Chief Executive Officer

Location: Chicago, IL
Req Number: TC345
Posted: 7/29/2021
Category: Government/Not-For-Profit : Education
Job Type: Permanent


The YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is a leading association among a national network of more than 200 YWCAs each committed to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Since its inception in 1876, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago has provided women with the support and tools needed to transform their lives in meaningful, lifesustaining ways. Today, the organization is a prominent service provider in the areas of sexual violence support services, early childhood education and youth services and economic empowerment services that impact tens of thousands of women and families annually.

Located in the third-largest American metropolitan area with the third-highest percentage of women in the United States, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago serves as a national incubator for innovative programming, outreach, and engagement strategies. Contributing to the diverse and balanced economy, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is working at the individual and systems levels to create an inclusive marketplace where everyone thrives.

As an active member of many national, state, county, suburban, and city-level coalitions, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is a fierce advocate for community action and public policy that advances economic security, access to education, promotes equality and human rights, and improves safety and wellness on behalf of its constituents. Advocacy efforts are centered on equity and inclusion. The organization pays particular attention to the issues impacting people of color and continually strives to affect one of the most pressing issues of our time: the pursuit of racial and gender justice.

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s next leader will be passionately dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and building an inclusive world where everyone has equal opportunity to succeed. The CEO will demonstrate perseverance in navigating the changes of today’s world while thoughtfully implementing the organization’s strategic mission. They will foster innovation and inspire a culture dedicated to meeting the needs of diverse constituents and responding to the urgency of now.


YWCA Metropolitan Chicago was founded in 1876 by a group of 13 women seeking to respond to the influx of single women in the city during the boom years that followed the great Chicago fire. It is the oldest women-focused social service organization in Chicago.

Early on, the YWCA focused on the total needs of women, particularly in the areas of employment, health, and housing. YWCA women became leaders in social legislation that related to the needs of women and girls, such as child labor laws. Women learned trades at the YWCA, such as the "ever popular" millinery classes held at the YWCA Indiana Branch in the 1920s.

The YWCA first extended services to young black women in 1915. In contrast to the world around it, the organization racially integrated its services and board of directors in the 1940s. As a result, the YWCA was recognized by the Chicago Mayor's Commission on Human Relations with its "Award on Human Relations" in 1946.

In 1972, the YWCA Leader Luncheon pioneered the concept of public recognition for working women's achievements. The YWCA Leader Luncheon remains a Chicago tradition, drawing 1,300 representatives from the corporate, private, and social service sectors to celebrate the accomplishments of outstanding women. The Luncheon is considered one of Chicago’s most prestigious salutes to exceptional leaders.

Today, the YWCA has more than 300 employees working across 17 locations throughout the Chicagoland area, New York, and nationwide and serves more than 250,000 women, children, and families annually through its programs.

Areas of Impact

Regardless of race or economic status, the YWCA provides individuals and families with the support and tools they need to heal from trauma, obtain skills and credentials, access resources and opportunities, and build stronger communities. The organization is dedicated to promoting racial justice and personal empowerment across all programs and services.

To perform its work in accordance with the mission, the YWCA:

  • Leverages its expertise in the sexual violence, early childhood, racial justice, and economic empowerment fields to provide innovative, accessible services that answer the unmet needs of women and girls.
  • Convenes a community of collaborating partners to provide a more holistic, comprehensive continuum of support for women, girls, and their families.
  • Establishes reciprocal learning between clients, staff members and community.
  • Stands bravely at the forefront of activist movements to end poverty, promote equality, eliminate discrimination, and achieve justice. The YWCA is an ally in the fight to end all forms of oppression.
  • Honors the dignity of the organization’s work by valuing its staff and all its community members.
  • Creates safe places for healing and empowerment, where the fearful can become fearless.


YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is seeking a dynamic executive who is committed to social enterprise strategy and the organization’s mission. This individual will provide energy, vision, and management to drive and deepen YWCA’s impact in Chicago.

Reporting to a committed Board, the CEO will have overall accountability and responsibility for the philanthropic, operational, strategic, and financial affairs of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago.

This executive will build relationships internally with the employees and board and externally with key stakeholders. They will serve as the public face and spokesperson for the organization with community leaders, state, and county government and policymakers, and current and prospective donors. The new executive will manage operations and ensure effective planning, systems, processes, and accountability are in place to support a growing, diverse staff.

