The primary role of the YWCA Northern New Jersey Board is to provide mission-based visionary leadership and strategic governance to enhance the organization’s programs and services throughout the county. The Board is comprised of a diverse group of women of influence to ensure that it reflects the communities we serve and has the professional skill set to meet our fiduciary responsibility to the YWCA.
Serving on the YWCA Northern New Jersey Board is an extraordinary opportunity for strategic and future focused leaders who are passionate about the YWCA’s mission and vision. If you are interested in volunteering or in recommending an outstanding candidate, please contact Sonya Collins at [email protected]
As Chief Executive Officer since July 2011, Helen Archontou is focused on guiding YWCA Northern New Jersey into its next century of living its mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and strengthen families and communities.
Helen brings 25 years of executive management experience in the not-for-profit sector, which included heading up Saint Clare’s Hospital’s Center for the Protection of Children serving Morris & Sussex Counties; founding and leading Wynona’s House, New Jersey’s first co-location child advocacy and treatment center of child abuse serving Essex County; and directing the Bergen County Literacy Volunteers of America chapter. She also served as Multidisciplinary Team Coordinator for the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Sex Crimes & Child Abuse Unit.
Under Helen’s leadership, the organization has expanded and deepened its mission-based programming by providing a continuum of programs and services to support women in every stage of life and facilitating an ongoing community conversation on racial justice. In 2019, the organization expanded its service area to additional northern NJ counties and changed its name to YWCA Northern New Jersey, now serving Essex, Hudson, Morris, and Passaic in addition to Bergen County.
In 2018, Helen established the Time Is Now Action Coalition with Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to focus on shifting the culture of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. This diverse group of over 50 government, business, labor, education, legal, faith-based, and non-profit leaders is working closely with the community to formulate an action plan to end sexual harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence in our communities, ultimately making #MeToo obsolete.
Advocacy and policy reform are always at the core of Helen’s focus. In June 2016, state leaders appointed Helen to serve on the New Jersey Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault. The 12-member Task Force undertook a year-long mission to review policies and craft recommendations about how campus sexual assaults should be reported, adjudicated, and most importantly, prevented. The Task Force report—Addressing Campus Sexual Violence: Creating Safer Higher Education Communities— was published in June 2017.
Helen is the Co-Chairperson of the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking’s Legislative Committee since May 2017 and a member of the Non-profit Steering Committee of CIANJ (Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey) since June 2019. In May 2017, Helen traveled to Washington DC to present at a Capitol Hill policy briefing that focused on girls’ financial literacy. In January 2019, she was a keynote presenter along with NJ Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal at the Social Justice Forum hosted by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration Committee of Ridgewood and Glen Rock.
Helen’s professionalism has drawn several high-level accolades. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Observance Committee of Bergen County awarded YWCA Bergen County the 2016 Lee Reid Award for the organization’s profoundly important work in promoting racial and social justice–a tribute to Helen’s leadership and diligence. That same year, the Bergen County Commission on the Status of Women honored Helen at their Women’s History Month event Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government. In 2017, Helen was honored with a Women Empowering Women award by Key HR Consulting. In 2019, Helen received the Crime Victims’ Rights Award from the NJ Office of the Attorney General and the Excellence Awards for Victims’ Justice.
Helen is sought after as a speaker as well as by the media for her expertise on topics such as supporting survivors of sexual violence, sexual violence prevention, racial justice, equal pay, women’s leadership, and women’s and girls’ empowerment. She is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University since 2005 in the School of Social Work.
Helen holds a Masters of Social Work from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Montclair State University. She is also a graduate of the New Jersey Child Abuse Institute and completed the Finding Words NJ program, a child-friendly forensic interviewing protocol for professionals involved in investigating and prosecuting child abuse.
Helen’s love and passion for her life’s work in social justice is only topped by her love for her family. She is married to a professional musician in the Blues genre, and is the mother of six-year-old twins, Julia and Steven.
