|Interim director, YWCA Baton Rouge|
What's your hometown?
I was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, but consider Fort Worth, Texas, my home.
We don't do this feature with many "interim" executives, but they're a big part of every organization at one point or another. What kind of challenges does the interim tag bring with it? Why did you agree to take this job?
The agency has a committed board of directors and I am passionate about the mission of the YWCA. My first responsibility was to assess all aspects of this YWCA, and to determine the organization's strengths and focus on areas for development. I don't think there is a challenge with the "interim tag"; it defines an era of transition, assessment and planning for a strong future.
You were the executive director of the YWCA for Fort Worth and Tarrant County in Texas for 20 years. How has that experience helped you in this role? How is Baton Rouge unique in comparison?
Although Baton Rouge is unique in its history and culture, the pressing issues are the same from city to city. Poverty, challenges in the public school system, school dropout rate, teen pregnancy, low literacy, institutional racism and lack of wage parity are issues in most cities. I learned a great deal as executive director of YWCA Fort Worth & Tarrant County. I learned how to mobilize volunteers around the YWCA mission, to work collaboratively with other nonprofits to better serve the community and maximize resources, to make difficult decisions, to evaluate the impact of programs on clients served, to promote the value of teamwork, and to manage the many complex aspects of a nonprofit agency.
In Texas you were able to develop a variety of programs aimed at a wide range of individuals. Should we expect some new initiatives from our YWCA?
This YWCA is conducting a search process for the new CEO, and we have some outstanding candidates. The person who is hired for this position will build on the strengths of our existing programs, which include ENCOREplus, a breast and cervical health education program serving 60,000 uninsured and underserved women in 11 Parishes, HIV/AIDS education and testing, teen pregnancy prevention, and Early Head Start, which prepares low-income children to succeed when entering public schools. The new CEO will also research community assessments to determine gaps in services for further program development. There are 300 YWCAs in the United States providing extraordinary services, some of which may be replicated in the Baton Rouge area.
You have a public relations background. How important is it to publicize the offerings and success stories of the YWCA? What should Baton Rouge residents know about their YWCA that they probably don't?
For over 40 years, this YWCA has worked to empower women and girls and work toward racial and social justice in this community. We have constantly changed to meet the needs of the Greater Baton Rouge area and provide relevant, quality services. We tackle the tough issues like HIV/AIDS, women's health, adult literacy and racism. This is your YWCA and a vital part of the social service fabric of Greater Baton Rouge. We need you as a volunteer and/or supporter.
I am the luckiest person in the world. … I have loved every single day of my work. The mission of the YWCA, eliminating racism and empowering women, reflects my personal values and is exactly what I want to work to achieve.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
When I was hired as executive director of the YWCA Fort Worth & Tarrant County in 1989, I was asked to assess the organization and determine whether it should be dissolved or could become a viable nonprofit in Tarrant County. When I retired in 2009, the agency had a $3.2 million annual budget, a $4 million endowment, quality programs with extraordinary impact on clients served, and an exceptional and highly skilled staff of nearly 100. We ran a successful capital campaign and restored a significant six-story historic landmark building in downtown Fort Worth, renovated a satellite facility in the city and purchased a new facility in a suburb of Fort Worth. All of these accomplishments were the result of great teamwork, an outstanding and committed board of directors and over 200 remarkable volunteers. It was wonderful to be a part of this amazing journey.
What was your first job?
I worked in an upscale jewelry store during college.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
The owner of the jewelry store told me, after I had made a big blunder, "If you aren't making mistakes, you aren't working." I have thought of that advice every time I make a mistake. It's pretty simple, but it has served me well.
If you could have any job other than your own, what would it be?
I have definitely flunked retirement. As long as I am working for the greater good, whether paid or as a volunteer, it is meaningful and gives me personal fulfillment.
What is the greatest personal or professional obstacle you've overcome?
I don't think I've ever experienced obstacles … only challenges. Every time I was challenged, there was someone there to mentor me and help me meet the challenge.
If you started over, what would you do differently?
Become fluent in a foreign language.
What is your prescription for life?
Love it! Be grateful for your experiences and learn from them. Work to make the world a better and more equitable place for all. Do the things that bring you joy! Be the best you can be!
What book are you currently reading?
I'm not currently reading a book, but have a stack on the coffee table in case I find time to read one.
If you could have dinner with any three living people, who would they be?
My two sons, Curt and Craig, and my grandson Dylan.
Who would play you in a movie?
This question makes me laugh out loud!
What do you do to unwind?
Gather with friends, family, and my dog, Larry. They ground me and are the center of my life.
What is the most expensive purchase you've made for yourself?
Other than a home and a car, the most expensive purchase I've made for myself is a piece of art.
What is your favorite weekend activity?
My answers are getting redundant: be with family and/or friends. I also enjoy cooking, entertaining, and going to museums and galleries. I love thrift stores and flea markets and the search for a great "find."
What's your favorite spot in Baton Rouge?
The Mississippi River.
How do you take your coffee/tea?
I used to drink coffee, but don't anymore. I drank it with cream and artificial sweetener.
What is your favorite movie? TV show? Band?
My all-time favorite book and movie: To Kill a Mockingbird. They ignited my passion for social justice. I don't watch a lot of TV, but I like to watch things on PBS, the History Channel, H>V or documentaries. My favorite band or performers are The Eagles and Lyle Lovett.
What is your favorite gadget?
My computer, cell phone and GPS.
What is something that you can't live without?
My computer, cell phone and GPS.
If you could change one thing about Baton Rouge, what would it be?
Awareness of and support for the YWCA Greater Baton Rouge and the important work we do.
What is your greatest hope for Baton Rouge?
That this community will continue to thrive and embrace its diversity, culture, leadership and future.
What is your greatest fear for Baton Rouge?
I think the citizens and leaders in Baton Rouge are working on the most complex and challenging issues: public education, the environment, poverty, and racial and social justice. I have confidence in this community and know it is tackling the tough challenges.
comments powered by Disqus
Real estate recap: DPW reorganization recommendations coming … Capital Region home sales post 5% gain in February … WWII bombing range near Hammond at center of new lawsuit
More La. students testing at 'basic' level
Office Parks Get a Makeover
What Families Are Spending on Prom Night