Experience Matters recognizes the importance that those with experience make to improve the community. Each month, we will highlight an individual that has gone above and beyond to make an impact through volunteering or working with a local nonprofit. You can read their stories through our special feature, “50 Over Fifty.” Today we honor Debra Esparza.

Debra Esparza

Volunteerism was something that was fostered in me from an early age. I learned about community service and volunteering as part of my Girl Scout activities as a girl. This early lesson to work to make the world a better place through my time and talents has continued throughout my life. My story with YWCA began over 20 years ago. Back then I was living in Los Angeles area as an out 30-something, Latina lesbian with a passion for making a difference and bringing innovation to small business entrepreneurship. I was challenged by a friend of mine to get off the sidelines and really become an advocate for the issues that I care about – the empowerment women, girls, and people of color – and invited me to join the board of YWCA USA. this experience inspired me to transition from small business consulting into the nonprofit sector – making the world safer and more just for women and girls. In my current role as the CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix, I feel that I have come full circle. I am compelled to get up and do the work of the YWCA until injustice is rooted out, until institutions are transformed, until the world sees women, girls, and people of color the way I do: Equal. Powerful. Unstoppable.