Statement from YWCA of Olympia CEO Hillary Soens Regarding Olympia Shootings

I am deeply concerned and saddened by the recent shootings of Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin.  At the YWCA, we have had a robust internal conversation about this tragedy, similar to the conversations that are taking place throughout our community. It is undeniable that historical and systemic racism directed at communities of color impact the way in which this incident is perceived and experienced by many.  However, many individuals in our community may lack the knowledge and training to think critically about this incident within that context.  As the CEO of an agency whose mission is to eliminate racism and empower women, I believe it is imperative that we think critically about this clash of ideologies as well as our nation's persistent social divisions.  Collectively, we have a window of opportunity to recommit to the positive values of equality and justice and to make concrete changes in interpersonal and institutional life.  I will spend time reflecting on my own role and staff at the YWCA of Olympia will continue to improve upon our racial literacy.  Throughout this next year we will also convene spaces for critical dialogue and develop an agency vision for social justice.  I sincerely hope that you will join me and that we can work towards creating an Olympia that is an empowering place for everyone. 

Hillary Soens, CEO

hsoens@ywcaofolympia.org