YMCA leader resigns

Dean Buntley is out as CEO of the Tri-Cities Family YMCA, but representatives from the fitness organization are tight-lipped about why.
Marie Havenga
Jun 4, 2014


Ron Bultje, president of the local YMCA’s Board of Directors, confirmed Tuesday that Buntley recently resigned after seven years at the helm of the facility. Buntley’s active employment ended May 30, according to Bultje, who would not say whether Buntley was asked to resign or left by his choice.

“He has resigned, that’s all I can tell you,” Bultje said.

Buntley did not immediately respond to a message left for him on Facebook.

Michelle Bailey-Mesler, the fitness and program director for the Grand Haven YMCA, has been appointed acting CEO, according to Bultje.

Bultje said Bailey has more years of experience than other department heads. She started teaching fitness classes at the Y more than a dozen years ago and has served as fitness and program director since 2009. She was the fitness director of a YMCA in Central Kentucky for a year and half prior to moving to Grand Haven in 1999.

Bailey-Mesler earned a degree in health and rehabilitative programming at Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in exercise physiology at Ball State University.

“We appreciate her stepping up,” Bultje said. “Summertime is a busy time. Camps are going on. Races are going on. We don’t want to burn her out, but we’ll see how things go.”

The national YMCA will likely assist with a transition and search team, Bultje said.

“We’ll consider various options,” he said. “We don’t have anything concrete in place right now as far as the procedure we will use. We’re going to take our time and do it deliberately and thoughtfully.”

Bultje said choosing a replacement will be the decision of the 17-member board, and hiring Bailey-Mesler as the permanent CEO is not out of the question. However, he has not had that conversation with her and does not even know if she would be interested in the position.

Although Bultje declined to elaborate on Buntley’s departure, he praised Buntley’s commitment as CEO.

To read the whole story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



This comes as a surprise to my wife and I. We have always found him very pleasant to deal with. I wish him well and look forward to meeting his replacement.


Dean has been a pleasure to work with, and has brought great leadership to the YMCA during his time there. From his expansion of the summer camp programs to his strong advocating for the YMCA within the community, he has served faithfully there. He is moving on in good standing with the YMCA, and I wish him the very best in all he does.


Thank you Rusty. The way this was presented gave the impression something was wrong. It could have said " Dean Buntley moves to better position"


This is a poorly written article/headline...it fuels rumor and speculation similar to the coverage of Roger DeYoung. Also, is a Fitness Director qualified? Why weren't interviews held? Were minorities considered?


Don't get all your exercise (no pun intended) jumping to conclusions. They wouldn't hold interviews to appoint an interim person to oversee operations while the hiring process begins. Very, very normal to appoint someone on staff to fill this INTERIM position.

Rumors and speculation will be "fueled" far more by the asking of ill-informed questions than by anything the GHT is doing.

Oh, and isn't a female a "minority"?


You are absolutely correct Renegade. According to 2011 population statistics:
Total population 2011 est. 6 927 296 598 persons
Male population 2011 est. 3 487 869 561 persons
Female population 2011 est. 3 439 427 037 persons
That would make women a minority, although you would need a mathematician to find out exactly what that % is. chuckle, chuckle


I am not sure everything was a positive as you might think. You might find feedback from current and past staff interesting. My interaction with him (not a staff member) has not been positive. I may be the lone voice saying "it is about time". I hate to see the impact on any family affected by a job change, but I believe this change is good for GH.


I'm not sure where Rusty got his/her information from, however it isn't all roses as they make it seem. This is a long time coming for the YMCA. Buntley shook up a lot during his tenure and it was far from positive. I am a former staff member of the YMCA and he is not an easy person to work for by any stretch of the imagination. His decision making skills were sub-par at best and having Michelle as interim is a great fit for the YMCA and the Grand Haven community.


Is the land that the YMCA, parking area, recreation fields, Skate Park and Ski Bowl owned by the City of Grand Haven??? or is this another Duncan Woods under the table land project.

truth wins

Last time I saw the plans the YMCA building and a few feet on each side is owned by the YMCA. Everything else is owned by city of GH.


I think they own the parking behind the building but nothing in front after the service drive.


NO minorities weren't considered because a majority of us don't see color or gender as an issue unlike yourself , we see qualifications and best person for the job, what a dumb comment.


Thank you. The question raised by the racialist could also have included similar questions: Were morbidly obese candidates considered? Were Couch Potatoes considered? Did the YMCA ("Young Men's CHRISTIAN Association) discriminate against non-Christians, and should a group with such a name be permitted to even operate a facility in Grand Haven? After all, their mission is:

"OUR MISSION: The Tri-Cities Family YMCA strives to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all."

All this seems to be anti-Muslim, anti-atheist, misogynist, and disrespectful to many. Maybe the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance should put the YMCA into its gun sights, conduct an investigation, bring in the Obama/ Eric Holder Justice Department to force the YMCA to sign an agreement that it will change its name and its policies, that all of its employees and members will undergo diversity/sensitivity training, and report to the federal government for a number of years, just like GHAPS. (After all, the YMCA is a national organization; probably the IRS should take a look into it too).

