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Alison Lehman and the YWCA St. Paul

Securian Financial® in the Community

Giving back to the communities where we live and work is part of who Securian Financial is as a company. Our employees, retirees and board members are at the heart of our culture of giving, and they are empowered to support causes they care about.

Alison Lehman, Senior Managing Counsel, Law and Corporate Compliance at Securian Financial, has made her community a personal priority as she volunteers with YWCA St. Paul as a board member.

“It’s a wonderful organization, and I’m happy to be a part of it,” Alison says enthusiastically.

Alison made the decision to get involved with YWCA St. Paul back in 2019. Nicole Hanson, who had run the Securian Foundation, first suggested she look at the YWCA St. Paul organization. “She gave me tons of materials, and something that really stood out to me, honestly, was their mission: eliminating racism and empowering women. It's one of those missions that's hard not to feel a connection with.”

Empowering women is especially important to Alison, as she helped found the Securian Affinity Group – Women RISE –, now the ARG (Associate Resource Group), Securian Women and Allies Network (SWAN).

“The work I was doing at the time creating Women RISE aligned so well with the YWCA’s mission. It was kind of the perfect fit,” Alison remembers. “I met with the board chair and CEO at the time, and they ended up recommending me to be on the board, and I've been on it ever since.”

Board Responsibilities

Alison meets with the rest of the board at least quarterly to talk about happenings at the Y. What concerns there are, and the future state of the nonprofit. As a finance committee member, Alison has focused on helping ensure the budget is balanced. “Budgets are tight in nonprofits, so there's not a lot of wiggle room. It’s been a really good opportunity for me to see the business side of the organization.”

After nearly five years on the finance committee, Alison is looking for new challenges. She is revisiting the various YWCA committees but will most likely join the programs committee. “I wanted to be a part of this committee to feel even more connected to the programs the organization supports and manages.” This change would take her out of the weeds from a business perspective and allow her to see more of the work and the benefits program participants see and feel every day.

What the YWCA does for the community

“A lot of people, when they think of the YWCA, think of the fitness center. While it is part of the Y, it is more of a means to an end. In the past, it has been a great way to fund a lot of the programming we offer that helps eliminate racism and empower women.”

The YWCA provides affordable housing to individuals and families experiencing homelessness in the St. Paul area. “That's a big part of what they do,” Alison said. “They own numerous housing buildings throughout St. Paul, mostly in the Rondo neighborhood. Most participants are single women of color with children.” Participants receive customized support services intended to help them stabilize and build new skills and connections to the community while securing a future for them.

“The needs of participants range, but they often receive financial and life skills education to navigate school, health, and community resources.”

An economic and employment development program provides access to employment opportunities, training credentials, and ongoing support. The YWCA also has youth development programs to provide connections, resources, and a safe place to build community.

“The Young Women's Initiative is exciting because it’s a partnership program with The Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, set up by the governor.” YWCA St. Paul hosts the Cabinet, comprised of 32 young women and youth leaders aged 16–24 appointed by the Governor, actively engaging in leadership and advocacy development, philanthropy, policy initiatives, and community engagement to address disparities for girls and young women.

SWAN’s goals with the YWCA

Gina Woolfrey, Engineering Senior Analyst, Enterprise Technology at Securian and SWAN leadership team member, stated, “SWAN’s mission is to increase gender equity and diversity by fostering an environment that supports, educates, and empowers all women at Securian Financial and the broader community. That fits very well into YWCA’s mission.”

SWAN always has a volunteering, nonprofit-based yearly goal. And in the last two years, they have decided to focus on two specific nonprofits per year to have more impact. Along with Dress for Success, the YWCA St. Paul was chosen this year because of its focus on empowering girls and women, which ties into SWAN’s mission. They aim to coordinate at least three volunteer opportunities for Securian associates this year with their focus nonprofits.

“As an ARG, we like community nonprofit partnerships because we know we can't move the needle forward by just focusing internally. Partnering with a nonprofit helps impact the larger community, broadens our mission, purpose, and goals, and helps us spread the impact that we might be able to have.”

A meaningful impact

Alison shared a story of YWCA St. Paul's impact when she heard from actual participants. “Right before I joined the board, I was invited to the Sweet Success event, our annual fundraising event hosted at St. Thomas. Program participants talked about their experiences. I remember listening to the stories of these women who participated in our programs and seeing where they started and where they are now. They were single mothers who had previously been homeless and now had stable jobs and stable housing. I was crying, thinking this is absolutely the right board for me to be a part of because the work that they're doing is so valuable and meaningful to these families. That was the moment I knew this was the right organization for me.”

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DOFU 3-2024