YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. In support of this mission, the YWCA provides services to meet critical needs, promote self-sufficiency, reduce violence, and achieve equal opportunities for all people.
Chief Executive Officer
Sandi works every day to fulfill the mission of the YWCA by taking the mission out into the community and overseeing the health of the staff and facilities. Sandi has been a self-described “feminist” since her teen years. She now has a much broader perspective on what that means. As with many other “groups” of classification, “Women’s rights are human rights.” In the first fiscal year of Sandi’s work at the YWCA Great Falls (2016-2017) all of the strategic plan items were achieved. Credit is due to staff, board and community supporters. The wage gap and preventing child abuse and neglect are two of Sandi’s priorities. Sandi holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Oregon State University and has a long history of leading nonprofits.
Chief Operating Officer
Victoria Doe joined the YWCA Great Falls in December 2022 as the Mercy Home Shelter Director, bringing over 15 years of leadership and management experience to the agency. Her passion for the mission and its call to meet community needs and serve others brought her to the YWCA. Victoria has over five years’ experience in grant writing in the nonprofit sector and is actively working on increasing wages in the Mercy Home staff to a “living wage”. She served in the Montana Air National Guard and the United States Air Force and retired in 2019. She is inspired daily by her husband and their three children.
Mercy Home Shelter Coordinator
Licensed Clinical Practicing Counselor (LCPC)
Veronda works with individuals, couples and families to help navigate their way through any difficulties or concerns they may be having. She has worked at the YWCA for five years to empower her clients in a confidential and nonjudgmental way. Specializing in helping clients recover from trauma, Veronda understands the importance of unconditional positive regard in the healing process. Veronda can help clients develop skills and self-understanding to navigate their journey in life.
Maria organizes and writes grants for the YWCA Great Falls to build a sustainable financial structure to support the YWCA community programs. Maria has always been passionate about working for the community and has broad grant experience from running youth programs to managing State grants. Maria is excited to be a part of the YWCA Team and looks forward to helping build the organization’s resources and capacity.
MSC, PCLC, NCC; Mental Health Counselor; Support Group Facilitator
Kim works with children, teens, and adolescents to help them find the tools and resources they need to manage emotions and heal from trauma and stressful life events. Her main areas of focus are domestic violence, childhood abuse and neglect, sexual assault, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Kim uses a collaborative, trauma informed approach that includes Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). She also incorporates play therapy and other creative techniques into the counseling process.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Kimberly McKeehan – President
Kim is a member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana. She works as a mental health counselor in private practice.
Kim serves on the board of the YWCA because more than 4 in 5 Native American women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime.
48% of the women and children the Y assists are Native American. Providing shelter service to our indigenous population is just one of the many ways we are dedicated to reducing those numbers.
Jackie Owens – President Elect
Jackie is a Mortgage Loan Originator with Open Mortgage (NMLS #218913). She has been in lending and finance for 14 years and enjoys helping people become financially stable and is passionate about credit education.
She enjoys volunteering in the community and all Montana has to offer. She has a beautiful daughter with whom she enjoys camping, hiking and everything on the water.
Tracy Williams – Vice President
Aerial was born into a working-class family of public servants: military members, teachers, ministers, and bricklayers. She earned a Bachelor of Arts at age 20 while working the graveyard shift at the Sacramento Police Department in California. She then went on to earn an MBA from Liberty University while serving as a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Air Force. After her military service, she worked as a Tax Analyst at H&R Block. She joined Stifel as a Financial Advisor in 2019.
High standards of service and connecting with clients are the foundation of how she does business. She understands that the value of a dollar earned and the importance of building a plan based on her clients’ timeline, objectives, risk tolerance, and lifestyle are what go into cultivating relationships that last for generations. Her love of service and connection comes through in her outside activities with the Great Falls Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture Committee, Non-Profit Alliance, and Military Affairs Committee. She is also a member of the Tenacious Dames (all women’s riding club), assisting with the many organizations they support, including Children’s Receiving Home, veteran housing and support, and suicide prevention, to name a few, and is involved with the Service Dog Team with Dog Tag Buddies, volunteering with their veteran support and suicide prevention campaigns.
Outside the office, Aerial loves to solo backpack (60 countries and counting), ride her motorcycle with her adorable Doberman-Echo, and build relationships that stand the test of time and distance.
My name is Tracy Williams and I am a retired Air Force MSgt with over 21 years of active duty service.
I am originally from the “The Peach State Of Georgia” but I have decided to make Great Falls my second home.
I love the YWCA and what it represents. It is a joy to be a part of an organization where women from all walks of life can live out their purpose and destiny while making a better life for themselves.
Holly Kopeikin moved to Great Falls in the early 2000s and immediately dug her heels into helping our community thrive.
Holly put into practice her passion for local businesses during her 15 years at the Great Falls Tribune. She left the Tribune as their Director of Sales, a role she then fulfilled for over three years at KRTV.
As the President and COO of her own company, Omni Marketing & Design, Holly believes relationships are everything. From negotiating traditional media buys to websites to digital and social media marketing, Holly applies her 20+ years of advertising experience to helping every business owner achieve the most effective use of their resources. Relationships means everything to Holly. She treats her clients fairly, equally, and with their best interests at heart.
Holly’s compassion for our community is evident her local leadership. She currently serves as the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce’s Past President after having spent six years on the board, and also on the Downtown Safety Alliance board. Additionally, she has spent time on the Lewis & Clark Foundation and Great Falls Development Authority boards.
