Empowering Women and Girls

Empowering women and girls is a core element of YWCA’s mission. YWCA Greenwich empowers women and girls through YWCA programs for women and girls, advocacy on key policy issues, strategic partnerships, domestic abuse services, and by celebrating women’s accomplishments.

Advocating for Positive Change

For the first time, YWCA Greenwich created a formal Legislative Agenda that was used to inform our support for key policy issues at the local, state and federal levels that disproportionately impact women and girls. We worked with a coalition of partners including YWCAs from across the state and neighbors throughout Greenwich. Our efforts were successful in areas of sexual assault and sexual harassment, domestic violence and human trafficking.

women honored
for their commitment to
a better community
programs offered
to YWCA Greenwich members

Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment

The “Time’s Up” Act passed, and the new law addresses sexual assault, child sexual abuse and workplace sexual harassment. The new law increases the statute of limitation on sexual assault from five years to 20 years for felonies. The new law also eliminates the criminal statute of limitations for minors up to age 18 and extends the civil statute of limitations to 30 years past the complainant’s 21st birthday. Workplace sexual harassment training is now required for businesses with three or more employees, and training must be provided to both supervisory and non-supervisory employees.

Domestic Violence

Two new laws were passed in FY’19. A new law eliminated the state’s separate spousal rape statute and amended the definitions of sexual assault to ensure that all sexual violence laws apply to potential victims regardless of their relationship with their abuser. In addition, SB 1105 amended the existing Freedom of Information Act to provide the same level of confidentiality for family violence victims as it currently provides for victims of sexual assault with respect to the release of police records.

On January 1, Connecticut’s “dominant aggressor” statute went into effect. The law requires police officers who are responding to a domestic violence call to arrest only the party who poses the most serious, ongoing threat based on a series of factors set forth in the statute. YWCA Greenwich Domestic Abuse Services (DAS) staff attended in-depth trainings together with officers from the Greenwich Police Department to be sure the new legislation is implemented thoroughly and safely. In addition, the DAS Community Education staff continued to deliver professional trainings to the Greenwich Police Department during “roll call,” including during the midnight shift change to provide continual training on domestic violence concepts and help officers process the trauma they have witnessed.

1 in 3 women
and 1 in 4 men
have experienced some form of physical violence
by an intimate partner.

Governor's Council on Women and Girls

Mary Lee Kiernan, President and CEO, YWCA Greenwich, served on Governor Lamont’s Transition Women’s Policy Committee. The recommendation to adopt a new Governor’s Council on Women and Girls was accepted and the first meeting of the Council was held in Hartford on March 8th, International Women’s Day. Ms. Kiernan is a member of the Council, which has met regularly since the launch. The Council will provide a coordinated response within the Governor’s cabinet to issues impacting women and girls, focusing on four distinct areas: education and STEAM; economic opportunity and workforce equity; health and safety; and leadership.

Strategic Partnerships

YWCA Greenwich joined the Sexual Violence Prevention Collaborative of Fairfield County (SVPC), which is funded by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls. The cohort consists of five local nonprofits -- The Center for Family Justice, The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education, Triangle Community Center, Women’s Center of Greater Danbury, and YWCA Greenwich -- working together to eliminate sexual violence across Fairfield County.

The SVPC's inaugural project, Coaches as Partners, is engaging coaches and athletic directors in the prevention of sexual violence.

Other community partnerships include:

  • Centennial Commission on Women’s Suffrage
  • Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame
  • Greenwich Senior Center and Greenwich Commission on Aging
  • Greenwich United Way
  • Junior League of Greenwich
  • Juvenile Review Board
  • Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich
  • Multidisciplinary Response Team for Child Sexual Abuse
  • Save the Children
  • Women Owned Greenwich
  • Young Professionals of Greenwich
  • Youth Services Council of Greenwich


Recognizing Community Leaders

YWCA Greenwich celebrated women at the inaugural Women Who Inspire Awards Luncheon. This new annual event incorporates the best of the YWCA’s two signature events, the Spirit of Greenwich and BRAVA Awards. Since the BRAVA Awards were established in 1977 and the Spirit of Greenwich Awards in 1994, over 500 women have been honored by YWCA Greenwich for their outstanding professional achievements and commitment to philanthropic causes that have benefited so many in our community.

The honorees were: Stephanie Cowie, Board Member, American Red Cross Metro North Chapter; Janice Trebbi Richards, Board Member, River House Adult Day Care; Stephanie K. Schnabel, Principal and Head of Corporate Development, KPMG LLP; and Dr. Katherine Vadasdi, Orthopedic Surgeon, Sports Medicine, ONS Greenwich. At the event, YWCA Greenwich also honored Isabel Allard from Greenwich Academy and Sydney Noble from Greenwich High School with the Women Who Inspire Next Generation Awards for their contributions to the local community. The Women Who Inspire Corporate Award was presented to Stamford Health for creating an organization where women are represented at all levels of management, leadership, and board participation and for empowering women and girls in the community.