July 12, 2021/St. Louis, Missouri – CHAMPION FOR WOMEN – INNOVATOR – STRATEGIC LEADER: YWCA Metro St. Louis is pleased to announce that Dr. Cheryl Watkins, MBA has been appointed the agency’s new President and CEO.
Dr. Watkins brings a wealth of expertise to this role. She is an experienced senior-level business executive with a proven track record of creating, managing and growing businesses in corporate, non-profit, innovation and start-up environments. YWCA Metro St. Louis searched for and found a leader who brings a multitude of experience that aligns with the focus of YWCA and will propel the agency to strategically grow services to support the whole woman and family under YWCA’s three pillars of safety, security and stability.
Dr. Watkins is a physician by training with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. She has developed successful and impactful strategies that have improved organizations’ overall market positioning, profitability, operational efficiency and excellence.
“Dr. Watkins’ appointment is a clear reflection of YWCA’s current state: motivated to serve and ready to take on the future after a year of unprecedented service to women and families within the St. Louis community. She is a proven leader with a distinguished professional record of innovation, talent development and entrepreneurship. She has a deep commitment to empowering women, and her innovative approach will position YWCA to be the leader in providing safety, security and economic opportunities to women and families within the St. Louis area and beyond,” said Ruth Saphian, YWCA board chair.
Dr. Watkins possesses the knowledge and reputation conducive to expanding partnerships to access new resources and economic outlets in the St. Louis area while elevating opportunities and eliminating barriers. After leaving the corporate arena, Dr. Watkins’ career path included creating new ventures. She founded several startup companies in our region. She was recruited by BioSTL (a non-profit entity and one of the founders of St. Louis’ vibrant startup ecosystem) to create and lead the successful STEM Entrepreneurial Inclusion Initiative which supports women, people of color and immigrant entrepreneurs in starting new STEM ventures in the region. This leadership role has allowed her to engage with many corporations, non-profits, government offices, educational institutions, and other entities. She will use this expertise to continue the evolution of YWCA, building on the expansion and consolidation of services that has occurred in recent years while sustaining YWCA Metro St. Louis’ 117-year legacy dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
“I am thrilled for the opportunity to lead YWCA Metro St. Louis at this important time for the agency. It is a rare – but always fortunate — occurrence when your life’s passion and purpose converge. I have a passion for empowering women while developing models for economic growth that eliminate the barriers to equity and encourage inclusion for people of all races and backgrounds,” says Dr. Watkins. “I appreciate my role in the continued legacy of the agency. I look forward to serving the St. Louis community and YWCA, while working with its talented, passionate team to reshape the lives of the women and families in the St. Louis community.”
Dr. Watkins’ vast experience coupled with her interest and passion to serve women are a true asset and will empower YWCA to grow and reach great heights of achievement. Her experience as a previous YWCA Metro St. Louis board member from 2012-2014 allowed her the opportunity to expand her knowledge of the organization and its impact in our community.
“This is the perfect time for Dr. Watkins to become YWCA’s next President and CEO. We have selected a very strong leader at a time when YWCA is positioned to continue its 117-year legacy of service, especially when the pace of change is exponential. Our next leader needs to thrive in a highly-dynamic environment, to be capable of accelerating what is working well for YWCA and disrupting what needs to change. We are happy that Dr. Watkins is joining YWCA,” adds Saphian. “The board is confident that Dr. Watkins, together with the rest of the leadership team, will embrace the significant opportunities that lie ahead to ensure the strong execution of YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism and empower women.”