A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Yellen understood at a very early age the importance of getting involved and giving back. An exceptional scholar and school leader, Yellen was elected as a voting member of the board of trustees to Johns Hopkins her senior year, a position she would hold for four years.
Yellen came to El Paso in 1992. As a summer intern, she worked passionately on a program designed to address environmental issues on the border. She then elected to stay on the job and pursued this endeavor for nearly six years, working in both the United States and Mexico. Then, in 1997, she met Myrna Deckert and applied for a job at the YWCA.
Yellen remembers, "It was a time of forums and discussions about life after NAFTA. There were layoffs in the community and it was a time to redefine the city. Now, more than a decade later, we see the fruits of those labors with the redevelopment of Downtown and the 4-year medical school, to name only a few.
"But in the beginning, during that critical time, the YWCA was always there, looking for ways to advocate and meet the needs of women and their families."
Initially, Yellen was hired to oversee the YWCA's "Hueco project," which involved developing an East Side property that was donated to the agency by El Paso Natural Gas. She hit the ground running and, before long, had expanded the scope of her
work to include fund development, leadership and special projects. Specifically, Yellen was an integral part of the campaign to raise funds to build the YWCA's Independence House, a collaboration with the Junior League of El Paso, and to expand the Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center.
Throughout this process, Yellen became a master grant-writer and Fund Development Officer, and these talents got her noticed on an international level. In the years that followed, Yellen's passion found her managing the Global Campaign for the World YWCA/USA.
"The YWCA is an amazing, empowering place that works to improve the lives of women and families. I liked tackling issues on a local, national and international level. I have many fond memories of local meetings and national conventions and the women from El Paso who spoke out to make a difference."
Today, Yellen actively serves the YWCA as a member of the board of directors and feels the organization changed her life by providing so many opportunities early in her professional career.
"Because of my service to the YWCA, I have made life-long friends and become a part of the El Paso community.
"I believe the YWCA will continue to provide similar opportunities to a multitude of women, responding quickly to need in the community as it has done for so many years."
As the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region celebrates 100 years of service, the organization pays tribute to those who helped. The El Paso Times Living section will feature 100 vignettes of women. The stories of volunteers were provided by the YWCA.