by Sharon Svec
This November, Sherri Bennett celebrated 20 years with YWCA Clark County. Bennett began as an on-call staff member in 1997 and was soon promoted to facility manager of the SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program. She moved on to serve as the assistant to the director of SafeChoice and then, the director of SafeChoice. In 2008 she was hired as the Director of Programs. This new position was designed to provide support for the 7 programs of YWCA Clark County, as well as to help unify them under the YWCA mission. Bennett now serves as the Executive Director, a position she’s held since 2010.
Formerly this position had been held by local icons such as Jean Lacey, Val Ogden, Joyce Kilpatrick and Kathy Kniep. Reflecting on her leadership style, Kathy Kniep, Bennett’s predecessor shared, “Sherri is one of the most effective leaders I’ve worked with. Not only is she smart and strategic, but she has an extraordinary ability to keep the mission and a strong set of values at the forefront in all she does.”
Like the many strong and bold women before her, Bennett has shown an unwavering commitment to our community through her dedication to YWCA Clark County’s programs, services and mission. While serving as director of SafeChoice, she expanded service to marginalized communities, partnered in creating an on-site domestic violence legal clinic, increased outreach and education efforts to middle and high school students, and more than doubled revenue for the program. As executive director, Bennett lead the charge for equitable wage compensation within the organization. She’s successfully sustained a valuable relationship with Classic Wines Auction, and has been integral to the development of policy and practices related to the mission.
YWCA’s mission is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. It’s a guiding philosophy of all YWCAs and through the years, has been implemented at YWCA Clark County in a variety of ways. Having a especially long tenure at YWCA, Bennett has had the unique perspective of having grown with the organization and experienced the success and failures of past or current practices. This experiential view of things has inspired Bennett to pursue some new initiatives which are now developing into robust programs and practices. The Women’s Leadership Center for example, will empower women of all ages to harness their leadership potential and will be guided by a values-based philosophy that embraces equity, inclusion, and service. Also in progress is the racial equity policy, which requires YWCA Clark County staff and volunteers to advance racial justice within the organization and in the broader community through the achievement of measurable goals.
It’s no wonder Bennett has an interest in furthering the mission within and outside of the organization. It’s an awesome reflection of the culture that’s kept Bennett engaged for 20 years, “There are so many amazing people connected to this organization. They are strong, empowered, kind, thoughtful people. That’s why I’ve been here for 20 years! Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that every single day?”