Thursday, February 16, 2017

Donor Love

Dear Friends,

Investing in girls and women is fundamental to breaking the cycle of inter-generational poverty, and allowing women to lead better, equal, and more productive lives. When we support the growth and empowerment of women and girls, we improve the quality of life for all. .

The YWCA Pasadena-Foothill Valley hosts several programs that aim to empower young women – Tech Gyrls, Express Yourself! and our Girls Empowerment Summer Camp. Each year dozens of young women aged 10 to 17 benefit from these opportunities.

I am writing to ask that you please consider renewing your support with a tax-deductible gift to support our scholarship fund. The demand for our programs grows every year. The scholarship fund ensures that every young woman who is interested in participating in our programs is able to take advantage of them.

Many of our program participants and summer campers come from disadvantaged families and are dependent on scholarships to enable them to attend.

 We have had the honor of serving the Pasadena area for over 110 years, and we intend to serve our community for many more, with the help of supporters like you. Thank you for your past support and we hope that you are able to renew your investment in the young women and girls in our community. We can’t do this without you, and with you we make a difference.

Jessica Kubel
Executive Director

Angeline Chen
Board President

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

5 Ways You Can Fight For Equality Right Now

Since the dust has settled on the election fight, a lot of people have expressed feeling a bit helpless. Here are a few ways that you can get engaged and speak out on the issues that are important to you.

1. Get Informed (and watch out for fake news)

For those of use who are becoming more engaged with politics after this election, getting informed on which pieces of legislation and appointments are going to impact the issues and people we care about. First, identify which you are concerned about, whether it be freedom of the press, immigrant rights, women's reproductive rights,or preventing gerrymandering. You can google organizations that are fighting for those rights (such as the ACLU, MALDEF, Planned Parenthood, and the YWCA) visit their website to see what legistlation they are fighting, what they support, and which politicians to contact. You can also follow them on social media for news.

Also, whenever you are receiving news from social media make sure you check to make sure that it is legitimate. Buzzfeed has an informative article on how to detect fake news. You should also check anything you read against fact checking sites, like and

Support legitimate news sources! Buy an online or print subscription to news organizations like the New York Times, the Boston Globe, or the Guardian (UK). Watch unbiased reporting from Al Jazeera, The BBC, or PBS.

Read up on history of marginalized communities, feminism, black lives, and religious intolerance to recognizes the signs and know when to take action.

2. Call government officials and participate in actions
Taking an active role in government is essential. You can visit sites like Common Cause to find out who your elected officials are and how to contact them. You can let them know how you'd like them to vote on upcoming bills, thank them/condemn them for past votes, and ask them to take action on things like the Crisis in Aleppo, defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act. You can stay informed on upcoming votes by going to

Those who are able to can also participate in direct actions such as rallies for peace, protests and marches, blockades, and boycotts.

3. Support organizations that are already fighting the good fight
Go back to those organizations that you found in step one and donate! Non-profits subsist on grants and donations and any little bit counts. Make sure you make your support heard by setting recurring donations, and fowarding calls for action or donations to your network of friends and family. Grants from the government for this kind of work may dwindle in the coming years, so this is especially important.  Buzzfeed has a pretty good list of organizations for a variety of issues.

Donate your time as well! Volunteer, join a march, serve on a committee, anything to further the work of great organizations. Even attending an event such as our Talking the Talk series, or Planned Parenthood's workshops can show that you're engaged and listening.

4. Offer help to those closest to you in marginalized communities
Make sure you are available to those among your aquaintances in vulnerable communities. Reach out to your friends, family, and co-workers who are women, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, or Muslim and check-in. Ask them how they are doing and make sure you LISTEN. Try not to say that everything is going to be ok, listen to their concerns and make realistic suggestions on what they can do to address them if that's what they want, or just let them vent and feel heard.

Also take care to listen to those outside your circle. There are a myriad of voices on social media from marginalized communities who's perspective are probably outside of your purview, seek them out and amplify them. Retweet and Share their messages against hatred, bigotry, and it really means to live in an America that discriminates against them.

Don't just make empty gestures such as wearing a safety pin or changing your avatar on social media, actually BE there for those who are most affected by discriminatory policy, hatred, and bigotry.

