John O’Melia served in the Army during WWII, and completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Western Reserve University before joining the Cleveland (Ohio) YMCA staff. As an assistant program secretary, he developed an innovative interracial camp, community service programs for youth, and a citywide coeducational camp.
He also served as executive secretary in two Cleveland branches. In 1956, O’Melia joined the Ohio-West Virginia Area Council of YMCAs, where he had the responsibility of coordinating adult and industrial programs, interracial services, and inner-city initiatives. In 1960, he founded the YMCA Center for International Management Studies, which offered management education activities to industrial leaders from the midwest and their counterparts from foreign countries.
As director of National Program Services, and later as executive of Constituent Services on the national staff, O’Melia provided leadership for the full range of YMCA programs and organizational initiatives. From 1970 until his retirement in 1988, O’Melia worked with the International Division of the YMCA of the USA, first as the executive director of World Development and then as the director of the International Division.
O'Melia's father, uncle, and brother were all YMCA directors.
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