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August 20, 2020

Linda Cavaioli to retire as YWCA leader in June

Linda Cavaioli, executive director of the YWCA Central Massachusetts

Linda Cavaioli, the longtime YWCA Central Massachusetts executive director, will retire at the end of June, she confirmed Thursday morning.

By the time she leaves the organization, she will be just shy of completing 29 full years as executive director, having first assumed her position in Sept. 1992, she said.

“I could go on forever because I still am excited in getting up and having this as my world, but my husband’s health is declining and COVID certainly put a different kind of overlay on being able to work out in the community and come home,” Cavaioli said.

At the same time, she said, responding to the coronavirus pandemic has helped shed light on larger, systemic issues at the heart of the work the YWCA does.

“What’s been really exciting but unnerving is that the YWCA has not only had the vision to respond to the COVID crisis with our important services, but it’s put us smack in the middle of what I call the real pandemic, which is racism,” Cavaioli said. “We’ve been working on it for many years, but it kind of took a tragedy like this to show the rest of the world that communities of color and ... low-wage frontline workers are the ones who are most at risk and least accessible to our healthcare system.”

Cavaioli said the board requested she give a year’s notice when she decided to make retirement plans, in part because the YWCA is in the middle of a $24-million renovation and capital campaign project, which she said is part and parcel to the organization carrying its mission forward. 

“They wanted to be prepared after my long tenure to get ready to support a new leader,” Cavaioli said.

President of the YWCA’s board of directors, Roberta Brien, announced Cavaioli’s impending departure in a community announcement. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette first reported the news of Cavaioli's retirement.

“During her long and successful tenure, she built the organization to what it is today and led it through key milestones which are reflected in our programs, in the important role the organization plays in the community, and in the highly successful launch of the capital campaign to support the complete and long-overdue renovation of the YWCA Worcester facility,” Brien said. 

A search committee for Cavaioli’s replacement has already been appointed. Cavaioli said she will provide staff support during the search, but that selecting her successor will ultimately be up to the YWCA.

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