Equity Experience participants
Dec 22, 2022

YMCA of Metro Chicago Staff Participate in YMCA Equity Experience 2022

Several YMCA of Metro Chicago team members from across our association participated in the nationwide 2022 YMCA Equity Experience earlier this month. Hosted in Baltimore, the inaugural Equity Experience, “Leading with Courage and Heart,” served as a forum for more than 400 YMCA participants to explore how the Y can empower equitable change by drawing on individuals’ unique strengths and vulnerabilities. All Y staff from across the country were encouraged to apply and attend, especially those who lead diversity, inclusion and global strategies at their respective Ys and demonstrate a strong interest in advancing equity.

At registration, participants chose one of five learning tracks based on their work functions and interests, where they could further explore leading with courage and heart via interactive sessions. Participants in the "Heart" learning track, which focused on the Y's role in welcoming immigrant, refugee, and newcomer populations, wrote supportive postcards to new arrivals to Chicago staying at the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s High Ridge Y Center

In addition to interactive and breakout sessions, participants heard from several guest and keynote speakers over the three-day event, including YMCA of the USA President and CEO Suzanne McCormick, award-winning author and activist Edgar Villanueva, public officials, equity advocates, and more. Six of our association’s attendees also participated in strategic visioning sessions as part of the Equitable Communities Agenda, a YMCA of the USA pilot cohort investing in 10 Y associations’ efforts to build leadership pipelines for staff of color.

A number of YMCA of Metro Chicago team members were recognized during the Experience for their contributions to the Y and to equity advancement. Congratulations to our Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award recipients:

  • Kenne'quia Howell, South Side YMCA Executive Director — Winner, 30 Under 30
  • Abbey Wolski, YMCA Camp Duncan Food Service Manager — Winner, 30 Under 30
  • Karen Dziagwa, Lake View YMCA Executive Director — Nominee, Women of Excellence

Additionally, YMCA of Metro Chicago Vice President of Community Innovation and Impact Agneis Schultz served on the inaugural Equity Experience's planning committee, working to build the event’s programming and ensure that all attendees were empowered to make the most of their learning sessions. Congratulations to Agneis, the entire planning committee, and all staff and participants for a successful, unforgettable Equity Experience!

We already can’t wait for the 2023 Equity Experience!