Loria Yeadon Honored with Thelma Dewitty Trailblazer Award: A Testament to Community Collaboration

Last updated: April 8, 2024, at 11:29 a.m. PT

Originally published: April 5, 2024, at 6:37 a.m. PT

loria yeadon receives thelma dewitty trailblazer award

It is with great honor that we announce Loria Yeadon, President & CEO of YMCA of Greater Seattle, as the recipient of the esteemed Thelma Dewitty Trailblazer Award.

Presented by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration-Continuation Committee (MLKCC) and sponsored by numerous distinguished organizations, this award recognizes Loria's outstanding contributions to civil rights and the significant community impact she has made, which has been supported by the dedicated efforts of the Y's board, senior leadership, staff, and the unwavering support of our community. 

Loria Yeadon's appointment as President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Seattle in 2019 marked a historic moment, as she became the first woman and the first person of color to serve in this role in the organization's 143-year history. Her selection as the third woman and the only woman of color to lead one of the largest 20 YMCAs in the United States is a testament to her exceptional leadership and unwavering commitment to serving the community. 

The parallels between Loria Yeadon and the award's namesake, Thelma Dewitty, are striking. Thelma Dewitty, who became Seattle Public Schools' first Black teacher in 1947, broke through racial barriers and paved the way for future generations of Black educators in Seattle. Similarly, Loria Yeadon's appointment as CEO of the YMCA of Greater Seattle has transcended boundaries and opened doors for women and people of color in leadership roles within the organization and beyond. 

Under Loria's leadership, the YMCA of Greater Seattle has made significant strides in advancing equity and justice for all, especially youth and families in underserved communities. During the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Y remained steadfast in its commitment to serving the community, providing vital support and resources to those in need. From offering childcare for essential workers to distributing meals and supplies to families facing hardship, the Y's unwavering dedication to its mission has been a beacon of hope during these trying times. 

Loria's visionary leadership and collaborative approach have been instrumental in driving the Y's impact and progress. Under her guidance, the Y launched the Equity and Justice for All initiative, acquired Nexus Youth & Families to serve young people experiencing homelessness, opened new Early Education Centers, and acquired 2,100 acres of lakefront property at Mineral Lake near Mount Rainier to build our first new camp in 100 years. Her commitment to early education, child care, kindergarten readiness, and outdoor education has been crucial in addressing the education and health disparities exacerbated by the pandemic. These are just a few examples of the transformative initiatives undertaken under Loria's leadership. 

The Thelma Dewitty Trailblazer Award was presented to Loria during the 56th Anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination at the Day of Remembrance & Awards Ceremony on April 4, 2024. Many thanks to the YMCA family members who joined us in celebration of this remarkable achievement and honoring the legacy of both Thelma Dewitty and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Please join us in congratulating Loria Yeadon on this well-deserved recognition and in thanking our entire YMCA of Greater Seattle community for their tireless dedication to creating a more just and equitable society for all. Together, we will continue to drive positive change and create a brighter future for the communities we serve, inspired by the trailblazing examples set by Loria Yeadon and Thelma Dewitty.