From Corporate to Nonprofit: How a Public Relations Alumnus Has Impacted Greater Cleveland and Kent State
Kent State alumnus Richard Batyko, M.A., ’12, has committed his life and career to making the world, specifically Greater Cleveland, a better place.
Professionally, as Chief Marketing Officer of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, he leads marketing, public relations and communications efforts for 11 branches of the YMCA in Cuyahoga, Lorain, Geauga and Portage counties.
Many might just know the YMCA as a place to work out, but the global nonprofit’s mission is greater; Batyko and his colleagues are dedicated to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. It is a place for everyone, no matter gender, sexual orientation, religion or skin color, he says.
“It’s a nice drive home when you think about how you made Greater Cleveland a little better, and tomorrow I get to do it again,” said Batyko.
Since taking on his role, Batyko’s biggest project has been moving the organization into the digital age. When he arrived in 2019, there was still a long way to go, and “to compete with competitors, you have to become sophisticated,” he said.
Batyko’s work also supports Y-Haven, which provides substance use disorder treatment, mental health counseling and interim housing.
“At Y-Haven, we take people that are broken, and we give them the family they never had,” said Batyko, “we show them the care they deserve, and we help get them on their feet.”
Batyko’s efforts to make Greater Cleveland a better place don’t stop in his professional life. He dedicates himself to shaping the future of the communications field in more than one way. His two children, Erica, B.S. ’15, M.A. ’18, and Bobby, ’14, graduated from Kent State with degrees in public relations, and from 2014-2017, he taught at Kent State as an adjunct instructor.
This year, he and the YMCA are working with Kent State University advertising and public relations seniors in the capstone class, Campaigns in Advertising and Public Relations. The YMCA faces an awareness issue regarding its mission — that it’s a nonprofit organization serving its community, not just a gym. The students are tasked with creating a campaign with the goal to raise awareness about the organization and its mission as a way to leverage membership with prospective and current members.
“Students bring a fresh perspective,” said Batyko, “they’re not bound by anything, so they’re bringing us fresh ideas and new ways to look at things, which will most likely take us out of our comfort zone.”
Throughout his professional career, Batyko worked for a range of companies, from Director of Communications at Babcox & Wilcox to Director of Brand Management for Honeywell. While working in the private sector, he realized he had achieved everything he wanted to achieve.
“I was looking for more purpose in my life,” said Batyko, “My wife is a teacher, and I really loved how passionate she was about her job and how she was changing lives. I wanted to do that.”
He jumped into the nonprofit sector with the Cleveland Foundation, which guided economic development. Now, he dedicates his extensive experience and knowledge to making a positive impact by showcasing the YMCA as a “place of unity.”
“Our doors are wide open, especially in this era, where there is so much division, some of it politically motivated,” Batyko said. “We ignore all of that. We just welcome everybody in.”
His work with Kent State students will include helping them conduct real research to inform their campaigns, acting as a source of information and point of contact for the YMCA. At the end of the semester, he’ll be part of judging the campaigns along with other professionals to determine which team of advertising and public relations students had the best plan.
“My whole career, in part, has been dedicated to bringing young professionals into the field, and I learn so much from young professionals; it’s a two-way street,” said Batyko.
Five Questions with Richard Batyko, M.A. '12
Public relations graduate research class
Favorite Place to Get Food:
Favorite Thing You Did at Kent:
Participating in global classrooms and getting to meet people from all over the world
One Piece of Advice:
Network with absolutely everyone.