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YWCA Minneapolis Board taps Luz Maria Frias, JD, as new President and CEO

YWCA Minneapolis Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Luz Maria Frias has been appointed its new President and CEO.

Ms. Frias comes to YWCA Minneapolis from The Minneapolis Foundation, where she has served as the Vice President for Community Impact since 2012. Luz Maria Frias holds Master’s and Juris Doctor Degrees from the University of Iowa. She has a long history of leadership in the community, including government, non-profits and philanthropy.

A noted public policy strategist and thought leader on race equity for more than twenty years, Ms. Frias served as Mayor Chris Coleman’s External Affairs Director before she was appointed by him to serve as the inaugural Director of the Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Department where she redesigned the city’s procurement system resulting in substantial growth in contracting opportunities for minority-owned businesses from $1 million per year to $13 million per year.

Prior positions also include: Family Court Magistrate for the State of Minnesota, Hearing Examiner for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Chief Executive Officer & Chief Legal Officer of Centro Legal and public policy work for the Minnesota House of Representatives.

While working at the Minnesota House of Representatives, Ms. Frias played a lead role in drafting the Sexual Harassment Policy and Handbook for the Minnesota Legislature. Among the various leadership roles, she is actively involved with the Minnesota Women Lawyers Association as an Advisory Council member, and also served as past-president.

Numerous nationally award winning initiatives have been designed by Ms. Frias, including the EMS Academy for Saint Paul and Minneapolis, which provides EMT training and certification to youth living in low income households who also were from communities of color as a pipeline for fire departments across the region. She is also an experienced mediator and frequent lecturer on the issues of implicit bias and immigration public policy.

Some of the numerous awards received over the past 20 years for her work as a civil rights advocate include: The Bernard P. Becker Award through the Minnesota State Bar Association; Couragein Leadership Award from the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association; The Distinguished Service Award from Governor Dayton’s Martin Luther King Jr. Council; Real Power 50 from Minnesota Business Magazine; and the Ohtli Award, which is conferred by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, the highest distinguished award given by the Country of Mexico to individuals living in a foreign country that have demonstrated a commitment to serve communities and families of Mexican origin.

In addition to her professional successes, Ms. Frias has been an ardent subscriber of acupuncture for over 25 years, meditates daily, enjoys listening to “old school” R & B music and loves to go salsa dancing.

“The mission of the YWCA Minneapolis aligns with who I am as an individual and feeds my soul to the very core. I am honored to serve as the new President and CEO at YWCA Minneapolis which has provided exemplary leadership on social justice, racial justice and empowering women and girls for 125 years.”

“We are thrilled Luz Maria will be leading the YWCA Minneapolis,” said Irene Quarshie, board chair of YWCA Minneapolis, “she has a proven track record of leadership and a deep commitment to engaging all communities. Her personal experiences and passions align well with our mission, strongly positioning her to guide the organization to even greater heights as we celebrate our 125th anniversary and for years to come.”

Ms. Frias will begin transitioning to her new role December 5, 2016.

YWCA Minneapolis is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and girls, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity.

The organization is known for its effective programs, strong operations, a history of dedication to social justice and its compelling voice in statewide policy issues affecting women and communities of color.

YWCA Minneapolis won the statewide Nonprofit Excellence Award for large organizations, and was nationally recognized by NAEYC (the National Organization for the Education of Young Children) for excellence in engaging diverse families.


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