James O'S. Morton, Esq.
President & CEO,
YMCA of Greater Boston
James O’Shanna Morton’s story
is one of beating the odds through sheer determination and giving back by serving others. His personal experiences, shared by many of the children and young adults he works with today, inspired his career in servant leadership and his dedication to fighting systemic injustices.
Originally from Wisconsin, Morton was born to an English-Irish mother and African-American father. The family struggled financially, but when Morton’s father was incarcerated after a racially charged altercation with the police, the situation worsened. His family moved frequently, barely getting by and often relying on welfare.
Morton credits three adults with helping to shift his life trajectory: a teacher, an employer, and a coach.
I would either be dead or in prison if it weren’t for the three people who intervened in my life and shared with me that
they thought that I had a future.
Their love and encouragement helped Morton persevere and succeed.
Morton went on to receive a BA from the University of Wisconsin and a Juris Doctorate from Northeastern University. He practiced law for 18 years, taught high school, and continued his service-driven career at the YMCA. He has served at the Hartford and Springfield YMCAs and began his current role as President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston in 2015. The YMCA of Greater Boston is one of Massachusetts leading nonprofits, committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.