The Meriden-New Britain-Berlin YMCA announced two promotions of key officers on Tuesday. The former branch executive director of the Meriden YMCA Steven Markoja was promoted to chief operating officer and Carmen Chaparro was promoted to Markoja’s former role as executive director — the first woman and the first Latina to fill that role.
Markoja joined the YMCA 24 years ago as a child care teacher and has worked in several positions for the organization, including Youth Development, Membership and Operations.
“I enjoy having the ability to grow new programs and work with a lot of people. It’s exciting to get up every day and do what I love to do,” he said of his new position. “I want to continue to do what I’ve always done – to be a community asset and help the YMCA.”
CEO of the Meriden-New Britain-Berlin YMCA John Benigni also highlighted Markoja’s experience in different departments.
“Steve’s leadership skills, knowledge of the inner workings of operations across the YMCA branches, hands-on approach to working with the team and his ability to execute are an asset to our Y and the communities we serve,” he said.
Even though he’s leaving behind his role as executive director, Markoja highlighted the work of his successor.
“I’m excited for Carmen. She’s earned this role,” he said.
Chaparro joined the YMCA 12 years ago to lead fundraising and community events, grow donations and build collaborations with community organizations. Two years ago she added the job of membership director to her community engagement role.
“It’s been an experience. It’s been a great ride — being able to help out the community. I’m very humbled and very proud to be the first woman and the first Latina to serve,” she said.
Benigni also highlighted Chaparro’s outreach work and said that her promotion would allow Markoja to help expand the association’s operations while caring for the Meriden community.
“Our Y is fortunate to have Steve and Carmen on our leadership team and we are excited about their passion for serving the Y’s mission and making an even greater impact in the lives of kids, families and adults in our communities,” Benigni added.
Moving forward, Chaparro hopes to continue to offer the same standard of programs in the community and add outreach to the Latino community.
“We have programs that we’d like to reach out to the Latin community,” she said. “My goal is to be able to help the community in other forms that we haven’t been able to do yet.”