YWCA Greater Charleston

Welcome our new Executive Director

We're delighted to introduce you to LaVanda

It's my privilege to share the news that our board of directors has appointed a new executive director! We’re excited to welcome LaVanda Brown to Charleston and the warm, supportive, and vibrant family that is the YWCA of Greater Charleston.

For LaVanda, her first day leading our organization will bring her back to her youth. Her first job was at a YWCA—in a city often compared to Charleston: Savannah, Georgia.

"This role at the YWCA of Greater Charleston intrigued me because my first job as a teenager was at a YWCA. And as a Savannah native, I am aware that the history and culture of Charleston and Savannah have some similarities, as well as some distinct differences." ~ LaVanda

A little about LaVanda

LaVanda brings more than 20 years of on-the-ground experience in social services, including an early career in social work, to our team.

She has led and advised several Savannah-area nonprofit organizations, including Family Promise of Greater Savannah, Union Mission, and Greenbriar Children’s Center, as well as others in the behavioral health, employment, and community services arenas.

A passionate advocate for causes including the promotion of gender equality and diversity and helping at-risk teens and homeless populations, she envisions a world where differences are not just tolerated but celebrated. "The mission of the YWCA is one that is very much in line with my personal mission of empowering women and celebrating differences," she says.

A city of integrity

She sees Charleston as a city that appreciates integrity, too. "I believe that when you are working in communities and establishing relationships and partnerships, people must know that you are trustworthy and that your agenda is not self-motivated."

During her time in the nonprofit field, LaVanda has developed strategic plans resulting in more positive community interventions; created a homeless case management system, life skills curriculum, and after-care program to help the homeless transition to independence; instituted permanent housing for the mentally ill homeless population; and obtained more than $3 million in federal, state, and local grants.

Her work has garnered awards including the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Best Practices Award for Transitional Housing and Case Management, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Magnolia Award for Excellence in Housing. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology from Wesleyan College and a master's degree in counselor education from Georgia Southern University.

"What interests me most about this role is the opportunity to work with an organization with a rich history, to bring to fruition the vision of a strong and dynamic board of directors, and to develop the staff and programming necessary to make a positive and long-lasting impact on the entire community." ~ LaVanda

LaVanda is highly regarded for her commitment to the Savannah community, and we're eager to see her bring her many years of experience to our community in Charleston. Many of you have already met her, but if you haven't yet... please join me in welcoming LaVanda and working with her to develop further initiatives in support of the YWCA mission to empower women and eliminate racism!

Sincerely,



Kerri Forrest
Chair, YWCA of Greater Charleston
Board of Directors