Patricia Hayden
May 17, 2024
By:
Patricia Hayden
After more than three decades of service, we said farewell to Patricia Hayden this month. A champion of the people, she was a trailblazer within the organization and played a major role in our legacy of racial justice. She leaves us with a final message reflecting on her time at YWCA.

It’s hard to believe that after nearly 36 years with YWCA, I’m now retired. 

When I graduated from college, I vowed to work in the neighborhood where I grew up: the Central District of Seattle. I’ve spent over three decades fulfilling that promise and it’s been an honor to serve my community and work alongside others in the fight for justice.

Looking back, there are so many things I’m proud to have accomplished during my time at YWCA.

I started at the East Cherry Branch in 1988, where we expanded the childcare center, created after-school youth programs, opened a family support center at Garfield High School, and launched a teen peer advocate program. We started the first support group in Washington State for African American women survivors of domestic violence, developed a community education series called Sister Spirit, and hosted annual events for the community, such as Father’s Day Brunch and the HBCU college fair. 

Numerous community groups have honored this work: we've earned the Ron Chisom Award for anti-racist service delivery and many of YWCA’s programs have been recognized for their innovation and impact, including Passage Point, Family Village Redmond, Teen Peer Domestic Violence Advocacy, and Project Self-Sufficiency. 

I championed reclaiming and uplifting the names of Black women who shaped YWCA’s history, and our Central District locations bear the names of Alvirita Little, Bertha Pitts Campbell, and Phyllis Wheatley. I also led YWCA’s longest-standing community advisory group, now known as the People of Color Executive Council (POCEC), which developed the educational platform for our annual Stand Against Racism event. 

Some of my most meaningful work was spearheading the journey towards anti-racism across YWCA, in all parts of the organization. I originated the Racial & Social Justice (RSJ) Initiative, agency-wide Social Justice Accountability Team, internal RSJ trainings, toolkit, and work plans, and professional development for African American women employees.

During my 22-year tenure as Co-Chair of the Seattle Human Services Coalition, we advocated for increased investments in services to help people meet their basic needs and established the largest human services funding in the region, going from $16 million to over $220 million annually. This has brought significant resources to communities and agencies all across King County through revenue sources such as Best Starts for Kids, Veterans, Seniors & Human Services Levy, and Mental Illness & Drug Dependency (MIDD) tax.

As Co-Chair of the Seattle Human Services Coalition, we advocated for investments in services to help people meet their basic needs through a variety of revenue sources, including the Veterans, Seniors & Human Services Levy, Best Starts for Kids, and Mental Illness & Drug Dependency (MIDD) tax. Through these efforts, funding for human services in King County has grown from $16 million to more than $220 million annually and brought significant resources for the community and agencies throughout the region.

None of this work would have happened without the advocacy and support of others fighting for justice across the region: service providers, coalition partners, funders, public agencies, community leaders, elected officials, and the people we serve. Together, we’ve increased equity and benefited the whole community. 

The relationships that blossomed while I was at YWCA are what I’m going to miss most.

The staff and people I’ve worked with side-by-side for years who inspired and taught me so much. The volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to advance YWCA’s mission, including members of the POCEC, Public Policy Committee, and Board of Directors. The people and partners who stood with us to advocate for justice. The wider community, which has held me accountable and helped me understand my purpose.

I look forward to seeing YWCA continue to grow, embrace change, and strengthen its commitment to racial equity and social justice, and am proud to be part of this legacy.

This is farewell, not goodbye. I look forward to seeing YWCA continue to grow, embrace change, and strengthen its commitment to racial equity and social justice, and am proud to be part of this legacy.

With gratitude,

— Patricia Hayden
 

A photo of Patricia Hayden standing with other YWCA staff members.
YWCA

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