A New Perspective on Bathrooms

by Miriam Barnett
CEO of the YWCA Pierce County

No big deal. It’s just a bathroom.

Right?

That is exactly how I would have responded if someone asked me about our bathrooms at the YWCA. Then I attended a workshop at the YWCA USA Annual Conference called “Addressing Issues of Gender Identity and Gender Expression.”

As I sat in the audience listening intently to panel member Kylar Broadus, I heard his personal stories of violence for being a female-to-male (FTM) transsexual. I never thought about what it would feel like to have to decide which bathroom to use. And I certainly never thought of the humiliation and violence that trans people endure as a result.

A Clear Message at YWCA USA Annual Conference: More Women Need to Run for Political Office

by Amberlie Phillips
Chief Development Officer, YWCA Utah

The YWCA USA conference a few weeks ago was full of inspiring speakers, great networking, and wonderful educational opportunities. I learned so much during each portion of the conference – from watching my CEO and a YWCA USA Board Member gracefully navigate an advocacy day meeting with an unsympathetic legislator, to getting insights into how different generations approach their philanthropy. It was three days of reinvigorating immersion into the power of persimmon!

Recap: YWCA NCA Capitol Hill Day

By Tamika L. Gittens
Contributing Blogger, YWCA NCA

Did you know that 85% of domestic violence victims are women? (Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003)

The YWCA National Capital Area recently participated with several other YWCA associations across the nation for Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill to talk about domestic violence, an issue plaguing local and national communities. In an effort to demonstrate the damaging and permanent effects that domestic violence has on women and children, we engaged Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in discussions on gun violence and its impact on domestic violence. We shared statistics to help them reexamine current laws pertaining to ownership of firearms, and the need for more policies and programs to safeguard and support victims.

YWCA Missoula Staff Inspired at YWCA USA Annual Conference in D.C.

By Erin Barstow,
YWCA Missoula GUTS! Program Coordinator

Originally published on 6/14/13

The YWCA USA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., encompassed four days of women speakers, presenters and voices. Whether participating in one-on-one networking opportunities or listening to the inspiring speakers, the message was strong and clear: women of the YWCA speak with conviction. Women are daring, dreaming and achieving on such an impressive scale.

I was moved to tears by Ayanna Pressley’s address on “What Women Want: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Violence.” Pressley is a member of the Boston City Council At-Large and is the first woman of color ever elected to the Council. She spoke fervently about how broken girls become broken women, and then the cycle repeats. She encouraged the 400 attendees to embody the word “entitlement,” because “It means I’m strong enough to know what I deserve,” and talked about daring to be herself. I witnessed stories of survival, hope and progress. After her daughter was killed by her ex-boyfriend, Sharon Love started the One Love Foundation to end relationship violence. Commander Zoe Dunning made history fighting for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which excluded gay people from serving openly in armed forces. And Eva Longoria, whose philanthropy and advocacy in the field of racial justice is truly commendable.

Welcome, from the 2013 YWCA USA Annual Conference!

By Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D.
CEO of the YWCA USA

Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D.

Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D.

Today, we welcome nearly 400 YWCA leaders, advocates, staff and volunteers to Washington, D.C. for our 2013 What Women Want Annual Conference.

For 155 years, the YWCA has literally transformed this nation. The women of the YWCA have been at the forefront of many life-changing social movements in the United States—from the abolition of slavery to voting rights, from civil rights to pay equity, and today, from fair immigration reform to the prevention of violence. On all of these issues, the YWCA influenced outcomes that are a part of the foundation of who we are as a nation.

Why has the YWCA been such a transformative force in the lives of millions of women, girls and families for well over a century? Simply put: We know What Women Want and we do what is needed to get it done! The leaders of the YWCA are among the most talented, passionate and dedicated advocates this country has ever known. The theme of this year’s conference, What Women Want, is truly a testament to the accomplishments of our past, a mantra for the life-changing work we carry out in communities each day and a vision for our future.

The YWCA Annual Conference: Women Leaders Coming Together

By De’Kendrea Stamps
YWCA of Madison, Wisc.