Hanna Salvatore is a finance professional at Bergen County’s United Way and Chief Administrator of Women United in Philanthropy, a women’s giving circle that pools philanthropy to make a large impact on the lives of women. Hanna is also a former Wall Street operations executive. Hanna brings her passion for efficiency and the YWCA’s mission as well as her finance and operations experience to the YWCA Northern New Jersey Board of Directors, which she joined in January 2016. LinkedIn
Gretchen Lolis comes from a long line of incredible and ground-breaking realtors. Raised by a mom who founded her own real estate company, Gretchen brings warmth, excitement, and ease to her clients and their families as they travel through the buying and selling process. Gretchen knows firsthand what it takes to create long-term, trusting relationships. During her 25-year career in national sales, Gretchen has seen, lived through, and learned from every market move, dip, growth spurt, and bubble. As a resident of Tenafly for many years, Gretchen has also cultivated deep and lasting connections with the local community. Gretchen brings her extensive expertise in sales, relationship-building, and supporting families and the community to the YWCA Northern New Jersey Board of Directors, which she joined in May 2017. LinkedIn
Amy Weiner, CPA, is a Director of Global Learning and Development with KPMG LLP, a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services. Amy’s focus is on designing and developing performance solutions for Global Audit. Amy is a former auditor with experience in SEC reporting and technical research. Amy is a member of KPMG’s Network of Women including their community outreach task force helping with various initiatives such as a career day for women who have been impacted by domestic violence. Amy brings her expertise in training/learning and audit/compliance as well as her commitment to supporting women and families to the YWCA Northern New Jersey Board of Directors, which she joined in May 2018. LinkedIn
Erin Chung is Founder and President of Women for Progress whose mission is to bring together women from around the world to raise awareness through education, volunteering, and financial assistance for causes such as women’s health, gun violence prevention, environmental protection, public education, and human rights. The organization has grown from 30 members in 2016 to more than 2,000 today. Erin has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations with a minor in Communications from the University of Oregon, and is pursuing her Master’s degree in non-profit leadership at Fordham University. Prior to founding Women for Progress, Erin was a publicist for Golf Digest magazine and the Miss Universe Organization. Erin brings her expertise in communications and non-profit leadership to the YWCA Northern New Jersey Board of Directors, which she joined in May 2018. LinkedIn
Martha is a lifetime fashion professional who is passionate about empowering women with style. As President of Style Venture Inc, she has represented Worth Limited in New York and New Jersey since 2008. She has been helping to build the Peach Athleisure brand since 2014. Martha is the married mother of two. In addition to the YWCA Northern New Jersey Board of Directors, which she joined in November 2017, Martha is a working board member of Social Service Association of Ridgewood and Vicinity. LinkedIn
Shonya Jordan is a Certified Professional Coach/Energy Leadership Master Practitioner who works with clients to create transformation in their lives. Shonya has also had nearly a 20-year career at Suez where she is currently Senior Clerk, Revenue Integrity Department. Shonya is a graduate of the Bergen Leads Leadership Program, Secretary for the SUEZ Women’s Leadership Network (WLN), and coordinator of the SUEZ WLN Book of the Month initiative leading motivational, inspirational, and career advancement discussions. Shonya brings her expertise in sound business practices and fostering positive change to the YWCA Northern New Jersey Board of Directors, which she joined in May 2018. LinkedIn
Erika Monell is an Information Technology professional with over 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry in a variety of roles including Application and Systems Engineer, Senior Information Security Analyst, and Business Relationship Manager. Throughout her professional journey, Erika’s passion for people has remained consistent from implementing software that makes tough tasks easier and creates process efficiencies to coaching co-workers and friends through difficult situations to volunteering for the many causes that have inspired her. With every opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others, Erika’s commitment to teaching and coaching has grown deeper, leading to her certification as a Professional Coach and and the launch of her own coaching business. From Distraction to Destiny Coaching, LLC focuses on empowering women to walk in their purpose and elevate themselves to new heights. Erika holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Syracuse University. Erika brings her expertise in systems design and process improvement as well as her passion for empowering women and improving lives to the YWCA Northern New Jersey Board of Directors, which she joined in May 2018. LinkedIn
O’kneeka Roberts, Professional Sales Account Manager at the OraPharma Pharmaceuticals division of Valeant Incorporated, is an award-winning leader with over 10 years of pharmaceutical and publishing sales experience. She is a change agent with a broad knowledge base who builds effective teams, manages complexity, and delivers strategic and financial results. O’kneeka is a veteran who served four years as a Marine Safety Officer with the US Coast Guard. She is also a proud Diamond Life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, a Greek-lettered sorority established in 1913 by African-American college women. O’kneeka, a Ridgewood resident, brings her gift for creative problem-solving and commitment to improving lives to the YWCA Northern New Jersey Board of Directors, which she joined in May 2017. LinkedIn
Hollis Thomas is an apparel executive with close to 20 years of experience in buying and wholesale sales. Now with Hanesbrands, Hollis specializes in business planning, execution, and relationship-building. At one time a stay-at-home mother with a daughter, Hollis believes that the support of family is as fundamental to the future of female leadership as advancement in the workplace, and aspires to remind women just how amazing we all are. Superwomen indeed! Hollis is a creative self-starter who brings her passion for the development of strong, independent, confident girls and women to the YWCA Northern New Jersey Board of Directors, which she joined in May 2017. Hollis is also a member of Mocha Moms Inc. of Bergen County; an active member of the NYC and northern NJ community; and a wife, mother, sister, and friend. LinkedIn
Christina Tso Metz is an Associate Director of Corporate Communications at KPMG responsible for developing strategic communications programs focused on the firm’s largest Fortune 1000 clients. Christina also leads the national planning for town hall meetings of 30,000 employees as well as planning and operations for Corporate Communications. Christina is the co-leader of the Montvale chapter of KPMG’s Network of Women (KNOW) as well as an active volunteer for the Girl Scouts of America. Prior to joining KPMG, Christina was an Assistant Vice President of Global Communications at MetLife. Christina holds an MBA with a concentration in marketing and management from the Stern School of Business at NYU, and a BA in English literature and economics from Smith College. Christina brings her expertise in strategic communications, marketing, public relations, and women’s leadership development to the YWCA Northern New Jersey Board of Directors, which she joined in June 2018. LinkedIn
YWCA Northern New Jersey Board Committees are typically chaired by a Board member and consist of Board members, staff, and interested volunteers from the community. These committees are accountable to the Board and help to research and develop policy and recommend major policies/initiatives to the Board for approval as appropriate. Current committees include Board Development, Finance, Fund Development, Communications and Mission Based Programs. Committees meet monthly or quarterly depending on their agendas.
Interested in volunteering to serve on a YWCA Board Committee? Contact Helen Archontou at [email protected] for more information.