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YOUNG WOMEN’S FREEDOM CENTER ANNOUNCES NEW CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS, ABIGAIL RICHARDS AND JULIA ARROYO TO LEAD ORGANIZATION TO NEW ERA OF GROWTH AND RADICAL CHANGE
San Francisco, CA – The Young Women’s Freedom Center is proud to announce today that current Deputy Director Abigail Richards and Managing Director Julia Arroyo will become the organization’s Co-Executive Directors. Richards and Arroyo will assume their shared executive leadership roles on September 1, 2022. After a six-year tenure as Executive Director, Jessica Nowlan will transition to leading and developing the ecosystem of initiatives and efforts, including economic models and housing, needed to realize the Freedom Charter, a set of liberatory principles that aim to guide the movement to end mass incarceration and criminalization of children, families and communities.
“I am so excited and grateful that Abigail and Julia are stepping into their power and bringing their unique voices and lived experiences to these positions,” said Nowlan. “We deeply believe in a leaderful movement and work to make space and equip directly impacted leaders. With Abigail and Julia as co-executive directors, the Young Women’s Freedom Center will move into its next chapter of unparalleled impact in its mission to build the power and leadership of directly impacted young people to create positive change in their lives and communities.”
Julia Arroyo has been at the Young Women’s Freedom Center since 2014. She brings her lived experience as a young person involved with the underground street economy, foster care, and incarceration to her lifelong commitment and advocacy for the decriminalization of girls and trans youth. As Managing Director, Arroyo has a keen understanding of the organization’s model and has over a decade of experience supporting system-impacted women. As Co-Executive Director, Arroyo will focus on community outreach; managing the San Francisco and Oakland sites; and leading the research, communications and policy departments.
“I am deeply honored to co-lead the Young Women’s Freedom Center during this critical time for our movements and our communities,” said Julia Arroyo. “Working and advocating for young people whose stories mirror my own is a gift. In partnership with Abigail, I am committed to building on Jessica’s leadership to actualize our vision of investing deeply in system-impacted young people and ensuring they have opportunities to lead and grow at Young Women’s Freedom Center and in larger movements.”
As Deputy Director, Abigail Richards has been part of the Young Women’s Freedom Center’s executive leadership for the last two years. She has expanded the operations, human resources, and finance departments to operate more efficiently and effectively. As Co-Executive Director, Richards will oversee the operations and administrative departments and support the long term sustainability of the organization while charting a path for the Young Women’s Freedom Center to partner with the international community toward liberation.
“As a Gambian-American who has witnessed political corruption, poor governance and human rights violations, I am determined to make sustainable and transformational changes to address issues of systemic oppression,” said Richards. “I am excited to co-lead this important institution with Julia and continue our mission to build the power and leadership of directly impacted young people.”
Throughout its 30-year history, the Young Women’s Freedom Center has been at the forefront of supporting system-impacted young women and trans youth of all genders. The organization provides mentorship, training, employment and advocacy for youth who have grown up in poverty, experienced the juvenile and foster care systems, survived living and working on the streets, and have experienced significant violence to become leaders in the movement to end the criminalization and incarceration of young people.
Among Nowlan’s many accomplishments over the past six years is growing the Young Women’s Freedom Center budget to $8.5 million, increasing the organization’s statewide presence, creating the Freedom Research Institute, and instituting an emergency housing project at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nowlan also led the effort to draft and launch Freedom 2030, a 10-year strategy to end the incarceration and criminalization of women, young women, and trans people of all genders in California. She launched multiple entities to support the realization of the Freedom Charter, including the Sister Warriors Freedom Coalition, Sister Warriors Action Fund, and Reimagine Freedom Foundation.
“We are thrilled to have Abigail and Julia guide the organization into a new era of radical transformation,” said Julie Posadas-Guzman, President of the Board of Directors, Young Women’s Freedom Center. “They both have significantly contributed to the growth and impact of the Young Women’s Freedom Center, and will continue to lead the critical work of investing in young people, growing our advocacy and organizing, advocacy and research efforts. We are also tremendously grateful for Jessica’s committed and passionate leadership over the past six years, and look forward to seeing first hand her innovative work to build the people power, efforts, and resources necessary to make the Freedom Charter possible.”
About Young Women’s Freedom Center
For nearly 30 years, Young Women’s Freedom Center has provided support, mentorship, training, employment, and advocacy to young women and trans youth of all genders in California who have grown up in poverty, experienced the juvenile legal and foster care systems, have had to survive living and working on the streets, and who have experienced significant violence in their lives. Our mission is to build the power and leadership of directly impacted young people and inspire them to create positive change in their lives and communities.For more information, visit youngwomenfree.org.