Ron Sites, a longtime volunteer and coordinator of YMCA military partnerships, takes over his new role as the executive director of Fighter Country Partnership, a support group for Luke Air Force Base. Sites replaces Steve Yamamori. Sites, 36, lives in Litchfield Park with his wife of nine years, Monica, and children Emma Marie, 6, and Anders, 3. He formerly headed the Southwest Valley YMCA. The Republic’s Cecilia Chan talked to Sites. Excerpts are below:
Question: Tell us a bit about your work coordinating the YMCA’s military partnership.
Answer: The YMCA’s Military Outreach Program is designed to assist families of deployed Reserve and National Guard. The theory behind the program is during deployment, the family doesn’t have the same services and programs available to them that an active-duty military installation has available to them. Once this program was established with the Armed Services YMCA and the Department of Defense, it was up to the local YMCA associations around the country to establish relationships within the military to educate them about the opportunities that existed for these eligible families.
I was an executive director within our Valley of the Sun YMCA association, who jumped at this opportunity. So I took on the challenge and started creating relationships within the National Guard and Reserve across Maricopa County. Now, the Valley of the Sun Y services over 700 deployed Reserve and National Guard families.
Q: What attracted you to the job of executive director for Fighter Country Partnership?
A: During my time working with the National Guard and Reserve, I established strong relationships with Luke AFB through their Honorary Commanders Program, which Steve Yamamori invited me to be a part of. I quickly realized what gave me the most satisfaction with the Y: It was assisting the families of the military. With Fighter Country Partnership, I now get to focus 100 percent of my time on my greatest passion. That is a privilege I have a hard time explaining. I view this occupation as my opportunity to “serve.” How cool is that?
Q: You will be the support group’s third executive director. How would your leadership be different from your predecessor? How will it be the same?
A: The main “difference” will be the background I come from, but that will not outweigh what is the “same.” The passion the past executive directors and board members share for supporting the mission, men, women and families of Luke AFB is incredibly strong in all of us. My background will provide us all the opportunity to continue to grow this organization into what we all want it to be. It was not easy for Steve to step away from this responsibility, and he has shared with me the goals he wants to see accomplished. I share those same goals, and have a few extra ones of my own to implement as well.
Q: Under Yamamori’s tenure, he increased the membership and budget by more than 300 percent in four years. What are some of your anticipated accomplishments?
A: This goes back to the goals that Steve Yamamori and Charley Freericks (Fighter Country Partnership’s current board chair) have shared with me that they want to see accomplished. Membership and fundraising are going to be continued efforts going forward. I look forward to working closely with local municipalities, especially Glendale, as we set and accomplish our goals. My other main anticipated accomplishments will be the implementation of better collaborations with local business, large and small alike, as well as the use of grant dollars that are available for specific programs and services where there is need. One area that always felt great at the Y was receiving grants dollars for child care, and that is one specific area where I want to focus my attention. I know what taking care of a 6- and 3-year-old is like, and I also understand the importance of child care and youth development. I want to provide that same opportunity to those families on base.