Introducing our Sojourn Leadership Academy

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Introducing our Sojourn Leadership Academy

Categories: Advocacy, Blog, News, Women & Girls Leadership, Women of Influence

Setting up safe, strong futures for success.In honor of its upcoming 150th anniversary in 2020, and in conjunction with its 2020 Women of Influence Honoree Class announcement, YWCA Dayton introduced today a new leadership and justice professional development cohort that will convene and cultivate young women leaders as community change agents for racial justice, gender justice, and economic empowerment.

YWCA Dayton’s Sojourn Leadership Academy will be a dynamic group of young professional women, ages 25 to 40, with potential, or a desire, to become community influencers. The Academy curriculum is rooted in three core pillars: Board/Philanthropic Leadership; Generational Leadership; Equity/Social Justice Leadership.

At its core, YWCA – the world’s oldest and largest multicultural organization for women – advocates for an end to discrimination against women in every sphere: economic, political, and social, striving to transform communities, systems, and public policies. YW believes that change happens at the local level, so YWCA Dayton is committed to equipping our region’s leaders with the information and experiences they need to recognize when marginalized voices are absent — and then serve as leaders who use their privilege to ensure marginalized voices get heard.

Says Shannon Isom, president and CEO of YWCA Dayton: “Our girls can’t be what they can’t see; when they look at our board rooms and corner offices, are they met with a mirror or a closed door? Following an intensive, mission-driven nine-month program, our Sojourners will graduate uniquely prepared to give voice on nonprofit boards, be educated advocates for social justice, and act as equity leaders in the Miami Valley.”

What makes Sojourn different? Sojourners:

  • Are nominated by members of the YWCA Dayton Circle of Influence (past Women of Influence honorees) or current members of the YWCA Dayton Board of Directors;
  • Experience a leadership curriculum that strengthens their social consciousness and centers racial justice, gender justice, and economic empowerment;
  • Have exclusive access to invitation-only Women of Influence events and are paired with an Honoree mentor;
  • Receive an expertly-curated leadership library and participate in a cohort journaling exercise that builds an intentional three-year community and career plan;
  • Prepare for future leadership roles through practical, real-world demonstrations (i.e., a mock board meeting);
  • Earn a Board and Equity Leader Certificate and are added to the YWCA Dayton Board Registry.

Sarah Wolf-Knight, advocacy coordinator, notes: “YWCA Dayton has been a convener of women’s voices since 1870 — lifting up their needs, triumphs, and challenges so that together, we all rise. This legacy of leadership and commitment to intersectionality are core tenets of our Sojourn Leadership Academy. It has been two years in the making, and it is incredibly fitting to see the inaugural class form during our sesquicentennial year.”

Nominations are being accepted now through Jan. 4, 2020; nominees will then be asked to submit an application, with a final class selected by YWCA Dayton’s volunteer Advocacy Committee in February 2020. The inaugural Sojourn class will be announced at YWCA Dayton’s Women of Influence awards luncheon on March 12, 2020. Full Academy details and nomination information is available at

Follow the conversation on social media using hashtag #YWeSojourn.