Fanny Villarreal, the executive director of the Syracuse YWCA, says her mission is "to make sure every single individual has the opportunities they deserve.”

What You Need To Know

  • Fanny Villarreal came to the U.S. from Peru in 1993

  • Since then, she's run for office, worked for P.E.A.C.E. Incorporated, and now works for the YWCA

  • Villareal is using her role at the YWCA to fight racism and provide opportunities

If you ever stop by Villarreal’s office on Douglas Street and sit down to chat, she’ll tell you all about the YWCA’s programs that support their mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.

Since she came to the United States from Peru in 1993, Villarreal has run for office and worked for P.E.A.C.E. Incorporated, but for the past seven years, she’s served as the executive director of the YWCA.

Like many directors, Villarreal is constantly on the move and she is always moving in the direction of serving underrepresented populations through education.

"Education is very, very important to us, because that’s the only way that you’re going to be getting out of the circle of poverty,” Villarreal said. “So we try the best that we can to educate everybody, not necessarily [those] going to the school [and on] to university. There’s a lot of different ways that you can be educated and that’s the most important thing that we try to do," said Villarreal.

In addition to the housing, clothing, and educational programs provided by the YWCA, Villarreal has founded, volunteered, and managed projects to ensure the Hispanic community is represented.

She says her passion for teaching and serving communities came from her upbringing in Peru.

For Villarreal, the importance of learning doesn’t stop at the end of her day. After work, she takes off her teacher hat and puts on her student hat, studying at Syracuse University.

"It’s very important to learn, constantly learn, because if I don’t give myself updates on all the things that are happening, how can I teach anybody; how can I make decisions, options?" she said.