A Bold Purpose

Strategic Plan
2021 - 2024

In Summary

In our 147th year of service to the community, a year of unprecedented worldwide change, we embarked on a strategic planning process that forced us to think critically about our very foundations. It has led us to hone in and redouble our efforts to achieve our purpose – a sharpened purpose that will act as our collective north star for the next four years.

We have recalibrated our vision, mission and values to serve as strong foundational guideposts as we journey through the known and unknown future. We will do so with a clarity of purpose and a nimbleness that will enable us to respond where and when needed. 

Bold, collaborative and responsible steps will be taken to achieve our strategic priorities:

Invest for Impact

Stand Out and Speak Up

Strengthen our Response Across all our Programs

Expand our Portfolio to Reduce Poverty

We appreciate your continued trust in us as we build on our solid foundations. We will be transparent in our struggles and successes as we seek to move our corner of the world closer to a more just and equitable future for all women, girls and gender diverse people. Onwards to 150!

Boldly and in solidarity,

Heather McGregor
Chief Executive Officer

Barb Keenan
President, Board of Directors

YWCA Toronto is an Association by, for and about women, girls and gender diverse people. Since opening our doors in 1873, YWCA Toronto has been a stable and uniting force, working to improve the lives of women and girls.

Today, our programs promote equity, economic security and lives free from violence. We help women, girls and gender diverse people flee violence and heal, secure safe housing, find good jobs, enhance skills, and develop confidence. We offer a range of housing and shelter options, employment and training programs, community support programs, girls’ and gender diverse youth programs and family programs. We engage in systemic advocacy designed to influence policy and legislative change and push forward shifts in gender equity, poverty reduction and social justice.

The YW movement is one of the oldest and possibly largest membership organizations in the world. YWCA Toronto is independently operated but connected to a national and international network of sister YWCAs with a global presence serving over 25 million women in more than 100 countries. Ahead of our time, with an early vision to become “the greatest and strongest group of young women ever formed…of women, by women and for women.”

Developing a strategic plan that will guide us over the next four years.

In early 2020, the YWCA Toronto Board of Directors initiated a strategic planning process to determine the Association’s strategic priorities and to develop a strategic plan that will guide us over the next four years.

The first meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee happened days before the initial lock-down in response to COVID-19. The process took a brief pause, to allow staff and stakeholders to focus on managing our COVID-19 response. The commitment to plan for the future of YWCA Toronto in a post-COVID-19 world was strong, and the planning process continued in late Spring.

An environmental scan and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis process was conducted in April through to August. This process included:

on-line surveys;

interviews and focus groups with seventy-six (76) individuals and key stakeholders inside and outside of YWCA Toronto;

a review of internal documents and a selection of recent literature; and

external research conducted by the consultants.

In September, the YWCA Toronto leadership team and Board members participated in two strategic planning sessions to redefine the Association’s foundational statements, confirm the strategic priorities, and identify what success would look like. The draft strategic plan was crafted in October 2020 and approved the following month. In early 2021, the Association developed an Implementation Plan to guide us in achieving these strategic priorities.

We are deeply committed!

The process of strategic planning has allowed us the opportunity to explore and ultimately to reimagine our foundational statements which guide everything we do. Like many others, we have been tested in these pandemic times and this pressure has added an urgency to re-evaluate our vision, mission and values deeply. We discussed and debated who we are as an essential service provider in the context of local, provincial, national and global movements fighting for the human rights of women, girls and gender diverse people. We are deeply committed to dismantling and ending structural inequities that render women, girls and gender diverse people vulnerable to violence, poverty and homelessness. It is in this spirit that we move forward with a shared understanding of purpose and a collective determination to live our values and deliver on our mission in service of our critical vision. 

Our New

Foundational Statements:

YWCA Toronto seeks a radical transformation of society where all women, girls and gender diverse people can thrive.
YWCA Toronto is a leader and collaborator in the provision of feminist, intersectional and transformative shelter and housing, employment and training, leadership, and advocacy for women, girls and gender diverse people.

We support the strength of women, girls and gender diverse people, with boldness, creativity and passion. We acknowledge the profound and differential impact of racism, oppression and colonialism across the diversity of our participant population and our staff teams. We work to promote a climate that is welcoming and responsive to all women and gender diverse people. We strive to provide participants and staff of all races, religions, classes, ages, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities and immigration statuses with programs, services and work environments that are culturally responsive, culturally safe, equitable and accountable.

We centre the voices and experiences of all participants in establishing our advocacy priorities and in developing and evaluating our programs.

We work tenaciously to create meaningful social change and equity for women, girls and gender diverse people. We specifically call out and work towards eradicating anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. We acknowledge the Indigenous land on which the Association works, and we are committed to meaningful acts of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

We seek opportunities to strengthen our capacity and the capacity of allied and sister service organizations, to expand service offerings for participants and to strengthen advocacy and movement building initiatives.

We hold ourselves accountable to deliver high-quality, trauma-informed services and provide programs that reflect the self-identified priorities of our communities.

We work to ensure that the resources and strategies of the Association will allow us to evolve and thrive.

We are strong, bold and purpose driven!

YWCA Toronto is a deeply holistic organization, with a variety of programs and services offered to complement each other. The continuum of care provided is one of our Association’s great assets and will continue to be strengthened. In addition to our ongoing commitment to maintaining a strong, vibrant and healthy intersectional feminist Association, we have determined a need to focus on four key strategic priorities that will guide our work over the next four years.  

Through comprehensive engagement with key thought leaders, community partners and collaborators, as well as our internal experts – our staff – we will be building on our previous eight-year plan. In these unprecedented times with the convergence of multiple pandemics, we intend to leverage our position within the sector in service of our purpose.

The following four strategic directions were confirmed at the strategic planning retreat:

Accountable to You

The progress of our strategic plan A Bold Purpose: YWCA Toronto’s Strategic Plan 20212024 will be monitored by the Board of Directors through the development of an implementation plan and operational reporting tools. We intend to communicate regularly within the Association, across the movement and with our membership and our supporters.

Thank You

The development of A BOLD PURPOSE: YWCA Toronto’s Strategic Plan 20212024 would not have been possible without the engagement of our outstanding staff team, who actively participated in this planning process and brought to it their years of expertise, frontline experience, and an exceptional and deep commitment to the work that we do. Without you, none of this is possible.

Heartfelt thanks go out to our vital community partners, funders and donors, who took the time to share their valuable insights and hopes for the future of YWCA Toronto.

This plan and the process that led to it, was made possible by the vision of our committed and engaged Board of Directors: Brenda Andress, Leah Bae, Doris Chan, Andrea Dang, Priyanka Debnath, Christina Dorey-Gray, Pierrette Dosanjh, Kelly Goldthorpe, Sarabeth Holden, Silvia Jacinto, Barb Keenan, Lee-Anne Kovacs, Tharmini Kuhathasan, Carlene McCubbin, Nora Nestor, Aditi Raina, Ebony Rose, and Vahini Sathiamoorthy.

Special thanks to Adobe Consulting Services for their guidance and support, and to our incredible Strategic Planning Committee, who put their trust in this planning process and dug in to do the work.

Strategic Planning Committee

Brenda Andress 
Ashley Brown 
Kelly Goldthorpe 
Sarabeth Holden 
Julia Horel 
Barb Keenan 
Jeannette Manguiat 
Heather McGregor
Nikita Patel
Jasmine Ramze Rezaee 
Bessy Triantafyllos 
Tsering Tsomo