Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin
Anne-Marie was born and raised in Detroit. When she came to Walla Walla to attend Whitman College, it was her first time west of Chicago. After graduation, she stayed in Walla Walla, and credits the YWCA with helping her to learn to live in a small town.
Anne-Marie became involved with the YWCA first as a volunteer and as a board member when the board was seeking to engage young women in the work of the YWCA.
“I was working as a commodity future broker and really needed something to feed my soul,” remarks Anne-Marie. “The YWCA gave me so many opportunities to learn leadership—and so many other skills and put them into practice in a supportive, encouraging environment, all in service to women and girls. I will be forever grateful for the YWCA being there for me and giving me the chance to help others.”
Anne-Marie served as YWCA board president 1989-1990 and also served on the national board of the YWCA USA. Her career path then took her into agriculture, as a bookkeeper and office manager for her husband’s family’s farming and manufacturing operations.
“I never thought I would be working in these areas, and I was so glad to have the YWCA in my life, cheering me on to succeed in a field not usually occupied by women and providing me with so many enriching opportunities to work towards the YWCA’s amazing mission. When I had the chance to go back to school, I went for my CPA certification, something I would never have done without my YWCA experiences on the finance committee and on fundraisers.”
It was while working as a CPA that Anne-Marie got the call from her longtime mentor, YWCA Executive Director Peggy Sanderson, to come work at the YWCA. She joined the staff as CFO and Associate Director. The Violence Against Women Act had just passed, and the funding and service environments were really changing. The YWCA had the opportunity to expand domestic violence and sexual assault services.
“I had always dreamed of working at the YWCA, and my dream came true,” said Anne-Marie.
In 2001, Anne-Marie became the YWCA Executive Director.