Global, regional YMCA leaders visiting Cayman

Grand Cayman will welcome global and regional leaders of the YMCA this weekend at a “Founders & Friends” gathering event at the Westin resort on Friday. 

YMCA World Alliance secretary general, the Rev. Johan Eltvik, will serve as the keynote speaker at the event, which will also welcome the secretary general/chief executive of the Latin American and Caribbean Alliance of YMCAs, Antonio Merino.  

“Having the two highest ranking YMCA professionals of our regional and global movement coming to Cayman is a great honor for our Y in the Cayman Islands,” said YMCA Cayman CEO, Greg Smith. “Rev. Eltvik is a passionate leader of our cause, representing the 119 countries where the YMCA is present. As you can imagine, from places like Nigeria and the Ukraine to areas in the Middle East, Johan has some very interesting stories to share about how the YMCA is addressing individual community needs.  

“Rev. Eltvik is also an excellent speaker and will inspire a better understanding of how our small island is part of a much bigger picture of Y service and significant impact around the world.” 

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the Rev. Eltvik has held career positions within the YMCA world movement for more than 20 years. He led the re-establishment of 20 national YMCA movements in central and Eastern Europe following the fall of the Berlin Wall. He will be visiting Cuba just prior to coming to Cayman, capping off an eight-country visit over the span of three weeks.  

Antonio Merino, leader of the regional movement which includes Cayman, recently joined the Latin American and Caribbean Alliance of YMCAs following seven years as an associate director of Global Initiatives at YMCA of the USA headquarters in Chicago, where he contributed to the advancement of YMCA strategies worldwide. Originally from Mexico City, Mr. Merino has led partnership strategies and coalitions to strengthen YMCAs in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, as well as provided leadership to help the Haiti YMCA respond to the devastating 2010 earthquake. 

The “Founders & Friends” event at the Westin will include the unveiling of the “founders cornerstone,” which acknowledges all those who have financially supported the establishment of the Y in Cayman.  

YMCA Cayman Chairman Pastor Randy Von Kanel said: “It will be a great opportunity while we have these YMCA senior leaders in Cayman to thank and pay tribute to the people who have helped us to establish the Y here on our islands.”  

Since its inception in Cayman, the YMCA has hosted several day camps during school breaks, developed a teen leaders programme, provided support for the government’s after-school program, and has created several key partnerships with organizations across Cayman.  

For more information about the YMCA of the Cayman Islands, or if interested in becoming a Y Founder or friend, visit the website: 


The Rev. Eltvik

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