YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County has selected a longtime organizational and diversity, equity and inclusion leader as its next president and CEO.
Myra Henry will take the helm of the agency on Dec. 1, replacing Angela Panzarella, who will retire at the end of November.
“We are indebted to outgoing YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County President and CEO Angela Panzarella, who has spent the last several years establishing a strong foundation for the agency’s future. Her oversight and management have ensured YWCA will continue to be a critical and relevant resource in our community,” said YWCA Board Chair Liz Vega in a statement.
Henry is a Rochester-based organizational leader with more than 20 years of management experience and is a proven advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion. As a values-based leader, Henry most recently served as deputy dean for organizational development and inclusivity for the River Campus Libraries at the University of Rochester. She also was an executive member of the university’s Diversity and Equity Committee.
Henry has served as a strategy team member and facilitator for the Monroe County Transformation of Police and Community team. She has extensive nonprofit board experience and currently serves on the board of trustees at Catholic Charities Community Services of Rochester.
Henry earned an Ed.D. in executive leadership from St. John Fisher College and also holds a master of science in management, as well as a bachelor of science in organizational management, both from Keuka College.
When Panzarella retires at the end of November, Henry will begin her tenure as leader for the organization. Henry will work closely with the board of directors, staff and community partners to develop and implement a new strategic plan for the future of the agency.
“We could not be more pleased that Dr. Henry has accepted the role of president and CEO. We are excited to welcome her as a transformational leader and agent for change. We are looking forward to the great things that she will accomplish at the helm of YWCA,” said Cindy Langston, chair of the YWCA CEO search committee and board vice-chair.
The YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County is in the final stages of absorbing many of the services of Sojourner Home, a nonprofit that has provided homeless women and children with housing, self-sufficiency skills, and education programs for more than four decades.
“This is a terrific opportunity to enhance and expand the services that we can offer to our community’s most vulnerable women and children,” said YWCA CEO Angela Panzarella. “We believe that our mission aligns very well with that of Sojourner and we’re honored that Sojourner is working to partner with us to carry on its legacy.”
Under the proposal, YWCA will assume certain of Sojourners’ permanent housing programs and enhance YWCA’s current programs to carry on Sojourner’s legacy of providing intensive training and support as an essential element in helping women and families recover from trauma and rebuild their lives. YWCA plans to dedicate its emergency housing program for women and families as the “Sojourner House of Strength at the YWCA.”
The partnership with the YWCA is a key element of a comprehensive plan by Sojourner Home to realign its resources and services to better serve the Rochester community.
Since 2009, Sojourner Home has been affiliated with PathStone Corp., a Rochester-based not-for-profit community development and human service organization. Four years ago, PathStone brought Sojourner’s programs and services together with those of Wilson Commencement Park, which shared Sojourner’s mission of serving women and families in the Rochester community, under a new organization, Sojourner Home. Now that Sojourner Home is again an independent organization, Wilson Commencement Park will continue to operate as an affiliate of PathStone.
“From Sojourner’s perspective this is something that we started looking at last summer in our affiliation with PathStone and our future,” said Sojourner board Chair Shelby Stenson. “The mission of both organizations are so well aligned it makes sense, and we’re just fortunate that the YWCA can help us continue on with the Sojourner legacy.”
Under the plan, Sojourner Home will close its Millbank Street location and is working with the city to determine the best use for that property. Proceeds from the sale of the property will be added to Sojourner’s endowment fund to enhance the programming offered at the YWCA. Sojourner Home had 10 to 15 staffers that either moved to other positions within PathStone or at other organizations, Stenson said.
“We and the board of Sojourner Home looked at many options to make sure the services offered by Sojourner could be maintained and expanded,” said PathStone CEO Alex Castro. “The YWCA was an obvious partner who could support these critical needs of women and children, and who could evolve the services offered as well.”
With Sojourner under its umbrella, the YWCA will be able to help an additional 100 families, Panzarella said.
“What we’re exploring with them when we can finalize all the pieces will be an opportunity for us to expand our portfolio of services, and with some of the resources that Sojourner can provide from their endowments and the like, we also have the opportunity to enhance some of the skills training, some of the children’s programs, some other services we hope to be able to expand and enhance for our clients,” she said. “Throughout the community, we serve at any one time probably a few hundred families in the Rochester community, and we’re very excited about the opportunity to expand our portfolio and to bring some additional services to our clients.”
