Shaneka is the YWCA’s Director of Women’s Empowerment and is originally from Asheville. Shaneka has spent her professional life in the area, working to make her hometown an even better place to live and work. She comes to the YW with considerable experience in local non-profits, including Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), A-B Tech Community College, and Helpmate. Most importantly, Shaneka also knows firsthand about the value of Women’s Empowerment programs. Shaneka was a teen mom participating in the MotherLove program, one of the programs that she now directs. Shaneka is committed to the mission of the YWCA to nurture families and empower women, and she lives that mission every day.
Can you share a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in the area. I have a master’s degree in human services and I am also a community health worker instructor. I’ve worked in education and in non-profits working with the underserved. When I saw the job opening to direct Women’s Empowerment it spoke to me, I was a teen mom in the MotherLove program, and I know the impact that the program had on me.
It’s really interesting that you participated in MotherLove as a teen mom, and now you are directing the program! Could you tell us a little more about what that feels like?
Someone actually sent the job posting to me and I looked over it a couple of times and decided that I should apply. As a teen mom and participant of the MotherLove program, I thought that it’d be great to be in a position to assist young moms. I know personally what it’s like to be a teen mom and thought that I could be a big support to all of the families served. I don’t think that it has sunk in yet that I’m directing the program that I participated in.
What are you most excited about in your work at the YWCA?
I would say what I’m most excited about is growing our Women’s Empowerment programs like MotherLove and Getting Ahead. I see MotherLove growing in many different ways to include serving fathers, as they’re often left out of services and programs that are provided. At the YW we serve everyone and expanding in that direction feels only appropriate to me.
What motivates you?
My children. Definitely my children.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
That I was born and raised in Asheville and that I was a teen mom.
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