Fond Farewells and New Beginnings: CEO Suzanne Durham Announces Retirement

September 18, 2013

Tuesday, September 17th, was a tremendous day for all of us involved with the YWCA Central Alabama. Kathryn Harbert, President of the Board of the YWCA Central Alabama announced that long-time YWCA Chief Executive Officer, Suzanne Durham, will be retiring at the end of 2013. The Board of Directors has appointed Yolanda Sullivan as Interim Chief Executive Officer to lead this new transition.

Sullivan brings a wealth of nonprofit experience as well as corporate management experience to her new position. Sullivan is the immediate past President of the YWCA Board of Directors serving from 2007-2010 and helping lead the successful $15 million “Strengthening Our Families, Strengthening Our Communities” Capital Campaign. With over 20 years of key leadership with the YWCA, Sullivan is quite familiar with what makes the organization so exceptional. Sullivan also serves on the boards of United Way of Central Alabama and The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and remains strongly associated with The Bell Center, The Exceptional Foundation and Full Life Ahead Foundation. She is an active and well-known member of the Birmingham nonprofit community, and we are very excited to have her (once again) on board.

At the end of this year, Sullivan is retiring from Vulcan Materials Company after 30 years of service. Her position as Interim Chief Executive Officer will begin in January 2014. Sullivan currently manages the Corporate Human Resources office although her career has spanned both Accounting and Human Resources in Birmingham and Atlanta with Vulcan.

Although the YWCA is very happy to see Sullivan on board, it won’t be easy for us to say “goodbye” to Durham. Durham has cultivated fond relationships with those at the YWCA and continues to stand as a beacon of leadership, hard work and respect. Durham joined the YWCA Central Alabama as Executive Director in 1979, and 34 years later, the YWCA Central Alabama has a $6.2 million operating budget with over 125 employees and is recognized as one of the leading nonprofits in the greater Birmingham community. Durham has also been active at the regional and national level of the YWCA USA, having served on the national board of the YWCA as chair and at the international level leading a 130 delegation to World Council in Kenya in 2006.

“Suzanne Durham is an amazing leader. She has been an inspiration to us all as she has led this organization, always reminding us of our mission and helping us meet the needs of women, children and families in our changing world… We are so thrilled to have Yolanda lead us through this latest change. Her experience and passion for our mission will allow this to be a seamless transition,” says Board President, Kathryn Harbert. She also mentions that Durham has always said that "one of the things we can always count on is change.” With a philosophy like that, Durham has met the challenges of making the YWCA Central Alabama a major provider of critical services and it explains why she can so smoothly pass the torch to such an exceptionally wonderful candidate as Sullivan.