Holly is very proud to be a part of the YWCA board, helping women, children, and men persevere during the most challenging times in their lives.
God and family come first for Holly. She has two sons (one in the Air Force and one in construction) and two grandbabies (both her favorites). In her spare time, Holly enjoys going on adventures with her family and eating tacos.
We are members of the following:
• YWCA USA
• Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
• Montana Nonprofit Association
• Sexual Assault Response Team (Great Falls)
• Partners for Prevention
• National Network to End Domestic Violence
• Great Falls Interfaith Alliance
We provided 194 women and children with over 5,240 shelter nights and 15,720 meals.
41 Support Group sessions were provided
106 Clothing Vouchers were provided to the Mercy Home Participants
216 trainings/presentations were given to the community
Y's Buys had 1,125 shoppers
$28,650 worth of clothing was donated to the Mercy Home and Y's Buys
Volunteers of all kinds spent 1,443 hours assisting the YWCA Great Falls! - at a federal value of $44,444!
Over 8,388 individuals were served by the YWCA Great Falls!
Some of the highlights
from 2021-2022 include:
• STEAM Camp
• Quarterly Self-Defense Classes
• Second Annual Juneteenth Community Celebration
• Racial Equity Workshop
• To catch up on events canceled due to Covid-19 we held 2 Salute to Women Galas.
•BSA Troop 110 (all girls) Chartered by the YWCA GF had two young women earn their Eagle Scout badges!
•Grinch Pictures at the Downtown Stroll
•Virtual Stand Against Racism Challenge
We have provided 1,434 people services in our Y’s Buys store from July 2022 to June 2023.
In FY-21, the community has benefited by having more than 476 individuals trained in healthy relationships, empowerment, and agency services.
From July 2020 to June 2021, the Y answered over 4,637 crisis calls with more than 220 individuals receiving crisis counseling.
The YWCA began as a movement; its name came later. The pulse of the movement was felt first in England in 1855 and in the United States in 1858.
In each country, a small group of caring and perceptive women began the task of making life better for other women. This group sensed the anxiety of young women who came from rural cities with supportive home bases to cities in search of work to become self-supporting. Factories were replacing at-home occupations such as weaving, sewing, and laundry.
- Boston was the first to use YWCA as the name for its association in 1859, even though it opened a year later than what is now the YWCA of the City of New York.
- After Boston and New York, associations appeared in Hartford, Connecticut; Pittsburgh; Cleveland; and Cincinnati in 1867; St. Louis followed in 1868; and Dayton, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Buffalo, New York; and Philadelphia in 1870.
- By 1875, there were 28 Young Women’s Christian Associations in U.S. cities.
The first student association began its work in 1873 at Illinois State Normal University (now known as Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois); e by 1890, there was a total of 106 student associations.
- As the number of associations increased in the U.S., there was a need to centralize information and programs. As a result, in 1907, the National Board of the YWCA of the USA was incorporated in New York. The first president of the National Board was Grace Dodge, daughter of a wealthy New York financier. With a talent for drawing people together for a common cause, Ms. Dodge united more than 600 small groups into one national organization. J.P. Morgan paid tribute to her great organizational skill by declaring, “She had the finest business brain in the United States, not excepting that of any man.”
- 1911, the national office was headquartered in New York City in a facility built as a result of the generosity and foresight of six YWCA women. The Victorian building provided for training, national offices, and a research center for girls and women.
In 1911 in Great Falls, Montana, a group of local church women met and formed a committee to establish a YWCA in Great Falls.
The group decided there was a need to help women and girls who were seeking work and those who came from rural areas to find a place to live.
- During the first year, the group worked with more than 500 women through Traveler’s Aid, Vesper Services, Business Girls Club, public lounges, and high school girls clubs.
- During the next two years, records show that the women met 2,229 trains, served 35,779 meals, and assisted more than 5,000 individuals.
- They outgrew their building, and in 1918 moved to 1st Avenue North and 3rd Street, where they opened a dormitory for girls.
- When the Great Depression hit, financing became a problem. The group was forced to close its doors for eight years.
- However, the officers never disbanded, and when they received a gift of $25,000 from the James Long Estate, they bought the building at 315 1st Ave. North and continued their services.
- In 1954, more than 2,000 people in the Great Falls community came together with money and/or time to build the current YWCA at 220 2nd St. North.
The YWCA Great Falls has a rich and colorful history. It has offered services that range from Techgirls to Card Club to the Great Falls community and surrounding areas.
- In 1990, the Mercy Home shelter became a YWCA program. The Mercy Home was born in 1977 as a result of the community coming together, conducting a needs assessment of transient and abused women and children, and developing a systematic approach to create the first shelter for domestic violence victims and their children in Montana. It was one of only 30 shelters of its type in the United States of America.
- In 2018 – 65 years later, asbestos floor tiles were abated and new flooring laid thanks to the city of Great Falls, the Great Falls Development Authority, and many individual supporters. The landmark 1953 NEON SIGN was also restored.
- In 2020, we corrected a drainage problem in the parking lot, started a new Perinatal Mood Anxiety Support Group, and responded to COVID-19 with new technology and policies to keep everyone safe and healthy.
- In 2022- Made repairs to the YWCA roof, replaced broken plumbing and had a STEAM camp for 12-14 year old girls.