5. Take Care of Yourself.

While it's important to do everything I've enumerated above, make sure you take time away from social media, the news, and political discussion. Whether it's by reading a book, taking a walk, or having a good meal with friends or family, you have to make sure that your mind is not so burdened by the fear and sadness that you get overwhelmed and burnt out. Make sure that you also have a network of people that you are able to reach out to when it gets to be too much. The support of family, counselors, religious leaders, and mental health organizations can be crucial to staying healthy and protecting your mental health.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Discover the YWCA Girl's Empowerment Program

November was a month for a bit of travel, new art techniques, cultural enrichment and civic engagement.

The girls were able to take 2 field trips this month during TechGyrls. Through a partnership with the Audubon Society of Pasadena, the girls were able to learn about birds and do a bit of local birdwatching. Kim and Kathy from the Audubon Society brought binoculars, notebooks, and backpacks for the girls to be able search for an record different birds. They the talked about some of the birds that were native to the area. Later, girls split off into groups and went on a scavenger hunt for different birds. It was a great experience where they were able to explore an activity that had never done before.

They were also able to go to the Apple Store here in Pasadena in partnership with STEAMCoders. There they were able to work with iPads to create their own iPads to make their own songs. Apple store employees were there to help, but the girls impressed everyone by getting out of their comfort zones and creating a 
pretty professional product. The Apple Store and STEAMcoders where generous enough to give the girls t-shirts, earphones, certificates of completion, a usb drive bracelet, and a drawstring backpack. 


Mujeres de Maiz once again imparted some wisdom with 2 workshops during the month of November.

The first was a workshop on the importance of posters in movements and how artwork can be used to send a message and spark change. The girls were able to design their own images which related to their own lives and experiences as a form of empowerment.  The facilitator, Felicia, then showed them how to print their creation through the screen printing technique.


Felicia also facilitated a workshop on medicinal and therapeutic plants entitled Decolonizing & Centralizing Ancestral Ways : Ancestral and Abuelita Knowledge for today. This workshop emphasized the importance of knowledged passed down through the generations for healing. The girls were able to share their own experiences with homeremedies that their grandmothers, mothers, and aunties passed down to them to treat their illnesses, learn uses for different types of herbal teas, and make their own tea to take home. It was a very special workshop that is usually reserved for college level pupils, but was adapted by mujeres de maiz especially for our girls. 


Xitlalic also returned this month to facilitate a workshop on creating stamps for greeting cards. The once again created their own image, and Xitlalic encouraged them to use something that was relevant to their own lives like an inside joke, a meaningful quote or image, or something that they say all the time. She then took them home and carved them out for them on linoleum blocks which they stamped on to cards.


Here's to another month of great programming. See you next month! 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Week 1 of GESC 2015

Our Girls Empowerment Summer Camp has been jam packed with fun and educational activities this first week.

The girls started off the week by getting to know each other with some ice breakers and team building in our re-designed activity room. They had a lot of fun learning about each other and finding new friends. Then, we had the pleasure of having a Jiu Jitsu class at Jitsufit, just down the street on Lake Avenue. There they learned a few simple moves and breathing techniques. Here they are with the instructors.

After some downtime and chitchat while they ate lunch, the girls were able to learn about what it takes to be makeup artist and some make up techniques from Sara Edison [main photo] .   A veteran of the make up industry, Ms. Edison has utilized her beauty and special effects makeup skills on several feature and indie films. Her workshop illustrated the potential for make-up to be an outlet for creativity and a viable career path.

Later, they had a quick Zumba lesson and ended they day with Summer Journal Making.

On the Second Day of Camp, the girls had the opportunity to tour the Pasadena Playhouse and learn about plays and acting. After lunch, they had a workshop with Erin Green from Twin of a Kind and Pretty Girl Retreat on self-confidence, self-image, and inner-beauty.

Wednesday was our first weekly Big Fieldtrip! The girls were able to spend the day at the Getty Center in LA and learn about the artwork.


Thursday, the Girls were able to have a guided tour City Hall and learned about the symbolism behind some of the architectural features, the history of City Hall, and how the city has been able to make the building LEED certified and earthquake resistant. They also had the chance to sit in the chairs that the city council uses and learn about the key figures and process that happens at each city council meeting.

 After lunch, the girls were able to end their week with some t-shirt decoration. They got creative with a tie-dye workshop, as well as a screen printing workshop.

