As we come to the close of the first quarter of the year, our Texas YMCAs continue striving to fulfill its mission of making our communities in Texas stronger. YMCAs across Texas continue to find ways to make our families healthier, our youth safer around water and to help our seniors maintain an active lifestyle.
This year brings the 86th Texas Legislature which runs January 8 until May 27th. We began our legislative season in January with very successful State Advocacy Days in Austin as we outlined our state priorities. This year, we were excited to jointly coordinate with the State Youth & Government Conference. Youth from throughout Texas learned first-hand the power of civic engagement and advocacy.
The Texas Legislators will consider in excess of 6000 bills. Of that pool, the Texas State Alliance of YMCAs has two Y sponsored bills that are vital to our movement.
Legislation relating to the Alliance’s top legislative priorities are centered around Healthy Living and Youth Development. They have taken significant strides toward progress. The House Public Health Committee voted favorably for HB 742. It was filled by Rep. Zerwas, relating to the distribution, possession, purchase of e-cigarettes and tobacco products by increasing the minimum age to 21.
Concerning the Alliance’s other top priority, Youth Development, HB 702 was filed by Rep. Lucio. It establishes a voluntary program to recognize licensed before school and after school programs that promote healthy eating and physical activity. It has been referred to the House Human Services Committee.
Our continued collective impact can only be achieved through our partners, stakeholders, volunteers and community leaders that the YMCA engages with throughout the year. We continue to monitor a number of measures at the Capitol that can impact the mission,not only of the YMCA, but also the Texas nonprofit sector at large that targets youth, families and strengthens communities.
Tony Shuman, Board Chair
Texas State Alliance of YMCAs
The Y is committed to helping lead the transformation of health and health care from a system largely focused on treatment of illness to a collaborative community approach that elevates well-being, prevention, and health maintenance. The Y Movement is a leading force facilitating transformation of the health care system by advancing community health efforts, such as the YMCA’s efforts to prevent diabetes, promote walkable communities, expand healthy eating and physical activity for youth and keep our families healthy.
The Texas State Alliance of YMCAs will be hosting a Healthy Living Summit in San Antonio on June 13th by inviting NGO partners, community stakeholders, healthy living practitioners for a "Think Tank" conversation on trends, issues and solutions in Texas.
YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) will build upon its partnership with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by providing funds to 16 YMCA State Alliances to promote active communities that are safe and accessible for all to be physically active. Each State Alliance will receive a grant of up to $20,000 to carry-out and participate in a statewide initiative to improve the state’s score on the bi-annual Making Strikes: State Report Card on Walking, Bicycling, Active Kids, and Communities.
State Alliances should have established relationships with state coalitions that promote physical activity, active living, health equity and safety to develop and implement an action plan. State action plans are intended to build upon the three years of previous walkability and active transportation activities funded by Y-USA and CDC.
The purpose of YMCA of the USA’s (Y-USA) three-year Committing To Community Change strategic plan is building the infrastructure needed to deliver on the Commitment to America. Specifically, the plan is focused on helping Ys measure the impact of their work, engage new communities, and collaborate with each other to accelerate knowledge sharing and innovation. Accordingly, the plan is built around three strategic imperatives:
David Lopez joins the Texas State Alliance of YMCA’s and its efforts to strengthen communities through advocacy, statewide programs and community strengthening. He oversees the Y’s effort in building partnerships that support children, families and communities which support the Y’s strategic vision and growth initiatives.
David joined the YMCA of Greater Houston in 2011 as Vice President of External Affairs. He came from the corporate sector with JP Morgan Chase & Co. and CenterPoint Energy leading external affairs and philanthropic efforts for the both firms. He has over 20 years’ experience in external affairs, philanthropy and nonprofit management.
He is a Senior Fellow with Class XXVI of American Leadership Forum, a graduate of Center for Houston’s Future Leadership Forum and is an Eagle Scout. He received a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University, completed the Management Development Program at Boston College Carroll School of Management and holds a Master of Science in Organizational Management & Leadership from Springfield College.
David and his wife of 26 years, Fran, have two children, Phillip and Rachel. Phillip is a graduate of Trinity University and is currently enrolled at South Texas College of Law. Rachel is completing her undergraduate studies at Baylor University this May.
More than 300 Y leaders traveled to Washington, DC for National Advocacy Days to learn about Y-USA’s legislative priorities, gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Y advocate and meet with their elected officials to discuss important issues to Ys and the communities they serve.
This year, as in years past, legislative priorities included funding that supports early childhood and afterschool programs, investments in chronic disease prevention and policies that strengthen communities and the charitable sector.
A few highlights of the conference included a celebration of the Y’s contributions to WWI, where The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps presented Y-USA CEO with it’s highest honor, the Order of St. Martin of Tours medal, in recognition of the Y’s support efforts during the “Great War.” The Y also honored the National Park Service with an Outstanding Partnership award for its support in helping to get kids outdoors through the YMCA/NPS Summer Camp program.
We gathered January 25th at the state capitol building for State Advocacy Day. We promoted national standards around physical activity and healthy eating in out-of-school time programs, created awareness around drowning prevention and aquatics safety and engaged lawmakers on the significance of chronic disease prevention.