Sabrina Murphy, New Moon Rising at Rye Y
By Robin Jovanovich
After a strong, longtime leader moves on, it’s often hard to fill those shoes and even harder for his or her replacement to measure up. The Rye YMCA’s new chief executive officer, Sabrina Murphy, dispels all such notions. Having worked at Ys for 33 years, she needs no lifesaving instruction.
Murphy moved to town on July 4th after 26 years in Yarmouth, Maine. She didn’t have much time to celebrate the holiday as her first day on the job was the following day. Happily, the commute to work is 30 seconds flat from her Mead Place home.
In Bath, Maine, she helped convert a former Navy fitness center into a branch YMCA, served as its director, and, in 2010, became its first female CEO.
“It was an older community and we offered evidence-based health programs, like Rye — Walk with Ease, Diabetes, Parkinson’s — and like Rye, we pivoted when the pandemic arrived,” she said in an interview at her office in the Locust Avenue building. “We offered emergency childcare and had a fleet of veggie vans. Every Y always steps up and meets needs when needs change.”
While Murphy started off her professional life teaching high school English, she developed a keen interest in youth development. “I worked at Ys over summers and always felt part of a strong community,” she recalled. “It was the same feeling I had growing up on the St. Bonaventure campus where my father taught philosophy.” (Her mother is an artist and was an art teacher.)
She stopped by Rye Y Camp on the hottest day of the summer and came away smiling “because all the kids were happy. That’s what a Y experience is.”
Her goals are to continue amplifying what the Y does and put the strategic plan, which is 85 percent complete, into action to best meet the needs of members and increase community outreach and financial aid.
“Rye was a good move for me and my children — my son lives in Queens and my daughter is a freshman at Mt. Holyoke,” she said. “We’ll always have that Maine connection, because my parents who live in East Aurora, New York, have a summer home in Maine.”
Two weeks after Murphy moved in, Blind Brook got high, and she was all ears as stakeholders shared their flooding stories. “I liked School Superintendent Dr. Byrne’s suggestion: to put a camera on the bridge!”