Janet Marcotte, YWCA Tucson Executive Director, presented the 2012 YWCA USA Women of Distinction Award for Civic Engagement in honor of Gabrielle Giffords to her mother, Gloria Giffords. May 4, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Janet Marcotte, YWCA Tucson Executive Director, presented the 2012 YWCA USA Women of Distinction Award for Civic Engagement in honor of Gabrielle Giffords to her mother, Gloria Giffords. May 4, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

The Annual Conference is a time to build strong bonds with your colleagues from other YWCAs and to learn best practices from YWCA staff and workshop leaders. I had many favorite moments from the 2012 YWCA Annual Conference. One was seeing Gabrielle Giffords’ mother, Gloria, accept the Women of Distinction Award for civic engagement on behalf of her daughter. To hear a mother speak so sincerely about her daughter and her accomplishments in the face of tragedy was very touching. Another highlight was a valuable workshop session that provided me with a new perspective on women with ambitions to be elected to leadership positions in government. It offered a realistic view of the components that go into building a successful campaign and was eye-opening and very intriguing. And, the experience of meeting with our Congressional legislators was very empowering. I would love to see that sea of YWCA persimmon marching up Capitol Hill again.

Conference Take-Aways: Bonding Over YWCA’s National Movement

by Andrea Grant
Job Developer, YWCA Greater Milwaukee

Andrea Grant

I am both grateful and honored to have been sponsored to participate in the 2012 YWCA National Conference and Capitol Hill Day, themed “Shaking It Up.” This event was my first engagement with the national YWCA movement. I have worked for the YWCA Greater Milwaukee in Wisconsin since 2009, directly implementing services through our workforce development programs. Our day-to-day efforts to prepare our local workforce is challenging as there is a tremendous need, particularly in these difficult economic times. My attendance at the National Conference not only rejuvenated my passion for working with the YWCA but helped me learn who we are.

Conference Take-Aways: Learning How to Lobby for Issues I’m Passionate About

by Tiffany D. Salgado
Executive Director, YWCA Greater Johnstown, Pa.

Tiffany Salgado

At the YWCA National Conference, I learned how to lobby for issues that I am passionate about. This is a skill/act that I have never performed before. Women in persimmon from all around the U.S. came to Washington, D.C., and were passionate about the same issues that affect women and girls. And as a group, we fought for them.

Meeting with Congressional staff during Capitol Hill Day was a great experience. I was surprised to see that I went to college with some of the staff that I met with. This helped to ease the transition and made them more adamant about hearing what I had to say. One staffer said to me, “How long have you been doing this? You’re really good at it.”

Conference Take-Aways: A Unified Voice in the Fight for Women and Girls

by Amanda Larson
Girls Inc. Coordinator, YWCA Madison, Wisc.

Amanda Larson

An incredible opportunity was bestowed on me just days before the YWCA’s National Conference. As a young woman in our organization, I was given the chance to fly to Washington, D.C., and participate in a very powerful event, the 2012 YWCA National Conference. YWCA staff, board and volunteers from across the country met to voice our commitment to our mission: eliminating racism and empowering women. There I realized a significant fact: I am part of the fight for women. During Capitol Hill Day, I felt honored to have the chance to have a voice on legislative issues that affect our ability to practice our mission. The YWCA mission is especially dear to me. As the Girls Inc. Coordinator, I see the importance of empowering girls every day. I won’t soon forget the experience of being a part of that conversation on a national level.

Conference Take-Aways: Inspiration and Motivation

by Carmille Lim, Development & Advocacy Manager
YWCA of O‘ahu

Carmille Lim

Although there are three YWCA associations in the state of Hawaii, we rarely get to see each other, let alone representatives from YWCAs in other states. So being able to connect with my colleagues from our state, the Pacific Region, and nationwide at the annual conference was an excellent reminder of the greater movement that I am a part of.

Two highlights from the three-day conference are: 1) Capitol Hill Day 2) Keynote speech from Vice President Joe Biden.

Hawaii is lucky enough to have all of its U.S. Senators and Representatives allies or the advancement and protection of women’s rights. Regardless, meeting with staff members from their offices to discuss issues that we support was an excellent learning experience.