YWCA NH Appoints Emerald Anderson-Ford Chief Diversity Officer

YWCA NH Appoints Emerald Anderson-Ford Chief Diversity Officer 

 MANCHESTER NH – YWCA New Hampshire has appointed Emerald Anderson-Ford as its first Chief Diversity Officer. Anderson-Ford comes to the YW from the national office of City Year, having served in a variety of roles including Managing Director of Diversity & Equity Strategy.

Also a small business owner, she founded Communities Reaching for Equity and Diversity (CRED), an equity consulting group that has worked with school districts, police departments and other government and nonprofit entities to grow anti-racism initiatives.

YWCA New Hampshire’s mission is to empower women and eliminate racism. Anderson-Ford’s appointment is a strategic decision by the YW to expand its longstanding reputation as a women’s organization to one also focused on racial equity.

“Emerald’s first project will be to conduct a top to bottom internal assessment of YWCA New Hampshire’s equity and inclusion practices so that we can be certain we are walking our own talk,” said YWCA CEO Jessica Cantin. “Then we plan to make her significant expertise available to other organizations in the community.”

“The YWCA has been a powerhouse and leader in advocacy and the elevation of women’s rights for many years,” said Anderson-Ford. “I am excited to join the team and expand its great work at the intersection of race and ethnicity.”

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Photo of Emerald Anderson-Ford attached.



YWCA NH is part of an international, multifaceted social service agency that was founded in 1858, and has had a fully functioning association in the greater Manchester area since 1920. Its mission is to empower women and to eliminate racism.

 YWCA NH currently serves 2,700 individuals annually and offers an array of social justice programs that focus on domestic violence prevention and response, youth education, community education and outreach and empowerment.

2021 New Hampshire State Budget Passes a Questionable Law

This Is Not the 1950s

Misguided new law sends wrong message on race and equity

State leaders recently passed a budget that had handcuffed to it a questionable state law effectively banning the teaching of so-called “divisive concepts” in New Hampshire public schools. What are being framed as divisive concepts or “critical race theory” are efforts to explore and discuss attitudes about race, gender and other important but sometimes difficult topics.

An earlier controversial and more far-reaching bill with similar intent was tabled by a House committee after the Business and Industry Association, along with 225 independent businesses and nonprofits, said the bill sent the wrong message about the issue of race and gender discrimination. It was blatantly racist. Governor Sununu threatened to veto it, claiming it too broadly limited free speech.

But its proponents ran an end run by getting a different version tied to the state budget. And rather than veto the budget and spend the summer delineating financial issues from social issues, the legislature and Governor Sununu turned their backs on justice, passed the budget with its inappropriate non-fiscal amendments and headed home for the summer.

If there were any doubts about the implications of this, the fact that more than half of Governor Sununu’s State Council on Diversity and Inclusion resigned this week in protest, stating the law silences important conversations about race, makes it clear. The council was appointed by the Governor to advise him on matters of race, diversity, equity and inclusion in 2017. Was their initial appointment simply a hollow political gesture on Sununu’s part, rather than an attempt to actually engage in an understanding around issues of race and gender?

Cleverly tucked inside a number of paragraphs that ban the teaching of discrimination, the law prohibits instruction by government agencies and public schools, “That an individual, by virtue of his or her age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, creed, color, marital status, familial status, mental or physical disability, religion, or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.” (Emphasis mine.)

This makes teaching the concept that each of us has unconscious implicit biases, which unfortunately are often the root of ambient discrimination, illegal. Recognizing implicit bias is one of the most important concepts that our society has to learn in order for us to move forward in understanding our attitudes and achieving racial equity.

One has to wonder why a questionable law like this was drafted, debated, and finally tied at the eleventh hour to important work like the state budget. Our state has critical issues to grapple with – like homelessness, the needs of small business for employees, the ongoing opioid crisis, child abuse, domestic violence – and during the last six months our elected leaders devoted energy to this — and abortion. What is this, 1952?

