Hi! My name is Karla Creque, I have been with the YMCA movement since 2009 and currently with the YMCA of South Florida as the AVP Of Family Services. I have been involved with Blue Ridge Leaders’ School since 2011. When I’m not at work I enjoy working out, doing Half Marathons, going to the beach and hanging out with friends. I have 3 adult kids who I love spending time with and making memories with!
Hello Blue Ridge Leaders School! My name is Amanda Jaehnen. Born and raised in Ohio, the heart of it all! Currently living in the greater Louisville KY area.
I am a Crisis Counselor and part of a Mobile Crisis Suicide Team. At any point in life one can lose sight of joy, hope and happiness. I value guiding as many humans as possible to turn focus to small little moments that can make a day brighter.
When I am not working I enjoy spending time with my amazing husband Jeff, two unstoppable adult children, Maddie and DJ and chasing our dog Rascal.
Greg is a former BRLS Leader and Honor Leader, long time staff member, and former School Leadership Team member. Greg is known for his energy, commitment, and insight regarding the Leaders School. He has served in the director role since 2017.
I attended BRLS as a leader during the late 1980s into the early 1990s. I currently works as a District Executive Director with the YMCA of Greater Louisville. My lovely wife, Amanda and I have two daughters who are involved with Leaders’ Club at their home YMCA.
Jeff will review all the classes to make certain they remain relevant to the back home YMCA’s and ensure that the Leaders’ School 6-year curriculum is balanced in Spirit, Mind, and Body. –Greg
I have been a YMCA professional since 2003 and currently focus on Marketing and Financial Development for the Gaston County Family YMCA in North Carolina. I am a Hoosier, Cubs fan, runner, and was her junior high mascot. I have been involved with BRLS since 2004.
The counselor team at Leaders’ School will benefit in so many ways because of the work that Molly will do with them. Molly will also give her unique talents and treasures to the evening events as well as dorm life. -Greg
My introduction to the YMCA came in the form of summer day camp which lead to joining the Leaders’ Club Program in the mid 80’s. The experiences gained at BRLS and at my home YMCA lead to my professional YMCA career which began in 1996. My wife Jenny, three children and I now reside in Charlotte NC where I currently serve the community of the Siskey YMCA.
Ryan is the best person to support the ongoing development of the back home clubs. He will provide data, theories, and best practices each month via this newsletter and other communication tools. -Greg
I grew up in the Y and participated in everything from the gym team to the swim team. When I turned 13 I joined the Leaders’ Club and have been involved in some way, shape, or form for the past 16 years. I’m a hardcore Florida Gators fan and have worked for the University of Florida since 2011! Go Gators!
Jessica will be providing a consistent voice of the school in our web presence. And she has been a valuable staff member since her 2006 Honor Leader year so we will use that wonderful history as she guides the work with the current group of HL’s. have agreed to serve BRLS! -Greg
I get the privilege of working year-round at Blue Ridge and my favorite part of working here is YOU, the people who come to the Mountain. My husband and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, and we have two bright, spunky, full of life children – Colin and Bailey. Their favorite thing during the summer is to hand out orange juice during Leaders’ School week.
Melissa has been the on the staff at Blue Ridge Assembly for many years and a long-time friend and supporter of the school. Having her serve on the Leadership Team is a real blessing as she will help ensure the school uses all that the Assembly has to offer to make the week great. -Greg
I attended 5 years in the Leaders division of Blue Ridge Leaders School with the Cowart Family/Ashford Dunwoody Leader’s Club. I currently serve as a volunteer advisor to that club and work at the YMCA of Metro Atlanta as a Regional Member Experience Director. I am passionate about the positive impact Leaders Club and Blue Ridge Leaders School can have to help development a teens’ character and leadership potential. When I am not working; I enjoy spending time with my family, working out and traveling. I am a cat-mom to Smokey!
I attended Blue Ridge Leaders’ School 6 years as a leader, 2 years as a senior and (after a 6-year hiatus) 10 years as staff. I have been married for 11 years and have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter. I love giving back to this school that has given so much to me!
Brianne agreed to lead one of the key parts of the school that has to be done at a high level, the school registration, class scheduling, finances, and reporting. And that work is in great hands as Brianne brings our school into the digital age and beyond. -Greg
Bio coming soon!
I grew up playing sports in the Y in hometown Fayetteville, NC at the crazy age of four! My YMCA career journey began in 2012 as a middle school after-school counselor. I currently serve as Association Teen Experience Director at the YMCA of the Virginia Peninsulas. During free time I love being with friends, enhancing my Beyoncé knowledge, practicing self-care, and playing with my dog Quavo!
My name is Amber Shirley from the Greater Palm Harbor YMCA in Palm Harbor, Florida. Growing up I moved around a lot between Florida, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, but somehow made my way back to Florida in 2011. I started swimming for the Y that summer and have pretty much spent every day there since. In my 13 years of being a competitive swimmer I never found a “home” until I came to the Y. This YMCA has influenced me to help others, which has helped me find my passion in nursing. Right now, I am in my second semester at Rasmussen College of Nursing where I plan on becoming a registered nurse.
My journey with the Y started when I was just 10 years old. It was the only place that I felt I was at home, at least until I joined Leader’s Club. I was coerced to join by a friend, and looking back now it is the best decision I have ever made. My first year coming to BRLS was a game changer for me. I realized that who I am deep down is who I am meant to be. 5 years later, Blue Ridge has had an incredible impact on my life. It has taught me to be confident in who I am, and most importantly how to love and trust in others. Without BRLS I would not be the Person that I am today.
