For over 100 years, YWCA Greenwich had been the leader in promoting racial justice and equity for all in our community. We form coalitions with other organizations and houses of worship to provide free programming, including our annual commemoration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday in January and YWCA USA’s national Stand Against Racism in April, to the community. In addition to these standing events, YWCA Greenwich also responds to current events with additional programming and public statements. This year, after the tragic death of George Floyd, President and CEO, Mary Lee Kiernan issued a statement condemning systemic racism and violence against people of color.

2020 Racial Justice

Celebrating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On January 23, 2020, YWCA Greenwich hosted a panel discussion, Women’s Power and Vote at 100, featuring Sheryl Battles, Vice President, Global Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement at Pitney Bowes; Gretchen Carlson, American Television Commentator, Journalist, and Author; Denise W. Merrill, Connecticut Secretary of the State; and Patti Russo, Executive Director at The Campaign School at Yale University. Moderated by Mary Lee Kiernan, the women discussed the history of the right to vote for women and people of color, and the institutional biases that exist today which limit equity for all.

Stand Against Racism

The theme of this year’s Stand Against Racism was Civic Engagement. YWCA Greenwich President and CEO Mary Lee Kiernan and her guest, Professor Gautam Mukunda discussed the myriad of racial justice issues that pose barriers to civic engagement for communities of color with focus on the census and voting in the era of COVID-19. This event, which was scheduled to be “live” was one of the first recorded Zoom events, necessitated by the pandemic, in our community. Despite the closure of most businesses and non profits, over 120 organizations joined YWCA Greenwich in pledging to stand against racism and YWCA Greenwich awarded scholarships to Yolanda Lewis and Dante White for their outstanding work in promoting racial justice at their schools.

View more Stand Against Racism videos below

Beyond Protests and Petitions: The Art of Being an Authentic Ally

In June, following the death of George Floyd and the national outrage about the treatment of people of color and systemic racism, as highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement, YWCA Greenwich hosted a Zoom conversation with Jenna Arnold, author of Raising Our Hands and Denise Hamilton, Founder and CEO of WatchHerWork. Jenna and Denise provided viewers with insights on how white people, particularly women, can be effective and authentic allies in the fight to end systemic racism. Over 330 people registered for this important, free community event.

View this conversation below

First Selectman’s Diversity Advisory Committee

As part of our ongoing collaboration with community organizations, YWCA Greenwich is proud to be a member of the First Selectman’s Diversity Advisory Committee. A key accomplishment of this committee is the publication, in both English and Spanish, of a resource guide for recent arrivals in our community. This guide, spearheaded by YWCA Greenwich, was distributed though various nonprofits and community organizations to help ease the transition to our area.

DIVE (Diversity, Inclusion, Values and Equity)

After a year-long process, in consultation with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion experts, YWCA Greenwich developed the DIVE curriculum for children, youth and adults. YWCA staff began to implement this curriculum during the 19-20 school year in our Afterschool and Preschool programs.

Age appropriate activities and resources helped guide children to a deeper understanding and appreciation of each individual’s unique qualities to promote equity and inclusion. YWCA staff will continue to deliver this curriculum throughout all YWCA programs, as well as throughout the community. For more information about DIVE, please contact Erin O. Crosby at