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Staff Spotlight: Emma Krishnaswami

Emma stands in front of the climbing wall with co-worker, Shaelyn.

Emma Krishnaswami, Climbing Coordinator
Resides: Alstead, NH
Likes: Her cats, ballet, being creative, singing, and climbing!

If you can’t find Emma Krishnaswami on the stage, she’s definitely on the rock wall.

Emma is the Climbing Wall Coordinator at the Keene Family YMCA and is our Staff Spotlight of the week!

Emma loves hanging out with her two cats, Anakin (as in Skywalker) and Kezia (sometimes with an H at the end depending on how fancy her name wants to be on a given day).

“[Anakin] just the most docile, sweetest, stupidest, smartest cat ever… I found the name [Kezia] online… it means sweet and spicy,” said Emma. “Both of them I wish I could rename because I’ve gotten to know them better.”

In her free time, Emma is a creative spirit with a love for ballet, drawing and writing. With her musical theatre background, she also loves singing and performing.

“I’m in a rock band called Third Rail… They’ve been around for 20 years, and I just got recruited because they heard me sing… I just found myself in a rock band,” she said. 

As Climbing Wall Coordinator, Emma is working on reorganizing the climbing programs and making sure that climbers of all levels are able to use the wall, all while building awareness around the safety within climbing.

“I’m revamping the programming around the climbing wall…. I make sure to see whoever is [working] the wall I’ve vetted quite closely to make sure the wall is always being securely and safely used,” she said.

“And I make sure the staff keep our closet clean,” she said with a laugh.

Emma’s favorite part of her job is being able to make connections with her fellow climbers.

“I really like the people that come by, they’re really cool people,” she said. “We get people that are really down to earth and who connect on a human level,” she said.

Confidence and trust are two major aspects of climbing, and Emma gets to help with building both of those aspects in everyone that visits the wall.

“One thing I really love about the wall is seeing people, children and adults, and how their confidence changes and how the wall changes them as people,” she said. “The wall is a really good representation of life, how it presents challenges to you, and you have to figure them out on the spot. All these different elements come up like fear and accomplishment, and pushing through and seeing if you can trust yourself.”

Emma describes the climbing experience as a microcosm of the real world, and how the skills and feelings someone might work through while climbing can translate into other parts of their life.

“We’ve had a couple parents say that their kid grows more confident in the classroom because of the climbing experience they’ve had… This is the safest way to build confidence despite what it looks like,” she said.

In the future, Emma would love to see spaces and programs made for kids who might’ve had a difficult time socializing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Emma wants those kids to have a leadership program that would help kids break out of their comfort zones, especially since the Y is leader guide and support of the community.

“I would love to see specific programs created for [kids who were going through social development stages during the pandemic] to bridge the gap where they didn’t get the chance to learn socialization,” she said.

As climbing grows among kids, Emma said she’d love to see more teens and adults venture into the world of rock climbing as well. She wants to foster an environment where honest communication and learning is at the forefront of her programs, regardless of climbing skill level or ability.

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