June 12, 2019; Boston Business Journal
Located in Boston’s high-priced Back Bay, the 153-year-old YWCA has decided to sell its 178,000-square-foot building so it can spend more freely on its mission to end racial and gender disparity and promote social cohesion.
Executive Director Beth Chandler said in an interview, “Our vision is to help organizations create more inclusive environments for women, people of color, and particularly women of color…we want to see the power structures in Boston, across sectors, look much more diverse than they do today. Given what our focus is now, programmatically, we don’t need a building to house the work that we do.”
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The YW Boston has always been a meeting place for women as social activists and, for some time was also home to many younger women, particularly those coming to the city as domestic workers.
“In the late 1800s and early 1900s, they were bringing women together across race,” said Chandler, “but everything needed to happen in this building.” That is no longer the case, and the building’s sale will bring in ready cash and lessen fixed costs, thus providing more flexibility in their choices of what to do, when to do it, and at what scale.
“Our job organizationally is to do what is in the best interest of YW Boston, and furthering our mission, and ensuring financial sustainability for another 153 years,” Chandler says. “Ideally, we’ve eliminated racism and empowered women by then…but we want to make sure the organization is around.”—Ruth McCambridge