Two exceptional past chairs of the World Service Council, Joyce Mims and Connie Tate were honored during the World Service Council’s 101st Annual Meeting that was held virtually Oct. 22, 2021. In Joy Uehara words their dedicated stewardship made certain that the WSC, YWCA USA and World YWCA’s relationship and connection remained strong so that the support of young leaders globally and the infrastructure of YWCA national organizations in need never wavered.
Connie Tate’s destiny as a YWCA leader was forged at birth. She literally grew up in a household that was all about the YWCA – a home where she was regularly exposed to interracial and international dinners and meetings. Her grandmother was president of the NYC YWCA in the 20s and her mother was president of the NYC Board and YWCA USA Board in the 50s. During her college years, Connie enjoyed her stint as a counselor at a YWCA camp in the Catskills. But it wasn’t until she retired from teaching and raising her family that she re-connected with the YWCA as a fully committed volunteer. She joined the World Service Council in 1982 at the request of Mary Rockefeller and served as chair from 2011-2019. Prior to that she was involved in several national YWCA committees and served as president of the NYC YWCA from 2000-2004 and vice chair until 2009. In 2012 the NYC YWCA honored her as its Citizen of the Year.
Her devotion and dedication to the World YWCA came from years of travel to World YWCA meetings, witness trips and personal travel around the globe. She was a World YWCA delegate to the yearly United Nations Commission on the Status of Women since its inception and was instrumental in arranging a YWCA USA-World Service Council reception for the World YWCA delegation – consistently one of the largest NGOs in attendance. Along with other World Service Council members including Rima and Doris Salah and Mildred Persinger, Connie personally hosted international YWCA visitors and others upon their arrival in NYC. These visits and reports on the UN CSW were shared in newsletters and on the World Service Council website.
To Connie, the one upside that Covid brought to the world was the expansion of digital technology and the ability to meet, see and hear each other on a variety of virtual platforms. She hopes this will lead to increased interaction among NGOs as they re-imagine new and more effective ways of work.
Joyce Mims served as Chair of the World Service Council for 22 years from 1989 to 2011 and was instrumental as a member long before that. She led with sublime grace and in the words of Mary Ann Lundy was “cordial and welcoming with her knowledge of everything YWCA.” Her letters engaging members were memorable for their beautiful language.
Joyce was introduced to the YWCA while a student at the University of Texas where she credits Rosalie Oaks, Director of the YWCA at the university, for nurturing and training that led to unimaginable opportunities for travel and to learn about the world. Not only did she participate in a student study tour of Europe she went on the first USA student exchange visit to the USSR to several places where no Americans had been before. As a student she also attended the World Council in Mexico plus subsequent World Councils in Switzerland, Norway, Korea and Kenya.
From student to consummate YWCA leader, she chaired many committees including administering the USA-USSR exchange program for YWCA USA and serving as president of the Montclair YWCA and its Board of Trustees. She proclaims that the YWCA has put her in extraordinary and unusual places such as the Ukraine, the White House, China for the YWCA’s 100th anniversary, and the convention in Cleveland where attendees joined the protests in the streets – a time when people were willing to get out and take risks.
Concerned about where we are in this new reality, she challenges the YWCA to let go of old norms and explore new ways to address the issues that have been unveiled by Covid and political division. World Service Council members will always remember how she ended her meetings with this Quaker invitation: “to walk cheerfully over the face of the earth, responding to that of God in everyone.”