Moving to St. Paul from Nebraska in the late 80s, Deputy Chief of Staff at Office of Governor Tim Walz, and YWCA board member Kristin Beckmann used to think YWCA St. Paul was just a fitness club. It wasn’t until her work as Deputy Mayor of St. Paul with former Mayor Chris Coleman that she learned it is So. Much. More.
She and Coleman were at an event at St. Paul College in 2015 welcoming the new CEO for YWCA St. Paul, Gaye Adams Massey, as the new leader. “Gaye spoke, and both of us were so impressed. We looked at each other and we knew this dynamic new leader in Saint Paul was a great move forward. Together with Gaye, we built on the partnership between the city and the YWCA St. Paul in housing, workforce development, and community building,” said Beckmann.
Beckmann’s career as Deputy Mayor would push her to great opportunities to lead in St. Paul, and with those opportunities, some of the city’s greatest challenges. Coleman, Beckmann and team would lead the city through the processing and grieving surrounding the 2016 Philando Castille Murder. “I had no idea my job would take me in so many emotion-filled directions. There were so many things impacting our city around race, policing, and healing; I needed a break, I was spent,” she said.
When Coleman left office in 2018, Beckmann took that time to regroup, “but I don’t sit still well,” Beckman recalls. She got a call from Adams Massey to meet for coffee. She knew she didn’t have the energy for another big job, but she was not retiring from her work world, so during the coffee date, when she was asked to join YWCA St. Paul’s board, it sounded perfect.
Soon after joining YW’s board, in October 2018 Beckmann was pulled into Governor Walz’s Transition Team to help appoint his cabinet and then was asked to stay on as the Deputy Chief of Staff. Considering the twists and turns of the Governor’s role in the past four years, to say Beckman’s life has been a blur is an understatement, but she’s managed to continue giving time to YWCA St. Paul – but not as much as she would like!
Working on things like the annual Sweet Success Fundraiser and the Young Women’s Initiative for the Governor’s Office has kept her connected to the mission of empowering women and eliminating racism. Her enthusiasm for YW’s capital campaign YW has recently had her thinking that ‘Right now is the time to push for a capital campaign.’ “What I like (and have always liked) about the leadership of the YW is that we push. The need is too great, disparities too large, and after George Floyd’s murder, it is incumbent on all of us to do more, to challenge ourselves to do better. To be honest, if we WERE NOT doing a capital campaign, we would not be doing right by our mission,” said Beckmann.
Beckmann says, “When I ask people to donate to YWCA St. Paul, I share two things. First, I talk about the housing program. I don’t think enough people know about the supportive housing for women and families. I am enormously proud of the work YWCA St. Paul does to provide supportive services for women to have a foundation to launch themselves out of generational poverty. Second, I tell them about the Young Women’s Initiative. YWCA St. Paul’s youth services partnership with the Women’s Foundation and the office of the Governor serves to build future women leaders I am so impressed with the support for young women Gaye and her team do to grow the next generation of women leaders.”