Riedinger leads the way to healthy minds and bodies
Americans are known for being not only mobile between careers, but also mobile within a single career. Wade Riedinger, though, is neither. Since he graduated from college 17 years ago, he has worked for a single employer, the YMCA.
Riedinger, who was hired last September as the vice president of operations for the YMCA of Greater Des Moines, said he became hooked on the organization while growing up in Indiana. As a child, he participated in the YMCA summer camp programs. As a young adult in high school and college, he took on the role as a camp counselor. When it was time to get a full-time job, it was natural for him to turn once again to the organization with which he had developed such a strong attachment.
“As a camper, I had the opportunity to meet people who made a difference in my life in helping me to make the right choices,” Riedinger said. “It was a group that I really wanted to stay involved with, and also what has brought me here today.”
Riedinger was an executive director at an Indianapolis YMCA branch prior to coming to Des Moines, where he now oversees the eight area branches. Though he had spent his whole life in Indiana, he moved to Iowa with little trepidation, based on the stellar nationwide reputation of the Des Moines Y system.
“The reputation of the Des Moines YMCAs carry across the United States,” Riedinger said. “This area is known for their programming, their partnerships, and their community involvement. The strength of the community support here is very evident, as the YMCAs are really intertwined within the communities.”
The biggest change for Riedinger has been that instead of working with individual YMCA members, he works with the branches’ staffs. The overall goal of meeting the needs of the membership is the same, but he is challenged with carrying it into different communities.
Though both the Y and for-profit health clubs help people become more active to fight obesity and disease, Riedinger says his organization retains a different focus. “Where your health clubs are really concentrating on the physical fitness aspect, we’re looking at building strong families and communities,” Riedinger said. “I feel that the health clubs provide a service to the community, but we can provide a support system by creating opportunities for the family unit to grow together.”
Riedinger has a family of his own, a wife and two daughters, ages 7 and 4. He says he is glad to have the opportunity to raise his daughters with the “good Midwestern values” he grew up with, and he appreciates that his work environment is conducive to having a family.
“Sometimes when there are work requirements, those requirements can involve your family,” Riedinger said. “If there is a family night event that I need to be present at as a staff member, I get to bring my family.”