There truly is nothing like Blue Ridge Leaders’ School. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, it’s not worth it to pretend to be something you’re not. To all of y’all coming to BRLS this year, you are going to have the opportunity of a lifetime. Take advantage of your time on the mountain, make friends, and have fun. If you ever need anything feel free to come find me. I am so excited to see what this year has in store. See you soon!!
My name is Andrew Dill and I am from the Northwest Tampa YMCA. I am very excited to be going into my first year at the Florida State University.
Something interesting about myself is that I am very involved with band and music. I play the alto saxophone and the bass clarinet and I hope to be a member of the Florida State Marching Chiefs. I also threw shot-put and discus on my track and field team in high school. I am a huge fan of sports and my favorite professional sports team is Arsenal FC. Two sports that I love and enjoy to play are soccer and ultimate frisbee.
Blue Ridge Leaders’ School means the world to me. Blue Ridge has been the epitome of happiness in my life. Whenever I’m faced with adversity, whenever life gets overwhelming, or even if I’m just having a bad day, I picture myself sitting on a rocking chair and looking out at the beautiful mountains. I see the bright blue sky, the rich green trees, and out of the corner of my eyes, the white pillars of Eureka hall. That image of the mountains fills me with much joy and has helped me get through difficult situations in my life. Blue Ridge reminds me that I have people who love and support me and that I have the strength to overcome whatever challenges I’m faced with.
Hi there! For those of you that I haven’t been able to meet yet, my name is Marc Weinstein, and I am from the South Tampa Family YMCA. This will be my sophomore year at Florida State University in Tallahassee, where I am currently a Psychology Major. I am not really quite sure what I want to do with my life, but I know I want to help others in their time of need. BRLS 2020 will be my 7th year at Blue Ridge (whaaaaat), and I am already counting down the days until we travel back to experience the magic of the mountain!
It is hard to sum up how important Leaders’ Club is to me. Like many others, my life would be unbelievably different without this program. I am who I am today because of my Leaders’ Club experience, and because of all of the amazing people I have met throughout it! BRLS is my home away from home and will forever hold a special place in my heart because of all that I have learned and because of the connections that I have made.
Some fun facts about me are that I love telling cheesy jokes, goofing off with friends, I am a certified medical responder, and I love to play all sports (even if I am terrible at them). I am a super open person so please don’t hesitate to come talk to me! It’s an honor to be able to serve you all this year, I absolutely cannot wait! See you on the Mountain!
I’m Sofia Gonzalez from the Campo Family YMCA in Tampa-ish, Florida. I am currently in my second year of college at the Georgia Institute of Technology majoring in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Mathematics… NERD ALERT! After college I want to work for any space company designing and perfecting rockets, and potentially training to be an astronaut. My dream is to travel to Mars! Aside from school, I love spending time with my friends, playing volleyball, going to concerts, and eating! Atlanta has become my new home, and I couldn’t be any happier about it.
This will be my seventh year on the mountain, which is crazy to be typing out right now. I love love love everything Leaders’ Club stands for because it has transformed my life. Leaders’ has provided a safe and loving environment for me while introducing me to my best friends whom I know will last a lifetime. Leaders’ School has taught me some of the most useful lessons that I could not have leaned anywhere else, which is why I am forever grateful to the school. All in all, Leaders’ Club means absolutely everything to me.
Some fun facts about me are that I can recite my ABCs backwards, I would rather eat a whole veggie tray than ice cream, and I sleep with a total of ZERO pillows. Call me weird, call me super cool, but that’s me! I am so excited to see all of you and serve you in June!
With lots and lots of love,
My name is Brady Graham and I am from Charlotte, North Carolina. I go to Central Piedmont Community College and plan on transferring after I get my Associates in Arts Degree. I belong to the Brace Family Leaders’ Club and this coming year at BRLS will be my 7th year on the mountain and in the Club. A couple fun facts about myself are that I have been playing soccer since I was about 7 years old and that I was born in Florence, Kentucky but we moved to North Carolina the summer I turned 7.
Leaders’ School to me is a second home and the people there are what make it feel this way and make it such a magical place. The school itself is a place to disconnect from the outside world and focus on ourselves and what we need. I have met my best friends on the mountain and these relationships will last a lifetime and I couldn’t be more thankful for what the mountain has given me. It has been a big part in shaping who I am today and has helped me become the person I want to be both on and off the mountain.
Hi all! My name is Emily Rhodes and I am from the Harris YMCA! I was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. This year I will be a sophomore at UNC Wilmington (GO SEAHAWKS!!!) and I can’t wait to spend more time at the beach. I am majoring in Biology Pre-Med and minoring in Chemistry and Spanish. I hope to one day become an orthopedic surgeon. I am an avid coffee drinker and I love dance, music, and people.
The YMCA has been a second home to me since I was two and even more now that half of my family works there. The Harris Leader’s Club has not only been a Club for me, but a second family since I was thirteen. Leaders’ Club and Blue Ridge Leaders’ School has allowed me to channel my passion for the YMCA into service and others and it has had such a large impact on my confidence. I have been heavily involved in Y my whole life from Leaders’ Club, afterschool, princess appearances, and more. I would not be the outgoing and empathetic person I am today without Blue Ridge and the influence of so many amazing people.
This year will be my seventh year and I cannot wait to see what is in store. I am looking forward to seeing and meeting all of you. Don’t ever hesitate to say hi and chat with me. See you on the mountain!!
With tons of love,