Celebrating Community Changemakers Recap 2023

Last updated: October 16, 2023, at 7:14 a.m. PT

Originally published: October 13, 2023, at 8:27 a.m. PT

collage of photos from changemakers event - girl singing, speakers, and awards presented

What is a changemaker? Last month, nearly 1,000 of our friends, families, and community leaders signed up to join us and help answer that question. 

According to our community, a changemaker is someone who takes action, big and small, to support those around them. 

At this year’s event, we were surrounded by amazing changemakers like you.  

We left feeling revitalized and reconnected with our community. Guests were greeted by our Y colleagues and volunteers at inspiration stations that helped them learn more about the YMCA’s mission to further youth development, move young adults away from homelessness, and embrace equity and justice for all by fostering a place where each of us can thrive. With educational passports in hand, guests engaged us and each other to earn our 2023 Charles V. and Lazelle Johnson Award Honoree Megan Rapinoe’s book One Life – and for the lucky first 50 to complete their learning quests, autographed soccer balls were an added bonus.  

We had a packed program. And we celebrated some big wins like our collaboration with Mayor Harrell’s Swim Seattle initiative and the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Soccer for Success program on the Y’s Road to the 2026 World Cup commitment to improve the health of 1 million youth.   

Nyshae, a shining example of the power of youth development at the Y, performed an unforgettable song. Y Scholars, a career- and higher-education readiness program, brought both Nyshae and her sister closer to their community and helped them on their path to higher education. Voices like Nyshae’s can be heard and empowered by the Y and our community. And she used hers to encourage us to rise for what is right with her powerful rendition of “Stand Up” by Cynthia Erivo.  

Our keynote speaker, Tod Leiweke – that’s right...the Seattle sports leader, Seattle Kraken CEO, and past YMCA Board Member – shared his odyssey to becoming the type of person who literally will summit mountains to do what it takes to support communities in need. His words inspired us all to think about the everyday actions we can take to care for those around us. 

Y President & CEO Loria Yeadon reminded us that lasting, tangible connection is what our community needs in a time of great loneliness around the world. Every interaction that led to a big, positive change started with small, yet significant hellos. Her message was reinforced by our 2023 AK Guy Award Honoree, Maggie Walker, who stated that we are never truly alone. This is why her volunteer mission for our region has included new and enduring opportunities to come together and enjoy each other. 

The big wins we celebrate do not happen in a vacuum. When we create spaces for our youth and communities to connect, that is where the magic happens. And that’s how we can ensure that we all thrive. 

The YMCA was founded on the ideals we celebrated and honored in the actions of our honorees. To support healthy living, youth development, and social responsibility. As Tod stated in an enormous ballroom filled with caring community members, what would the YMCA of Greater Seattle's founders have said in 1876 if they could see all we have become together for our community today? We think they would be pretty proud.

We hope to see you at our Changemakers celebration next year on September 25, 2024.

If you missed this year's event, you can watch it all below!