Passion for social justice fuels new YWCA's director's work
By Chad Ingram
It’s been a full-circle journey for Kim Dolan, the new executive director of the YWCA Peterborough Haliburton, as she takes over the helm of the organization where she began her career in social services and advocacy more than 30 years ago.
“It was my first really serious job,” Dolan says. “I was hired to work front-line at the Crossroads Shelter.”
The shelter is a YWCA-operated facility for women and children fleeing violence. That was in the late 1980s, and much of Dolan’s career has focused on a quest to eliminate violence against women and children.
“I did a lot of community development and health promotion,” Dolan says. She would work with the YWCA for eight years, eventually graduating to a supervisory role, and then being laid off during the Harris government years of the mid-1990s. Shortly after, she was hired by Women’s Resources Kawartha Lakes where she was shelter and outreach co-ordinator.
From there, Dolan was hired as executive director of PARN (Peterborough AIDS Resource Network) in 2003, where she worked on a variety of programming including some dedicated to women with HIV, as well as advocating for stronger local response to HIV and Hepatitis C.
“We know that Kim’s decision was thoughtfully considered,” reads a statement from PARN. “Kim will leave PARN with many successes and the awareness that now, more than ever, there is much to be done in our quest for healthy, inclusive communities. We sincerely thank her for her contributions over the past 16 years and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.”
A release from the YWCA welcomes Dolan, calling her a thoughtful and visionary leader.
“... Kim has deep connections to our community and the feminist movement,” it reads. “In her role as Executive Director at PARN for the last 13 years, Kim has helped build a framework for strengthening the local response to HIV and Hepatitis C. Kim also worked at YWCA Crossroads Shelter and other YWCA programs prior to joining PARN. She is passionate about social justice and knows what it means to help empower the disenfranchised to find their voice.”
Dolan says her lifelong interest in social justice came from her parents.
“My mom always liked to say that she rooted for the underdog,” Dolan says, adding that her father encouraged his children to develop critical thinking when it came to social issues. “Sunday night dinners with my mom and dad were pretty vibrant.”
“I appreciate the incredible communities we live and work and play and love in,” Dolan says of her new position at the YWCA, adding she hopes to continue to help shape those communities into ones that are inclusive and safe.
The YWCA Peterborough Haliburton operates a number of programs and facilities throughout the region, including the Haliburton Emergency Rural SafeSpace (HERS) for women and children fleeing violence.
Dolan became the organization’s lead earlier this month, taking over from longtime director Lynn Zimmer who retired late last year.