10/13/2014 11:40 am ET Updated Dec 13, 2014

The YWCA in 2050 and the Importance of Collaboration and Teamwork to Change the World!

Exclusive Ideagen Ideas Leader Interview with Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D. -- CEO of the YWCA USA with George Sifakis -- Founder and CEO -- Ideagen.

September 30, 2014 -- On behalf of Ideagen, it was a pleasure interviewing Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of YWCA. The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Founded in 1858, the YWCA is one of the oldest and largest multicultural women's organizations in the United States. For over 150 years, the YWCA has been at the forefront of most social movements -- from voting rights to civil rights, from affordable housing to pay equity, from violence prevention to health care reform. Local YWCAs offer services, programs and advocacy in three key areas: Racial Justice and Civil Rights, Women's Economic Empowerment and Women's Health and Safety. The YWCA is also the largest provider of domestic violence services in the country. YWCAs across the nation serve more than 2 million women and families annually. There are more than 220 local YWCA associations in over 1,200 locations in 46 states and the District of Columbia. The YWCA has over 12,500 staff members and 43,000 volunteers and it is the 25th largest nonprofit organization in the country.

When asked where she would like to see the YWCA in 2050, Dr. Richardson-Heron said that in an ideal world, in 2050, her organization would be out of business because it had successfully achieved its mission and, thus, there would be no place for it in society. But if this is not the case, she hopes that the YWCA will remain on the frontlines fighting for the rights of women and girls. She believes that women are the key to solving many of today's social problems and it is imperative for all women to have a strong voice in society. Dr. Richardson-Heron states that our society does not feel resilient given the many challenges we are facing as a nation. However, in order to ensure resiliency moving forward, she feels that we need to have strong education and health care systems and there must be an end to the abject poverty we see around the world. She feels that we must also make sure that there is peace, justice, freedom, dignity and equality for all. Moving forward, racial justice and civil rights are essential.

Dr. Richardson-Heron mentioned also that a genuine respect for diversity is another element that we should all be striving to achieve. She added that different perspectives almost always contribute to greater, more impactful ideas and solutions. Cross-sector collaboration and organizations like Ideagen are key in this respect because they allow for everyone's voice to be heard. During the interview, Dr. Richardson-Heron stated that "every success [she has] ever achieved has been in result of teamwork." We need to bring great minds together and listen to these voices.

The National YWCA and 226 Local Associations across the nation are working tirelessly everyday to enhance the lives of women, girls and families. Recently, the organization's focus has been on enhancing brand awareness, reconnecting with individuals, corporations and foundations and engaging a new generation of leaders to further the YWCA mission. Having been on the front lines for 156 years, there is no question that the YWCA has demonstrated tremendous collective impact and resilience in the pursuit of equality for all women. According to Dr. Richardson-Heron, it is an extremely exciting time for the YWCA and she is honored to be leading the organization.

Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron, changing the world with her leadership of the YWCA.

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