June 12, 2023 (Columbus, Ohio) – On Friday, June 9, YWCA Columbus was awarded the 2023 Association Excellence Award for Mission Impact in the Field of Racial Justice by Margaret Mitchell, CEO of YWCA USA.
The award, which was presented during YWCA USA’s Awards Reception and Persimmon Party, capped off YWCA USA’s National Conference in Washington D.C., a three-day gathering for YWCA associations across the country.
“As an organization on a mission to advance racial justice, we are honored to receive this prestigious recognition, which illustrates the impact our programs have each day in Central Ohio,” said Elizabeth Brown, president and CEO of YWCA Columbus. “With collective liberation as our north star, we envision a world where Black, Indigenous, and people of color, women, workers, and other oppressed groups have the resources needed to build and maintain political power, with full autonomy over their lives, where every person is housed, and every child reaches their full potential from infancy through adulthood.”
YWCA Columbus’ role in this work is threefold. We believe we have a responsibility to:
Educate: Tell the truth about racial injustice in our country;
Engage: Center the voices of marginalized people in systems-level change;
Empower: Activate agents of change on their journeys of self-liberation and social justice.
Through its Justice, Equity & Belonging (JEB) Training Services, YWCA Columbus increases racial literacy and cultivates anti-racist strategies in small group settings, which leads to better adoption of cultural change in our community – and understanding why it’s needed. The organization’s Leadership and Social Justice department guides young professional women through Leadership for Social Change – an 11-month program aimed at instilling leadership skills and best practices for implementing social change – and works with girls and middle and high school in its Bright Futures program to help them understand and disrupt systemic oppression, develop agency, and take up leadership roles.
Critically, YWCA Columbus also develops an advocacy agenda each year focused on the agency’s key focus areas: housing, childcare, the elimination of racism, and the empowerment of women. In 2022, this agenda championed reproductive justice, housing equity, protections for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly trans youth, honesty in education, and a non-police crisis response. Members of the YWCA Columbus team provide thought leadership to mission-aligned coalitions at the local and state level, frequently offer testimony at the statehouse, as well as Columbus City Council, and engage community members in a Get Out the Vote campaign, ensuring folks are prepared to engage in local political processes.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work and impact accomplished by our small and brilliant team,” said Caroline Woliver, director of leadership & social justice. “We recognize the long road ahead of us and stay grounded in our common humanity and pursuit of justice. This award demonstrates how we show up in the world: with empathy, honesty, accountability, and a steadfast belief in creating a world of peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.”
About YWCA Columbus
YWCA Columbus defies the status quo that puts women, people of color, and the underprivileged on uneven footing. By fostering dialogue and providing practical resources and education, we promote empowerment and inclusion. YWCA Columbus initiates systematic social change that will create a Columbus of peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.