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YWCA CEO leaving role, calls for new nonprofit leader

COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) — Christie Angel says it’s time for a new leader to take the helm of YWCA Columbus.

The Columbus nonprofit’s president and CEO announced this week that she plans to leave the role at the end of 2022 in order to focus on her next challenge.

“Transformation is kind of my thing,” Angel said. “I like to go in and tinker and fix and change (organizations). Not that everything is perfect at the Y, but there is a right time to bring new leadership into an organization and you have to know when those times are. … I feel I can step away and the next leader is going to have a great runway to do the next strategic plan, focus on the next area of growth.”

When the YWCA’s board hired Angel in 2017, Angel said they told her that they wanted someone who could build a stronger leadership team, refresh the organization’s brand, double down on its mission of eliminating racism along with the mission of empowering women, and be more involved in important community conversations like affordable housing and homelessness.

“I set out to really do those things,” she said. “I heard the board. They had the big vision loud and clear. I felt we were missing from certain tables. The things they were asking me to do were things I was questioning as well. We’ve done that. Sure, we’re not finished. I do think the brand is stronger, refreshed in a way that is attractive to people of all ages and all identities.”

Angel also led the YWCA’s efforts to raise $13.5 million so far during her tenure. She’s hoping they will have raised $16 million by the end of 2022 if they meet annual fundraising goals. She also launched YWCA Columbus’ Center for Racial Equity, which provides local businesses with diversity training.

Now, the opportunity to attract a “phenomenal next leader” is there, Angel said.

“To attract a new leader, you’ve got to be attractive,” she said. “We’re attractive. People are going to want to come here. I can cheer her on and be here in the support seat.”

YWCA Columbus said it has hired executive search firm BroadView Talent Partners to find the next president and CEO. The goal is to have a new leader selected by the end of 2022.

In a statement, YWCA Columbus Chair Janelle Coleman said Angel has been “an invaluable leader” during a period of growth and transformation at the YWCA.

“She modernized internal operational systems, strengthened the organization’s advocacy position, helped to build a strong leadership team, and leaned into our full mission of not only empowering women but also eliminating racism,” Coleman said.

Angel said there is still critical work for her to accomplish by the end of 2022 during her remaining time in as YWCA’s leader.

That includes putting together a sustainable funding solution to help support the YWCA’s shelter. Right now, philanthropy is covering about 75% of the shelter’s budget, which she said is unsustainable.

“We continue to have high numbers in shelters across the system, not just YWCA,” Angel said. “I want to continue to have conversations with public sector partners about sustainable and adequate funding.”

In addition, she wants to work on the issue of the employment and retention of childcare and youth development workers in the Columbus community.

As for what is next for Angel, she said she is not sure yet.

She knows two things for sure: she’s not retiring, and she’s not running for office.

“You can take that to the bank,” she said. “This is the first time that I haven’t said, ‘Here’s where I’m going next, or ‘Here’s what I’m going to do.’ I’m going to take some time and think about it and have conversations. I’ll probably take some time to refresh and reflect and be ready for the next challenge.”

Angel said she still wants to serve the Columbus community, even if it’s not as the leader of a human services organization.

“I almost see myself being a utility player, where I can plug and play into a few organizations or institutions where they need help,” she said. “I’m ready to serve in a different way.”

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