The YWCA Annual Conference: Women Leaders Coming Together

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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.

At the Conference, I realized that we all are working collectively to help empower women — for example, so many YWCA’s provide housing, counseling, transportation or childcare to help people secure employment. This empowers families economically and strengthens the family unit. However, each local association delivers different or tailored services depending on the communities we serve and our own local experiences. The YWCA is effectively providing customized, systemic change and support to our communities every day. The very thought of this blows my mind and gives me so much pride in the work that I do to support our mission in my community.

At the next Conference in June, I am looking forward to comparing the changing demographics of our service areas with other YWCA staff from across the United States, and learning new approaches about how the programs we offer can evolve to keep up with the times and the needs of the growing segments of those we serve. Young women, in addition to taking full advantage of the workshops and networking with their peers, should also use the conference as a time to talk to and learn from the more experienced women who have been committed to doing the work of the YWCA throughout their careers. On the whole, I encourage my YWCA colleagues to attend the Annual Conference in 2013 in Washington, DC — it is an opportunity for us all to forge new relationships with and to learn from fellow leaders.

De’Kendrea Stamps is the Director of YW Transit at the YWCA of Madison, Wisconsin. She started working for YW Transit in August of 2009 and became Director in June, 2012. YW Transit provides 24 hour/7 day specialized transportation throughout Dane county to women, men and children for employment related, sexual assault prevention/domestic violence intervention, and contracted transportation purposes. De’Kendrea has over 15 years of work and volunteer experience in the governmental and non-profit sectors, and has served on various city committees, steering councils, and planning teams.

Save the date! Registration for the 2013 Annual Conference on June 5 – 8 is now open! Register now to take advantage of early-bird rates.

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