A local nonprofit focused on supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence has named its new CEO.
The YWCA of West Central Michigan in downtown Grand Rapids said this month it hired Charisse Mitchell for the role.
Mitchell replaces outgoing CEO Carla Blinkhorn, who’s retiring.
The YWCA said to ensure a “smooth transition,” Mitchell and Blinkhorn will work together through the end of the month.
Mitchell previously served as executive director for Holland’s Center for Women in Transition, or CWIT. The organization is a long-time YWCA partner, serving victims of domestic and sexual violence in Ottawa and Allegan counties.
She is a also member of the Lakeshore Non-Profit Alliance board.
She has served as president of the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence and as a co-chair of the Lakeshore Alliance Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Mitchell spent more than a decade in Washington, D.C. with The Center for Excellence in Municipal Management and the American Public Human Services Association.
She holds a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, and a master’s degree from The George Washington University.
Doug Wilterdink, president of the YWCA board, said Mitchell has earned a “strong reputation” among private and public funders throughout the state and with her peers.
He also said she’s shown a personal commitment to advocating for the “most vulnerable.”
“While her professional credentials are exceptional, it is also clear that Charisse’s heart for women and children is what motivates her,” Wilterdink said.
Wilterdink said Mitchell is taking the “helm of an organization in a strong financial and programmatic position,” but he also acknowledged there's "uncertainty within the YWCA’s traditional public funding sources, resulting from potential shifts in federal priorities.”
Wilterdink said Mitchell was selected based on the board’s confidence in her ability to “preserve the cultural values that are the YWCA’s touchstones, continue moving us ahead, while also navigating such an unpredictable environment.”
The YWCA West Central Michigan offers services that support victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, child sexual abuse and stalking, as well as prevention programs for girls 6-18 years old.