Boys to Men to Women — YWCA Men Speak Out on Fatherhood, Violence Against Women and Leading a Women’s Organization

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Boys to Men to Women — YWCA Men Speak Out on Fatherhood, Violence Against Women and Leading a Women’s Organization

“A man of quality is not threatened by a woman seeking equality.” ~ author unknown

In honor of Father’s Day on Sunday, the YWCA honors the men in our lives, and in particular the YWCA men who work every day to advance YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.  We invited three male leaders from YWCA associations to share their unique perspectives.

Q: As a man, how did you become involved in the women’s movement?  And how does fatherhood impact your work?

Jose Hernandez, CEO, YWCA Trenton, N.J.:  “I became a feminist when my daughter was born.  Holding her in my arms for the first time and realizing that as a female and a Hispanic, she will not have the same privileges as her white male counterparts.  That troubled me deeply.  As a matter of fact, she was my inspiration for creating the YWCA Stand Against Racism campaign, as I was inspired by the image of when she stood up for the first time at two years old and took her first few steps.  I would like her and her generation to keep taking steps forward in the pursuit of racial equality.”

Paul Newman, CEO, YWCA Flint, Mich.:  “I have four daughters and eight granddaughters of my own.   Men have to realize that you can’t treat your wife or woman in your life in a disrespectful manner and then expect your daughters to expect to be treated well by the men in their lives.   My biggest role as a father and grandfather is one of supporter.  Along with discipline, there has to be love and caring and respect — that’s what I’ve always tried to provide for my daughters.  I want my granddaughters to know that they can be successful as any person — man or woman — in any endeavor they want to undertake.  I’ve tried to instill confidence in them so they can achieve anything they dream.”

Q: YWCA is the nation’s largest provider of domestic violence services and shelters for battered women.  What can men do to help stop violence against women?

Billy Collins, Jr., executive director, YWCA St. Paul, Minn.: “Rather than seeing men as potential abusers and people to fear, it’s important for girls to see positive male role models who encourage the success of women.  They need to hear from fathers whether they are in the home with the mother or not.  Men need to share their values and help girls grow — to show them the potential they have to be successful in the world.  Girls need to see a man who respects the opposite sex and demonstrates that on a daily basis.  Girls need to know that it’s not okay to be physically hit and-or mentally or verbally abused.  Men and women both need to teach this.  In our programs, we see abusers starting as young as 11 years old.  We have to break the cycle.”

Newman:  “We need to raise our voices.  Men need to not only recognize that domestic violence against women exists, but to speak out against it.  Men have to be willing to address other men, to step forward and say domestic violence isn’t right, and stop tolerating it when we’re in the presence of other men who aren’t doing the right thing.”

Q: What does it mean to be a male leader in the YWCA, an organization focused on women’s issues and needs?

Hernandez:  “There’s a saying: ‘A man of quality is not threatened by a woman seeking equality.’  Being the CEO of the YWCA Trenton is not about ‘job’ or a ‘position’ or even about ‘running an organization.’  We’re a movement.  And leading the YWCA is not ‘what I do;’ it is a lifestyle.  I believe in it passionately and because of that I’m able to inspire and lead others.”

Collins:  “It’s not about me.  My role is about elevating the women in this organization – staff, board members, everyone.  It’s my job to be a strong supporter of those roles and help create leadership opportunities for women.  This YWCA movement is a positive movement.  We’re taking the lead and championing issues to help remove barriers for women.  At YWCA St. Paul we’re creating an environment that breeds success.  Women on the staff here are extremely sharp – they have answers in their area of expertise and they can move things forward.  It’s not important whether I’m a male executive director or a female executive director – it’s about positioning the right people for success.”

Newman:  “Women deserve a fair and equal opportunity to perform – just as men have been given.  At the YWCA and in my previous roles at General Motors, I made it a point to identify and promote women into positions of responsibility that recognize their talent and ability.”

Collins:  “YWCA has a strong history addressing multiple issues that women and families face.   We’re not a one-size-fits all organization.  All around the country we are using different approaches to create solutions in our communities.  That’s a very beautiful thing.  Collectively, we respect each other and the different approaches.  And it’s making an impact.”

Newman: “I feel privileged to have this opportunity to be involved with YWCA.”

This Father’s Day and every day, we salute the men who dedicate their time, effort, career and financial support to the YWCA.  We salute those men who help ensure that women are empowered and safe and know how to find freedom from men who are threatening and share their lives with men who are supportive and loving.


William L. “Billy” Collins, Jr. has led the YWCA of St. Paul, Minn. for 17 years as its executive director.

Jose A. Hernandez is CEO of the YWCA of Trenton. He is the co-founder of the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism program and co-founder of the New Jersey Women’s Hall of Fame.  In 2010, Hernandez was named one of New Jersey’s Top 40 Business Leaders Under 40.

Paul D. Newman is CEO of the YWCA of Greater Flint, Mich.  He is a retired executive from General Motors, where he held a variety of leadership positions, including executive director of Urban Affairs overseeing diversity programs.  For 100 years, the YWCA of Greater Flint has provided comprehensive programs, outspoken leadership and professional expertise on the pressing issues of our times.

13 responses to “Boys to Men to Women — YWCA Men Speak Out on Fatherhood, Violence Against Women and Leading a Women’s Organization

  1. Paul Newman is my dad and my hero! He is a living testament to a servant leader! He has been my role model, leader, teacher, mentor, adviser, an example of unconditional love and respect. He instilled in me a confidence and self-worth based on loving God, loving others and serving the world. To all of the fathers, be a living example and have a blessed and happy father’s day!

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