April 19, 2024

Deborah L. Perry to Step Down as YWCA Rhode Island CEO Search Underway for Successor


Deborah L. Perry to Step Down as YWCA Rhode Island CEO

Search Underway for Successor

Woonsocket - YWCA Rhode Island announced today that Deborah L. Perry, after 24 years, will step down from the role as President and CEO effective July 31, 2023. Perry is the youngest CEO in the local non-profit’s history, and was appointed to the position in July 1999 at the age of 36, and served as its development director from 1997-1999. She will continue to lead the organization while the YWCA’s Board of Directors conducts an extensive search for its next organizational leader.

“Deborah’s leadership, vision, determination, as well as her unassuming ‘can do’ approach, have all served to increase the influence and impact of the YWCA,” said Marissa Ruff, YWCA Rhode Island board chair. “Deborah’s legacy includes growing YWCA assets, adding innovative programming in response to community identified needs and challenges, widening our physical footprint, and positioning the YWCA for long term financial stability and success.”

Perry joined the YWCA Rhode Island following an early career in community and regional planning. “Every day I am impressed by the work of our dedicated team and I am inspired by the people we serve. I am fortunate to stand on the shoulders of giants and to be surrounded by amazing humans every day. Being part of the YWCA has helped inform the person I am today, and has greatly shaped my worldview. I am forever grateful to my YWCA family.”

Perry’s contributions toward the growth and impact of YWCA Rhode Island include:

o Creating the vision for, and serving as the inaugural chair of the Sheila Skip Nowell Leadership Academy, the first charter school in Rhode Island to use a blended online curriculum and to focus on serving youth who are pregnant, parenting, or under resourced.

o Overseeing the merger of Woonsocket-based YWCA Northern Rhode Island into Central Falls-based YWCA Greater Rhode Island forming a single statewide organization.

o Acquiring and revitalizing the YWCA/Nickerson Community Center in Providence resulting in a thriving resource serving over 100 Olneyville families on a daily basis.

o Co-creating media to celebrate the aspirations and accomplishments of RI women including She Shines Magazine, Women of Achievement Awards, Women Holding Office celebration/YouTube video series, and Inspirational Women traveling exhibit.

o Delivering innovative programs for middle school girls including Rosie’s Girls, Girls Circle, and the Fantastic Girltastic Code Company.

o Managing Gateway to Independence, a nationally recognized and award winning program serving over 100 veterans annually, as well as securing $2.7 million for renovation of its housing facilities.

“I look forward to my next journey and to learning new skills, meeting new people, and continuing to grow and learn. But first I plan to take a break for a few weeks, hike, and kayak, ” said Perry.

The Board of Directors is committed to finding a strong leader to steward the organization into the future, and advance the YWCA mission of eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

About the YWCA Rhode Island :

Established in 1867, YWCA Rhode Island is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. The organization is one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in Rhode Island, serving thousands of women, girls, and their families each year.


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