LJ Bates III, Director

By unanimous vote of the Kalani Board of Directors and management team, Lester John Bates III, “LJ” became our Executive Director in October 2012. 

Now in his eighth year in Hawaii, LJ has always been in service to the Hawaii Island non-profit community in various roles: Executive Director, VASH Hawaii Island, Vice President / Executive Director of the Island of Hawaii YMCA / Kona Family YMCA, Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the Hawaii Island HIV/AIDS Foundation, and as a member of the Rotary Club of Kona. 

LJ grew up in Beverly, Massachusetts, just North of Boston, and became a part of the Beverly Regional YMCA from the age of six as a result of a YMCA Scholarship.

LJ went on to attend Springfield College – the school founded by the YMCA to train Professional Directors – where he chartered the first Student-run YMCA on the campus and the largest free tutorial program in Massachusetts. Through an awarded scholarship and funded internship, LJ moved to New York City to work with the YMCA of Greater New York (the largest YMCA in the world) as the Corporate Teen Program Director; creating and supervising Teen Development Programs for 19 inner-city YMCAs.  YMCA programming that was designed under LJ’s tenure now serves almost 250,000 young people each year in New York City.  LJ has taught YMCA staff and volunteers throughout the country on behalf of the YMCA of the USA and has replicated his programs throughout the states.  

After leaving the YMCA to diversify his experiences, LJ served as Executive Director of The Caring Community; the oldest and largest senior service agency in lower Manhattan, which was struggling at the time. Employing change-management, LJ facilitated a restructuring of the agency and the manner in which they provided programs and services, and was able to secure the agency’s future for decades to come.

LJ then began his own consulting business while pursuing his MBA from Baruch College; performing fund development, strategic planning, board development and operations management for several NYC-based non-profits. He concurrently started two new non-profit agencies in New York City as well as a national non-profit.  

Before coming to Hawaii, after almost two decades in New York City, LJ was just finishing up a two-year-long Management role with the oldest for-profit health & wellness chain in New York City, the New York Health & Racquet Clubs.  LJ led the teams of both the oldest facility as well as the newest flagship operation.  Both locations achieved top profitability under his leadership.  

LJ assumes the role of Executive Director from Richard Koob, who is transitioning into retirement. We are grateful for Richard's role as Founder/Director for 37 fabulous years. You can read about Richard here.