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YWCA of Central Maine appoints new Executive Director

Melanie LaMore Gagnon

The YWCA of Central Maine has selected Melanie LaMore Gagnon to be its new Executive Director. LaMore Gagnon brings more than a decade of experience serving the Central Maine area, most recently as the Director of Shelter and Housing Services at Safe Voices. She replaces Jane Morrison, who has served as Interim Executive Director since April. LaMore Gagnon will join the organization on October 15.

“We are very excited about our future with Melanie at the helm,” said Board President Kristine Kittridge. “She is a proven advocate for women and girls, with a wealth of experience in program development, client-centered service, and financial stewardship. Her visionary leadership, combined with her trained eye for empowerment and growth as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, will be a valuable asset for both our staff and those they serve. Melanie is strongly aligned with the YWCA’s mission.”

As Executive Director of the YWCA, LaMore Gagnon will lead an organization with the urgent mission to eliminate racism and empower women. She will oversee the only fully accessible aquatics program in the area, including a thriving single-gender swim class designed to be culturally responsive to women’s needs for privacy and safety. LaMore Gagnon will also manage the Priscilla and Dolard Gendron Early Learning Center, which accommodates Central Maine’s need for affordable childcare and engages the region’s continually expanding diversity through its curriculum and daily practices.

“My career has largely focused on working with underserved and marginalized populations by creating safer, healthier communities,” said LaMore Gagnon. “With the YWCA, I can continue this important work by proudly leading an organization that promotes social justice, supports families, and strengthens our community. Knowing that the underpinnings of all the YWCA’s work is to empower women, eliminate racism, and improve the lives of people in my community is why I’ve gladly accepted the position of Executive Director.”

As the Director of Shelter and Housing Services at Safe Voices, a non-profit that supports and empowers those affected by domestic violence while fostering the necessary social change to see its end, LaMore Gagnon oversaw the daily operations, growth, and future sustainability of multiple emergency housing facilities, ultimately expanding the organization’s resources and capacity to serve those in need. Prior to working at Safe Voices, she served as the Clinical Supervisor for Home and Community Based Treatment Services at Providence Service Corporation (now Pathways) of Maine.

LaMore Gagnon’s community involvement has included serving on the Board of Directors for the Lewiston Education Fund and as a member of the Governance Council for the Community Partnership for Protecting Children. She has also served as the Vice Chair of the Androscoggin Collaborative and as a member of the Lewiston-Auburn Alliance of Services to the Homeless, Lewiston-Auburn Human Trafficking Collaborative, and Maine Shelter Network. In 2017, she was selected as one of Uplift LA’s “40 Under 40” honorees for her volunteer work in the community.

A native of Lewiston, LaMore Gagnon received her undergraduate degree from Clark University and earned her Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in Children, Youth, and Families from Boston College. She currently resides in Auburn with her husband and son.

Founded in 1878 as a service and housing provider for French-Canadian immigrant women working in Lewiston’s textile mills, the YWCA of Central Maine continues to work toward equity for all in the Central Maine area. Through the provision of quality and culturally responsive health and wellness, recreation, and childcare resources for women and working families and anti-racist and anti-sexist educational programming and advocacy, the YWCA ultimately strives toward gender, racial, and social justice for all.

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