Bertram Lawson II is the new group vice president of the YMCA of Philadelphia and Vicinity. He has worked with the organization for 14 years. Lawson is the youngest and third group vice president in the organization.
A native of Philadelphia, Lawson is a graduate of Central High School and Lincoln University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in History/Secondary Education. He was also initiated into the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.
“When I started at the YMCA, I was able to work with kids at a younger age and provide programs and quality service that will help them grow,” Lawson said. “I knew I could do more good working at this organization than by becoming a lawyer. I always believed that I am a trailblazer, and it is my duty to succeed and be an example because I have kids looking up to me. I’m excited about this new position. I will continue to help my community and be a mentor to youth.”
Lawson joined the organization in 1998 as a camp counselor at the Columbia North YMCA. He was promoted to senior program director at the branch where he managed sports and teen programs.
In 2006, Lawson moved to the Rocky Run YMCA as the associate executive director. He led his team in providing services in child-care, summer day camp programs, membership, teen and family programs.
In 2008, Lawson was appointed executive director of the West Philadelphia YMCA. During his tenure there, Lawson established new programs and services that help promote the YMCA of Philadelphia and Vicinity’s three pillars of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
“I want to transform the negative perception that people have of the YMCAs in the inner city,” Lawson said. “A lot of people look at the location and decide not to go in, but I want people to start looking at what they’ve actually done for the community. We also need to provide more programming that is community based, such as programs on chronic illnesses.
“These illnesses include diabetes, heart disease and cancer. All of these diseases affect low-income communities because of lack of medical care and low quality supermarkets. Right now, we’re focused on providing nutrition workshops, so that people can understand the importance of being healthy.”
Lawson will continue to serve as the executive director of the West Philadelphia YMCA; however he will oversee operations at some of the other inner city YMCA branches including the Christian Street and Columbia North YMCAs.