I have no doubt that most legislators don’t understand the full implications of this law. New Hampshire teachers were already struggling to be able to communicate and facilitate discussions about race. And now state government has put a measure in place that not only makes that more difficult, but actually makes it illegal. This does not move us ahead. It sets us back. It also, unfortunately, further reinforces the perception that New Hampshire is one of the least diverse states in the US. Our business leaders knew this would have a negative impact; our legislators should understand this as well. This 1950s mentality is not consistent with New Hampshire’s 2020s aspirations.

I also have no doubt that this misguided legislation will eventually be amended or repealed; it too closely represents a presidential executive order that was determined to be unconstitutional, a violation of the First Amendment rights held so dear in our state. There have been many other instances in this country when we realized we were not doing the right thing and this is one of them.

We moved through these previous instances by having difficult conversations, not by avoiding them. These conversations brought us progress – on women’s rights, civil rights, protection from domestic violence, ADA legislation, equal access to workplaces and education. Progress happens when people are willing to engage in difficult conversations, listen to each other and consider another person’s view and lived experience. Censorship has never brought us progress.

Until the law is changed, YWCA New Hampshire will be working with our partners to channel our influence, resources and community space to provide opportunity for people in the community, including children, to have these important discussions. Our mission, and in some cases, our funders, require we provide this environment.

We will not be trying to “indoctrinate” or “inculcate” (language used in the misguided new law). We will only try to create awareness that racism and bias exist and have an effect on how we interact with others in our community.

If you read this and are passionate about righting this wrong, I urge you to get involved in your community, be an advocate, use your voice to support safe spaces where children can have access to these discussions, with responsible guidance from the adults in their lives. If they can’t take place in our public schools, we have to make sure they take place outside of them.

We need to move New Hampshire forward. This 1950s mentality will not serve New Hampshire in the 2020s.

Jessica Cantin is CEO of YWCA New Hampshire. The YW’s mission is to empower women and eliminate racism.

YWCA NH is a proud partner of the ACERT Program

YWCA NH is a proud partner of the ACERT Program. We are excited to welcome Patch to our team!

Watch the video to learn what Manchester is doing to minimize the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) for children and families.

Click Here to Learn about The ACERT program in Manchester

NH Chronicle - Friday, April 2nd: Empowering Women at the YWCA

YWCA NH Supporting the community for more than 100 years.

Click Here to Watch the NH Chronicle Story

With third round of Paycheck Protection Program underway, bank reaches out to underserved businesses in region
YWCA New Hampshire Receives Unexpected Gift

The selection recognizes YW’s strong leadership, effectiveness, and important mission

MANCHESTER — YWCA New Hampshire is the recipient of $1 million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Ms. Scott is an author and was formerly married to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Scott, who plans to give away her entire fortune, announced her latest round of charitable giving to 384 organizations across the U.S. in a post on Medium on Tuesday.

In it she said, “I asked a team of advisors to help me accelerate my 2020 giving through immediate support to people suffering the economic effects of the crisis.

“They took a data-driven approach to identifying organizations with strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.

“These 384 carefully selected teams have dedicated their lives to helping others, working and volunteering and serving real people face-to-face at bedsides and tables, in prisons and courtrooms and classrooms, on streets and hospital wards and hotlines and frontlines of all types and sizes, day after day after day.”

YWCA New Hampshire’s mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. It serves approximately 2,300 individuals annually and offers an array of social justice programs that focus on domestic violence prevention and response, youth education, community education, racial justice and outreach, and empowerment. It operates the third-largest crisis services program for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in the state; including the largest domestic violence shelter. 

While the YWCA does not immediately know what it will do with the unexpected gift, its board of directors plans to use it to help the YW advance its mission to the next level. The specifics will be announced at the YW’s celebration of its 101st anniversary in March.

“This unrestricted donation recognizes and validates our work to advance diversity and inclusion,” noted YWCA New Hampshire CEO Jessica Cantin. “We are unbelievably honored and grateful to Mackenzie Scott for supporting us and a number of our sister YWCAs across the country.”

“This donation will have such a tremendous impact on our work and the community,” Cantin added. “Big things are ahead for all of us.”

YWCA New Hampshire celebrates its 101st anniversary next year. It is the longest-serving women’s organization in the state.

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For more information: Jessica Cantin, (603) 520-2760jessicasu@ywcanh.org

MacKenzie Scott’s Medium post announcing the latest round of contributions: