Dear YWCA Missoula Community,
It is with a commitment to transparency, accountability, and fulfillment of our mission that we share with you the findings of YWCA Missoula’s anti-racism audit, conducted by Widerstand Consulting at the end of last year. A summary of the audit, including key recommendations and action items to transform YWCA Missoula into a more anti-racist organization, can be found here.
The audit process took two months to complete, as the auditors reviewed dozens of our policies, financial documents, communications materials, and program forms. They also conducted five different focus groups comprised of YWCA staff, volunteers, program participants, and community stakeholders. I want to express my gratitude to everyone who participated in this process. Your honest feedback has been instrumental in propelling us toward meaningful change.
Our decision to conduct this audit was rooted in our mission to eliminate racism and our recognition that we need to do better. Eliminating racism is not just an abstract goal for us—it directly impacts and is inherently connected to all our programs and services. It is also an acknowledgment that, despite our best efforts and intentions, we have inadvertently perpetuated systemic inequities that are especially harmful to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) participants and staff. For this we are profoundly sorry. We are determined to do better moving forward.
In 2024, we will be taking much of what we have learned through the audit to build a new strategic plan that will help guide our next work as an organization. A few steps that we have taken so far are: 1) increased our Racial Justice staff position’s hours and level of authority and responsibility in the organization, 2) created new Racial Justice Liaison positions to ensure we have staff in every program who have paid time to support the Racial Justice Manager and these efforts, 3) reinvigorated our Racial Justice Task Force, 4) secured facilitators for staff affinity groups, including a BIPOC group, to better support staff through this process and beyond, 5) committed additional staff time to supporting community JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) initiatives, 5) implemented additional staff training from diverse perspectives, 6) begun reviewing and updating policies with a social justice lens, 7) drafted a plan for the Racial Justice and Equity work for the next year to continue implementation of the audit recommendations.
I invite everyone to join us in this work by holding us accountable to the goals outlined in the audit. Feel free to contact me with any questions or thoughts. Your continued feedback and engagement are invaluable as we work toward foundational change within our organization to better fulfill our mission in service to the community.
Here’s to showing up, doing our best, and learning as we go. Thank you for joining us on this vital and transformational journey!
Jen Euell, Executive Director