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YWCA challenges violence, racism


Jeanette Hauck said Domestic Violence Awareness Month is October. Photo courtesy of Jennifer DeBarros

After years of serving as the CFO of YWCA Spokane and other nonprofits and accounting firms, Jeanette Hauck has a new letter, "E," in her title: CEO. As chief executive officer she has readily become the administrator and spokesperson for the YWCA's dual mission of empowering women and eliminating racism.

She works with a team of 23 community leaders on the board and more than 90 employees who promote programs to assure that women, children and families live in dignity, free from violence and discrimination.

YWCA Spokane programs prevent and respond to domestic violence, helping survivors through trauma to healing. Its programs also challenge racial and social injustice.

In addition to its programs providing shelter, housing, legal assistance and job skills, in partnership with other agencies, she said YWCA Spokane honors women who make a difference in the community.

Through Nov. 1, it is receiving nominations for Women of Achievement Awards to be presented at the Luncheon, which has been moved from fall to March 24 so it can be in person at the Davenport Hotel.

Jeanette started as finance director at YWCA Spokane in December 2011 and became chief financial officer in 2013. On Sept. 1, 2020, she was named interim chief executive officer, after CEO Regina Malveaux was named executive director of the Washington Women's Commission. In February 2021, the board chose Jeanette as CEO.

During high school in Longmont, Colo., she decided to study accounting, earning a bachelor's in accounting at the University of Denver in 1983. After college, she joined the international accounting firm KPMG in Denver, working with small business services for private and nonprofit businesses, doing both audits and taxes.

Auditing nonprofits sparked her interest in social services.

After four years, she moved with KPMG to Washington, D.C., and then to Phoenix, as her husband, Terry, was transferred in the Air Force. In San Antonio, she raised their two sons and was CFO for the Cancer Therapy and Research Center, which researched new cancer therapies. She negotiated with pharmaceutical companies to support patients with their medical bills. The patients were on experimental drug protocols and had related procedures their insurance would not cover.

"As a financial person in a nonprofit, I realized I could make a difference, advocating for patients to participate," she said. "It was amazing to make a difference in someone's life. I realized I enjoyed doing social service."

After two military moves, Terry left the Air Force. They moved to Omaha for a year before coming to Spokane, where he became a partner in a former co-worker's oral surgery practice.

Along with being at home with their sons, Jeanette worked at LeMaster Daniels until it was sold to CliftonLarsonAllen, and she started at the YWCA, where the finance work involved assuring it had funds to serve clients and support staff.

"Because nonprofits often pay staff less than for-profits, it's important to care for and value staff who serve clients experiencing trauma," she said. "It's hard work to hear stories of trauma every day. We encourage self-care."

In COVID, the YWCA supported staff decisions on childcare and schooling children at home.

"I have shifted from task-oriented work—preparing financial statements and making budgets—to relational work, such as making community connections with other CEOs about community needs, vaccine mandates, shelters and housing in a time of low vacancy rates," she said.

Jeanette also talks with staff legal advocates, visits early childhood education classes and meets monthly with program staff.

"I watched a teacher use her skills to resolve a playground conflict with simple words to help the children learn resilience and kindness," she said.

Aware of staff interactions with clients, she realizes their impact.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the YWCA's therapy, legal and advocacy programs went to online or to remote phone services, which continue to be easier for some, especially those in rural areas, or when shuffling childcare and work schedules, but more difficult for low-income women without internet connections.

During the stay-at-home order, the shelter was "essential" and open 24/7, so she mobilized to provide PPEs and develop protocols for the shelters, which have 15 units, including emergency units in Spokane Valley.

Some hotels also make rooms available for overflow.  A contract with one expired, so the YWCA seeks to involve other hotels.

The average stay in shelters is 45 to 60 days, but during COVID it has been longer because of limited vacancies.

"To offer services remotely, we gave staff laptops and cell phones to use at home," Jeanette said.

"We have had a 50 percent increase in crisis line calls since January 2020. In the pandemic, victims are stuck at home with their perpetrators. The crisis line is an opportunity to converse and develop a safety plan," she said, noting national studies report an increase in domestic violence.

During COVID, the YWCA received funds to hire a teacher to work with children and parents in shelters so the children could do virtual learning.

Because protection orders are too complicated to explain on the phone or online, it set protocols so some staff could meet in person at the shelter or downstairs offices at its main building at 930 N. Monroe. Clients appreciate having a legal advisor in court with them. More than 30 staff work remotely on domestic violence cases. 

The ECEAP early childhood program closed its five classrooms, but teachers kept in contact by email, phone, and delivering food, craft supplies and worksheets.

When Jeanette started as interim CEO, half of staff was back in the office or working remotely one or two days. ECEAP was back to in-person learning.

"We have been fortunate to have limited positive cases in our agency and clients," she said.

"We worked closely with the Spokane Regional Health District to navigate protocols," she said, noting that they changed from cloth furniture and carpets as part of measures to improve sanitizing the facilities.

Staff wear masks and socially distance. Despite relaxing in June, with the delta variant and low vaccination rate sparking the governor's current mask mandate, staff wear masks for meetings and in common areas.

Through its Women's Opportunity Center, the YWCA backs up its weekly advocacy and therapy sessions with activities for trauma recovery with art therapy, parent training, training in workplace skills and communication, group meetings to share stories, resumé building and selecting clothing in Our Sisters Closet appropriate for jobs.

Along with helping women find opportunities, the YWCA advocates for racial and social justice, such as through "Stand Against Racism," which offered a panel on "Racism Is a Public Health Crisis" in April and its "14-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge" in June.

For the 2021 Challenge, 455 signed up to receive emails, do extra reading and learn what other communities are doing. The resources are still online.

"Racial and social justice are intertwined in the YWCA's mission. We cannot empower women if we do not eliminate racism. Women of color face more barriers when experiencing domestic violence," Jeanette said. "We want all to be safe and secure, regardless of gender, identity, sexual orientation, race or religion. We partner with other organizations working for racial and social justice.

"My core values are to emphasize respect and to welcome all to our agency and focus on activities that promote equity," Jeanette said, values emphasized during her youth and amplified after joining the YWCA Spokane.

Jeanette said that in 2015 the national YWCA changed its name from Young Women's Christian Association of the United States, Inc., to YWCA USA, encouraging local organizations to include their location, such as YWCA Spokane.

Making "Christian" less visible in the name was done to say that there is no requirement to be Christian to be involved or served. It does not take away the focus on service to others, she said. It ensures all individuals feel welcome regardless of religious affiliation.

"When faith is important to clients, we help them find healing through that faith," she said. "We collaborate with many faith organizations.

"Seeking to empower clients, we do not want barriers to access," she said.

During 2020, 5,012 used the helpline; 4,998 received counseling, legal assistance, education and services; 3,675 children had trauma-informed services; 1,343 used early care, preschool or elementary school services; 1,033 gained skills, and 628 used shelters and housing services. 

Whether from a financial or executive lens, Jeanette appreciates "the big village" of mission partners, corporate sponsors and donors who make YWCA Spokane's work possible.

For information, call 326-1190 or visit

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, October, 2021