As one of today’s most significant movements working toward gender- and racial-equality activism, the YWCA’s outreach has helped millions of Americans with their programs and community building centers. With over 2.2 million members and 100 years of service under their belt, the organization is now initiating a new CEO to take the reins, in order to make the YWCA network even stronger.
Alejandra Y. Castillo, a Latina woman, is set to head the company. One of her biggest goals is to positively impact a diverse group of women and families, particularly those who speak other languages as she does. Raising awareness about the YWCA’s numerous locations and available resources is also a big priority. Castillo says she hopes to “create a platform that is going to propel [women] to be able to engage and to prosper in a 21st century economy.”
The YWCA offers many educational programs including workforce development, after-school programs, and STEM education. They also provide resources regarding racial and domestic violence issues. As one of the oldest, largest, and fastest growing women’s organizations in the US, their mission statement says that they aim to “eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities.”
“This is an organization that has a 150-year-old history and experience both working on social justice issues but also delivering critical services throughout communities,” said Castillo in an interview with NBC News. Before becoming the YWCA’s new CEO, Castillo devoted herself to public service. She formerly worked as national director of the Minority Business Development Agency within the Department of Commerce, and Executive Director of the National Hispanic Bar Association and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Her passion, however, is helping women and people of color improve themselves and their communities. During the 1960s, Castillo’s parents immigrated to Queens from the Dominican Republic. As a first-generation American, she credits her parents for teaching her the importance of helping others, and she takes great pride in her Dominican heritage. With dialogues about race and politics growing stronger across the country, Castillo states that “we are making sure that the YWCA is at the forefront of these conversations.”
A Latina woman in a position of power can serve as a voice for those who otherwise would remain unheard. Castillo sees this new promotion as the opportunity of a lifetime to reach the communities she cares about the most, this time on a national scale. She says confidently, “For Latinas, this organization in particular is going to be critical, and I am looking forward to spearheading it.”
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