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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 that further carries out the mission of YWCA through its commitment to providing care in an environment that supports the needs of all families, regardless of their social, ethnic or economic status. Proud to be one of only 9 providers to be accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children in the Fargo-Moorhead community, A Child’s World prepares children to make their mark on the world by providing care that will enrich their unique social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development.

Due to the growing needs of the community, the YWCA Emergency Shelter was built at 3000 S. University Drive in 2004. 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 Shelter Faith Community Nurse brings health education to the Shelter and empowers women to better manage their health. In addition, through programs such as Shelter Children’s Services and within that, Study Buddies, children experiencing homelessness have found safety, support and fun at YWCA.

Unfortunately, the need for our service is great. In 2018, YWCA served 1,375 women and children. Today, we serve a diverse population, with women and children of color comprising 68% of those served in 2018. With this in mind, we are dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women each and carry out this mission centered goal on a daily basis. 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

Jayne Gust, President

Elise Kainz, First Vice President

Paulette Rastedt, Second Vice President

Tracee Buethner, Treasurer

Michelle Suedel, Secretary

Laura Carley, Past President

Erin Prochnow, YWCA Chief Executive Officer

Jennifer Baker Quenette

Tammi Jo Barta

Barbara Bougie

Leah DuCharme

Jessica Ebeling

Anita Hoffarth

Rayonna Hystead

Kate Lea

Mary Jo Lewis

Irina Sagert