The Influentials: Barbara J. Danforth

President and CEO, YWCA

Barbara Danforth thinks like an entrepreneur, bleeds like a social worker and isn’t afraid to stir the pot. A couple years ago, she bucked a 140-year trend at the YWCA and invited three men to join the board. “If we are going to survive not just for today, we have to do business differently,” she says. With a fresh strategic plan in hand, Danforth has made tough decisions. The YWCA decided that touching the lives of 25 women is better than blasting a message to 2,500. Programs, therefore, are now aimed at more intimate audiences. One example is Project Redirection, which teaches teen parents everything from self-esteem to infant CPR. “At the end of the day, we have to ask, ‘Are we altering the trajectory of these teens’ lives?’ ” says Danforth.

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