Extend-A-Care YMCA Leader Retires After 40-Year Career in Education


Dr. Joan Altobelli, a longtime local educator and leader of Extend-A-Care for Kids (now the Extend-A-Care YMCA), is retiring on January 29, 2021, after a career spanning more than 40 years.

In addition to her position heading Extend-A-Care, which merged with the YMCA of Austin in January, 2020, to become the largest local child care provider, Dr. Altobelli served as Special Education Director for both the Austin Independent School District and Leander ISD.

“Joan’s legacy in affordable, quality child care for working parents, particularly women, is her gift to the community,” said Sean Taylor, Board Chair for the Extend-A-Care YMCA. “Through her work, she has provided opportunities and peace-of-mind for parent-workers and students, as well as employers, while giving us all hope for the future of our Nation.”

In her role as Vice President of Licensed Child Care Services for the Extend-A-Care YMCA, Dr. Altobelli supervised afterschool child care services at more than 100 area elementary schools as well as preschool and infant care programs. However, within months of completing the merger, the Covid-19 pandemic forced an abrupt change of course. Presented with the unprecedented disruption, she led the Extend-A-Care Y team to transform its delivery methods quickly in order to provide safe child care for essential workers. When local school districts adopted a virtual approach, the Extend-A-Care Y adapted yet again to support virtual learning. As a result, since March, no organization has provided more in-person child care locally than the Extend-A-Care Y, with staff literally putting themselves at risk to meet community needs.

Joan and the EAC YMCA team were instrumental in restructuring organizational processes and teams, while keeping community needs front and center through the difficult process. Joan feels transformed for having worked with a team that literally put themselves at risk to advance community needs during this time.

“Although Joan practices total quality improvement through use of data throughout the organization, she roots her work in honest, trusting relationships in which she empowers her team and respects their decisions,” said James Finck, YMCA of Austin President & CEO

Town Hall Meetings and 360 surveys were hallmarks of Dr. Altobelli’s leadership, encouraging collaboration and welcoming the insights and perspective of the team.

“Joan wants to elevate the staff by providing opportunities to enjoy professional development and once-in-a-lifetime experiences through participation in and presenting at national conferences,” said Jaime Garcia, Executive Director of the Extend-A-Care YMCA. “She supports staff members to join her in holding elected and appointed offices in national, state and local organizations. She invests in the staff, knowing in turn they would be invested in the organization and community.”

Altobelli also prioritized giving young adults with disabilities work opportunities through internships and a classroom at the EAC Y Business Office. Whatever the job, she embraced a joy-in-work theme, by planning shared meals, refreshments and activities during frequent holiday celebrations and experiential parties and unique interactive retreat locations.

She retires to her Spicewood, Texas, home with her wife, their cat and lovely Hill Country surroundings. Joan plans to spend more time with her daughters, granddaughters, sewing machine, and gardening. She also plans to get involved in political activism around women’s issues and the Democratic Party. A return to adjunct teaching online graduate courses may also be in her future.

All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to info@austinymca.org

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