A Conversation with Mary Quinn
president and CEO at YWCA Greater Harrisburg
Q: How can the business community partner with the YWCA to advance its mission of helping people find employment?
A: We specialize in providing tools for individuals who are unemployed, underemployed, homeless and/or facing multiple barriers to employment to identify and secure sustainable employment. We believe our employment programs not only give individuals the ability to work toward improving their socioeconomic status, but also purpose and vested interest in the community. We need to grow our network of employers who are willing to work with individuals who might not have previous experience and/or are willing to accept individuals with certain criminal histories or mental health barriers.
We need collaborations with the business community to be successful, but we are also here to help businesses with supportive services that might need additional case management. We are looking to identify businesses that have social responsibility initiatives that align with our mission.
About Mary Quinn
Mary Quinn was named the YWCA Greater Harrisburg’s president and CEO in September, after being interim CEO since the spring. She joined the YWCA in 2013 as director of programs.
Prior to that, she was assistant director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. She also serves on the board of Girls on the Run.
Quinn earned a bachelor’s degree in public policy and a master’s degree in public administration, both from Penn State.
She and her husband, Lennie Whitcomb, live in Harrisburg.
How will you translate your experiences as a woman in leadership positions to the YWCA's efforts to empower women?
I strongly believe in being deliberate about creating a culture of inclusion to further the legacy of empowerment. We have roughly 90 employees, with most doing direct service, so it's hard to get everyone together for staff meetings. I try to meet with all staff during departmental meetings and (give) monthly written updates and encourage feedback. I think empowerment starts with information and honesty. I try to be as transparent as possible because I rely on every employee to do their job to make this organization successful. I want them to know they are valued and an integral part of the organization.
We want to promote from within whenever possible, which gives staff the ability for advancement. I was promoted from within and think it sets an example that we are all capable of achieving great things and working together to empower each other through a shared support system.
With the varied programs the YWCA offers, what is a typical day like for you?
Being flexible is imperative. My days can often shift from needing to reach out to individuals to get letters of support for a grant we are writing, to needing to cover a staff break in day care because it's flu season and we have unexpected staff off. At least once a week I have an evening commitment.
My weeks are usually structured with meetings with each of my department directors, CFO, director of HR and resource development. This week I worked with program staff to review grants, participated in a webinar with our national YWCA affiliate on branding changes, stopped at an evening meeting with our Junior Board, attended a meeting at Hershey Medical to discuss our medical advocacy program, attended a women's empowerment conference, strategized with my board president about an upcoming retreat and participated in Harvest for Hope, a community outreach event for domestic violence awareness.