Lynda Gonzales-Chavez

Leads the YMCA Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion portfolio

Lynda Gonzales-Chavez leads the YMCA Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion portfolio. She is responsible for leading the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) strategic priority to ensure that all segments of society have access to and feel welcome at the Y. A key priority of this work is promoting an inclusive, anti-racist organizational culture that values equity, embraces multiculturalism and fosters community and global bridge-building. Lynda and her team are focused on organizationally embedding and operationalizing equity practices, building staff and volunteer cultural competencies to engage the most underserved communities and promoting collaborative strategies to ensure that Y leadership mirrors the communities they serve.

Lynda has more than 30 years of national and international experience with the Y Movement as a staff member and volunteer, and has held positions on the YMCA of the USA National Board and the World Alliance of YMCAs Executive Committee. Lynda joined the Y-USA International Group in 1999 and served as Senior Associate Director specializing in global and local-based strategies to engage immigrant, diverse and marginalized communities at all levels of the YMCA. In this role she provided capacity-building support to YMCAs and communities focusing on cultural competence, inclusion practices, immigration, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse prevention, outreach to high-risk and incarcerated populations, gang intervention, conflict resolution and life skills. She led cultural immersion trips to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America and has represented Y-USA in more than 30 countries.

After launching her career as a youth worker at the YMCA of Central New Mexico, Lynda spent three years with the YMCA of Mexico where she founded the International Relations Department and focused on street and community outreach. She was instrumental in the development of U.S./Mexico YMCA border initiatives and the successful establishment of YMCA Shelters for Migrant Youth along the border.

Lynda later served as Program Manager and Senior Gang Interventionist for Youth Development, Inc., in Albuquerque, NM, where she worked with more than 50 gangs. She developed and implemented innovative programs for gang members that focused on cultural identity, non-violence, faith-based experience, informal education, peer mentoring and participatory learning. These programs included reproductive health initiatives, HIV/AIDS outreach to intravenous drug users, programs for pregnant gang members and parenting skills for gang members with children. She specialized in work with Latino, Native American and immigrant gang members.

Lynda has a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico and a Master of Science in Public Service Management from DePaul University. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and proficient in Portuguese.

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