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Women, Whiskey & Shelley Carthen Watson

Senior Associate, General Counsel at the U of M. YWCA Board member. Whiskey aficionado?? Shelley Carthen Watson is all those things and more!

Shelley’s connection to the YWCA organization is the result of a life-long family relationship. “I grew up going to the YW in San Bernardino, California as a child. My grandmother was a volunteer there. My mom served on the board.” After serving six years on YWCA Minneapolis’ board, it was with the encouragement of friends and colleagues in Minnesota that she joined the YWCA St. Paul board in 2019.

YW’s mission is a match with Shelley’s personal values. “I tend to put my time and energy into organizations that are focused on women and children. I’m drawn to nonprofits that encompass the entire family. YW’s focus on family housing is a real fit with that.”

In addition to her service on YW’s board, Shelley has a long and active history of volunteering in the Twin Cities. A strategic thinker, she brings a skill for being able to absorb and synthesize large volumes of information. “Steep learning curves are not an issue for me. I like to take in as much information as possible, identify the goal and then build a plan to reach that goal. At the same time, I also like to examine the challenge from ‘outside the box’ to see if there are opportunities we haven’t considered.”

A native Californian, Shelley came to Minnesota to attend Macalester College – sight unseen! “My first year in Minnesota was the coldest in recent history. I survived that winter and never looked back.” In addition to being a huge sports fan, her membership in the “Women Who Whiskey” group helps her weather Minnesota winters, as does another guilty pleasure – reading Victorian historical romance novels. “I literally screamed when I heard they were bringing Bridgerton to television!”

Shelley encourages others who want to volunteer to find a cause they can be passionate about. “I like nonprofits where the whole family can get involved. Since my daughter was very young, we have volunteered together regularly. Pairing a family activity with a community service project has been very gratifying. Look for opportunities that feed your soul.”