daniel Roberts at (718) 742-3383 or firstname.lastname@example.org