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A letter from Ashley Booker, YWCA St. Paul CEO

I am pleased to report that the YWCA St. Paul + Element transition has been completed, and we are so grateful for your patience, understanding, flexibility and support throughout this process. We will continue to strengthen and refine our systems, policies and practices, and we welcome your feedback. We are committed to continuously improving our Health & Fitness Center (HFC) programming to ensure that we are offering an optimal experience for our members and keeping these critical resources accessible for everyone in our community.  


Over the last nine months, YWCA St. Paul has been on a journey to clarify our strategic priorities, sharpen our focus, and refine our approach to ensure that we are well positioned to continue to meet our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women for many years to come. Given our demonstrated expertise in the areas of: 1) affordable housing, 2) employment and economic development, 3) youth development and 4) health and wellness; and the persistent racial inequities in the data, we have adopted a health equity framework. Health Equity, as defined by the Minnesota Department of Health, is a state where all persons, regardless of race, creed, income, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or ability have the opportunity to reach their full health potential without the limits of structural barriers.  


In order to realize this vision, we will be striving to find new and innovative solutions to these persistent socioeconomic issues, while increasing our commitment to working collaboratively with community partners to generate collective impact. YWCA St. Paul’s partnership with Element Boxing Gym is just one example of how we plan to embrace social innovation. Since Element has relocated to YWCA St. Paul, we have more than doubled our service offerings, increased the variety of classes and group fitness options, and created additional engagement opportunities for youth, people of color, and people with disabilities. And aside from the tremendous health benefits associated with boxing, we are proud to offer programming that is both rich in history and that holds such significant cultural importance. Boxing has consistently served as a vehicle for empowerment, social mobility, representation, and activism – providing a pathway for the most oppressed members of our society to drive social change – and that is exactly what YWCA St. Paul has always been about! This is really just the beginning of this journey, and we hope that each of you will continue to walk alongside us in the movement toward building a healthier, more equitable St. Paul. 


About YWCA St. Paul YWCA St. Paul is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. For more information, visit