The relationship between Board member Cassandra Yarbrough and YWCA St. Paul started many years ago when she worked in the childcare center. “I guess you could say I’ve come full circle,” laughs the life-long St. Paul resident.
Today, Cassandra is applying that life-long familiarity with the city to her job as an entrepreneur in real estate affiliated with Coldwell Banker Realty. “For me, it’s all about assisting people on their journey. Many of my clients have a relationship with the YW. I always include proximity to the YW’s Wellness Center as a neighborhood benefit in every home listing I do for this area.”
Given her occupation, it may come as no surprise that Cassandra thinks YW’s housing programs are part of its ‘secret sauce.’ “One of the greatest impact areas we have is our housing services. This is an area of ongoing need and opportunity and I think there’s ways for us to be even more efficient and help even more people.”
Helping people comes naturally to Cassandra. “I once lived, worked and went to school in Akita, Japan through a Minnesota State University. That culture is so service-oriented, always gracious and kind, putting the needs of others first. I think that intentional focus on people and showing respect for their needs and wants is something I have carried forward in my own life.”
Along with that concern for the well-being of others, Cassandra brings some other unique skills to her role as a YWCA Board Member. “Before becoming a real estate professional, I spent more than a decade at Medtronic. That role and my current profession have deepened my problem-solving skills. Nonprofits often have limited resources and unexpected challenges—being a problem-solver allows me to support the YW’s leadership team when we need to get creative to respond to a new challenge.”
When Cassandra transitioned out of Medtronic, she reached out to community leaders seeking input on her ‘next chapter.’ YWCA St. Paul CEO Gaye Massey encouraged Cassandra to consider board service. “What I learned is that serving as a board member is one way to contribute to my community. I wanted to be connected to an organization that was right in my town—a place where I could give back in a meaningful way. The YWCA offered that to me.”
For others looking for a way to give back, Cassandra has this advice: “We all have something to offer. It’s all about asking, ‘where can I help? What can I do?’ Many people are looking for ways to help shape the future of our communities. Figure out your priorities and determine where you can make a real difference—sometimes that’s as a volunteer or it might be as a financial contributor. Just find an organization that connects to your heart.”