Marcia Drozdowski recognized as 2022 recipientof the Alexis de Tocqueville Humanitarian Award

United Way of Carlisle and Cumberland County

Marcia Drozdowski recognized as 2022 recipient
of the Alexis de Tocqueville Humanitarian Award

CARLISLE — United Way of Carlisle & Cumberland County is pleased to announce Marcia Drozdowski as the recipient of the 2022 Alexis de Tocqueville Humanitarian Award.

Marcia Drozdowski, of the Carlisle Family YMCA, will be recognized at the United Way’s annual Humanitarian Award reception June 2, sponsored by Dickinson College and Martson Law Offices. Almost 100 people will gather in Dickinson’s Social Hall to honor Drozdowski’s philanthropic contributions to the greater Carlisle area.

Cate Mellen, from the Carlisle Family YMCA, will introduce her, and Kevin Curtis and Ellen Peters, co-chairs of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society, will present her with the award.

The award was established in 2000 to acknowledge an individual or couple’s outstanding volunteer service to the community. The award is named for the Frenchman who traveled the United States in the early 1800s and who wrote the landmark book on American society and politics, “Democracy in America.” He highlighted the concept of Americans coming to the aid of their fellow residents.

Recent winners are Kenn & Denver Tuckey in 2021, Don & Marjie Mowery in 2019, Kurt E. Suter in 2018; Mike Devlin in 2017; and Jim Washington in 2016. Paul L. Strickler was the first honoree in 2000.


Marcia Drozdowski started working as a part-time fitness instructor at the Carlisle Family YMCA in 1985. Over time, she took on greater responsibility and held various positions, including Fitness Director, Associate Executive Director, and Executive Director starting in 1994. She was the first woman to hold this position in the Carlisle Family YMCA’s history. She was appointed during the tenure of Trish Carlucci, the first woman ever to serve as president of the YMCA Board of Directors. Hubert Gilroy was president-elect and served on the search committee.

When Marcia became the Executive Director, the YMCA was struggling under considerable operating and long-term debt. Her first goal was to work with the Board to create a debt-reduction plan that successfully eliminated the debt within a few years. That turnaround led to the first of four capital campaigns under her leadership to finance facility improvements: 

1)         The 1996 Campaign chaired by Al Masland raised $1,150,000 to fund significant improvements to the interior of the building. 

2)         The 2000 Camp Thompson Campaign was next, co-chaired by Trish Carlucci and Hubert Gilroy, raising $700,000 to fund 10 new cabins, a new bathhouse, a medical center, and renovations to the dining hall. This program serves 250 youth each year near Laurel Lake in Pine Grove Furnace State Park. 

3)         The George B. Stuart Athletic Field Complex on Rockledge Drive resulted from a partnership among Church of God Home, South Middleton Township, and the YMCA. Recognizing the decreasing availability of fields in the community, in 2006, Marcia worked with community leaders to raise $800,000 to develop a 30-acre athletic field park that now serves over 1,000 youth annually as the home of YMCA sports programs.

4)         More recently, the YMCA completed an ambitious campaign chaired by Hubert Gilroy and Vice-Chair Buz Wolfe that exceeded the goal by raising $9,100,000. The campaign funded a transformational two-phased renovation of the Y facility, including demolishing a large portion of the former structure. This two-year project was completed while the YMCA’s doors and programs remained open.   

Today, the facility serves as a model to inspire other YMCAs considering a renovation project, especially smaller associations with limited resources. Earlier this spring, Marcia traveled to an international YMCA fundraising conference in Tampa, Florida, to lead a presentation on the success of the Carlisle Family YMCA’s capital campaign and building project.

Marcia has thoroughly enjoyed working with staff, volunteers, members, and community leaders throughout her 38 years at the YMCA. She found the work to be as challenging as it was personally rewarding. Her leadership has been recognized and honored within the larger Y movement. Marcia spent several years serving on the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania State Alliance of YMCAs with fellow Y leaders from throughout the Commonwealth. Closer to home, she has been an invaluable resource for the greater Carlisle non-profit community as a whole over the years and has taken the time to serve as a mentor for several women in the profession.

Marcia retired last week after serving 28 years as the Chief Executive Officer of the Carlisle Family YMCA, the longest-serving leader in its 163-year history. She and her husband, Duane, live in Carlisle, and now that she is retired, she hopes to be able to spend much more time with her six grandchildren, three of whom live nearby and three of whom live in South Carolina.

To view photos from the reception, please click here.