About the YWLA


Launched in January 2015, the Young Women’s Leadership Alliance (YWLA) is the YWCA Richmond’s young women’s professional board, with members between the ages of 25 to 35 who are dedicated to advancing YWCA Richmond’s vision. YWLA connects, equips, and inspires the next generation of leaders in RVA.

The 2020 Application Period is currently closed and will reopen in November 2020.

If you are interested in learning more about YWLA’s membership, contact Nadia Gooray at ngooray@ywcarichmond.org or 804-643-6761 ext 129.

Applications for YWLA will be accepted from November 1, 2020 – March 15, 2021. A Membership Committee member will contact you in March or April 2021 with additional information or to schedule an interview.  If invited to join YWLA, your term will start in July. A Recruitment Meet & Greet for interested individuals to meet with members of the YWLA Membership Committee will be held in September of each year.

Current Members

  • Rachel Johnson, YWLA President, Capital One
  • Mary Grace Miller, YWLA Immediate Past President, O’Hagan Meyer
  • Lindsey Dombert, YWLA Vice-President, Community Volunteer
  • Carleigh Walters, YWLA Secretary, Rolls-Royce
  • Hadeel Abouhasira, Williams Mullen
  • Ashley Balamuta, VCU – Oncology Nurse
  • Megan Claar, Truist
  • Elizabeth Creasman, Sheltering Arms
  • Kelsey Croston, Richmond Association of Realtors
  • Raina FieldsVCU
  • Belen Ishizaki, Let’s Clean, LLC
  • Shannon Kapadia, Eckert Seamans
  • Katie Moody, Plan RVA
  • Micah Morris, EveryAction
  • Amy O’Callaghan, CarMax
  • Elizabeth Papile, MAXX Potential
  • Emily Sanfrantella, Waukeshaw Development
  • Lauren Sawyer, Virginia Health Catalyst
  • Shannon Smith, Richmond Ambulance Authority
  • Hannah Updike, Virginia League for Planned Parenthood
  • Sara Lee White, Dominion Energy
  • Whitney Wilson, Richmond Public Schools
  • Alle Witt, Virginia Health Catalyst



The Young Women’s Leadership Alliance’s signature event, Conversation Piece provides an opportunity for community members to attend a unique, live art event and get a glimpse into the creative process of each participating artist while supporting the work of YWCA’s early childhood education program. This event will allow guests the opportunity to explore the evening’s theme of empower RVA through live art creation, dynamic conversations, and interactive exhibits highlighting the organization’s work to empower children. Artists will create pieces live throughout the event around the Empower RVA theme, which will be available at the end of the event through a silent auction.

All proceeds from this event benefit YWCA Richmond’s early childhood education program, The Sprout School, and emphasize the importance preschool and early education can have on a child. Join us for a night filled with food, drink, and live entertainment as we celebrate YWCA Richmond and focus on the art of empowerment to impact our youngest community members. More details about this year’s Conversation Piece event to come!



The Young Women’s Leadership Alliance (YWLA), YWCA Richmond’s young professionals’ board, is excited to announce an opportunity for a rising woman leader to be recognized for their impact in our community and enhance their future leadership opportunities with an investment in leadership development.

The Rising Outstanding Woman Award (ROWA) is an annual award recognizing an emerging leader who embodies YWCA Richmond’s values of commitment, respect, integrity and collaboration and who, through their own influence, passion and action(s) empower RVA.

Rising Outstanding Woman Award will be awarded to a woman who:

  • Has made and/or will make a significant contribution towards social good in Central Virginia.
  • Has displayed outstanding promise for continuing service and leadership.
  • Is between the ages of 25 and 40 years old.


  • ROWA winners will receive an award honoring her  community involvement and the opportunity to attend a mutually agreed-upon leadership development experience of her choice at a value of up to $2,500 to positively impact her future leadership capabilities.
  • The award is presented annually with the winner announced during the Women’s Leadership Forum Breakfast held on October 9, 2020.

Nominations are due October 31, 2020 for consideration for the 2021 Rising Outstanding Woman Award. Questions? Email ngooray@ywcarichmond.org.

2020 ROWA Nomination Form




Congratulations to our 2019 ROWA recipient, Alexandra Hicks!

Alexandra Hicks is the Founder of Nerd Squad, a literacy program for elementary students designed to instill the “love for reading.” Her idea blossomed into reality after her September 2016 presentation for Feast RVA, a local philanthropic organization from which Nerd Squad won a grant that helped develop a literacy program at Blackwell Community Center’s Parks & Rec after-school program.

Through Nerd Squad, Alex’s mission is to bring out the book-based super powers in children. She wants children to know that they have super powers that get stronger when they exercise the power of their brilliant young minds. Alex plans to expand the program to other Parks and Rec centers in the Richmond area and beyond.

Locally, Alex has been sharing Nerd Squad throughout her community through presentations organizations & events such as Partners in Parenting’s Encouraging Literacy in Your Child seminar, Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia (BHMVA), Nerd Squad Power Readers Portrait Wall, various summer camps, among many others. She has been featured in Richmond Magazine’s Arthur Ashe Commemorative Issue and Sunday Story and in a news segment on NBC 12 WWBT with Carla Redditte.

After pursuing a degree in accounting and working in the corporate arena, Alex turned her focus to her true passion, literacy. Answering the call to “give her all” to help fill a need in her community, she planted the seed of Nerd Squad and it has taken root.

Learn more about NERD SQUAD at www.neighborhoodnerdsquad.com.