Robert Lomauro, president and chief executive officer of the has announced his decision to retire this September, following almost 18 years as the organization's chief administrator.
Lomauro has presided over the 20,000-member regional YMCA through a major expansion of its main facility at 140 Mount Airy Road in Basking Ridge; the opening of the Riverwalk satellite off Martinsville Road, also in in Basking Ridge, but near the Warren border; and the establishment of the Melissa Riggio group home for disabled adults on the main property in 2011. The Melissa Riggio home, designed to link its residents with the facilities and programs at the Y, was the first of its kind at any YMCA in the nation.
Lomauro has has served in some sort of capacity as a professional director with YMCAs in New Jersey for 39 years, said Andrea Williams, director of public relations for the Somerset Hills YMCA. Lomauro, a resident of Clinton Township, began his career at the YMCA as director of operations for the Passaic-Clifton-Garfield YMCA in 1972, she said.
The Board of Directors of the YMCA has formed a CEO Search Committee that is working with the assistance of the YMCA of the USA to conduct a national search for a replacement, according to an announcement from the YMCA on Monday. It is expected that a recommendation will be made to the Board of Directors by the middle of this year, the announcement said.
Tad Waldbauer, chairman of the Board of the Directors for the Somerset Hills YMCA, said of Lomauro, “Bob’s determination to encourage and grow innovative programs, community outreach and collaborations with other area organizations has built this Y into one of the most respected and valued community service organizations in the country."
Waldbauer, from Mendham, said Lomauro "leaves behind an unparalleled legacy of inspiration and hope for the future. We will do everything we can to be supportive of a search process that will culminate in an outstanding candidate coming to our YMCA to lead this very strong and dynamic organization.”
Lomauro was at the helm when the within the community in 2011.
"I guess what I am most proud of is being part of an incredible group of people, staff and volunteers, who understand and embrace the Y as a cause driven organization," Lomauro on Monday afternoon said in response to a question from Patch about his legacy.
"Sure, we can all be proud of the facilities that we have built, but without people in them, they are just empty shells," Lomauro added in an email. "For example, I got to the Y this past Saturday morning at around 10 a.m., and I was just blown away by not only the number of people enjoying themselves, but the diversity. It has truly become a microcosm of our community," he wrote.
Now leading a staff of more than 500 full and part-time employees, Lomauro since May 1994 has built a strong foundation of organizational stability and led the expansion of the YMCA into surrounding communities, the announcement said.
"The staff is very fond of him and he will be sorely missed," said Williams, who said there were "many tears" when Lomauro late last week announced his intended retirement within the YMCA.
During Lomauro's tenure as CEO, the Somerset Hills YMCA — established in Bernardsville in 1951 — has grown from 4,500 members to more than 20,000 members in communities that include Bernards Township, Bernardsville, Bedminster, Far Hills, Peapack-Gladstone, Pluckemin, Califon, Oldwick, Warren Township, Watchung, New Vernon and other surrounding communities, including the Mendham area, according to the YMCA website and Williams.
Lomauro’s vision led to the 1996 expansion of the Wellness Center and child care center, the 2003 opening of the Riverwalk facility, and a $7.5 million capital campaign resulting in the 2006 expansion of its flagship facility on Mount Airy Road that doubled the size of the facility.
The announcement said said Lomauro's strong leadership and vision has led the Somerset Hills YMCA to become a valued community partner within the area. The Riggio home also included to meet part of the township's state-ordered affordable housing obligation.
Lomauro is recognized throughout Somerset County as an inspirational community leader who can develop relationships with influential leaders to impact and strengthen the community, according to the announcement. Throughout his tenure, the YMCA established collaborative relationships with numerous municipal, religious, corporate and community-based organizations, the YMCA announcement said.
"It is with mixed emotions that I embark on the next phase of my life, but I am confident that with the support of this highly qualified and committed staff, my new successor will continue strengthening the foundations of community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility," Lomauro said in the announcement. "I feel privileged to have served this community for so many years, to have worked with so many talented and selfless volunteers and to have been witness to so many acts of support, caring and giving," he said.
Williams said she believes that after leaving his position, Lomauro will continue to be involved in various projects to support youths.
The announcement said that included among Lomauro's many notable accomplishments, he in 1999 spearheaded a local initiative, Unity in Community, created to address the shock and grief caused by the Columbine tragedy and subsequently, in 2001, the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.
The project partnered with area schools, churches and social service organizations that provided the community, and especially teens, a chance to talk about the far reaching effects of the tragedies, which hard hit Bernards Township and the Somerset Hills. Unity in Community would become a model for effective collaborative initiatives in the community for years to come, the YMCA.
In 1999, Lomauro also was part of the establishment of a program combining substance abuse therapy with adventure training and team building exercises for homeless veterans at the Lyons campus of the Veterans Administration New Jersey Health Care System in Basking Ridge. Since 2003, proceeds from the Somerset Hills YMCA’s annual 5K Flag Day Run have raised as much as $120,000 for the Hope for Veterans Program run by Community Hope, Inc. at the VA campus. In October 2008, Community Hope, Inc., based in Parsippany, honored Lomauro for his support of the Hope for Veterans Program, which has helped more than 250 homeless veterans.
Additionally, Lomauro has overseen the successful launch of a $5 million endowment campaign for the Somerset Hills YMCA for future programs and support, the announcement said. To date, $3.1 million has been raised through that campaign, according to the YMCA.
The announcement said Lomauro was the guiding force behind the establishment of the Melissa Riggio Residence located on property adjacent to the Y’s main facility, an integrated, supportive housing residence for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Currently, Lomauro is spearheading the creation of a unique backyard at the YMCA's Mount Airy facility where youth will be invited and encouraged to enjoy unstructured, creative play away from everyday stresses.
"While the word that everyone uses is 'retirement," I prefer to think of as starting a new chapter of my life where I can continue to use my gifts, talents and the wisdom I have acquired through my experiences and continue to live the second part of my life on purpose," Lomauro added on Monday. He said he still wants to be "part of things that will bear fruit in the lives of others."
Lomauro said his YMCA career has helped him to lead a "purposeful life," and he said he is sure he will continued to be involved in some way in the future, as a member and donor for certain, a volunteer most likely and possibly in some other way. He said he also wants to spend more time with family and friends, travel, coach sports, take adventure hikes,and play more tennis and golf.
For more information, please visit the YMCA website or call the main Mount Airy facility at 908-766-7898.