Special thank you to Frances C., YWCA Princeton’s Advocacy and Development Intern, for transcribing and summarizing the interview below.
March 2020 will be remembered in history forever. Within the weeks COVID-19 shut down the world, Karen Delk, newly elected board president of the YWCA had more than a few difficult decisions to face. In an interview conducted by Haley Gorda, YWCA Princeton’s Communications and Marketing manager, Mrs. Delk spoke about her work with the YWCA, starting from when she first became involved, and some of her favorite parts of the organization, as well as the challenges faced by the YW due to the global pandemic.
How did you first get involved with YWCA Princeton?
Karen Delk was first involved with YWCA Princeton as a community member. Over time, she was approached by a board chair, speaking to her about a new initiative which the YW had been planning. This was the NEXT GEN initiative, which was created to attract women between the ages of 21 and 32 to YWCA Princeton, to learn how to serve on nonprofit boards.
“…that was appealing to me because I definitely think that women need to be in the boardroom and around the table, and I thought it was a great idea to attract that demographic.”
Over the course of a year, Mrs. Delk worked as a community member developing the initiative and recruiting women to join the YWCA NEXTGEN board.
What led you to seek a leadership position on the Board of Directors?
In 2017, Mrs. Delk was approached to serve as a board member. She worked together with Kathleen Nash in the nominating committee. The nominating committee works on attracting women to serve on the board of YWCA Princeton. Over time, Mrs. Delk became the chair of the nominating committee and then was approached to serve as board c
In addition to this, Mrs. Delk felt inspired by the NEXTGEN initiative, and the YWCA in general, as it ties together her personal advocacy and professional expertise, where she works as an executive coach for women to realize their full potential and to advance their career.
“It was a natural extension of what I do.”
Do you have a favorite event? Why?
If she had to choose, Mrs. Delk says that Tribute to Women Awards is her favorite event. The Tribute to Women is a yearly, signature event which was established in 1984 and honors women from all walks of life and background. Mrs. Delk believes in the phrase, “Each one, teach one.” Which simply means that everyone has something to teach us, regardless of where they come from, what their job is, or how they were raised. She believes that this event, Tribute to Women, embodies this idea and therefore truly embodies the idea of the YWCA as an organization “dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”
What has been your favorite memory throughout your involvement with the YW?
One of Mrs. Delk’s favorite memories was the Paddle for Pink Dragon Boat Festival in 2018, which promoted awareness for breast cancer and fundraising to support the Breast Cancer Resource Center’s with rehabilitation programs, education, and cancer research. In addition to supporting a program which Mrs. Delk feels very strongly about, she liked this event because it was fun, and got her to do something which she does not normally do.
How has the YW impacted you personally? Professionally?
Mrs. Delk became board chair right at the beginning of the pandemic, and immediately was faced with a myriad of difficult decisions to make. Of course, there were plans which had already been put in place, however, due to the entire world changing, essentially overnight, those plans had to be reevaluated and changed to fit the new world. Additionally, Mrs. Delk watched the YW go from more than 100 people, to 8-12 people.
“I’ve learned a lot as board chair at a very challenging time, because I became board chair in July of 2020.”
Throughout this completely new way of life and having to adapt and change to it, Mrs. Delk became even more personally and professionally adaptable to difficult situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karen Delk has stood by, supported, and led YWCA Princeton during times of unprecedented challenges throughout the past two years. The team thanks her for her continued commitment to our mission and vision as an organization!