Celebrating the Power of the YWCA Minneapolis Community
February 24, 2021
Kari Clark joined YWCA Minneapolis in 2017 as the chief development officer and also served as interim co-CEO. We are grateful for her dedication and exceptional leadership as she advanced our mission, mobilized passionate supporters for our work and helped the organization hold strong as a beacon of hope during the ongoing pandemic. As Kari departs, she shares her reflections here on the power of communities like YWCA Minneapolis and why they are an essential remedy in trying times.
In 1891, a group of volunteers founded YWCA Minneapolis dedicated to the proposition that diversity and equity are the core tenants of a healthy and resilient society. YWCA has developed into a robust community of members, participants, volunteers, donors and staff. Together, we have supported women, girls and families through pivotal points in history – from the civil rights movement to the fight for pay equity.
Every day, we cultivate an inclusive and healthy community. In our fitness centers, our early childhood education and youth programs, and our racial justice workshops, we foster a sense of inclusive belonging and empowerment. These two forces ensure that there is power in our community so that when we come together, we make a difference.
Community has a flip side; the monumental challenges of the past year, like the attack on the U.S. Capitol, have shown us the destructive potential of people coming together. When connection is made for the purpose of “othering” or differentiating “us” versus “them,” the community loses its empathy. In lieu of inclusiveness, myth and stories enable rather than empower. The destructive power of this shift has been evident in the challenges we face both locally and nationally.
That is why it is so important to pay attention and to support communities like YWCA Minneapolis today. Here, we come together to create bridges instead of burning them down. In response to a pandemic, we pivoted to virtual connections to empower individuals and youth at home toward their wellness or educational goals. As part of the Lake Street community in the aftermath and condemnation of the killing of George Floyd, we launched a distribution center with hundreds of volunteers to support families safely. When we came together, we made a difference.
And that is why YWCA will keep doing this work and build community through affirming, empowering connections between people. In my time with this organization, I have experienced this time and again. My role as chief development officer is coming to an end, but I will continue to be a proud member of YWCA’s strong, inspiring community. We will continue to see each other, to hear each other. Until finally we are all recognized and celebrated for our value and given the opportunity to thrive.