You know
our purpose.
Now meet
our people.

 

The Equity Innovation Center Advisory Group is committed to providing valuable resources, information and activities so all participating individuals and groups can walk away with a solid learning or unlearning, a commitment to personal change and a willingness to act.


OUR TEAM

STEPHEN IVES

Stephen Ives

President & Chief Executive Officer

I have served YMCAs throughout the country as a CEO and community connector for over 30 years. Throughout this time, I have been deeply committed to ensuring that the YMCA is “for all.” I believe that connected communities are healthier places for people to learn, grow and thrive. I am convinced that social equity is the key to creating those connected communities, as well as a YMCA environment where everyone is welcome and has access to the tools they need to be thriving and contributory citizens.

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez

Executive Vice President, Chief People Officer

I am committed to taking action and leading forward on equity in the workplace by examining systems, removing barriers and equipping all staff with the skills needed to be successful Y leaders. I want to create safe spaces where all staff can bring their authentic selves to work. My priority is for the Y to be an employer of choice and a place that is advancing and celebrating diversity, equity and inclusion.

MARIE ARCOS

Marie Arcos

Executive Vice President, Government & Community Affairs

I am committed to social equity by engaging in meaningful and impactful conversations that lead to personal growth related to issues of all inequities. Specifically, I want to gain a better understanding of how systems of oppression have historically and presently create barriers for diverse populations.  I hope our collaborative efforts with this committee will offer solutions and action to generate equitable outcomes in health, education, and economy for all YMCA communities. 

Jeff Watkins

Jeff Watkins

Executive Vice President, Inclusive Communities

I believe that the aspirational “for all” in our Mission Statement can and should be a guiding factor in all of the decisions we make as an organization.  As a member of a bi-cultural,  bi-lingual family, it is important to me that the YMCA embrace being a diverse and inclusive organization that is more reflective of the communities we serve.

Stephanie Taylor

Stephanie Taylor

Executive Vice President, Organizational Impact

I am committed to social equity because this work is a legacy I humbly inherited from my family who, through fighting for equity, made contributions that enhance the greatness of this county. I prioritize it personally and professionally because I recognize that we limit ourselves when we elevate individual success over collective impact. I believe we should leave each space we occupy better than it was when we found it and advancing equity is one of the most sustainable ways to accomplish that.

Sherry Bernard

Sherry Bernard

YMCA Advisory Team Member

I have chosen the Y because I believe that there is no better organization equipped to advance social equity and combat complex and interconnected issues like poverty, racism and injustice. We serve a generation of youth that are eager and ready to change the world. Our movement has the ability and a great responsibility to encourage, prepare and promote their leadership on a global platform. I am committed to using my energy, resources and competencies to ensure that our young leaders are equipped to fight for social good.

Kionta Carter

Kionta Carter

YMCA Advisory Team Member

I am committed to being a part of social equity because someone before me was committed to social equity and I stand on their shoulders. I stand on the shoulders of giants, those who had never met me but realized that my voice and my seat matters. I am fighting for those that I have never met who will continue this work long after me, their voice and their seat at the table will not have to be a chair that they brought, but it will be a seat made for them. Access for all will be the norm and not the exception. 

Jennie Stephens

Jennie Stephens

YMCA Advisory Team Member

As a white, straight, able-bodied and educated woman, most injustice in society works in my favor.  As an organization, it is our responsibility to address the underlying and systemic differences of opportunity and access.  I serve on the Social Equity Committee because the YMCA should be at the forefront of this conversation. “Every small thing we accomplish can impact in a great way.”

Michelle Thompson

Michelle Thompson

YMCA Advisory Team Member

I am committed to social equity with the desire to get past symptoms to the root causes of economic, racial, and social injustice. I believe work is done internally by acknowledging personal bias and cultural influence and is expressed externally by giving injustice a voice and deconstructing barriers.

Tunde Lawal

Tunde Lawal

YMCA Advisory Team Member

As an immigrant, I am grateful for my life as an American citizen; however, I am also a victim of many inequities. I vow to be the voice of those who do not have equal say and representation. Not only will I be intentional with this work through the YMCA but also outside of the YMCA because the work is important and necessary.

Efrain Gonzalez

Efrain Gonzalez

YMCA Advisory Team Member

Growing up in Hawaii, I was around poverty in paradise. Memories of back home are not necessarily all fond ones. Being part of Social Equity Work with the YMCA gives me the courage to identify and assist with tackling social challenges I could not address in the past. Being part of this work has not only given me self-motivation but has granted me a network of driven people who inspire, lead change and create meaningful impact.

Halina Martinez

Halina Martinez

YMCA Advisory Team Member

Everyone’s unique dimensions of diversity positions the Y and the world in a way that requires more than equality. It can remind us that there isn’t a clear or linear path to what each person needs in order to thrive and that it is necessary in order to celebrate and acknowledge our differences in a way that doesn’t separate us or harm each other’s progress.  I commit to stumble through obstacles of systemic social injustices in order to find a firm place to stand and to create brave spaces for us to progress in socially equitable ways. 

Kashala Pope

Kashala Pope

YMCA Advisory Team Member

At my core, I am a youth worker and I strive to be the consistent voice for our young people who are unseen and unheard. I am committed to creating equitable opportunities for all young people to learn, thrive, grow and become active agents of change.

Lauren Alley

Lauren Alley

YMCA Advisory Team Member

The YMCA has given me the opportunity to learn about social equity, justice and opportunity from other leaders around the country and the world. Being able to work for an organization that commits the resources and space to learn and unlearn, and continue moving forward together to promote meaningful change in ourselves, our organization and communities continues to be meaningful to me. Houston is a diverse city and the social equity work that the YMCA commits to doing is important for our staff, participants, funders, and the Greater Houston community.

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