After serving YWCA Missoula for 30 years, Executive Director Cindy Weese announced plans to retire at the end of the year. A committee is overseeing the search for a new director, and they anticipate a selection within the next 4-6 months. Cindy will continue to serve as director throughout this transition.
During her tenure, Cindy maintained and expanded YWCA Missoula’s programming to directly address the changing needs of women in the community, as well as advocated for legislation to better protect domestic violence victims and worked to strengthen the nonprofit sector. She helped create and served as a founding member of the Montana Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, the Montana Nonprofit Association, and the Missoula Nonprofit Network. Cindy led the YWCA Missoula through some very challenging circumstances, including the Great Recession and the global pandemic, and ensured that YWCA Missoula was always available to provide 24/7 lifesaving and life-changing services to women, children, and families.
Cindy joined the YWCA as a volunteer domestic violence advocate in 1992. Within a year she was hired into a staff position, working overnight shifts at the shelter. She left the YWCA in 1999 to serve as the first executive director of the Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence. She returned to the YWCA b to serve as executive director on September 11, 2001; she was getting ready for her first day when the planes hit the towers. From day one on the job, there was constant change, challenge, and adaptation.
As executive director, Cindy oversaw the purchase and opening of the Secret Seconds Thrift Store on Kensington Avenue, which more than doubled the store profits that support all YWCA Missoula programs, including 100% of racial justice efforts. Under Cindy’s leadership, the organization developed a racial and social justice marketing campaign, which was awarded the Hallmark Program of the Year from YWCA USA.
Cindy oversaw the launch of several programs, including Planet Kids supervised visitation—an invaluable community resource that keeps domestic violence survivors and their children safe— and the transition of GUTS! girls’ leadership (started at Women’s Voices for the Earth) and emergency housing for homeless families (previously run by the Salvation Army) to the YWCA.
In 2015, YWCA Missoula began planning to expand the domestic violence shelter and relocate the main office. Cindy worked with partners at Missoula Interfaith Collaborative to add a Family Housing Center to the YWCA’s new facility plan and to create a formal partnership with Family Promise. In 2021, under Cindy’s stewardship and with the support of scores of community members and partners, The Meadowlark opened its doors and more than doubled the number of people that YWCA Missoula can serve in its programs.
In reflection on what she’s learned during her years with the organization, Cindy said, “Because of my involvement with the YWCA, I understand how privileged I am to 1) be a white American that grew-up in 2) a safe home with 3) enough resources surrounded by 4) a stable community that supported my family and me. Without any of those four privileges, my life could have been much more challenging.”
Cindy has been a model of leadership, grit, and integrity for so many involved with the YWCA. Because of her hard work, YWCA Missoula is well positioned to begin its second century of service to the community.
Find more information on the executive director position here.