24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 269-385-3587

General Contact: 269-345-5595

Our Leaders

Systems change does not come easily, but the leadership at YWCA Kalamazoo continue to fight for the rights of individuals and strengthen our community every day. Change often starts at the top, and our leaders help to fight injustices within our community and beyond.


Dr. Grace Lubwama, CEO

Dr. Grace Lubwama, a native of Uganda, has brought her broad global perspective, experience with public health, organizational leadership, and community development to YWCA Kalamazoo. Her perspective infuses her strong systems change approach to issues of social justice and community transformation.

Since Dr. Lubwama’s arrival at YWCA Kalamazoo in February 2014, her leadership has placed the organization at the forefront of the Kalamazoo community.  Dr. Lubwama’s experiences hold the organization’s mission in fidelity as it addresses domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking through a racial and gender equity lens. Understanding the importance of targeting interventions for the most vulnerable, under Dr. Lubwama’s leadership, YWCA Kalamazoo opened the first shelter for all victims of human trafficking in the State of Michigan. Not one to shy away from controversial work, Dr. Lubwama used her expertise to help Kalamazoo County’s community-based organizations and Health Care System found Cradle Kalamazoo, a collective impact framework designed to address the racial disparities in Kalamazoo County’s infant mortality rates.

During her tenure, Dr. Lubwama has grown YWCA Kalamazoo in a multitude of ways.  From expanding existing programs to creating new programs to ensure the needs of the women and families in Kalamazoo are being met, Dr. Lubwama’s presence has been felt throughout our community and has impacted the lives of its residents.  The growth that Dr. Lubwama has overseen since her arrival in 2014 is evident across all of YWCA Kalamazoo’s Strategic Focus Areas – Advocacy and Systems Change, Improving the Lives of Children, Promoting Maternal and Child Health, and Caring for Victims of Abuse.

Dr. Lubwama believes “that equity is achieved through policies, practices, and procedures that catalyst systems change and close disparities”.

Dr. Lubwama received her BA in Fine Arts and Industrial Design from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, her Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from Boston University in Boston, MA, and has her Ph.D. in Policy, Planning, and Development from the University of Southern California.

Board of Directors


Chair: Demarra West
Vice Chair: Dr. Regena Nelson
Treasurer: Kim Brinkman
Secretary: Sara Nicholson
Past Chair: Heather Haigh

Kim Brinkman – The Connable Office – Associate Director & Trust Officer
Mary Byerly – Stryker – Senior Director of Marketing
Artrella Cohn – Communities in Schools (CIS) – Senior Director of Community Engagement & Student Investment
Dr. Deveta Gardner – Western Michigan University – Associate Dean
Heather Haigh – Justice for Our Neighbors – Assistant Director
Lakeysha Ivy – Kellogg Company – Attorney
Dr. Regena Nelson – Western Michigan University – Chair of the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Education Studies
Sara Nicholson – Warner Norcross + Judd – Attorney
Kimberly Peterson – OAS&P – VP Investment Officer
Susan Springgate – Kalamazoo Community Foundation – Vice President of Finance
Wendy Van Peenan – Don & Ann Parfet Family Office – Controller
Elisabeth Von Eitzen – Warner Norcross + Judd – Attorney
Demarra West – Change Agent Consulting – Principle & Lead Consultant