Home > Publications > Danielle Moss Lee: Don’t Give Difficult Employees a Pass

Photo credit: Earl Wilson/NY Times

This interview with Danielle Moss Lee, chief executive of the Y.W.C.A. of the City of New York, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.

Q. Tell me about your early years.

A. I grew up in Manhattan, on the Upper West Side, when it was a really diverse neighborhood, a version of New York that I love and often miss. I had a truly integrated childhood in a way that I’m not sure reflects the neighborhood in its current iteration.

I was part of some really great community-based organizations, and that’s where people first said to me that I could be a leader. I was a good student, but I didn’t get that same level of affirmation in school.

And I had some amazing opportunities, including from my church and the Y.M.C.A., ironically. I came in one day and the director said, “Do you want to go to Japan?” A number of Y’s were working with a philanthropist to send some young people abroad. So I ended up spending five weeks in Tokyo as a 15-year-old. There were some really life-changing experiences that just popped up because someone saw something in me.

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