Vanessa McDowell-Atlas to leave YWCA, join Black Girl Ventures as COO

Vanessa McDowell-Atlas. Photo supplied.

After 9 years with YWCA Madison, Vanessa McDowell-Atlas has informed the greater Madison community that she will be leaving YWCA Madison as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on Feb. 16 and joining a new organization called Black Girl Ventures as its Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Black Girl Ventures is a national organization with the mission to “provide Black/Brown woman-identifying founders with access to community, capital, and capacity building in order to meet business milestones that lead to economic advancement through entrepreneurship.”

McDowell-Atlas was initially hired in 2014 as the director of support services for YWCA Madison, whose mission includes eliminating racism and empowering women. She was promoted to chief programs officer and interim CEO before becoming, in July 2017, the first Black woman CEO in YWCA Madison’s 108-year history.

“Please know that my heart remains with this community. I will always cherish the memories we created together and the impact we made on the world,” McDowell-Atlas wrote on YWCA Madison’s Facebook page. “Thank you once again for being an integral part of this journey. I look forward to staying connected and celebrating the continued success of YWCA Madison. It has been an incredible journey leading this remarkable YW family. Together we have faced challenges, celebrated successes, and worked tirelessly to make a positive impact on the lives of those that we serve.”

Gery Paredes Vásquez will serve as YWCA Madison’s interim CEO.

“As the director of our Race and Gender Equity department, Gery has orchestrated the co-creation and planning of our incredible Racial Justice Summit for the past six years,” McDowell-Atlas said. “She has a deep understanding of our mission and passion for the work of YWCA Madison. The future holds exciting possibilities, and I am eager to witness the continued growth of this wonderful organization.”

YWCA Madison will host its annual Circle fundraising event on Thursday, Feb. 15, 11:30 a.m. at the Alliant Energy Center, which will be the last YWCA Madison event for McDowell-Atlas.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude to my community for your unwavering support, dedication, and passion. We continue to have a lot of work to do to make this city one where EVERYONE feels like they belong. The work continues,” McDowell-Atlas said. She told Blueprint365 that she and her husband intend to move to North Carolina this summer.

David Dahmer is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Blueprint365.