Dr. Lee is the CEO of YWCA, an organization that empowers and educates girls in New York City. Lee tells me she was initially inspired to pursue education after teaching in the Bronx. She only planned to stay for a year before finding how her candid yet honest students challenged her to challenge herself. “I grew from the experience,” she adds.

Coming from a background in education – four generations deep to be exact – Lee grew up understanding the importance of education and it’s generational impact. “From the very beginning my family taught me that responsibility for education and ensuring that the next generation knows who they are and where they come from was with the family and the community.”

That being said, she pursued a career in education and social justice, attending Swarthmore College receiving a B.A. in English Literature and History with a concentration in Black Studies. Lee also went on to receive M.A. and Ed.M. degrees from Teachers College Columbia University, where she also completed her Doctorate in Organization and Leadership with a focus on Education Administration. She has earned Certificates in Nonprofit Management from the business schools of Columbia, Harvard, and Stanford, as well as a Certificate in Fundraising Management from Indiana University, The Fundraising School.

Since then, Dr. Lee went on to oversee the YWCA of the City of New York where she’s created dynamic new programs to include a women speaker series for professional women, girls leadership programs, and STEM education for girls and young women. She has also launched the #YWWomanKind Campaign to amplify the YWCA  work to engage, uplift, and support women of all ages from all walks of life. Her work caught the eye of Mayor DeBlasio who appointed her to the city newly established Commission on Gender Equity earlier this year.

Dr. Lee hopes girls who participate in her programs develop the confidence and agency to work for change in the ways that matter the most to them. “I want my young people to outdo me,” admits Lee. “I have students working as news anchors, teaching abroad, researching on Fullbright Fellowships working as writers….they are taking risks that I never had the courage to take and it makes my soul smile.”