In this edition:

Leader Luncheon XXXVI: 125 years of women’s empowerment

Change — “we need not wait”

YWCA La Voz Latina: new programming and expanded reach

Kieper elected to Chamber board

Walker—25 black leaders award

Leader Luncheon XXXVI: 125 years of women’s empowerment

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Leader Luncheon XXXVI Keynote Speaker Lilly Ledbetter

This year, YWCA will celebrate 125 years of serving women and families in the Rockford region. When we began planning for the 2016 Leader Luncheon, we sought a keynote presenter whose message represents the vision and legacy of the great women leaders, past, present and future, of the YWCA.

When the first Ladies Christian Association was formed in 1858, eventually becoming the YWCA in Rockford in 1891, our leaders were focused on making life better for women. In honor of their vision, we will welcome Lilly Ledbetter as Keynote Speaker for Leader Luncheon XXXVI.

Lilly Ledbetter has been a leader in the fight for pay equity for women and minorities since filing suit for gender discrimination in Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in 1998. After a lower court ruled in her favor, the decision was reversed on appeal and denied by the U.S. Supreme court for statute limitations. For 10 years, Lilly Ledbetter fought to close the gap between women’s and men’s wages. Despite her defeat, Ledbetter continued her fight until the 11th United States Congress passed the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, loosening the time statues for claims of pay discrimination.

Our stated vision, “peace justice, freedom, and dignity for all people” has endured for more than a century and a half. Ms. Ledbetter’s work advocates for women and minorities and mirrors the lasting vision of the YWCA.

Join YWCA Northwestern Illinois and OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center as we host:

Leader Luncheon XXXVI: Women of Achievement

Monday, March 7, 2016
11:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Giovanni’s Conference Center, Rockford

Seating is limited. Register Online

Presented by Innovator Sponsor

OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center


CEO Kris Kieper and VP, La Voz Latina Luz Ramirez

CEO Kris Kieper and VP, La Voz Latina Luz Ramirez

Change — “we need not wait”

2015 was a year of change to say the least. Change can be necessary, positive, welcome, and difficult, all at once.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is quoted as saying, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

Gandhi is telling us that personal and social transformation go hand in hand. In the non-profit business of social service, we exist to drive personal transformation in so many lives and deliver our visions of social impact.

In a difficult year for many, YWCA and La Voz Latina harnessed the visions of our associations to build strategies which adjust to overcome the hurdles presented by our own growth versus a shrinking and undefined state budget.

We have come together under the simple definitions of change but with an underlying shared vision for how we have to transform to strengthen ourselves and, in turn, those we serve.

YWCA Northwestern Illinois

For more than 125 years, YWCA has provided valuable programming and services in and around the Rockford region. The association has grown to serve more than 12,000 women and families each month in the four counties of Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson, and Jo Daviess. Issues such as racism, social and economic inequity, as well as awareness of and access to critical support services require a regional focus, and the new name:  YWCA Northwestern Illinois. The Northwestern Illinois geographic moniker better positions the YWCA as a regional voice and resource.

YWCA La Voz Latina

A focus on nonprofit collaboration, coupled with the need to drive operational efficiencies, paved the way for La Voz Latina and the YWCA to explore a permanent partnership. As of October 2015, La Voz Latina now operates as a department within the YWCA. The move allowed La Voz Latina staff to continue providing the majority of La Voz’s critical programs and services with minimal interruption.

We Look Ahead with Gratitude

2015 was a whirlwind for YWCA Northwestern Illinois, La Voz Latina as an organization, our staff and our boards. We are thankful for each staff member, board member, and advisor who had the vision to bring together the legacies of the YWCA and La Voz Latina. Combined, we bring almost 170 years of experience serving the people of the Rockford region.

We are not done yet. We still have work to do to make sure the critical services provided by La Voz Latina are delivered at the level this great legacy demands. Today, YWCA La Voz Latina is moving forward from our State Street offices, utilizing the talent of La Voz Latina staff for whom we are so grateful.


YWlavoz2015YWCA La Voz Latina: new programming and expanded reach

The addition of YWCA La Voz Latina programming allows YWCA to better serve existing program clients, and helps to expand the reach of La Voz Latina to the YWCA Northwestern Illinois four-county service area of Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson, and Jo Daviess counties.

These programs and services are being delivered from the Puri Women’s Recource Center, through in-home visits, and will soon be offered at the United Way Strong House:

Prenatal, Maternal and Infant Home Visiting

This evidence-based parent coaching is offered in English and Spanish and provides education and support to ensure healthy, full-term pregnancies, infants, mother’s and babies. Information and guidance addresses:

  • Nutrition during pregnancy
  • Pregnancy and stress management
  • Fetal development
  • What baby does throughout pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding pros and cons
  • Circumcision
  • Exercise During Pregnancy
  • Labor and Delivery
  • Newborn Care
  • Understanding newborn behavior
  • Changes in new mothers
  • How to Identify Safe Child Care

Family Advocacy Center (FAC)

FAC focuses on protecting children by strengthening and supporting families. FAC services are delivered through intensive case management. These services are designed to assist families who have had contact with Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Services are also open to those who are in crises and have a child living in the home. The overarching goals are to prevent families from coming into DCFS care; help families in DCFS care reunite as soon as possible; and ultimately, help families stay together.

Partner Abuse Intervention Program (PAIP)

Grounded in the Duluth Model and curriculum, this progressive program is an evolving way of thinking about how a community works together to end domestic violence. PAIP focuses on helping men identify and change beliefs that support using violence against women.


Kieper elected to chamber board

CEO Kris Kieper was elected to the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Kieper will serve a three-year term.

“I am excited to serve Rockford and the community as one of the few non-profit representatives on the Chamber Board. I am thankful to the Rockford Chamber for recognizing the role the non-profit sector plays in our local enonomy,” said Kieper.

Four new board members were officially announced at the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner, January 21.


Walker—25 black leaders award

Congratulations to Board of Directors Secretary Tamika Walker on being named one of Soul News Network’s 25 Black Leaders to Watch.

A family law attorney for Screenan & Cain, PC, Tamika is a a valued resource to our association for her expert legal advice, her logic-based approach to problem solving, and her respect for staff and fellow board members alike.