Meet Our CEO
Guiding YWCA Northern New Jersey into the next century of living our mission.
Chief Executive Officer
YWCA Northern New Jersey
As Chief Executive Officer since July 2011, Helen Archontou is focused on guiding YWCA Northern New Jersey (formerly YWCA Bergen County) into its next century of living its mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and strengthen families and communities.
Helen brings 25 years of executive management experience in the not-for-profit sector, which included heading up Saint Clare’s Hospital’s Center for the Protection of Children serving Morris & Sussex Counties; founding and leading Wynona’s House, New Jersey’s first co-location child advocacy and treatment center of child abuse serving Essex County; and directing the Bergen County Literacy Volunteers of America chapter. She also served as Multidisciplinary Team Coordinator for the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Sex Crimes & Child Abuse Unit.
Under Helen’s leadership, the organization has expanded and deepened its mission-based programming by providing a continuum of programs and services to support women in every stage of life and facilitating an ongoing community conversation on racial justice. In 2019, the organization expanded its service area to additional northern NJ counties and changed its name to YWCA Northern New Jersey, now serving Essex, Hudson, Morris, and Passaic in addition to Bergen County.
Learn More About Helen
Social Impact Work
In 2018, Helen established the Time Is Now Action Coalition with Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to focus on shifting the culture of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. This diverse group of over 50 government, business, labor, education, legal, faith-based, and non-profit leaders is working closely with the community to formulate an action plan to end sexual harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence in our communities, ultimately making #MeToo obsolete.
Advocacy & Policy Reform
Advocacy and policy reform are always at the core of Helen’s focus. In June 2016, state leaders appointed Helen to serve on the New Jersey Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault. The 12-member Task Force undertook a year-long mission to review policies and craft recommendations about how campus sexual assaults should be reported, adjudicated, and most importantly, prevented. The Task Force report—Addressing Campus Sexual Violence: Creating Safer Higher Education Communities— was published in June 2017.
Helen is the Co-Chairperson of the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking’s Legislative Committee since May 2017 and a member of the Non-profit Steering Committee of CIANJ (Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey) since June 2019. In May 2017, Helen traveled to Washington, DC to present at a Capitol Hill policy briefing that focused on girls’ financial literacy. In January 2019, she was a keynote presenter along with NJ Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal at the Social Justice Forum hosted by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration Committee of Ridgewood and Glen Rock.
Awards & Accolades
Helen’s professionalism has drawn several high-level accolades. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Observance Committee of Bergen County awarded the organization the 2016 Lee Reid Award for the organization’s profoundly important work in promoting racial and social justice–a tribute to Helen’s leadership and diligence. That same year, the Bergen County Commission on the Status of Women honored Helen at their Women’s History Month event Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government. In 2017, Helen was honored with a Women Empowering Women award by Key HR Consulting. In 2019, Helen received the Crime Victims’ Rights Award from the NJ Office of the Attorney General and the Excellence Awards for Victims’ Justice. She was also named among The Powerful Women of New Jersey in Senator Loretta Weinberg’s 2019, 2020 & 2021. In 2020, Helen received the Top 50 Women in Business Award from NJ Biz and the Top 25 Women in New Jersey Award from Leading Women Entrepreneurs. In 2021, Helen was recognized by Commerce & Industry Association of NJ (CIANJ) as a Women Leader on the Rise.
Helen is sought after as a speaker as well as by the media for her expertise on topics such as supporting survivors of sexual violence, sexual violence prevention, racial justice, equal pay, women’s leadership, and women and girls empowerment. She is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University since 2005 in the School of Social Work.
Education & Personal Life
Helen holds a Masters of Social Work from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Montclair State University. She is also a graduate of the New Jersey Child Abuse Institute and completed the Finding Words NJ program, a child-friendly forensic interviewing protocol for professionals involved in investigating and prosecuting child abuse.
Helen’s love and passion for her life’s work in social justice is only topped by her love for her family. She is married to a professional musician in the Blues genre, and is the mother of twins, Julia and Steven.