The 2019 NEYCC Keynotes

Jeff Merhige

From 1998 to 2002, Jeff served as the Director of Financial Development and Camping services for the Ann Arbor YMCA where we oversaw the operation of two facility day camps (Camp Birkett and Camp Cedar Lake) and an overnight camp in northern Michigan (Al-Gon-Quian).

From 2002 to the end of 2013, Jeff served as the Executive Director of YMCA Camp Kern near Dayton, Ohio.  His time there was highlighted by raising over 7 million dollars, building over 20 new buildings and activity areas including the first YMCA Zipline Educational Canopy Tour called: “Ozone Zipline Adventures.”

Jeff and his staff team accomplishments have been featured in two editions of the national management book “The Disney way.” The Kern team was represented in 2007 for implementing the Disney Philosophy at camp.  The latest edition, published in 2016, featured the first two years in Nashville and changing the staff culture into one of excellence. The results of have led to leading one of the fastest business turn arounds in camping from a negative 450K net loss into a net positive operation in 4 years.

Jeff is currently the Executive Director of the Joe C Davis YMCA Outdoor Center home of Camp Widjiwagan in Nashville, TN. He has filled this role since 2014. In addition, Jeff is currently the Co-Chairman of the new YUSA Overnight Camp Cabinet responsible to elevate YMCA camping in all 320 YMCA camps and conference centers in the USA.

Jeff speaks at national conferences on multiple subjects and helps camps in and out of the YMCA network in achieving their goals of excellence. Jeff is married to Amy (Whom he met at camp) and has two children (Luke 14 and Sydney 10) who attend three camps each a summer (Widjiwagan, Kern, Surf Camp (Luke) and Camp Juliet Lo and Widjiwagan (Sydney).

Jennie Erdle

Jennie Erdle is a proficient regional and national leader and practitioner within the field of Higher Education for the past 15 years.  Jennie serves on numerous local, regional and national committees and boards in Upstate New York such as Finger Lakes Works Youth Investment Board and New York State Veteran’s Outreach through the State University of New York (SUNY), and is the only Community College representative on the Nominations & Leadership Committee within the National Orientation Directors Association.

Jennie’s passion for social justice and diversity is evident through her work with Habitat for Humanity where she served two terms as board president for Ontario County.  She continues to volunteer with 4-H Camp Bristol Hills where she attended as a child, and became a staff member through her young adult years. Jennie also serves as a guest panelist for the Ontario/Yates Fund for Women and Girls’ “Voices of Experience” focusing on igniting growth and developmental opportunities for at-risk-youth.

The Women’s Initiative on Leadership program at Finger Lakes Community College, created and implemented by Jennie, has received national acclaim for its exploration of personal and professional development that brings college and university students, faculty, staff and business women/men together.

Jennie earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Sports Communication and Recreation Administration from Ashland University, in Ohio as well as her Masters of Education in Higher Education Administration degree from Boston College, in Chestnuthill, MA.

Keynote Topic: The Impact of Personalities…Moving Beyond the Letters!

Synopsis: Many psychologists like to talk about our traits, or defended characteristics that make us who we are. This interactive discussion will dive into moments when we transcend those traits, because sometimes our jobs, culture, family influence, and personal lives demand it of us, and sometimes we demand it of ourselves.  This talk will be engaging the surprising differences between our personalities, but most importantly, explains why our personalities may be more pliable than we think.