CLEVELAND — Compassion.
Women exude it.
But one Cleveland President and CEO has made it her life’s mission.
During Women’s History Month, News 5 partnered with Dress for Success Cleveland to highlight several amazing women right under our noses, working to turn the tide and make changes— many times for the betterment of other women.
This is the story of Margaret Mitchell.
“It was not surprising. It was devastating.”
Mitchell has spent much of her career working to advance the lives of women and children.
She’s the President and CEO of the YWCA of Greater Cleveland.
The devastation Mitchell felt came when Cleveland was recently named the worst metropolitan city for black women by Bloomberg’s Citylab.
Cleveland came in dead last out of 42 cities, based on livability, economics, and education.
“I think that we've created systems and structures that work really well in Cleveland to keep black women out of advancing economically,” says Mitchell.
It struck a chord with Mitchell because helping women succeed is her calling card. In 2019, Mitchell led the charge to declare racism a public health crisis in Cleveland.
“I have to say that we weren't received very well in the beginning,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell says it wasn’t until COVID-19 hit, about a year later, that people began to better understand the connection.
“We saw Cleveland really in a position in which the color of one's skin and the and the zip code of someone, really determined the outcomes.”
As head of the YWCA, Mitchell’s responsibilities are great.
The non-profit’s mission is to not only eliminate racism but to help women at one of their most vulnerable times—during a housing crisis.
The YWCA is the chief operator of the Norma Herr Women’s Center which serves up to 300 homeless women and children at any given time.
“We are incredibly proud of the large numbers of women that we are able to get stably housed and are able to maintain their housing,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell is also responsible for the non-profit’s Early Learning Center, which specializes in educating children who have experienced trauma.
“We are focused on matters that affect all women in this region.”
The YWCA’s mission lines-up perfectly with Dress for Success Cleveland, which helps women launch into the workforce, providing professional clothing and interview coaching.
The two organizations have formed a partnership that empowers women.
“It really is looking at the self-sufficiency and all of the small and big pieces around building a network and what she is going to need to move forward.”
When you ask Mitchell, what she does for a living, the answer is simple— as it is complicated.
“We are in the work of compassion. We are focused on relieving suffering every single day.”