Lilada Gee is joined by Vanessa McDowell, who made notable history here in Madison by becoming the first Black CEO of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Madison in its 109-year history.
The YWCA was founded in 1855 in London by Emma Robarts and Mrs. Arthur Kinnaird in a period where slavery still existed. McDowell is the first woman of color to head the local YWCA. The organization aims to help eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, support families, and strengthen communities, serving over two million women and their families.
McDowell said being the first African American to lead the local organization is bittersweet.
“On one hand, I’m like why, in 2017, are we just getting here?” she said. “It is somewhat disappointing that it has taken so long.”
Listen to the full program as McDowell discusses the unique qualities she brings to the position, what community impact she envisions for the YWCA, and how Dane County fails to support women of color in leadership positions.
Harry Hawkins, the Director of Operations of Justified Anger, joins Lilada in the studio.