Published On: July 18, 2023Categories: Blog, News, Press Release


Cruz to strengthen YMCA offerings and expand reach to more individuals and families across Houston

HOUSTON (July 18, 2023) – The YMCA of Greater Houston is pleased to welcome Rick Cruz as the new Chief Operating Officer (COO). Cruz will work directly with President and CEO Stephen Ives to oversee the varied impactful programming the YMCA offers the community, including health and fitness centers, youth programming, swimming, childcare, camps, refugee resettlement and services that strengthen the community. As a member of the leadership team, Rick Cruz will support the YMCA as the organization implements its 10-year vision, focusing on helping the community undergo a transformation that will result in empowering youth, building healthier families and fostering more inclusive communities.

“We are honored to have Rick Cruz join the YMCA of Greater Houston’s leadership team and be part of the YMCA’s long-term vision,” said Lee A. Lahourcade, Board Chair, YMCA of Greater Houston. “His passion for education and helping communities is exactly what the YMCA needs to propel its plan. We would not have been able to attract this high-caliber candidate for the COO position without the strategic leadership from our President and CEO, Stephen Ives. We applaud Ives for his strong relationships within the local community in helping to identify the right COO to lead this important initiative for Houston.”

“I have great memories of spending many of my evenings and weekends at the local YMCA with my family when I was a child. The well-being of a family is important to me, and now as a leader within the organization, I look forward to making these types of experiences accessible to even more families,” said Rick Cruz, Chief Operating Officer, YMCA of Greater Houston. “The YMCA is one of the City of Houston’s greatest catalysts for positive and transformational change. As a former educator, I’m inspired to strengthen the YMCA’s educational foundation and to deepen our partnerships with schools, students and families.”

Prior to joining the YMCA, Rick founded EMERGE Fellowship, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that helps first-generation low-income students attend and graduate from top colleges. He also had a distinguished career in education. After joining Teach for America and serving as an award-winning bilingual teacher in a high-poverty school, he assumed numerous senior leadership roles for the largest school system in Texas. Most recently, as the school system’s Deputy Superintendent, supporting over 27,000 employees across 273 schools. He has also taught at the University of Houston and Rice University.

A native of Mexico, Rick graduated with distinction from Yale University and holds a masters and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin.

“The first phase of our 10-year vision is to invest in people and leadership so that we can build a solid foundation to implement change. Cruz’s hire demonstrates that we are right on track to achieve our goals,” said Stephen Ives, president and CEO, YMCA of Greater Houston. “Rick is going to be a tremendous asset to our community, and I look forward to working alongside him to reach more individuals and families in Houston for years to come.”

To learn more about the YMCA of Greater Houston, please visit ymcahouston.org, visit your local YMCA center, or follow the organization on Facebook @YMCAHouston and Instagram @YMCAHouston.

# # #

About YMCA of Greater Houston 

Founded in 1886, today the Y remains committed to the health of more than half a million people grow and thrive through programs and services at our locations across Greater Houston. Strengthening community is our cause. Together, we connect active, engaged Greater Houston Area residents to build a better us.