24- hour Domestic Violence Hotline: 269-385-3587 or 24- hour Sexual Assault Hotline: 269-385-3587


eliminating racism, empowering women
— it’s what we are about and what we intend to do.

On May 3, 2009, the YWCA USA General Assembly voted by an overwhelming 91 percent margin to amend the national bylaws and revise the organization’s mission statement as follows:

YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

In 2015, YWCA Kalamazoo provided this many nights of shelter to 371 adults and 568 children

In 2015, YWCA provided sexual assault supportive services for this many adults and 18 children

About Us

YWCA Kalamazoo is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities. We are a member association of the YWCA USA, one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the nation, serving over 2 million women, girls, and their families. YWCA Kalamazoo was founded in 1885 and serves as the oldest association in Michigan. Originally establish to provide residence services for young women, today YWCA Kalamazoo serves as a primary resource for economic, gender, and racial justice for all women and girls in Kalamazoo.

The YWCA has been at the forefront of the most pressing social movements for more than 150 years — from voting rights to civil rights, from affordable housing to pay equity, from violence prevention to health care reform. Today, we combine programming and advocacy in order to generate institutional change in three key areas: racial justice and civil rights, empowerment and economic advancement of women and girls, and health and safety of women and girls.

Facts About the YWCA Kalamazoo

The Voice for Every Woman
In 2014, YWCA Kalamazoo together with 58 staff and 190 volunteers worked 95,000 hours assisting and serving the women and families in Kalamazoo.

Advancing Women and Public Policy
In 2015, more than 150 individuals participated in racial justice education and training programs to increase awareness and break down stereotypes in Kalamazoo.

Caring for Victims of Assault and Violence
YWCA Kalamazoo is the only domestic violence shelter in the county. One in four women in the U.S. will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime.

In 2015, YWCA Kalamazoo provided 13,787 nights of transitional supportive housing to 23 adults and 50 children, and 4,961 nights of tenant based rental assistance to 5 adults and 11 children.

In 2015, YWCA Kalamazoo Domestic Assault Program provided:

  • 22,282 nights of crisis shelter to 371 victims of domestic violence and 568 children,
  • 640 residential and non-residential clients with 1,277 hours of individual counseling and 291 instances of advocacy were provided,
  • 618 hours of support for 1,428 crisis calls made to the crisis line seeking services, information, and referrals.

In 2015, YWCA Kalamazoo Sexual Assault Program provided 132 sexual assault forensic exams on-site at the YWCA Kalamazoo.

Improving Children’s Lives
In 2015, YWCA Kalamazoo delivered 142 presentations to 5,044 middle and high schoolers, college students, at-risk youth, and other community members.

YWCA Kalamazoo Children’s Center provided 37,076 hours of childcare to 45 children from 35 families in 2014.

Leadership at the YWCA Kalamazoo


Dr. Grace Lubwama, a native of Uganda, brings a broad global perspective to her experience with public health, organizational leadership, and community development. Her global perspective also infuses her strong public advocacy apprograceach to issues of social justice and community transformation.

Currently she is the CEO of the YWCA in Kalamazoo the first and oldest YWCA in the state of Michigan, dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YWCA Kalamazoo is leading the charge around public health issues such as domestic violence-the only domestic violence shelter in Kalamazoo County, sexual assault- the only sexual assault nursing examination program in Kalamazoo County and leading the infant mortality efforts in Kalamazoo. Most recently, she has been the National Director of Community Advocacy with World Vision focused on improving the well-being of children and youth through programs of direct service and advocacy. She also served as the Executive Director of Antelope Valley Partners for Health (AVPH) in Antelope Valley, California. AVPH is a public health planning and intervention organization that provides services to children and adults without access to health care. Together they developed the area’s first community clinic that now serves more than 5,000 uninsured individuals, annually.

Dr. Lubwama received her BA in Fine Arts and Industrial Design from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, her Masters in Public Health (MPH) in International Health from Boston University in Boston, MA, and is completing her PhD in Policy, Planning and Development from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Lubwama believes that systems, policies and laws that create and sustain social injustice must be evaluated, understood and changed. “I hope that the YWCA can lead the community in creating a more socially just and equitable future for all its citizens, especially the most vulnerable,” she said.


Gail Griffin, Chair
Sarah Sandell, Vice Chair
Coleen McNinch, Treasurer
Martha Upjohn, Secretary


Sonia Eden
Demarra Gardner
Gail Griffin
Heather Haigh
Mary Harper
Marla Jackson Williams
Coleen McNinch
Anita Mehta
Sara Nicholson
Margaret Patton
Sarah Sandell
Namita Sharma
Martha Upjohn
Cathy Wortham

YWCA USA Historic Timeline

Throughout our history, the YWCA has been in the forefront of most major movements in the United States as a pioneer in race relations, labor union representation, and the empowerment of women.

