The ebullient Sol Adler has been executive director of 92nd Street Y (92Y) since 1988.
92Y is a cultural and community center which welcomes people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds.
“I’ve been here for more than 30 years,” says Adler. “Every year, I am so proud of what we accomplish at 92Y, and grateful to have the opportunity to lead this remarkable institution.”
Adler and his team at 92Y are ambitious about the prominent organization and constantly keeping an eye toward the future.
“We are always looking for new ways to serve our current community,” he explains, “and to reach out to geographically diverse communities here in New York and around the world.”
This year alone 92Y has witnessed some incredible programs, many of which have been livecast to extend their reach beyond the center’s walls. 92Y has had programs featuring fashion icon Marc Jacobs, former Mayor Ed Koch and many more notable names.
In January of this year, 92Y also offered their very first online class—a Molly Peacock poetry seminar on sonnets, which was conducted from Peacock’s home in Toronto for students all across the US and Canada.
Adler says online classes present opportunities that simply cannot take place in a physical classroom. “There is definitely more of that to come,” he adds.
“As always, our audiences here in the hall continue to enjoy talents like the incomparable pianist András Schiff and today’s most compelling authors, like Michael Chabon and Zadie Smith, who opened our Poetry Center season,” explains Adler.
Soon 92Y will celebrate the 75th anniversary of their renowned Poetry Center.
The institution will also celebrate the 25th anniversary of its educational outreach program, which brings teaching artists into public schools and brings students into 92Y’s concert hall. Adler says this program reaches about 8,000 students a year.
92Y tries to keep their vision of productive social change broad and openminded. “We also continue to find new ways to ‘scale our values,’ to be a catalyst for change and for ‘repairing the world,’ both here in New York and beyond,” explains Adler.
92Y developed the idea of Giving Tuesday, for instance, which would occur annually after Thanksgiving and be a day devoted to charity. The idea took off on a large-scale, national level.
“Creating this new kind of community, with tremendous collective potential for positive impact, is our mandate as a community and cultural center in the digital age,” says Adler. “And we are just getting started.”
Like any nonprofit, 92Y also faces its fair of hardships. “Doing more with less is an ongoing challenge as is continuing to create programs that are new and relevant, especially in a rapidly changing world,” says Adler.
Nonetheless, the group “keep[s] a laser-sharp focus on [their] core values,” he says.
Looking ahead, Adler hopes to be able to help 92nd Street Y continue to be a leading voice in “the call to use the tremendous advances in technology to build new communities and forge new ways for people to join together for the greater good.”
When he manages to steal a moment for himself, Adler enjoys spending time with his family, especially his young grandchildren. He notes he has also been getting back in touch with film photography, an old favorite hobby.
“When I want to ‘get away,’” he explains, “I try to read books that have absolutely nothing to do with my work at 92Y – and given the variety of things we do, that’s sometimes a challenge.”
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