Moms and kids

Next 125 Ambassadors Share Generosity and Wisdom

by Natasha Krotez

Social change often begins around a table. This was how YWCA Metro Vancouver began in 1897, when a small group of women recognized that single women needed support. It is also, in part, how we have raised $9.9M since 2017 through The Next 125, our fundraising and mobilization campaign marking the organization's 125th anniversary in 2022.  

The Next 125 is bolstered by the passion and generosity of six ambassadors. Working with YWCA CEO Deb Bryant, ambassadors Diane Forsythe-Abbott, Lauren Gehlen, Ann Mortifee, Dr. Kim van der Woerd, Lis Welch and Cynnie Woodward contribute time, generosity and wisdom to the campaign and toward our vision for the future. From different generations, and each with a different YWCA journey, their dedication to gender equality and to a more equitable future unites them.  

Next 125 Ambassadors
The Next 125 ambassadors - left to right: Diane Forsythe-Abbott, Lauren Gehlen, Ann Mortifee, Dr. Kim van der Woerd, Lis Welch and Cynnie Woodward.


We asked each why they support the YWCA, and this is what they said.  

Lis commented that “the YWCA has a finger on the pulse of society and a visionary view. Whatever issues face future generations, the YWCA will have adapted and remain relevant and important. By supporting the organization, one is supporting societal change.” 

Diane came upon Crabtree Corner one rainy night when she needed help with car trouble, and “just had to do something” to help return the kindness she found there. For 25 years, Dianne put on an annual holiday luncheon, with Cynnie helping lead the organizing committee. The event contributed nearly two million dollars to women and children.  

Lauren values “how intentional and well-researched YWCA programming is,” and how our mission “permeates all levels of the organization.”  

Kim, having served on the YWCA Board for six years, connects to our work “around reconciliation and amplifying the ongoing need to speak up and speak out on issues that continue to target Indigenous women and families.” 

Ann said that “for 123 years, the YWCA has offered hope, security and love to thousands,” and that she is “excited to be able to help in some small way to make the next 125 years even stronger.” 

As we near our 124th year, we see the pandemic threaten the progress made on gender equality as a society, and how crises like this can threaten the progress individuals can make on their own.  

We are grateful to our ambassadors and all of our Next 125 donors at this pivotal time, ensuring our work directly impacts members of the community. As Lauren says, “I trust and believe in the YWCA, and know many others feel the same.”  

We invite you to be a part of the YWCA’s future. 

As an Urgent Response Partner with your gift of $25,000 or more, you can provide discretionary support to help the organization remain strong. You can also pledge your support over the coming five years.

To join us, please contact Brenda Ulmer at | 604 895 5764 or Natasha Krotez at | 604 895 5823.