CWU News

Top Yakima Non-profit Official Appointed to CWU Governing Board

Governor Jay Inslee has appointed Erin Black to the Central Washington University Board of Trustees. Black, a CWU alumna, is the executive director of the YWCA of Yakima. Her six-year appointment, which must be confirmed by the state Senate, began June 8. It will continue through September 30, 2020.

Black says the appointment matches both her zeal for creating opportunity and expertise in organizational management.

“I have a true passion for education and how important it is,” Black notes. “The YWCA’s goal is to empower people. We focus on connecting people with education and opportunities for higher education, which really opens up a lot of doors for them. To be involved in a leadership role in higher education is very exciting.”

Black has served as the YWCA executive director since 2009, assuming the post in the midst of an organization capital campaign that was about $2 million short of goal when she arrived. Through her engagement with donors, Black solidified the financial foundation of the project. YWCA was able to pay off its mortgage, while simultaneously developing operational capital and reserves.

CWU president James L. Gaudino says Black will help represent a region of vital importance to the university.

“Yakima County is home to nearly 7,000 CWU alumni, including more than 20 percent of public school teachers in the Yakima School District alone. And each year about 1,000 Yakima-area students are earning degrees at Central,” adds Gaudino, noting that Yakima County also is a key business partner. “Our partnership with Yakima is critical to our success. Central does business with more than 125 entrepreneurs in Yakima and 25 percent of the labor for our big construction projects comes from the Yakima Valley.”

Black’s numerous and diverse community work has included as a board member of the Downtown Yakima Rotary, where she has helped chair the annual Rotary auction, which has raised more than $300,000 for education and community development. Since 2011 she has led “100 Jobs for 100 Kids,” a program designed to help high school students increase their work skills. She also works with the board of Safe Yakima Valley, which is dedicated to reducing crime and substance abuse, and the Homeless Network of Yakima, which she chaired for two years and where she currently continues to serve on the executive committee.

Since becoming the YWCA executive director, she has overseen a $200,000 increase in its budget while reliance on government funding has been reduced from 70 percent to 55 percent. A total of 470 businesses and 3,241 individuals now financially support the organization. Last year, the YWCA served more than 4,000 people impacted by domestic violence through a variety of programs.

Black says the knowledge and experience she’s gained from leading non-profit organizations, along with her expansive community work, will help inform her work on the Board of Trustees.

“My experience managing the YWCA is very similar to managing a business,” she said, acknowledging the tremendous budget and funding challenges the university now faces. “I think my experience mobilizing support can help engage more alumni and more donors to support higher education.”

Black said she supports the board’s efforts to make budgetary decisions using “a student-centered approach. “I want their educational experiences at Central to be life-changing and lasting in their professional careers, just as they have been for me,” she states.

Black graduated cum laude from CWU in anthropology, with a specialization in museology, which helped prepare her for her previous post as director of the Kittitas County Historical Museum.

She also holds a master’s degree from Seattle University in Executive Nonprofit Leadership and has completed more than 100 hours of training on domestic violence prevention and advising, along with training in advocacy-based counseling.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of Content Development, 509-963-1487,

June 23, 2015