Tymia Q. Green was fully exposed to Abraham Lincoln while growing up in the 16th president’s home state of Illinois. Decades later, she is settling in as the first Black chief executive officer of the YWCA in the borough where the president said as part of his immortal Gettysburg Address, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”
“To be here, it is putting the things I learned as a grade school student into play,” Green recently said in her office at YWCA headquarters on Fairfield Road.
The YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County works every day to advance its mission of “eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.” That mission speaks to Green, whose passion for working with people began at a young age.
An only child, Green was often the “oldest young person” in her neighborhood. She fondly recalls taking younger children on field trips and helping however possible.
“I just think that it is built in me, it is who I am,” she said.
Green’s mother identified her own weaknesses, such as punctuality and organization, and drove her daughter to do better. That drive led Green to be “built to be a manager.”
She continued her passion at her first job, overseeing the children’s section of Nelson Memorial Library in Texas. She even taught others the art of organization through the Dewey Decimal System.
Green stayed focused on her life’s path, but college was not a focus when she graduated from high school. More than 20 years after receiving her high school diploma, she determined it was time to earn another and enrolled in college at the age of 39. Within a decade, Green earned associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Next up is her doctorate. She then plans to use her experiences to assist others as an adjunct professor, much like she inspires her children and grandchildren.
“We have changed the face for our next generation. My grandkids are all looking at colleges and preparing themselves to succeed,” Green said.
Green’s passion for helping people came full circle when she became the associate executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg. In addition to being a leader who made a difference in clients’ lives, she improved the organization through grant writing, marketing, program development, and advocacy. She also partnered with other people-centric organizations such as the YMCA, YWCA, and Catholic Social Services to improve the lives of the people of Harrisburg.
“My underlying passion is helping people,” Green said.
Green loved her work with the Boys and Girls Club but in February 2022, she was inspired to make a change. The YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County needed a new executive director, so she applied and was quickly a finalist for the job. The day of her on-site interview “gave her a good feeling” and the board of directors agreed she was a match. She officially began her duties on June 20 but was so eager to start that she was often seen around the YWCA in early June.
All of Green’s predecessors could personally relate to the second half of the YWCA’s tagline of “eliminating racism and empowering women” but as the first Black chief executive officer of the 96-year-old nonprofit organization, she is the only one who can fully personally understand it.
“The one thing I feel strongly about is you cannot eliminate racism without including the party who is the object of the racism,” she said.
The board choosing her means a lot because she feels she has conquered some personal obstacles.
“A lot of people do not want to hear from women. You are silenced a lot; you are ignored a lot,” she said.
The YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County is a complex organization with two childcare centers, aquatics program and fitness center. Green acknowledges all programs are important, but the mission of eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all must be front and center and part of every aspect of the YWCA. She also looks to build bridges within the community at-large to foster justice and understanding.
“I cannot talk to a person of non-color about white privilege because it is almost as if I am complaining. It needs to be a person who understands white privilege and who has experienced it for them to explain it to their community,” she said. “To be impactful, you have to have a community of all of the players at stake.”
YWCA Advocacy Director Nancy Lilley is certified to conduct diversity, equity and inclusion trainings in workplaces and organizations. Green plans to help expand the program, which is currently underutilized.
“That’s where I see us growing and being the leader,” she said.
Three months into her job, Green admits she has been busy but an “excited busy.” She encourages community members to reach out to her and be part of the YWCA’s mission in Adams County.
“I think we have accomplished so much in a little bit of time, and we just have more to go. I am very, very hopeful about the future and what this organization can be,” she said. “I am glad I am here to move the needle forward in Adams County.”
Alex J. Hayes, Editor, has spent almost two decades in the Adams County news business. He is heavily involved in the community through his volunteer roles at the Rotary Club of Gettysburg, Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, United Way of Adams County, and Healthy Adams County. Alex is also a freelance writer for several other publications in South Central Pennsylvania.
Alex encourages readers to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.