United Church Funds board member takes leading ‘Stand Against Racism'

United Church Funds board member takes leading ‘Stand Against Racism'

Sylvia Ferrell-Jones is a UCC member on a mission, and that mission is the YWCA's "Stand Against Racism," an annual nationwide event held each April that addresses the root causes of racism and encourages conversation across diverse communities.

"One question we faced after the last presidential election was whether we were in a post-racism society," said Ferrell-Jones, president of the Boston YWCA and a member of the United Church Funds (UCF) board. "Did we still have issues with racism that we needed to address? Some people weren't aware that we still did."

Ferrell-Jones said that the recent high-profile shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin  "brings into stark reality the fact that racism in our nation is something we need to address and eliminate. Part of solving any issue is being aware that it exists."

For the third consecutive year, Ferrell-Jones is leading the Boston YWCA in its participation in Stand Against Racism. The Boston YWCA has signed on 127 organizations to participate in the event April 27.

"So far, we have the second-highest number of organizations registered, ranging from large corporations such as Liberty Mutual to law firms, small nonprofit groups, colleges and communities," said Ferrell-Jones, who joined YWCA Boston after 25 years in real estate investment management, nonprofit governance and executive leadership.

Acknowledging that "some of the connections here are those I made when I was in the corporate sector," Ferrell-Jones said her UCF involvement took root at General Synod 25 in Atlanta in 2005. That's when she met Don Hart, president of United Church Funds (then known as United Church Foundation).

With a pension-investment management background and experience as a former officer of the state pension fund for the state of Connecticut, Ferrell-Jones said she struck up a conversation with Hart.

"The following October, I was elected by the Executive Council to the UCF board," she said.

At the YWCA Boston, Ferrell-Jones has led a dramatic shift in the organization's focus, leading toward greater financial stability and enhanced programmatic outcomes. She also served as director of agency development for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, where she provided governance, management and fundraising consultations to a $26-million, not-for-profit affiliate portfolio.

Ferrell-Jones is a member of Pilgrim UCC in Lexington, Mass., and has served on the UCC Massachusetts Conference board and with the UCC's Metropolitan Boston Association. In addition to her work on the UCF board, she also is a member of the Andover Newton Theological School board.

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