Originally published by the Office of Alumni Relation.
Ed Lee (DIV ’17) is the Vice President of Social Responsibility and Chaplain for the YMCA South Hampton Roads Virginia. He has made an incredible investment by working with the Y for 35 years. Ed recently completed his Master in Practical Theology with an emphasis in Marketplace Ministry to gain the necessary skills needed as a chaplain. For the YMCA, he started off fresh out of college at Old Dominion University with an internship that later lead to his first full-time employment as a Program Director at the Mount Trashmore location. Since then, Ed has held multiple titles prior to his current position. These include: Downtown Norfolk Fitness Center Director, Suffolk Executive Director, Blocker Norfolk Executive Director, and District Vice President.
Ed explained that as the VP for Social responsibility, his job is focused on mission advancement and mission protection. “One of the big programs that we do to encourage mission advancement is Togetherhood. This is a member led, volunteer program that searches for needs in the local community. They then partner with an organization to serve those needs by creating a special project. Mission protection is about protecting youth, protecting members and protecting staff. Things like child abuse prevention, aquatic safety, employee safety, injury prevention, emergency response. Those types of things that I work with other staff to get those things accomplished.”
“For my chaplain services, I get called upon if there is a need for mediation, mentoring, conflict resolution, or investigation if there is a situation concerning alleged abuse. I also provide staff care with prayer support and life transformation groups.”
Ed shared that there are both challenges and rewards to what he does. “Mediation is hard. If you think it is easy, you are probably not going to be good at it. It requires a lot of prayer and listening but I have received some experience over the years in how to handle a lot of different situations. I think one of the helpful forces was a counseling and conflict resolution class that I took with Dr. Mark Jumper. I was able to meld the experience I’ve had in years past with what I learned in the classroom to help me be more effective at what I do.” Ed continued, “I think that the things that are challenging are the things that are rewarding. When a staff person has an issue, they feel like they are all alone. I enjoy coming in there to provide encouragement and support to lead them toward the right decision and helping them realize that not all good decisions are based on just one person’s thinking.”
In addition to all Ed does in the office, he is also an avid runner. “I’ve been a marathon runner for years. I ran with the track and cross country team at Virginia Tech and ODU and have not stopped since then.” Interestingly enough, Ed has ran the Boston Marathon twice with the hopes of qualifying a third time following the Marine Corps Marathon this fall.
Out of an internship needed with his Regent coursework, Ed took his passion of running to form Beautiful Feet Running Club for 2nd – 5th graders which is based on Isaiah 52:7, and Romans 10:15. “I partnered with Park Place School, a Christian school for at-risk kids who are having trouble in public schools and are falling behind academically.” With the support of a nearby YMCA, they were able to welcome in 26 kids as an after school program. Unlike a normal practice, the structure was what made this time impactful. “Each week I would have a scripture theme and within that scripture I would talk about a life lesson. Turns out, the kids volunteered to read the scriptures out loud…at the end we all held hands together in a circle and we prayed in the middle of a local public school where the field was located. It was an awesome experience.” Ed plans to carry out this ministry for both the fall and spring of each year.
Ed heard about Regent through a peculiar situation. “In my career, I was very committed to the Christian mission at the Y. The COO at the time asked me to be the Staff Liaison for the Christian Emphasis Committee. One of the things that I did every year was the annual prayer breakfast which was held at The Founders Inn and Regent was one of our partners. That was my first exposure and I saw then that everything there was done first class.”
“Going to Regent gave me the credentials to be more effective. It gave me more insight on how I could do my job better. I can care and love people but to have that experience of learning the principles and practices it takes to do that has really made an impact on me.”
In closing, Ed shared some encouragement for our alumni community. “Take the Regent mission as a mandate. We have a mandate to change the world for Christ. I encourage you to pursue that. Any job that you are in, keep working hard with that goal in mind.”
Jacob Ragsdale works for Regent University office of Alumni Relations.