LAVANDA BROWN, M.ED
Meet our executive director
LaVanda Brown joined YWCA Greater Charleston as executive director in February 2016. Her experience, leadership, and passion for serving others spans 30 years.
During her decades of on-the-ground experience in social services focused on underserved populations, she has led and advised multiple nonprofit and for-profit organizations, including Family Promise of Greater Savannah, Union Mission, Greenbriar Children’s Center, Gang Alternatives of Miami, Clarke Community Services in New Orleans, and others in the behavioral health, employment, and community services arenas.
A passionate advocate for causes including gender equality, diversity, and racial equity, and a strong ally of under-resourced teens and homeless populations, she envisions a world where differences are not just tolerated but celebrated. "The mission of YWCA is one that is very much in line with my personal mission of empowering women and celebrating differences," she says.
During her career, LaVanda has developed strategic plans resulting in more positive community interventions, created a homeless case management system, developed a life skills curriculum, designed an after-care program to help the homeless transition to independence, and instituted permanent supportive housing for homeless adults and families.
Her work has garnered awards including the 2021 Trident Literacy Founder's Award, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Best Practices Award for Transitional Housing and Case Management, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Magnolia Award for Excellence in Housing. She was also the 2018 recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Picture Award for outstanding community service, presented by Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and South Carolina Rep. Wendell Gilliard, and was named to Charleston Business magazine's 2020 Top 50 Most Influential list.
LaVanda currently serves on the advisory board for Community Solutions, a global organization providing community leaders across the world with an intensive, US-based professional development exchange program, the board of Enough Pie, an organization dedicated to improving Charleston’s upper peninsula, and the leadership council of the Social Justice Racial Equity Collaborative in Charleston. She has also served as the housing subcommittee chair for the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness and Affordable Housing.
She holds a dual bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology from Wesleyan College and a master's degree in counseling from Georgia Southern University.
ON A MISSION