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History and Leadership


With support from the community, we have been empowering women to reach their full potential since 1906. In 1910, we started our first local community support programs: first aid and English classes for immigrant women. Over the years, we expanded our services to provide women and children with a multitude of educational and leadership opportunities, support and encouragement, as well as safe and affordable housing.

In 1977, we began providing emergency shelter and supportive services to domestic violence victims and homeless women and children. Today, we are the largest Shelter serving women and children in North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota and are recognized as one of the longest standing nonprofits in the Fargo-Moorhead area and an enduring resource in our community. In the last 30 years, we have provided safe shelter and supportive housing to over 38,000 women and children.

In 1990, we launched the Transitional Housing Program, which initially served four families. The need grew, and as a result, we expanded our program based on feedback from women served and to provide flexible arrangements for those overcoming significant barriers to independence.

1991 also marked the establishment of the Job Plus Program, which is now known as the Education and Employment Program. This program was, and continues to be, a crucial component to women breaking the cycles of poverty and violence by providing education readiness and employment training to help women gain confidence and build lasting economic security through career growth.

In 1997, YWCA opened A Child’s World, public childcare center. The center permanently closed in April 2020 with YWCA focusing on its core mission of sheltering, housing, and empowering survivors of domestic violence and homelessness.

YWCA Emergency Shelter was built at 3000 S. University Drive in 2004 due to growing need in the community. Since the doors opened, more than 16,000 women and children have found safety, support and hope at that location. As the apparent needs of the community grew, YWCA expanded supportive programming within the Shelter, to further meet the needs of women and children. Through a partnership with Sanford Health, YWCA’s Registered Nurse brings health education to the Shelter and empowers women to better manage their health. In addition, through programs such as Children’s Services and within that, Study Buddies, children experiencing homelessness find safety, support, and fun at YWCA.

Unfortunately, the need for our services is great. On any given day, we serve over 300 women and children in our shelter, housing, and stabilization programs. Today, we serve a diverse population, with women and children of color comprising 57% of those served in shelter and 64% in housing in 2022. With this in mind, we are dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women and carry out this mission-centered focus in everything we do. With support from the community we will continue our work of helping women break the cycles of violence and poverty for their families


YWCA Board of Directors

Mary Jo Lewis, President

Rayonna Hystead, First Vice President

Tammi Jo Barta, Second Vice President

Megan Schreiner, Treasurer

Louise Dardis, Secretary

Erin Prochnow, YWCA Chief Executive Officer

Paulette Rastedt, Past President

Krista Andrews

Adair Boening

Jessica Ebeling

Kelsey Gordon

Anita Hoffarth

Anne LaFrinier-Ritchie

Kate Lea

Celine Paulson

Sherri Schmidt

Lisa Schwinden

Paula Swanson

Cassie Wiste