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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane YWCA’s new CEO Hauck drawn to helping people through nonprofit work

Jeannette Hauck is the new CEO of Spokane YWCA.  (Nina Culver/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Jeanette Hauck took an unusual route to get to her current position as CEO of Spokane’s YWCA, including a detour into accounting.

Hauck grew up in Longmont, Colorado, and attended the University of Denver. At one time she thought of studying horticulture and becoming a florist, but her father advised her to study something more practical. She enjoyed puzzles and liked math, so she picked accounting.

She worked with a large accounting firm in Denver, Washington, D.C., and Phoenix. While in Phoenix she switched gears and worked as a CFO for an aerial photography company that took pictures of properties that were used by banks and real estate agents. When Google Earth put the company out of business, she moved to San Antonio to work as the CFO for a nonprofit arm of the Cancer Therapy and Research Center.

“That was my big first jump into nonprofit work,” she said. “That’s where I had the opportunity to help patients who could not pay their health care bills.”

Hauck found herself drawn to work that was helping people, even if she wasn’t on the front lines delivering that help herself. She realized that she could have a positive impact even as a financial executive. “I like working for nonprofits,” she said.

After six years there, she and her husband moved to Omaha, Nebraska. She stayed home with her two sons for several years, including for a few years after the family moved to Spokane in 2000. Hauck remembers moving day clearly.

“We arrived the day before Bloomsday,” she said. “We came down and watched it. It’s one of our favorite events as a family.”

Hauck has finished every Bloomsday since, even during the pandemic years.

When she went back to work, she was the controller for the accounting firm LeMaster Daniels, which is now Clifton Larson Allen. In December 2001, she took the job of CFO at the YWCA.

“I wanted to get back to that feeling where, even in the background, we were making a difference in the community,” she said. “What the YWCA does in the community, it offers that safe place for individuals who are surviving domestic violence.”

In addition to operating shelters for women escaping domestic violence, the YWCA offers programs for housing, legal help, mental health and employment. They operate a clothing bank to provide necessities for women fleeing domestic violence as well as professional attire for job interviews and employment.

The YWCA also runs five Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program preschool classrooms for low-income families. “We do a lot of things,” Hauck said.

Her love of puzzles came to the forefront when she began working as the CFO at the organization. Hauck said it was like a puzzle when she worked to piece together different funding to pay for each program. When former YWCA CEO Regina Malveaux became the director of the Washington State Women’s Commission, the board of directors asked Hauck to step in as the acting CEO beginning in September.

“Initially my thought was, ‘Oh my goodness,’ ” she said.

Hauck said she wasn’t sure about moving from behind the scenes work to becoming the public face of the YWCA, but accepted the board’s offer. The board then asked her to make the change permanent in January.

“You get really comfortable in your area of expertise,” Hauck said. “That transition has a lot more moving pieces. As a leader, what’s different for me is now I rely on the directors to be the experts.”

She’s still well-versed in the financial aspects of the organization, but Hauck said she depends on her staff to know the intricate details of the programs they run.

“I understand the financial piece right away,” she said. “That piece comes very easily to me. I rely on the directors to understand the details of the client delivery systems.”

While it wasn’t unusual for Hauck to spend days in her office running numbers as CFO, the job of CEO is much more relational, she said.

“That’s what I do,” she said. “Instead of running lots of numbers, I listen.”

But Hauck said there’s still work to be done. “There are limits to our resources,” she said. “I don’t have enough attorneys to service all those who need representation. I don’t always have enough qualified staff to fill positions. Those two pieces are areas of frustration that I can’t necessarily control.”

Hauck said she is learning to love her new job and the different challenges it brings. She enjoys hearing stories about how women have been helped by the YWCA.

“I like my expanded responsibilities and being part of this community that is working to eliminate racism and empower women,” she said. “That’s more than just our organization.”