Timing is everything, and now is the time to leave as executive director of YWCA of Genesee County after six and a half years, Jeanne Walton says.
“I have been fortunate to work with a lot of people and take the organization to a new level,” Walton said. “And we’re at a point where a lot of things need to be addressed and we need a person with a different skill set to work on them.”
When Walton took the position in July 2011, her goals were to work with staff to increase exposure and awareness of YWCA, its offerings and mission to empower women and families and eliminate racism.
That tall order was achieved with the addition of the Care+Crisis Helpline in 2015; a total renovation of the My Sister’s Closet thrift shop; expanding the agency’s awards event into a nationally aligned Women of Distinction function; and increased devotion to serving the needs of domestic violence victims and child care families.
“Being here has taught me a lot about the need for these services in the community. I was not aware, especially, for the need of crisis services,” Walton said. “We’ve worked hard to change things in the domestic violence department to provide services we hope will urge clients to make significant transformations in their lives.
"For the past four years we’ve really brought some significant change to the lives of people, especially those who have gone into our Safe House; some have completely turned their lives around. And the Care+Crisis Helpline has filled a huge void.”
Although some ventures have come and gone, such as the Artisans at North Street and a teen youth program, they have all been important “to the process and to our learning development,” Walton said.
She is proud of the agency’s more recent and ongoing programs and events, which have also included the Stiletto & Sneaker 5K, a Healthy Relationships course taught in local schools, peace and justice vigils, support groups and the You Engaging Success transition program for domestic violence victims.
They all prove that the agency’s vision can be interpreted in a variety of ways, she said.
“I’m appreciative of the continuous support the community has offered to me, but more importantly, to YWCA as a whole in supporting new ventures we’ve undertaken,” Walton said.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, Board Member Roula Alkhouri said that Walton’s experience in management and business helped YWCA raise awareness about the needs of those affected by domestic violence and other related struggles.
“Her personal passion for helping others has enabled the YWCA to grow its programs and increase its outreach and funding,” Alkhouri said. “We are indebted to Jeanne’s steadfastness, commitment and vision for all the new programs that YWCA offered in our community.”
Millie Tomidy-Pepper has begun her new role as executive director and looks forward to working on agency initiatives to eliminate racism and empower women.
As a former executive director of the Mental Health Association in Genesee County, Tomidy-Pepper brings several years of experience and a background in nonprofit management, including the oversight of fiscal stability and growth, employee and facility management, advocating for clients at a national, state and local level and strategic planning to reach fiscal stability, quality service and enhanced community awareness.
She has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and has received many awards for significant accomplishments in leadership, staff management and community involvement.
"At this time in our nation’s history, when women's rights and civil rights are being challenged every day, I cannot think of a place I would rather be working than the YWCA, an organization whose mission is to eliminate racism and empower women,” Tomidy-Pepper said. “This job is a dream come true for me."
YWCA of Genesee County’s three primary programs are Domestic Violence Crisis & Prevention Services, Children & Family Services and the 24-hour Care+Crisis Helpline.
The agency is the sole provider of domestic violence services in Genesee County and offers before and after school child care at seven sites in Genesee and Livingston counties. For more information, call (585) 343-5808.