You're welcome - I just proactively solved a huge community issue.


I am as glad as some of the others who are glad that Mr. Buntley AKA Mr. Square head is no longer the CEO of The YMCA. I am also a former employee and I do know that he was the most fake individual that you would ever meet.So Yayy! Maybe the employee's there now will feel more appreciated.


You thought so too, i work there for many years and some point they wanted me to drop my wages and become a volunteer !!!


As a former employee of the YMCA, I am glad he is gone. The board gave him far too much credit for far too long. He treated the staff poorly for the most part. He had no clue as to how the Y was run on a day to day basis and never once worked a full 40 hour workweek. He and his wife/exwife never paid for camps and ACE Place while we were paying more out in camp fees than we made when we put our kids in programs.


Wow it is really eye opening to see what kind of comments are being written here about Mr. Buntley. As a long time member of the Grand Haven community it is disappointing and frankly disgusting that anyone would post these type of rude and immature comments. Please consider that this is a human being and that these comments are public. Leaders within the community should not be chastised. Any adult that thinks social media is an outlet to post your disgusting commentary should look in the mirror and evaluate themselves. Truly ashamed to be a member in the GH community right now.

Barry Soetoro

Wait until the Dining Divas show up.


lol :)


Well GHforLife not everyone shares your opinion about Dean Buntley. The nice thing about modern technology and the power of the First Amendment is that it actually is OK for people to voice their opinions about Dean Buntley in a forum such as this and who are you to judge them? I support all the people that have encountered Mr Squarehead as a self absorbed arrogant man. He is so far off from the christian mission the YMCA lives by. He has no empathy for anyone who cannot help him better himself and surely no understanding of minority groups. He is also a man of questionable morals and judgment going through months of legal drama he created with his divorce (very interesting matter of public record btw). Mr. Buntley thinks he is a little more important than he really is. His dismissal from the Y in Grand Haven is a blessing for all the hard working people who will not have to be subjected to his harsh lack of tolerance and the public that will be free of his lack of vision for a great YMCA organization.


GH414...You are very contradictory in your statement. The fact that you talk about Christianity in one sentence and call someone "Mr. Squarehead" in the next is baffling to me. Modern technology and The First Amendment are not reasons to be inconsiderate and rude in a public forum. Irrespective of what your feelings are toward Mr. Buntley, it is not necessary to post them here. I'm not trying to start a debate, all I am saying is please please please think about the negative comments you are posting. Everyone has a family, no one is perfect, and it is not right to bash people regardless of your personal opinions. It is not going to resolve any beef you have with Mr. Buntley. Also, discussing his private matters is not tasteful nor is it morally or ethically right.


As a staff person for over 4 years, I can speak to Dean's competency. I've had nothing but great interactions with him. I've seen him actively advocate for the YMCA in a number of forums, including Grand Haven Rotary Club, and Grand Haven Community Foundation. Everybody brings strengths and weaknesses into a position, but it's particularly sad to see people bravely throw stones at Dean from behind their anonymous screen names. GH141, so nice of you to stick your nose into Dean's personal life, and insinuate that things going on there are "legal drama he created". Are you Dean? Are you his wife? Then what business do you have there? You must be a person of amazing small character and quality.


Dean's leaving is one of the best things to happen to the YMCA. So glad to see him gone! The biggest fake I have ever met. I hope that Michelle listens to the members and employees.


I think you all should be ashamed of yourselves. Dean Buntley has worked very hard at the Tri Cities Family YMCA for the past 7 years. Every time I was there (daily) he was there greeting the members and staff with a smile and handshake. I would even drive by and see him working after hours many nights. He was very active in the community and always in high spirts. As a member of the Y for many years, the changes he and his family brought to this community and the Y have been positive and beneficial to all involved.
Dean will be very much missed at the YMCA as his leadership was remarkable and we were very lucky to have had him there for as long as we did.
I wish he and his family the very best. And for all those people speaking out of ignorance, please remember his family and small children when you do this. It's heartbreaking.
Dean, we all wish you the best.

Beentheredonethat 2

Dean was/is a mixed bag. He can be compassionate and caring, and then he can be as cold as ice. I worked closely with him and I saw both sides of his personality. For those who knew him socially, I am sure he "presented" well; big smile, handshake, a mover and a shaker. To most of us who worked with him, well, he was unpredictable. I do not hate him but as a woman old enough to be his mother, I often wanted to shake him. I am sorry to learn of his divorce and do wish him well, but those who have commented negatively were obviously hurt by his actions...as I was. People are only being truthful here and expressing their relief that he is elsewhere and no longer affecting the GH "Y" and their staff, negatively.


Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on GrandHavenTribune.com? Create a new account today to get started.