Kevin Moriarty

(Missoula Current) With the announcement that Cindy Weese will be stepping down from her long-held position as the executive director of the YWCA, Jen Euell prepares to take over, and she has some ideas for the organization heading into the future.

Euell will begin her new role in January and feels that her life’s work up to this point has led her to and prepared her for this position. Euell has experience with the YWCA working as a night manager in the late 90’s and serving on the board of directors in the early 2000’s.

After leaving the YWCA, Euell was inspired to co-create the GUTS! Program (Girls Using Their Strengths) which helps young girls discover their talents and build self-confidence. After working with women who were survivors of domestic violence, she realized that many of the women had lost all confidence in themselves.

“They were these incredible, strong, capable women. But oftentimes they didn't see themselves that way,” said Euell.

Most recently, Euell is preparing to leave her position as the director of the Student Advocacy Resource Center at the University of Montana, which provides services comparable to the YWCA, but for UM’s student community.

Euell said she feels prepared for her new role at the YWCA but doesn’t expect it to be easy.

“I just recognize that there will be a new challenge every day, but I’m excited about it because I love the work,” said Euell.

The mission of the YWCA is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. The YWCA Missoula has grown tremendously over the past couple decades and has been able to provide housing, counseling and supportive services for those in need in the Missoula community.

Euell recognizes the great strides that the YWCA has made over the last couple decades and has some ideas of her own on how the organization can continue to grow.

To start, she wants to make the YWCA a great place to work by supporting employees. The YWCA can be a tough place to work and Euell feels that creating a supportive work environment will only strengthen the organization moving forward.

Euell also hopes to transition the organization from focusing primarily on supportive services for survivors of domestic violence to looking at prevention and root causes.

Euell does not know what these efforts will look like in practice yet, but she is striving to continue pushing the mission of the YWCA forward in the Missoula community.

“I’m excited for what we come up with next,” said Euell, “I don't have the answers. I think the people who work there and the people we serve have the answers to these questions.”