It was an Annual Meeting unlike any other. A worldwide pandemic lingered and snow blanketed the South, but YWCA Central Alabama Board of Directors pressed on with its Feb. 16 Annual Meeting to welcome a new president and celebrate another.
The meeting was called to order by 2021 Board President Andrea McCaskey, who has given 15-plus years of service to the YW board. McCaskey, Momentum’s Director of Programs, began her role on Jan. 1.
MaCaskey took a moment to thank YWCA Central Alabama CEO Dr. LaRhonda Magras, who took the helm in September 2019, for her “leadership, your audacity to dream, to hope, to be bold and courageous in 2020.” An example of that audacious leadership is Magras’ work to build out the YW’s economic empowerment and supportive services framework, which places women on a path toward gender equity and poverty eradication.
Woman of Valor
Also at the meeting, Maggie Brooke was named 2020 Jeana P. Hosch Woman of Valor. The honor is bestowed each year upon an extraordinary woman who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the YW and has a strong sense of community and a true heart for service.
Brooke has led YWCA Central Alabama’s board initiatives as 2018-2020 president and has chaired the agency’s largest fundraiser, the prestigious Purse & Passion event, three times. She is a well-known philanthropist who grew up in Birmingham and has served in leadership positions in numerous organizations, including on the United Way Board.
The Jeana P. Hosch Woman of Valor award was named in memory of an accomplished lawyer and YWCA friend with an incredible legacy of courage and service.
YWCA Central Alabama also welcomed the following 2021 board members: Judge Kechia Sanders Davis of Birmingham Municipal Court; Yazmin Cavale of GLOW; Rena Ramsey of Everett Advisory Partners; Stephanie Houston Mays of Maynard Cooper & Gale; and Ashley Gann of CBS 42.
The retiring board members were Kathy Hoar, Nyya Parson-Hudson, Ann Johnson, Corlette Burns, Kelly Styslinger, Sheri Cook, Dalton Blankenship, Farah Sultan, Lucy Thompson Marsh, and Tracy Morant Adams.
The board also paused to recognize staff milestones and achievements. Celebrated for five years of service were Jaszmine Brown, Genesis Player, and Kenyata Tate. Applauded for 10 years of service were Angela Abdur-Rasheed and Darlean Sears, while Abe Bouie and Monica Shields have worked diligently at the YW for 20 years.
During the event, YWCA Central Alabama named Li Mei Li as its second recipient of the Annie Caudle Living the Mission Award. Presented to its namesake last year, the award honors an outstanding staff member who embodies the YW mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
Annie Caudle retired as Facilities Services Senior Director after 35 dedicated years with the YW.
Li first became a member of the YW family as a client who went on to join the staff. For 20 years and with a constant smile, Li has worked hard, adhering to the YW’s core values. She stood on the front line of the YW’s emergency response to the pandemic, ready and willing to do whatever work was needed.
To Li and all other hard-working YWCA team members, Magras had this to say: “From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your individual and collective contributions to our mission! We are fierce alone but stronger together.”