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Herstory of the YWCA

For over 107 years, YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix has worked to create inclusion for all. Learn about our local YWCA herstory.

  • 1912YWCA of Phoenix established the Luncheon Room, the first women’s residence and gymnasium.
  • 1917YWCA opens rooms to war workers, Patriotic League and Rifle Club formed, Liberty Bonds secured.
  • 1920New home built on corner of Monroe Street and 3rd Avenue where Teen Girly Program began.
  • 192019th Amendment to the US Constitution provides equal voting rights to men and women.
  • 1930sServices added to assist women, girls and families due to depressed economy.
  • 1940sYWCA sponsored Phoenix’s first USO to support service men at the air force base. Sex education classes were taught; pool and residence opened to minorities; Interracial Brotherhood dinners were sponsored.
  • 1944The YWCA National Board appeared at the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate hearings in support of permanent Fair Employment Practices Committee Legislation.
  • 1946Interracial Charter was adopted by the 17th National YWCA Convention, establishing that “wherever there is injustice on the basis of race, whether in the community, the nation, or the world, our protest must be clear and our labor for its removal, vigorous and steady.” This was eight years before the United States Supreme Court decision against segregation.
  • 1950sYWCA supports desegregation through “Equality For All Policy”. To combat juvenile delinquency, YWCA increases its youth programs, creating Summer Camp for Youth.
  • 1954In Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered desegregation in public schools.
  • 1963The YWCA National Board became a sponsoring agency for the summer March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C., where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
  • 1964YWCA, in collaboration with ASU Extension Service, Bureau of Nutrition and nurses from the Public Health Department, begins Nutrition Project in Glendale to serve the growing number of poor and malnourished citizens in the community. Nursery for small children opened in Glendale.

  • 1972YWCA opens Glendale Center with classes and health club. YWCA named to administer and distribute Harriet M. Heatherington Scholarship.
  • 1973YWCA program begins to prepare mentally disabled adults for living in group homes with focus on exercise, grooming, and homemaking skills. Lessons in sign language given to enable others to work with individuals who are deaf.
  • 1976Senior Nutrition Program providing group and home-delivered meals begins in Glendale, thanks to support from Area Agency on Aging.
  • 1980sYWCA’s Women’s Supportive Services programs developed or extended to include human sexuality classes, non-traditional jobs for women, pre-schools, latchkey, and swim programs.
  • 1981YWCA Glendale Center starts first Glendale After School Program.
  • 1983YWCA Glendale Center starts Juvenile Diversion Program under contract with Arizona Supreme Court.
  • 1986YWCA Willetta Center opens in Phoenix with rooms to rent, senior programs, and nursery services.

  • 1986YWCA Willetta Center opens in Phoenix with rooms to rent, senior programs, and nursery services.
  • 1987YWCA in charge of Scottsdale Diversion Program, under contract with Maricopa County Juvenile Court System, to administer program for high-risk first offenders and all second offenders. YWCA also starts Success Express, a teenage pregnancy prevention program in south Phoenix.
  • 1989YWCA opens Haven House, the first transitional housing facility for homeless women and their children in the state of Arizona.
  • 1994YWCA hosts the first YWCA Tribute to Women event (now Tribute to Leadership).
  • 1996In November, YWCA senior group meal program expands to Glendale Adult Center. YWCA begins fee-based Care Meals Program, home-delivered meals to those in need. In addition, lecture series on women’s leadership skills begins.
  • 1998YWCA opens third group meal site for seniors at the Japanese Senior Center.
  • 2006YWCA hires Dana Campbell Saylor as CEO; she immediately adds programs, including the Women’s Action Alliance and the Women’s Empowerment Lecture Series.
  • 2008YWCA collaborates with UMOM New Day Centers to transfer Haven House. YWCA also renames Valley West Senior Center to YWCA and Multi-Cultural Center with plans to expand outreach to all members of the community, including refugees.
  • 2009YWCA launches “Own It” Financial Literacy Classes and holds its first Wage and Negotiations Workshop.
  • 2010YWCA partners with AZ Women’s Political Caucus and creates a series of advocacy events titled “Begin the Conversation – Where We Have Been, And Where We Are Going,” to address 2010 elections.
  • 2010Madison Street Veterans Association, a Phoenix veterans’ homeless shelter moves into the Arizona YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix facility.
  • 2011Own It! Financial Education classes expanded, offered at multiple locations and in English and Spanish. YWCA prepared for its Centennial Celebration in 2012.
  • 2012YWCA celebrates its Centennial
  • 2012YWCA launches initial Young Women’s Forum, a dynamic setting where young female leaders and emerging professionals in the community can connect with one another, share strategies and create support networks.

  • 2015YWCA Willetta building is sold; administrative operations and staff move to Concord Place at 44th Street and Thomas in Phoenix.
  • 2015YWCA launches Leadership Giving Circle with inaugural planned gifts of more than $75,000.
  • 2017Own It! Financial Education adds financial coaching to service offerings.
  • 2019YWCA creates Dr. Janet G. Elsea Volunteer of the Year Award and hosts the inaugural Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast.
  • 2019In addition to expanding and enhancing our existing financial education and senior programs, the board designates, women’s access to healthcare, recidivism and reentry, and Census 2020 and immigration.

Get InvolveD

Your voice matters as we stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen communities. Whether you have time, talents, or treasures to contribute, learn how you can plug in to the YWCA community.