WOMEN OF ACHIEVEMENT: Honoring former YWCA Executive Director Linda Joyce

After serving the YWCA of Kitsap County for 20 years as its Executive Director, Linda Joyce stepped down a year ago this month. She arrived at the 2014 YWCA Women of Achievement luncheon in a wheelchair, straight from the hospital, telling the crowd that she wasn’t going to miss the event.

Former YWCA of Kitsap Executive Director Linda Joyce.

After serving the YWCA of Kitsap County for 20 years as its Executive Director, Linda Joyce stepped down a year ago this month.

She arrived at the 2014 YWCA Women of Achievement luncheon in a wheelchair, straight from the hospital, telling the crowd that she wasn’t going to miss the event.

And today, we know she’s with us in spirit.

It was that day in April 2014 that Linda announced her retirement. It came as a surprise to everyone, even her staff, who didn’t know beforehand that she planned to retire.

Over two decades, Joyce, an Indiana native, took the YWCA of Kitsap County from a small office in a community center that served about 2,500 people a year to a well-known county-wide nonprofit helping more than 6,000.

Her years as the voice of the YWCA of Kitsap County brought great growth to the organization and made it one that just about everybody recognized. Joyce’s ability to bring people along for the ride — to support the YWCA with time, talent and money — was one of her many talents.

As Executive Director, Joyce led community conversations about domestic violence, speaking from her experience as a survivor herself.

She wasn’t afraid to tell her story in hopes that other survivors could be helped.

She believed that the community could solve problems by coming together, and she was the community’s agent of change when it came to domestic violence.

“Linda leaves with us a legacy that will forever be in our hearts,” said Harriette Bryant, who worked alongside Joyce for 10 years while she was president of the YWCA Board of Directors.

“Her work at the YWCA made her a champion of change.”

About a year ago, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, recognized Joyce on the floor of the House, calling her an “unyielding advocate for social justice.”

“Ms. Joyce’s mission to ensure the welfare and dignity of domestic violence survivors as well as the empowerment of women has shaped our community for the better,” Kilmer said.

And those who knew her well also remember her for her smile and her laugh.

“That laugh,” said Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido. “We’ll always hear her laugh in our hearts and minds.”

Linda’s legacy will live on in the new era of the YWCA of Kitsap County.

“It’s through our continued actions to serve our community that we honor her life, her spirit and her love,” said current YWCA Executive Director Denise Frey.

Linda is being honored at this year’s Women of Achievement with the announcement of the creation of the Linda Joyce Legacy Endowment Fund.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Sound Publishing’s Special Section, “Women of Achievement.”

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