CEO Message: A Legacy of Social Justice

This year, we are proud to recognize the 130th anniversary of YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish.
February 15, 2024

"I want to be remembered as someone who used herself and anything she could touch to work for justice and freedom." 
Dr. Dorothy Height (1912 – 2010), YWCA USA’s first Director of Social Justice

On February 17, 1894, our organization was founded to address the growing number of young women in Seattle without support for their safety, housing, or employment. 130 years later, our YWCA continues to deliver critical services that help women and families survive and thrive.

This year, we are proud to recognize the 130th anniversary of YWCA Seatle | King | Snohomish. We're not new to this, we're true to this!

It seems fitting that our anniversary falls during Black History Month, because there's no way to talk about our past without highlighting the importance of Black women in YWCA's legacy. They have shaped our work at the local and national level from the start, helping create the foundation for YWCA's mission: eliminating racism, empowering women. 

This includes Bertha Pitts Campbell, Dorothy Height, Helen Claytor, and so many others, who fought to be heard, recognized, and valued. They pushed for the inclusion of all women, the elimination of racist practices, and development of new policies at YWCA. From YWCA’s Interracial Charter in 1946, which called to desegregate all facilities, to the "One Imperative" in 1970: to eliminate racism, wherever it exists, by any means necessary. 

Our association launched its Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) in 2008, putting the values of racial equity into practice across the organization. Today, all employees play an active part in YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.  

Reflecting on YWCA's 130-year history helps me see how far we've come - and how hard the fight will be as we move forward. We welcome all of you to join us, because the stakes are high. 

Nationwide, backlash is growing to diversity and equity, civil liberties are being eroded, and a contentious presidential election is on the horizon. There will be people and systems that push back on our work, but we have the power for meaningful change. We've done it before, and we can do it again. 

During our 130th anniversary, I encourage you to learn more about YWCA's legacy of social justice and join our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. 

Now, let’s go make some history! 

In gratitude, 

Maria Chavez-Wilcox, Chief Executive Officer 

Contact Info
YWCA Communications Team