CEO Karen Singer to retire from YWCA Evanston/North Shore

After serving nearly two decades, Karen Singer has announced that she will be retiring from the YWCA Evanston/North Shore (YWCA E/NS). She will continue to serve as CEO until her successor is hired. A transition committee made up of board members and advisors has been formed to oversee the search for a new CEO. They anticipate a selection by the end of 2022.

“I am honored and grateful to have had the privilege of leading the mission-driven work of the YWCA,” Singer said. “Eliminating racism and empowering women is our mission. Each is essential to creating a world where all women and girls, especially women and girls of color, have the opportunity to thrive and achieve their vision for their lives. We are at this point in our long history of working to end gender-based violence and racism through the tireless dedication of our talented staff, our strategic Board of Directors, our community of partners, supporters and our ambassadors. By working together, we have built a strong team and a stable foundation for YW to take the next step in creating more just and equitable communities for all.

“Karen has been an outstanding leader. Her entrepreneurial spirit, her focus on equity and women’s empowerment, and her ability to engage with potential donors and community leaders have served us incredibly well. It has positioned us for a steep growth trajectory under new leadership,” said YWCA E/NS Board Member Jennifer Steans.

After 18 years of phenomenal growth, coupled with steering the organization through Covid-19 and the renovation and expansion of the campus in 2021, Singer has paved the way for the start of a new chapter centered on deepening the impact of YWCA E/NS. The organization has achieved many successes under Singer’s leadership since 2005, including:

  • A sevenfold increase in size, which means new and expanded program impact areas, serving a total of over 200% more participants from our communities.
  • Launched the Equity Institute, positioning the organization as a resource and leader in working to achieve equity.
  • The development and growth of two mission-critical community events: the Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate and the YWomen Leadership Awards.
  • The expansion of deep-rooted partnerships and increased community presence in the YWCA’s footprint of 16 Northeast Cook County communities.
  • Increased funding for aquatic scholarships and community partnerships to support equitable access for all young people to learn the life-saving skill of swimming.
  • Acquired two social enterprises: resale boutique YWCA Shop for Good and consignment store Crowded Closet, with 100% of profits supporting programs for women and children.
  • A sustainable and diversified source of financing, with an increase of more than 1,000% in private financing.
  • MacKenzie Scott’s unlimited gift of $9 million in November 2020, which increases the sustainability of the organization for generations to come.
  • Completed an $18.5 million capital campaign to kick off the expansion of the YWCA’s new campus, doubling its footprint and programmatic impact.

“We are grateful to Karen for continuing to serve the YWCA Evanston/North Shore until our next leader is in place. Thanks to his leadership, we are a stronger and more resilient organization, perfectly ready to take the next step to deepen our impact. We will continue to do the hard work to drive systemic change and be an advocate for the movement to achieve gender and racial equity. Although it is bittersweet to say goodbye to Karen, we are excited to see what our next chapter will bring,” said Shabnum Sanghvi, YWCA E/NS Board Chair.

The organization’s Transition Committee selected Koya Partners, an executive search firm that focuses exclusively on recruiting CEOs and senior executives for mission-driven roles, to support this effort. Over the next few weeks, Koya will develop the job description in partnership with the committee. If you would like to nominate a potential CEO candidate, please contact the Koya team directly at [email protected]

Submitted by YWCA Evanston/North Shore

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