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One Year Into COVID-19

It’s not every day that you start a new job and then immediately have to close down the office indefinitely and send everyone home amidst a once-in-a-century pandemic. 

But that was my whirlwind experience when I joined YWCA Edmonton as our new CEO one year ago today.

I hadn’t even met most of our staff yet before making that difficult decision after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mandated an historic stay-at-home order to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

There were so many unknowns.

There still are.

But 12 long months later, I’m certain of one thing: our 114-year-old organization has worked day and night to help support vulnerable women, girls and families in our community and to be a powerful and needed voice for equity in these unprecedented and uncertain times.

Beyond ensuring our life-changing – and sometime life-saving – programs and services remained accessible when and where our clients needed them, our staff quickly increased our advocacy efforts when it became clear that the pandemic was disproportionately affecting women, girls and gender minorities. From rising rates of gender-based violence to an increase in unpaid labour, COVID-19 has the potential to set back hard-gained gender equity efforts by decades. We cannot and should not let that happen. Now is the time for much-needed social and economic changes to make our community healthier, safer and equitable for everyone today and long after the pandemic is over.  

Thank you for supporting these important efforts. From attending our first virtual Rose Campaign fundraiser to booking a safe, socially-distanced Family Fun Day at Camp Yowochas, to becoming a monthly donor, your generous support has ensured that we’ve been able to continue our work to build a world with equity, opportunity and choice for all.

And thanks to our YWCA Edmonton Board of Directors, staff and volunteers for meeting this historic moment with creativity, kindness and resilience. There is still much to do, but together we will ensure YWCA Edmonton remains a trusted and reliable force for good in our community.

I’m humbled to lead such a compassionate, hard-working and public service-minded group of people. While I still haven’t had the honour of meeting everyone in person, I look forward to that day very soon.

– Katherine O’Neill, CEO, YWCA Edmonton

Title Slide with Katherine O'Neill

A Conversation with Katherine O’Neill: Reflections on leading through a once-in-a-century crisis and charting what’s next

Wednesday, March 24 – noon – 1 pm

Please join us for a very special edition of our Power Lunch Speaker Series on Wednesday, March 24 as we sit down with YWCA Edmonton CEO Katherine O’Neill. Katherine will share her reflections of her first year with the YWCA, and her plans for the organization as we move through the pandemic into recovery.

Moderated by award-winning journalist Brandi Morin, this conversation will highlight how YWCA Edmonton has once again adapted with remarkable resiliency to meet the needs of our community in pandemic times. Grab your lunch and prepare to be inspired.