Meet Renee, our new Executive Director!

  1. Updates

Born and raised in Watertown, Massachusetts, Renee Gaudette has worked for youth development organizations in New England since graduating college and now joins us as New England’s new Executive Director. Her favorite recess game is 4-square (“I get really competitive… I can’t help it,” she admits), and she has a dog named California Sunshine Epps Gaudette, affectionately called Cali Sue.

Renee showing her love of sports at a Red Sox Game

Renee’s love for sports and play started when she was seven years old and joined the Biddy Basketball Program at the Watertown Boys & Girls Club.

“It set me up for the rest of my life,” she says. “I became a Club kid and went there every day after school. I played all the gym games whether it was Bombardment, Kickball, or Basketball. I hung out in the games room and learned how to play bumper pool and table tennis. I did art projects in the art room with Coach Scroi. It was a really special place for me… I met really caring adults who are still my friends and lifelong mentors who I still lean on heavily.”

She recalled that many times, she was the only girl participating in these activities but at the Boys & Girls Club, she was always made to feel welcome and included. She soon fell in love with the sport of basketball, and went on to be the captain of her high school basketball team and play D1 basketball at Iona University, where she also led her team as a captain.

“Leadership has always just been in my blood,” Renee says. “My sister will tell stories that I would be out in the neighborhood greeting all the neighborhood boys and telling them the rules for flag football and kickball, and they’d all follow along and do what I said. I was fortunate enough to flex those leadership skills serving as captain of my basketball teams.”

After graduating college, Renee felt drawn back to the Boys & Girls Club, where she had benefited so much as a kid. She began her career as a Program Director, and then served in many other leadership roles in multiple Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCAs. Eventually, she was given the opportunity to work as the Executive Director of the Watertown Boys & Girls Club, where she had grown up, and worked there for nearly a decade.

Renee with Charlie Baker

When asked what drew her to Playworks, Renee remarks that this is the perfect opportunity to combine her passion for youth development and her leadership skills to lead an organization.

“I really believe in the potential of every child, and I also believe that as adults we have the responsibility to create safe spaces and to model good interpersonal relationship skills,” says Renee. “Play and sports? They’re opportunities to learn about how to win with grace and dignity but also how to lose with grace and dignity, how to be a teammate, how to resolve conflict, how to show leadership, how to express youth voice.. All these concepts come together in the work that Playworks does, which are the tenets of great youth development.”

There are many things that Renee is looking forward to in her new role as Executive Director, including learning how Playworks impacts youth, school, and communities, and maximizing that impact in New England.

“I’m also looking forward to working with individuals who share the same values and are motivated to make the world a better place,” says Renee. “That’s really what I’m looking forward to the most.”

More Updates

smiling coaches
smiling coaches

November 29, 2022

Welcome back to the Joy Series ›

As we enter the last month of the year, we are thrilled to bring back the Joy Series. After a year full of transitions, growth, and exciting new changes for us, we’re looking forward to spending the next five weeks focused on joy. Here’s how you can follow along with the Joy Series:    …

November 15, 2022

Building skills through play: developing youth leaders on the playground ›

What does youth empowerment look like at recess and why is it important? Every kid deserves the opportunity to shine. The playground is the perfect place to empower students and build their confidence by giving them opportunities to lead, whether it be with their own classmates or students in younger grades. Play is such a…

November 4, 2022

Meet Erica, our new Program Director! ›

This fall, Playworks New England hired a new Program Director: Erica Sandelin! Erica joined the team with a plethora of experience, new ideas, and passion for the Playworks mission. Learn more about Erica through an interview with a fellow Playworker, Leah: Leah: Where did you work before you came to Playworks? Erica: My background is…