The first Association in the U.S., Ladies Christian Association, was formed in New York City

The first boarding house for female students, teachers and factory workers opened in New York, New York

“YWCA” was first used in Boston, Massachusetts

The YWCA opens the first employment bureau in New York City

The YWCA opens a low-cost summer “resort” for employed women in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The first African-American YWCA branch opened in Dayton, Ohio

The first YWCA for Native American women opened in at Haworth Institute in Chilocco, Oklahoma

The United States of America, England, Sweden and Norway together created the World YWCA, which today is working in over 125 countries

The YWCA was the first organization to introduce the positive health concept and sex education in all health programming

YWCA of the USA incorporated in New York City

The YWCA was the first industrial federation of clubs to train girls in self-government

The YWCA held the first interracial conference in Louisville, Kentucky

The YWCA was the first organization to send professional workers overseas to provide administrative leadership and support to U.S. Armed Forces

Based on its work with women in industrial plants, the YWCA Convention voted to work for “an eight-hour/day law, prohibition of night work, and the right of labor to organize”

Grace Dodge Hotel completed construction of a Washington, D.C. residence initially designed to house women war workers

The YWCA encouraged members to speak out against lynching and mob violence, and for interracial cooperation and efforts to protect African Americans’ basic civil rights

The YWCA in Columbus, Ohio, establishes a desegregated dining facility and is cited by The Columbus Urban League “for a courageous step forward in human relations.”

The YWCA extends its services to Japanese American women and girls incarcerated in World War II Relocation Centers

The National Board appears at the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate hearings in support of permanent Fair Employment Practices Committee legislation

Interracial Charter adopted by the 17th National Convention

The National Convention pledges that the YWCA will work for integration and full participation of minority groups in all phases of American life

National Convention commits local Associations and the National Board to review progress towards inclusiveness and decides on “concrete steps” to be taken

The Atlanta, Georgia, YWCA cafeteria opened to African Americans, becoming the city’s first integrated public dining facility

The National Board of the YWCA created the Office of Racial Justice to lead the civil rights efforts

The YWCA National Convention, held in Houston, adopted the One Imperative: “To trust our collective power towards the elimination of racism, wherever it exists, by any means necessary”

The YWCA started the ENCORE program for women who had undergone breast cancer surgery

YWCA establishes Fund For The Future

The YWCA National Board urges Congress to support legislation that opposes the South African policy of apartheid

The YWCA National Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism began in response to the beating of Rodney King, an African American man, the acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers accused of the crime, and the subsequent riots and unrest across the country

The YWCA Week Without Violence was created as a nationwide effort to unite people against violence in communities. The annual observance is held the third week of October

Steps to Absolute Change was adopted. The YWCA shifted from a top down to a bottom up grassroots organization. Local associations joined regions and elected their regional representatives to the National Coordinating Board

Igniting the Collective Power of the YWCA to Eliminate Racism, the YWCA USA’s Summit on Eliminating Racism, was held in Birmingham, Alabama

YWCA of Trenton, N.J. and YWCA Princeton, N.J. establish the “Stand Against Racism” campaign, which spreads to 39 states with over a quarter million participants.

YWCA celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary, 150 years of service, with the launch of the “Own It” campaign. The campaign focused on igniting a new generation of 22 million young women aged 18 to 34, inspiring them to get involved with important issues facing women and the country today.

The YWCA celebrated its Sesquicentennial Anniversary, 150 years of service, with the launch of the “Own It” campaign. The campaign focused on igniting a new generation of 22 million young women aged 18 to 34, inspiring them to get involved with important issues facing women and the country today.

At the YWCA Annual Meeting in May 2012, a transition from the prior regional structure to a national federated structure was approved, followed by the adoption of new bylaws in November 2012.

Over 2 million people participate in YWCA programs at more than 1,300 sites across the United States.

YWCA USA transitions from an internal national coordinating board to a new board of directors driven by women of influence as well as YWCA leaders.

YWCA USA develops a Mission Impact Framework and Theory of Change to focus and clarify our diverse body of work in racial justice and civil rights, women and girls’ health and safety, and women and girls’ empowerment and economic advancement.

Stand Against Racism becomes a signature campaign of YWCA USA reaching over 700 locations across the country.

The corporate name changed from “Young Women’s Christian Association of the United States of America, Inc.” to “YWCA USA, Inc.”, effective December 15, 2015.

YWCA launches the YWCA Is On A Mission brand awareness campaign to deepen YWCA’s impact in local communities and on the national scale.

Facts About the World YWCA

Since 1855, the World YWCA has been at the forefront of empowering women and girls to lead social, political, economic and civic change. We believe in women’s unique ability to transform individuals, communities and societies in ways that change the thinking and actions of entire generations. We believe that women have the power to change the world.

To strengthen our ability to provide programs and services in communities throughout the world, the YWCA has launched the YWCA USA/Global Campaign to raise $30 million: $15 million to support the World YWCA’s creation of a $25 million permanent fund to endow leadership development programs worldwide and $15 million to support capacity building of YWCAs in the United States.

There are many ways you can get involved in the Global Campaign to make a difference in the lives on women and girls in the United States and around the world.

The World YWCA reaches out to women all around the world. To find out more, visit www.worldywca.org.