- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2003


Patricia Ireland, a prominent women’s rights advocate, has been dismissed after six months as chief executive of the YWCA of the U.S.A.

“We have the deepest admiration for Ms. Ireland’s dedication to women’s issues and social justice, but the YWCA has proved to be the wrong platform for her to advocate for these issues,” board Chairwoman Audrey Peeples said in a press release.

Ms. Ireland, a former president of the National Organization for Women, was named YWCA’s chief executive in April. At the time she said she planned to bring new energy into the 145-year-old organization, increasing its national prominence and political activism.

A spokesman for the YWCA did not immediately return a phone call Monday night about the dismissal Thursday, first reported in this week’s Newsweek magazine.

Dorris Daniel-Parkes has been named interim director by the National Coordinating Board of the YWCA, the organization said.

Ms. Ireland said members of the board had met with her in New York and first asked for her resignation, the New York Times quoted her as saying in a story for Tuesday editions. She said she declined because she did not want to give the impression she had “jumped ship.”

“I was uncharacteristically speechless,” Ms. Ireland said. “There had been no notice.”

Ms. Ireland speculated that her dismissal may have come from two things, the Times said. In recent years the YWCA had been more focused on restructuring than on advocacy, she said, and her enthusiasm for advocacy might have “raised some disquiet in some quarters.”

Ms. Ireland also said reported opposition from conservative groups after her appointment “set this relationship off on a somewhat difficult course.”

Founded in New York in 1858 as the Young Women’s Christian Association, the YWCA now has more than 300 branches in the United States providing child care services, educational programs, employment training, job placement and shelter for women and families. It recently moved its headquarters to Washington.

Ms. Ireland spent a decade as NOW’s outspoken president, helping lead opposition to Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court nomination and spearheading efforts to preserve abortion rights. She has also worked as a Washington lobbyist and adviser on equal employment opportunity issues.

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