As people across the country celebrate Women’s History Month, BE.com, thought it was a good opportunity to celebrate the amazing work YWCA USA CEO Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron is doing to help the high profile organization achieve its mission of empowering women and eliminating racism.
Richardson-Heron is literally “On A Mission,” which is the name of a new brand awareness campaign she and the YWCA launched in January. “We needed to give the public greater clarity about who we are and what we do. YWCAs around the country provide a wide range of services that are tailored to the unique needs of their respective communities.” says Richardson-Heron.
BlackEnterprise.com spoke to Richardson-Heron about the women who inspired her and where the nation is going.
BlackEnterprise.com: As we begin to celebrate Women’s History Month, which historical female figures have made the biggest impact on you?
Richardson-Heron: There are so many incredible women throughout history who have paved the way and served as role models that it’s hard to choose. But one woman does immediately come to mind: Dr. Dorothy I. Height. She is such a critical figure in the struggle for gender and racial equality, and she played a pivotal role in YWCA’s progress on the issue of race.
When you consider your mission, empowering women and eliminating racism, what are your priorities now, where do you think the nation is on these issues?
YWCA has three signature platforms under which we structure all of our work: racial justice and civil rights; health and safety of women and girls; and empowerment and economic advancement of women and girls. By making sure our work, whether on the national level or in our local communities, is focused through one of these lenses, we can have the most impact as a collective…
Our mission and priorities are more relevant than ever in this presidential election cycle. Sadly, the divisive rhetoric used by some candidates has only served to deepen divides in our country. And even more disturbing, the proposed policies proffered by a few of the candidates would actually worsen current inequities. We are truly in the midst of the next civil rights era.
Hundreds of years from now, when people reflect on your legacy during “Women’s History Month” and beyond, what do you hope they will say?
It is my hope that when people reflect on my legacy, they will say, “Throughout her life, Dara worked tirelessly to enhance the lives of women, girls, and families and because of her leadership and efforts to engage everyone she met to help create a more just society, the state of race and gender relations in our country improved significantly.”
I am a physician by trade and an advocate by choice, and I want my legacy to reflect the fact that I am hardwired to effectively “triage and diagnose” life-threatening challenges, but more importantly, I am driven and extremely motivated to figure out a way to “treat” or solve them.