The primary role of the YWCA Bergen County 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 Bergen County 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]
Helen Archontou was named Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Bergen County in July 2011, and her focus has been on guiding the organization in living its mission. Helen brings nearly 20 years of executive management experience in the not-for-profit sector, which included heading up St. 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, YWCA Bergen County has expanded program offerings, deepening the YW’s commitment to its mission: eliminating racism, empowering women, standing up for social justice, helping families, and strengthening communities.
To meet these profoundly important goals, Helen developed a strategic plan that includes programming in five targeted areas: Economic Empowerment, Racial Justice, Women’s Health, Youth Development, and Ending Sexual Violence.
Advocacy and policy reform are always at the core of her 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 AAUW’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In May 2017, Helen traveled to Washington DC to present at a Capitol Hill policy briefing that focused on girls’ financial literacy.
Helen’s professionalism has drawn several high-level accolades. In 2016, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Observance Committee of Bergen County awarded YWCA Bergen County the 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.
Helen is often sought after by the media for her expertise in several areas. During 2016, Helen made several television appearances. She focused on gender pay equity for women of color here in New Jersey in an interview on FOX 5 NY. She was interviewed by NJTV News on improving communications surrounding the reporting of sexual assaults on college campuses. Helen’s op-ed about campus sexual violence was published in The Record / NorthJersey.com.
Helen has been an adjunct professor in the Master’s Degree program for the Center for Child Advocacy at Montclair State University since 2005. She is also a Board Member of the Bergen Community College Women’s Institute since 2012.
She 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 also successfully completed the Finding Words NJ program, a child-friendly forensic interviewing protocol for professionals involved in investigating and prosecuting child abuse.
When not working, Helen enjoys her time with her family. She is married to a professional musician in the Blues genre, and is the mother of four-year-old twins, Julia and Steven, and, her first-born, a Chihuahua, Brutus.
Maura DeNicola was a Bergen County Freeholder for 6 years, Mayor of Franklin Lakes for 4 years, and prior to that, a Franklin Lakes Councilwoman, Board of Education member, and Planning Board member. As an elected official, Maura has always worked across party lines for the benefit of her constituents and community. In addition to her work with YWCA Bergen County, Maura is a board trustee of Adopt-a-Soldier-Platoon; Commissioner on the Commission on Accreditation for Home Care; and volunteer with Bergen County Senior Coalition for Aging in Place, Boy Scouts of America, and Don Bosco Preparatory High School. Maura has been recognized for her outstanding leadership and community service with awards such as Children’s Aid & Family Services Government Leadership Award, Special Angels Award of Bergen County, and Friends of Camp Glen Gray Conservation Award. Maura has been President of the YWCA Bergen County Board of Directors since September 2017. LinkedIn
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 Bergen County 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 Bergen County Board of Directors, which she joined in May 2017. 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 Bergen County Board of Directors, which she joined in May 2017. LinkedIn
Hayley Shulman, CPA is a Tax Supervisor in the Morristown office of WithumSmith+Brown, PC, a full-service tax, audit, and advisory public accounting firm where her focus is consulting and compliance services for healthcare and not-for-profit organizations. Hayley is a member of Withum’s Women’s Leadership Development Initiative, and is also actively involved in mentorship and training. Hayley brings her not-for-profit tax expertise and insight into the minds of the Millennial Generation to the YWCA Bergen County Board of Directors, which she joined in January 2016. 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 Bergen County 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
Jennie Smith Wilson is a senior communications executive with 25 years of experience in consumer products, retail, financial services, corporate branding, and non-profit sectors. Working with leading advertising agencies, Jennie led relationship management in all facets of brand strategy and communications plan development. Jennie is also a community leader with over 20 years of experience serving on non-profit boards focused on education and social services for women and children. In 2015, Jennie was named a Bergen County Volunteer of the Year. She was appointed to the Ridgewood Board of Adjustment and served for 3 years before being appointed and subsequently elected to the Ridgewood Board of Education. Jennie also currently serves on the board of the trustees of Volunteer Center of Bergen County. Jennie brings enthusiasm for YWCA’s community-based programs and services to the YWCA Bergen County Board of Directors, which she joined in November 2017. LinkedIn
YWCA Bergen County 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.