A community influencer has the ability to effect positive change. When Helen Archontou took over as CEO of YWCA Bergen County in 2011, the goals she set for the almost century old organization were clear. She made it her focus to guide YWCA Bergen County to live its mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.
With decades of experience in advocacy, policy reform, and executive management in the not-for profit sector, Helen also brought with her a grassroots mentality to help facilitate that change. She recounts that the desire to help people has been a part of her identity since childhood. “I knew at a very young age I was going to be helping people. I think about a fight that happened on the playground and I literally stood between two kids to help the one that was getting pummeled. I feel like that moment almost defined my life’s work.”
Helen’s fundamental belief in standing up for what is right coupled with her core values of standing hand-in-hand to make a difference are helping transform our community. Under her leadership, she has expanded YWCA Bergen County’s program offerings to give women, girls, and families the real tools they need to learn and grow along their paths to success in work and life.
Programs for Positive Change
Helen has helped implement and shape dozens of significant programs, events, and initiatives such as:
Empower (U)niversity: This girls’ leadership academy helps young women become confident, college-bound, and career-ready.
YWCA Bergen County healingSPACE: The county’s only sexual resource center that works to support survivors and raise awareness to prevent sexual violence. The program also provides free, confidential 24/7 hotline services (201-487-2227) for survivors and their families as well as a legal advocacy program.
Motherhood Uncensored: This inspirational series of workshops aims to give support and guidance to women returning to the workforce after staying home to care for children or other loved ones.
Start Up: The program provides women entrepreneurs with the recipe for starting their own businesses with expert guidance.
Many racial justice initiatives work to forge and support community partnerships, including the sponsorship of the Township of Teaneck International Film Festival and Teens Talk About Racism.
YWCA also continues to support families in the community with affordable enrichment programs like before and after care, swim lessons, and summer camps.
Helen Archontou has taken the oldest and largest multicultural women’s organization in the world and created a real change to better the lives of so many in Bergen County. “I think the legacy that I will leave to this organization is that I really made us mission centric and focused and true to the values of the organization.”
Learn more about how YWCA Bergen County is creating a positive change in our community and help support the organization by going to www.ywcabergencounty.org and following them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
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