Meet YWCA St. Paul board member Mara Ascheman, Principal Attorney, Xcel Energy. Over the past several years, she has led a service project at YWCA St. Paul. Even before serving as a board member, YWCA St. Paul was part of her daily routine. Mara joined the Health and Fitness Center when she moved to St. Paul for law school, regularly swimming in the YW’s pool. A few years later, as an attorney at Xcel Energy, she was invited to join the board. It was a chance for Mara to give back to an organization that has been a big part of her free time here in Minnesota. That, plus the fact that the mission of empowering women and eliminating racism really resonates with her core values.
Because of Mara’s Board service, each year Xcel Energy asks her to lead a team for Xcel’s Day of Service, where thousands of Xcel employees volunteer their time. YWCA St. Paul is one of the organizations selected to participate and, with Mara’s lead, have sponsored this volunteer service day at YWCA St. Paul.
In 2019, she and a team of volunteers painted hallway walls and the children’s art space and playroom at YW’s Lexington property. In 2020, there was little opportunity to volunteer due to Covid-19, but this fall, the Xcel Energy team helped remove debris, pull weeds, lay weed barrier fabric, and place rubber mulch in the playground at YW’s Grotto property. “It’s just really fun to get to meet more of the staff at YW through these projects and be a part of helping to maintain the properties where YW’s families live. I like to get my hands dirty.” she said.
Mara says her favorite thing about YWCA St. Paul led her to marry her swimming partner. Mara’s husband Landon was a member of YW; he worked at the gym and swam on the masters’ swim team. He decided to swim the Point to La Pointe race in Lake Superior and was excited for his teammates to join. Dedicated to train with him that summer, Mara accepted the challenge. They swam the race that first year and then started dating. Every year following, they continue the tradition to swim Point to La Pointe together, along with many of their teammates from YW’s masters’ swim team.
Looking forward to the new year at YWCA St. Paul, Mara says she is excited about the health and fitness center. “The gym at YWCA is a really special place and I’m really looking forward to getting back to that group of people,” she said. She is excited to introduce her kids to the pool and bring them there to swim in the new year.