And with that the YWCA said goodbye to our campers for the holiday weekend. Stay tuned for more updates from the Girls' Empowerment Summer Camp.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Women's Leadership and Networking Day Speaker Spotlight : Susanne Whatley

Susanne Whatley is a News Anchor at KPCC.

Whatley has a long history in Southern California and network news. She came to KPCC after anchoring at all-news KFWB and talk powerhouse KFI, and hosting public affairs shows for KOST.

After graduating from USC and circling the globe with a backpack for a year, she began her career as a general-assignment field reporter covering courts, crime, quakes, fires, floods, and politics for KRTH and as an L.A. correspondent for national radio networks including the Associated Press. She served over a decade as the Hollywood correspondent for the A.P.'s "Portfolio" news magazine, interviewing hundreds of film and TV stars, directors and writers. She also hosted weekly live reports for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and stations in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Her honors include Golden Mikes and APTRA awards for Best Newscast and Best News Writing. Additional awards from those and other professional organizations include first place in spot news, documentary, entertainment and feature reporting and use of feature sound.

In 2009 she jumped into television and currently hosts "Healthline", a weekly cable interview show.
Whatley was born and raised in the Pasadena area and enjoys a deep appreciation of the region's people, places and peculiarities. She is an orange belt in Shaolin Kempo karate, and at peace with the fact her young daughters will always outrank her in the sport.

To hear Ms. Whatley  and other wonderful accomplished women speak at our Women's Leadership and Networking Day on May 29th, register today at You can also visit our website for more information on the day's events.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Women's Leadership and Networking Day Speaker Spotlight : Marla Bleavins

Marla Bleavins is the Deputy Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer for the Port of Los Angeles, the number one container port in the nation and the highest-rated U.S. seaport.

Appointed in January 2015, she manages the Port’s financial affairs and oversees the Accounting, Contracts and Purchasing, Financial Management, Debt and Treasury, Risk Management, Internal Management Audit, and Human Resources divisions.

Bleavins brings to the post an outstanding, results-oriented public finance track record with extensive
knowledge of the City of Los Angeles and its financial structures. Prior to her appointment to the Port, Bleavins most recently served as Assistant General Manager for Finance and Administration at the City of Los Angeles Department of Convention and Tourism Development. Prior to that, she served as Project Manager and Debt and Treasury Manager at Los Angeles World Airports. She began her career at the City of Los Angeles as a Budget Analyst and then as a Finance Specialist in the Office of the City Administrative Officer. During her tenure with the City, Bleavins managed close to $6 billion in bond financings that funded capital projects at Los Angeles International Airport and throughout the City.

Bleavins holds a Bachelor of Arts in public policy and political science from Stanford University. She earned her Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

To hear Ms. Bleavins  and other wonderful accomplished women speak at our Women's Leadership and Networking Day on May 29th, register today at You can also visit our website for more information on the day's events.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Women's Leadership and Networking Day Spotlight : Ana Guerrero

Ana Guerrero is a first generation Mexican-American and the daughter of migrant farmworkers. She began her career in Northern California with the Sonoma County Organizing Project where she organized low- and middle-income families around job creation and affordable housing issues. She came to Los Angeles in 1995 tobecome the lead organizer of the United Neighborhoods Organization (UNO). While there, Ms. Guerrero led a campaign that helped more than 5,000 immigrants become naturalized, politically active citizens. She also provided technical assistance to community-based organizations through the Center for Community Change.

Ana Guerrero has worked with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti since 2001 when he was elected to CityCouncil. She was appointed as his Council Office Chief of Staff in 2008, after serving as his District Director and Deputy Chief of Staff. As Garcetti's top aide during his Council Presidency, she worked closely with the City's leadership to negotiate unprecedented budget and pension reforms.

She now serves as Mayor Garcetti's Chief of Staff. In this capacity, she is the primary driver of his agenda to improve neighborhoods, create jobs and make City Hall work better, and directs all aspects of the Office of the Mayor

Ms. Guerrero is a wife and mother of three children. She stays active in community organizing by serving on the boards of the Center for Community Change and the Needmor Family Fund.

To hear Ms. Guerrero  and other wonderful accomplished women speak at our Women's Leadership and Networking Day on May 29th, register today at You can also visit our website for more information on the day's events.