In February, the Valley of the Sun YMCA celebrates and honors Black History Month by spotlighting our super talented employees of the Black community. Meet Amber Mayer, Program Director of Childcare at Southwest Valley Family YMCA who has been working for the Y for over a year.

What brought you to the Valley of the Sun YMCA?

I worked for the YMCA in Chicago, and I love the Y. I love the YMCA’s mission, the core values, and I think they along well with my personal morals and values. I just want to be able to come to a place like the Y and continue to make an impact on the younger generation.

Tell me a fun fact about you.

Fun fact, I was in American’s Got Talent in 2017. It’s a crazy story because I auditioned and I got through, but decided not to pursuit competition, which was incredibly sad. It was season 7 if anyone wants to watch!

What does Black History Month mean to you?

I love Black History Month because it gives us the opportunity to share our stories and experiences, and learn as well from other people and what their experiences are and what they have been through and overcome. Also, I love the historical aspect of hearing the stories of those who came before us and being able to share them with other people that may not know them or who want to learn more about how they can connect more with the black experience.

Share with us a favorite quote or saying from the black leaders throughout history that has impacted you!

“To be young, gifted, and black” from Lorraine Hansberr. I resonate with it a lot because being black in America can be often seen as negative or hardship, and often people see it from an oppressive angle. I like to see it from an opportunity to be different and unique, and to share my unique talents and gifts. As a 24 year old black woman, I have a lot to offer. So to be able to be authentically me and share those unique gifts and talents, it is more important to me than the oppression, the negatives and the deficits.

How diversity has impacted your work at the Y

When the Y says they are a community organization for all, they mean that; because we see people come through the Y door that come from different cultures and races, ethnicities, economic statuses, and just to be able to be part of the movement that accepts people for who they are, and nothing else. It is really important because that’s how people are going to show you who they truly are, and who they authentically are. So, to be a part of such an accepting and open organization that allows you to be as you are is a gift, because that doesn’t happen everywhere. Being a black woman a part of the Y, bringing my gifts and talents to my program allows me to grow individually as a person, and it also allows me to challenge my kids, my team, and my colleagues in a way that the black experience allows me to.

Can you share a piece of advice with someone of the black community who is trying to pursue a career?

Don’t allow anyone’s perception of you to shape your identity of who you are because you are who you are. I am Amber. I am a black woman. I am bubbly. I am authentic and those are things that I bring to the table automatically that are non-negotiable. Those things will not change about me. You can change your habits, your work ethic, and more about you in a workplace and in a work community, but the core of who you are, your morals, your values, and your identity; those are yours, own that! That is what is going to have an impact on people more than any of the work you do.