During Sojourner’s 40 years in Rochester, more than 2,700 families have been served, making it one of the most impactful and longest-running poverty interruption and women/children support programs in Rochester. Its mission and purpose are to give women and families the tools they need to recover from trauma and build stable, self-sufficient lives.
The YWCA helps women and girls who are faced with personal crises, including experiencing homelessness and young adult pregnancy. It also works to dispel stereotypes and promote racial equity. The organization has served the needs of the Rochester community for nearly 140 years.
“This is a strong example of local nonprofits playing to their strengths and ensuring the mission is at the center of decision-making,” says Jaime Saunders, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Rochester Inc., an organization that supports a broad network of human service organizations. “This partnership builds on the foundation of Sojourner and the services at the YWCA to serve women and children. United Way’s Synergy Fund is a key resource to support such thoughtful and strategic partnerships to improve efficiency and better serve their clients and our community.”
YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County CEO Angela Panzarella plans to retire from the organization at the end of October.
Panzarella joined the nonprofit organization two years ago as interim CEO and was named full-time CEO shortly thereafter. She has had a storied career in the for-profit world: She worked as a litigation attorney for Harris Beach PLLC for five years, and in several capacities at Bausch & Lomb Inc., including as litigation counsel and head of investor relations. Panzarella also served a five-year stint as president of ACM Medical Laboratory Inc. before joining YWCA.
“When Angela was appointed as YWCA’s CEO two years ago, we understood she was taking the position in a transitional capacity, focusing on establishing a solid foundation for the organization’s future,” said YWCA Board Chair Liz Vega. “She has put the organization on a firm course for success. Her oversight and management have ensured YWCA will continue to be a critical and relevant resource in our community. We appreciate her leadership, particularly during the early, unprecedented months of COVID-19, when her steady guidance ensured all staff and residents remained safe and healthy in our housing facilities.”
The organization’s board of directors has launched a search for a new leader to carry on the 137-year history of YWCA.
“It has been an honor to lead such a dynamic team here at YWCA,” Panzarella said. “I am enormously proud of what our staff has accomplished over the last two years. Their belief in the YWCA mission is evidenced every day in their commitment to the hundreds of women and families we serve.”
Through housing and young adult services, YWCA helps women and girls who are faced with personal crises including homelessness and substance abuse and empowers women to regain control of their lives and get on the path to a healthy, successful future.
“This is an exciting time for YWCA,” stated Vega. “With such a strong foundation we can now focus on finding a leader to set the course for the future.”
The YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County has named Angela Panzarella as president and CEO. She had served as interim CEO since June 25.
A 2019 Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and Women’s Council ATHENA Award finalist, Panzarella has a strong track record of developing high-functioning teams and sustainable, successful business strategies.
“We are so pleased to have Angela continue to lead the YWCA,” YWCA board chairwoman Jennifer Kaukeinen said in a statement. “As interim CEO she demonstrated that the leadership skills she’s honed during her career are precisely what the YWCA needs. She brings a welcome perspective to YWCA operations and the critical role the organization plays in the community.”
Prior to joining the YWCA, Panzarella served for five years as president of ACM Medical Laboratory Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of Rochester Regional Health, during the merger of Rochester General Health System and Unity Health System. She also spent two decades in leadership roles at Bausch & Lomb Inc. including as corporate vice president, global vision care; president, Canada and Latin America; corporate vice president, strategy and others.
Panzarella earned her law degree at Albany Law School and was a trial attorney with Harris, Beach & Wilcox LLP, now Harris Beach PLLC, prior to joining Bausch & Lomb as counsel. She has served on a number of boards of directors including the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc., Transcat Inc. and University of Rochester Medicine Home Care.
“The YWCA is an incredible organization with a legacy of more than 135 years of service in the community,” Panzarella said. “The YWCA has a terrific team of staff, board members and community volunteers to support its work to empower women and girls and to advocate for racial equity and social justice. To be part of such an important organization is humbling. I look forward to continuing my work with the YWCA team and partnering with the community to ensure that legacy continues.”
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