studio (un)scripted: 5 questions with matt ferraguto.


The studio is my happy place, where is yours? 

Central Park. I live and work on opposite sides of the park, so I get the privilege of walking home through the park every day. It’s the perfect way to decompress after work! Nearly every weekend, our dog Colby and we also take advantage of Central Park’s off-leash hours (the whole park is off-leash until 9AM every day) — one of the most underrated benefits of living in NYC!

You have decades of experience in working with non-profit organizations and their strategies specific to communications and marketing efforts. Why did you decide to go into nonprofits and what has made you stay?

Throughout my career, I’ve sought out opportunities to be a part of meaningful work. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find that in the government, nonprofit, and business sectors. My heart has always been in the nonprofit sector, but I wouldn’t be as valuable to my current team as I am without the experience and expertise I gained in government and one kick-ass agency (Eckel & Vaughan). No matter where I’ve worked, I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to be surrounded by colleagues who are passionate about what they do and why they do it.

You recently moved from NC to the Big Apple to oversee some incredible things that the YMCA is doing. What was it about the opportunity that was so enticing to you and your family? 

Let me be honest: if you asked me 3 years ago to list the cities I’d like to end up in, NYC wouldn’t have cracked the top 10. We moved here for a huge opportunity for my wife (she’s the Chair of Pediatrics at NewYork – Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Hospital), and I had ZERO appreciation for everything NYC has to offer! The best part about living here is the job — I love working for the YMCA of Greater New York and discovering and sharing stories about their community impact. I’ve always admired the Y, but had no idea about their work related to supporting immigrants, New Yorkers struggling with homelessness, and so many more communities.

In that role, you continue to do some very cool things. For example, spearheading the development of a partnership with the Knicks. Tell us more about how that came about, what it looks like moving forward and any other BTS successes you’re willing to share. 

The New York Knicks and the Y had a long partnership that fizzled a few years ago, and we were able to re-engage the team when John Starks ran a brief clinic for youth at the opening of the new Northeast Bronx YMCA in 2021. Since it was clear both organizations wanted to continue to work together, we worked to craft a partnership that would be mutually beneficial and not create an excessive burden on our capacity-challenged nonprofit team. We found that in Saturday Night Lights (the Y’s free, Saturday night program offered to teens at 17 locations citywide). 

The Knicks send coaches and alumni including John Starks and Larry Johnson to run clinics for the teens and chat with them about success, friendship, and life. In the last two years, we’ve expanded the partnership to include opportunities for teens to play on court at MSG before Knicks games, additional clinics at Y Afterschool and summer camp programs, and even a career event (coming in 2024!). Through it all, the Knicks have embraced the Y’s commitment to create meaningful, memorable experiences for youth.

Our team’s biggest communications win this year came just a couple of weeks ago! One of the hosts of GMA3, DeMarco Morgan, decided he wanted to learn to swim as an adult, and partnered with the Y to do it. He took weekly lessons over the summer, chronicling his journey along the way. This resulted in two incredible pieces (“Swimming While Black” Part 1 and Part 2) on racial disparities in drownings and access to swim.

If you could ask me anything, what would it be?

I just heard a great icebreaker question for meetings and would love to know your answer! “What’s something totally useless that you still have memorized?” (Mine is a Russian poem by Lermontov from the 1800s that I memorized in high school.)

Follow Matt on LinkedIn to follow all of the cool things he and the YMCA of Greater New York are doing.

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