Michael Bussey's 55-year history with the YMCA started at the age of 15 when he worked as an assistant counselor at Camp Christmas Tree, a Minneapolis day camp. "It was the first time I realized that I could be paid for doing something I loved," says Mike, who earned $30 that summer.
Mike graduated from Minnetonka High School in 1965 and later from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1969 with a degree in business. "There were lots of business jobs available," says Mike, "but I was fully committed to the mission of the YMCA." With the encouragement of his camp director, Mike pursued his passion and started his career as a program director with the YMCA of Greater St. Paul.
After working for four years with the St. Paul YMCA, Mike and his wife, Marcia, accepted positions as Work Service Workers with the YMCA in Nazareth, Israel. Mike served as the youth sports director, which, among other things, included coaching the only Arab team in a Jewish basketball league.
The Busseys returned to Minnesota and to the YMCA in 1977 where Mike became director at YMCA Camp St. Croix. "It was my dream job," Mike reflects. In 1983, he become the VP of Operations and Financial Development at the YMCA of Greater St. Paul.
In 1990, he was selected by the YMCA to return to the Middle East, this time to direct the Jerusalem International YMCA. Mike's return to Jerusalem coincided with the start of the Gulf War. He remained in Jerusalem, but his wife and children were evacuated by the State Department. It was around that time that he was contacted by Minnetonka High School and told that he was in everyone's thoughts and prayers back home. "I will always be grateful for that message at a very challenging time," Mike reflects. Under Mike's leadership, the Jerusalem International YMCA was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Mike returned to the U.S. in 1998 to serve as a national consultant for the YMCA, working with 375 YMCAs in 14 Midwest states. In 2009, Mike retired from the YMCA and became a Senior Consultant with Donor By Design, a consulting firm that helps not-for-profit organizations carry out their missions.
Mike is thankful for the encouragement he received, as well as the lifelong relationship he has had with Minnetonka schools. "I'm amazed when I think back at how many times throughout my life that Minnetonka High School has reached out to express support," says Mike, who remains a proud Skipper to this day.