CEO Message: Looking at YWCA’s year ahead
Taking time in 2024 to reflect, reset, and renew.
The start of a new year brings with it the opportunity to reflect on the past, reset future goals, and renew our commitments.
One of my goals this year is to deepen my own understanding of the impacts of racism and my role in creating change. I will continue to educate myself, stand in solidarity with others, take part in challenging conversations, and help lead the way toward equity.
Here's something I just learned: today, January 16 is the National Day of Racial Healing. This initiative encourages all people to contemplate our shared values and come together to create a blueprint for how we heal from the effects of racism.
As CEO of YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, I consider myself deeply fortunate for the opportunity to do this meaningful work in support of our mission.
In 2024, YWCA will continue working toward our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women each and every day. The mission drives our work at every level: from conversations with one another, to the people we serve, through our community partnerships, and in the policies we support.
At the start of January, we launched a brand-new Public Policy Division, significantly expanding our capacity to take collective action and advocate for legislation and public policies that promote equity. This step was part of our 2022-2024 strategic direction goals, which included amplifying YWCA's voice to call for systemic change.
On February 17, we're marking our 130th anniversary and highlighting the ways our commitment to anti-racism has grown over the years. We'll be inviting community members to join us for a discussion on civil rights at the 13th Annual Stand Against Racism on April 26, and taking part in a national YWCA campaign, Until Justice Just Is.
Throughout the year, we will continue working to meet the needs of those facing the greatest barriers to opportunity. And unfortunately, the need for YWCA's housing, employment, gender-based violence, and health access programs is continuing to rise.
People across Washington state face skyrocketing rents, which are predicted to keep increasing in 2024. The unhoused population in the region has been growing for years and impacts all of us. The number of unhoused students in Seattle schools jumped by a third last year, and nearly two-thirds of those students were from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities.
I look forward to tackling the challenges ahead with the support of our community and know that working together, we can live our values and realize our vision for a better future.
Maria Chavez-Wilcox, Chief Executive Officer