The CEO will be expected to strengthen and maintain the internal organizational structure and provide support to staff to achieve significant and measurable impact in fulfilling the mission of the organization.

Specific responsibilities include:

Vision & Mission Stewardship:

  • Provide the creative and strategic vision, direction, inspiration, and motivation necessary to ensure YWCA's success, continued growth and evolvement, and advancement toward the mission.
  • Incorporate the organization's vision into its programs and operations and ensure that this vision is embodied in the organization's work.
  • Effectively communicate a compelling, shared vision for staff, the Board, and pertinent external groups, ensuring that the mission and programs are accurately understood.
  • Refine, implement, and track progress against the strategic plan and vision for the organization.

Board Engagement:

  • Work in partnership with the Board, providing all key information, effectively engaging the Board members, keeping them informed of key issues and leveraging their expertise.
  • Serve as a liaison and foster effective relationships within the Board and between the Board and with key leadership, staff teams, and external audiences.
  • Engage in contemplative discourse with the Board around emerging trends, and exploration of investments in existing and new initiatives; cultivate an open, thoughtful, and collaborative partnership with the Board to execute against YWCA’s strategy and respond nimbly in an evolving external environment.

Organizational Leadership:

  • Financial Management: Review, modify and execute on a strategic plan that will result in a strong financial foundation and resiliency that enables the YWCA to continue providing existing and new programs to the communities it serves; develop new programs that complement the mission, generate additional revenue, and ensure the appropriate ROI; ensure short-term goals are achieved and the organization has an ambitious, but realistic plan for the future.
  • Programmatic Oversight: Assess the organization’s strengths and shortfalls and prioritize initiatives to maximize opportunities; ensure efficiency through infrastructure and process improvement that aligns with organizational growth; increase “brand awareness” for the YWCA and for the best-in-class programs and services YWCA offers; use existing resources internally and externally to heighten awareness of YWCA’s mission and work.
  • Innovation and Impact: Ensure standards and systems are in place that track the organization's effectiveness and impact, including more robust measurement and rigor around programmatic innovation and outcomes.
  • Build and Develop High-Performing Team: Recruit, lead, develop, and inspire a diverse and autonomous staff. Ensure that staff are supported, entrusted, and empowered, and that their unique contributions to the work are recognized, appreciated, and amplified. Foster a community of meaningful collaboration, intellectual curiosity, continuous learning, and open feedback.
  • Culture Carrier: Model and create an equity-focused environment centered on embracing diversity and authentic inclusion in all areas of work and as a prerequisite for positive social change. Actively support a culture of impeccable integrity, professionalism, commitment, and humility. Demonstrate the value of diversity, equity and inclusion in all actions and decisions, and instill those values across the organization.

External Affairs:

  • Actively identify and develop a viable plan for maintaining existing funding sources and acquiring new funding sources to create long-term financial independence and stability.
  • Serve as the key representative of the YWCA to external constituencies, strategically leveraging its public voice and maintaining its strong reputation.
  • Effectively communicate YWCA’s mission to stakeholders, including elected officials, donors, corporate CEOs, clients, volunteers, other non-profit leaders, and media.
  • Cultivate relationships with relevant community organizations and leaders in government, business, and other nonprofits, contributing to thought leadership around philanthropy, equity, and impact; work collaboratively with other private and/or public funders, grantees and community partners, lifting the voices of the community, and influencing measurable change.


The successful candidate will be a proven senior executive who is a champion of racial and gender justice and equality. This individual will bring equity focused values alignment, notable intellectual curiosity, a steady presence, and strategic and outcome-oriented leadership to advance the organization’s goals. Additional ideal qualifications include:

  • Leadership experience at the executive level of a large, complex, multi-site organization in the for-profit or non-profit sector.
  • Evidence of driving strategic initiatives and implementing strategic plans.
  • Strong business and financial acumen, including the development and analysis of metrics and measurements, which have translated into successful operating results. 
  • Proven experience attracting, retaining, and inspiring talented staff, and building high performance team.
  • Demonstrated results in fundraising and/or business development. The personal skills to be effective raising funds from individual and corporate donors.
  • Familiarity reporting to or serving on a non-profit and/or a corporate board.
  • Comfortable public speaker with experience presenting to large groups and the media.
  • Commitment to accountability and continuous improvement.
  • High level of emotional intelligence, empathy, and humility.
  • Impeccable character and integrity.


A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract the most qualified candidates.


Korn/Ferry shall provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified candidates, and will refer candidates without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected basis.