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Why 6 YWCA Utah board members resigned but haven’t talked about it until now

Why 6 YWCA Utah board members resigned but haven’t talked about it until now

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — What does a conflict between the YWCA and a local nonprofit have to do with the resignation of six board members 2 ½ years ago? Almost everything, according to more than a dozen people who allege that the YWCA Utah leadership created a toxic environment that was especially difficult and demeaning for women of color.

Two months after those board members resigned, a memo from a diversity expert suggested that the only way for the YWCA Utah to effectively execute its stated mission of “eliminating racism and empowering women” was “an overhaul of the staff and the board leadership.”

“Based on my interactions with the board and the staff members, the roles … have been operating in conflict rather than in concert with each other,” Weber State University professor Adrienne Andrews, the school’s vice president for diversity and chief diversity officer, wrote in a 2017 memo after she led a retreat meant to assess how well the board and YWCA leadership and staff understood social and racial justice and how their work meets their goal of eliminating racism.

“This makes executing a mission of eliminating racism and empowering women extremely difficult. It also appears that staff in front-line positions are not included in decision-making, have not been trained regarding the mission to eliminate racism, and are not empowered to engage the communities they seek to serve.”

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