Helen Archontou

MSW, LSW

Chief Executive Officer

YWCA Northern New Jersey

She/Her

As Chief Executive Officer since 2011, Helen Archontou has guided YWCA Northern New Jersey to fully live its intersectional mission to eliminate racism and empower women by advocating against the oppression that many groups and individuals endure. Helen has directly overseen the development of a continuum of programs to support women and families in every stage of life as well as to raise awareness and take action to end racial and social injustice, advance gender equity, and promote the rights of all women.

In 2019 she accomplished her vision of expanding the organization’s service area to Essex, Hudson, Morris, and Passaic in addition to Bergen County and changed its name to YWCA Northern New Jersey.

Learn More About Helen

Social Impact Work

Advocacy & Policy Reform

Awards & Accolades

Speaking

Education & Personal Life

Social Impact Work

In addition to her work at the YWCA Northern New Jersey, Helen volunteers with many other organizations including the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking, where she served as the Legislative Committee Co-Chairperson, Commerce, and Industry Association of New Jersey’s (CIANJ) Non-profit Steering Committee and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Committee. She is a board member of Women@NJPAC, and on the Childcare Research Collaborative at Rutgers University and Advisory Board of Let’s Talk about Women’s Wellness.

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. She also co-authored a New Jersey Law Journal article after producing an educational training video, with funding from the New Jersey State Bar Foundation – Creating Safe Workplaces in New Jersey Politics. This project builds awareness and provides resources to political campaign staff so they can stay safe and free from sexual harassment and intimidation in their workplace.

Helen testifies regularly on matters that are mission linked to the YW’s work. In May 2017, Helen traveled to Washington DC to present at a Capitol Hill policy briefing that focused on girls’ financial literacy. In 2023 she was invited to the White House to attend the “Communities in Action: Building a Better New Jersey” event.

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 (Human Resources) 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 has also been named among Insider’s NJ The Powerful Women of NJ Power List from 2019-2023. 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. In 2022 she was a finalist for the ATHENA Award through the Monmouth County Regional Chamber of Commerce. In 2023 she was named one of NJ BIZ Empowering Women Honorees.

Under Helen’s guidance in 2020 YWCANNJ received a $3 million dollar grant from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and recently received $2 million dollars in funding to support The Center for Racial Healing, New Jersey’s first clinical racial trauma program.

Speaking

Helen is a sought-after speaker in the following areas including equal pay, women’s leadership, women’s and girls’ empowerment, racial justice, and considered a media expert on topics such as supporting survivors of sexual violence, and sexual violence prevention. In January 2019, she was a keynote presenter along with then NJ Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal at the Social Justice Forum hosted by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration Committee of Ridgewood & Glen Rock, an invited keynote at the Laddey, Clark & Ryan LLP nonprofit conference, a special guest on Steve Adubato’s Lessons in Leadership podcast and a featured speaker on WPIX 11. She is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University for almost twenty years where she teaches in their School of Social Work.

View Helen’s Speaker Reel

Watch Helen’s Interview 0n NJ Now

Education & Personal Life

Helen holds a Master 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. Most recently she completed a Leading with Equity in the Nonprofit Sector Certificate from the Kellogg Center for Nonprofit Management at Northwestern University.

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 eleven-year-old twins and a three-year-old double doodle.