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YMCA executive to head Palo Alto nonprofit Abilities United

New executive director brings more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership experience

Charlie Weidanz, longtime head of the Bay Area YMCAs, will take the helm of Palo Alto nonprofit Abilities United, the organization has announced.

Weidanz began his new position as executive director on June 30, replacing Lynda Steele, who officially retired the same day after serving as executive director since 1993.

The organization helps children and adults with developmental and other disabilities in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties to live independently and to gain community acceptance.

Weidanz brings more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership experience to the job, having served as the executive director at organizations across the United States. Weidanz spent 24 years as executive director of Bay Area and East Coast YMCAs. He has a personal passion for supporting those with disabilities and has been an innovator in inclusive programs throughout his life, Abilities United's board of directors said in a statement.

"We are thrilled to have someone as experienced as Mr. Weidanz to take over leadership of the agency," said Board of Directors President Karen Moore. "His non-profit leadership skills, expertise in programmatic areas for children and adults, including aquatic services, and demonstrated commitment to inclusion, are a great match for Abilities United."

Weidanz's immediate areas of focus will include continuation of future redevelopment plans and the completion of the organization's "United for the Future" fundraising campaign, which is currently underway, Moore said.

As a senior executive, primarily with the YMCA, Weidanz has worked in a variety of communities including Milpitas, San Francisco, New York City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He prides himself in creating a collaborative culture at all levels, according to the statement. His skills include financial management, fund development, program creation and execution, and staff development, the statement reads.

"This highly respected agency and the passion and commitment of the staff, volunteers, donors and partners greatly impress me," Weidanz said in a statement. "I am excited to build on Abilities United's strong foundation and to bring my experience to benefit the organization and position it for its future. We will continue to adapt to the growing and emerging needs of our community.

"My goal is to further develop and enhance our lifetime of services for people with disabilities, their families, and all community members who can benefit from them. I proudly take the reins as we strive to make Abilities United a lead agency that drives the true inclusion of people of all abilities."

The organization will soon post a series of opportunities for the public to meet Weidanz on its website.

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