MY TOWN | Kyla Kumar
An Engaging Citizen
As vice-president of marketing and communications for the YMCA, Kyla Kumar knows a thing or two about getting the word out. Looking to do just that, she sat down with Marc Skulnick for a chat about Hamilton, the Y and how the two have captured her heart, professionally and personally
As vice-president of marketing and communications, what does your job entail?
"I have a really unique role, as the joint vice-president of marketing and communications for the YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford and the YMCA of Niagara. This joint role is a first for the YMCA across Canada and, I think, reflects a growing trend across many not-for-profit and for-profit organizations looking to enhance opportunities for collaboration. The focus of my role is developing and executing communications strategies to increase awareness of the breadth and scope of programs and services offered by the YMCA but more importantly, communicate the impact and value the YMCA brings to the communities we serve."
What's one local event you look forward to every year?
"Each year, we host the YMCA Peace Medal Breakfast. We bring in a speaker who shares their personal story — often with a global connection. Along with leaders from across the Hamilton business community, we sponsor children from schools in Hamilton to participate. The event also includes the presentation of YMCA Peace Medals to groups and individuals in the community. This past year we presented Peace Medals to several local youth involved in developing anti-bullying initiatives. What is extremely powerful about this event is the level of inclusiveness for participants and the powerful fusion of international and local stories of peace."
What's your favourite thing about your neighbourhood?
"The people! We live in Ancaster and we've made the best friends in our neighbourhood. Many of our current neighbours are second-generation immigrants who grew up with an understanding that the essence of being a good neighbour is getting out, meeting those who live around you, offering assistance when needed. As a transplanted Hamiltonian, I believe that ultimately it is the people that make for great neighbourhoods."
Hamilton needs more…
"Mentors. I don't think we can ever have too many. As I built my career, I was fortunate to have a number of Hamilton business leaders who provided professional mentorship and guidance that was invaluable and frankly helped shape the trajectory for my future career. I think a great call to action for all Hamiltonians is to consider how they might find ways to mentor youth. Ultimately, this is a simple way we can continue fostering a better Hamilton."
Hamilton needs less…
"Concern about engagement; I've never seen a city that's more engaged than Hamilton. There's the most amazing online community and I'm always fascinated by how passionate the people of Hamilton are. We really do need to worry less about that…they are so engaged! Things are on a really good trajectory in Hamilton and they should feel energized by that."
What is Hamilton's best-kept secret?
"Is it okay if I say the Y? (laughs) People think of us as the 'gym and swim,' that's what you know…but there's a lot of amazing community-based programs making a significant impact that the YMCA delivers that I don't think people are aware of. We are still a bit of a secret to some people… that's why I'm here, to get the word out."