YWCA Bergen County’s Landmark 95th Anniversary Celebration

Posted: Thursday, May 05, 2016

YWCA Bergen County’s celebration of its 95th anniversary is just one week away and drawing top women from the state and nation to attend. The YW story of decades of service is also attracting media attention.

State Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, YWCA USA CEO Dara Richardson-Heron, Triple Crown Swimmer Charlotte Samuels, and celebrity baker Angela Logan are among those who will attend “95 Years of Walking the Talk: A Celebration of YWCA Bergen County,” at Seasons in Washington Twp., NJ

“95 Years of Walking the Talk: A Celebration of YWCA Bergen County,” is a unique event, which will both honor and connect the YW’s legacy accomplishments with the promise and synergy of the YW’s dynamic work of today.

“The entire community is welcome—members past and present, young families, with a special focus on welcoming men—as we take this moment to celebrate all that we’ve been, all that we are, and all that we will be,” said YWCA Bergen County CEO Helen Archontou.



This month, North Jersey Media publication 201 Magazine published a retrospective on YWCA Bergen County. “We were thrilled and honored to be featured in this way. The article served as a poignant reminder of our legacy of empowerment and social justice and how we’ve been there for generations of women,” said Archontou.

At the heart and center of the May 9th celebration are five incredible women:

• Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO YWCA USA, will receive the YW’s Visionary Award for her steadfast commitment to transforming this historic international organization to be even more relevant to present day women, girls and families. In this way, Dara is truly a kindred spirit in leadership. Her journey runs parallel to the path YWCA Bergen County has been carving, growing services in response to the unique needs of the Bergen County community and refocusing the YW brand to underscore its mission of empowerment and social justice.


• Joan Groome, Executive Director of the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce and former YW Development Director will be honorary legacy host. “Joan’s dedication to YWCA Bergen County helped build our organization and she continues to inspire us,” says Archontou.

• Ridgewood’s own Charlotte Samuels will receive YWCA Bergen County Young Leader Award. “Charlotte is an incredible young woman. Her achievements as an athlete and swimmer only begin to showcase her power and integrity.”

• Gina Plotino, a member of Women United in Philanthropy, and VP of Operations at Bergen County United Way will receive our YWCA Bergen County Beacon of Light Award for her dedication to lifting up and mentoring women and girls.

• Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle will receive our YWCA Bergen County Woman of Action Award for her courageous work around key individual rights issues including ending campus sexual violence. Archontou says, “Valerie has been a friend to the YW and to all women as she courageously takes on the most meaningful battles.”

The program will also feature five “stand out” men from our community who will be there to “stand up” for Bergen County women.

Tom Toronto, President of Bergen County United Way; Anthony Cureton, President Bergen County, NJ NAACP; AJ Luna, Director of Bergen County, NJ Veterans
Services; Jeremy Lentz, Executive Director of the Teaneck International Film Festival; and Paul Aronsohn, Mayor of Ridgewood, NJ.

We will also take time out to “cut loose” on the dance floor. Arthur Murray Ridgewood has generously agreed to lead a special “Dancing through the Decades” feature.

Ridgewood resident Nell Doremus started the YW back in 1920 as a way to support single women who wanted to work and live on their own. Her dream has given way to a profound local legacy of service and support as YWCA Bergen County has pursued its mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, dignity, and freedom for all, spreading its work beyond Ridgewood and throughout Bergen County.

“We are so very excited about honoring these remarkable women and about this fundraising and awareness building celebration,” says Archontou. “It’s a chance to open the community’s eyes to the full range of our programs and services.”