Myrna Deckert

Myrna Deckert

Myrna Deckert, quite possibly El Paso’s best-known female leader and a leader among leaders in this community, died Friday.

Deckert is credited with building El Paso’s YWCA into the largest in the nation during her 32 years at its helm. She stepped down in 2002 and later led the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, which predictably became El Paso’s largest foundation and the largest on the U.S.-Mexico border under her leadership.

Deckert led the foundation from 2007 until 2015, during which time it contributed more than $145 million in grants and amassed assets of more than $220 million.

“As a friend and colleague of many years, she was admired by all the women who knew her,” said Janice Windle, the retired head of the El Paso Community Foundation and senior advisor to its president. “Her leadership brought really outstanding projects, for instance the day care centers and the Paso del Norte Group.”

“As a result of those tremendous projects, she has left a long-lasting wonderful legacy for all El Pasoans.”

The year before she left the health foundation to be with her daughter in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Deckert received the prestigious Fred Rogers Leadership Award in Philanthropy for children, youths and families.

Sylvia Acosta, the current YWCA CEO, said she had an immeasurable impact on the nonprofit and the El Paso community itself.

“She was a trailblazer who changed so many lives,” Acosta said in 2018 when she presented Deckert with the Shirley and Charles Leavell Award for her years of service.

Eileen Karlsruher, a well-known business leader and chair of the YMCA of El Paso board, described Deckert as a “powerhouse in the nonprofits.”

“She knew how to get people to participate and to give to the YWCA and later to the Paso del Norte Health Foundation,” Karlsruher said. “She was very pro-woman and never gave up on anybody.

“She was a very special woman who did a lot for El Paso.”

El Paso Inc. named Deckert El Pasoan of the Year in 2002.

Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at or call (915) 630-6622.


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