May 22, 2023
A Denver YMCA Board Member and Executive Shares
A great first job can have a big impact. Just ask Denverite Nicole Riehl. While Riehl is now President & CEO of Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC), she still distinctly remembers opening and looking at her very first paycheck from the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver.
“In that moment, I felt so grown up and proud of the work I had done to earn that paycheck,” she shared. “It was a huge milestone in my young life, and I was excited for the opportunity and the future career journey it represented.”
Riehl’s first jobs were at her childhood elementary school as part of the Arvada-Susan Duncan YMCA’s Before & After school program and also as a lifeguard and swim teacher, which she did for a full summer before moving out of the area. At the Y, she quickly discovered a love for working with children and developing relationships with families, which would become central to her “future career journey.”
“It was very fulfilling to watch children develop new skills and achieve goals, and then help them share that news and celebrate with their families,” she shared. “These roles prepared me for my career in many ways. For example, I learned how to communicate with parents on their children’s progress. Swim lessons gave me the opportunity to develop and refine the ways to celebrate success and deliver constructive feedback, which are skills I have used throughout my career.”
Since that time, Riehl has served in several leadership development programs and continued to expand her skills working with children, families and communities. Currently she leads EPIC, collaborating with other business executives and employers to advocate for early childhood policies and better workplace solutions for families.
“My direct experience with children and families is something that always guides my work whether I am testifying to a legislative committee or working with an employer to build onsite childcare for their employees,” Riehl shared.
She also serves on the YMCA of Metro Denver Board of Directors, which Riehl described as “an incredible ‘full circle’ opportunity.”
“The Y was a safe place that supported my development and learning early on in my life,” she explained. “To volunteer and serve on the Board…has enabled me to see even more aspects of the great people and work behind the Y. The people are the ‘secret sauce’ to any great organization, and this is certainly true for the Y.”
Riehl volunteers on the board’s Programs Committee, which helps the Y integrate new programs and expand early childhood services to more families. She has recently played a key role in helping shape the Y’s implementation of Universal Preschool in Colorado.
Based on her own experience, lifeguarding and similar positions can be a great first jobs, and Riehl encourages teenagers and young adults to get connected with a job at the Y if they have the option. The YMCA of Metropolitan Denver is one of 5 associations across the state and, collectively, are one of its largest employers hiring year-around and seasonally for early child care teachers, summer camp counselors, swim instructors, child watch/Adventure Zone personnel, experience representatives and more.
Interested in work that matters? Learn about seasonal, part-time and full-time positions working with children and families for the YMCA of Metro Denver. Visit https://denverymca.org/employment.
Senior Director, Human Resources