Dorri McWhorter, the CEO of YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, is departing the organization after eight years to become CEO and President of YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago on Aug. 2. McWhorter will be the first woman and first Black woman to hold those titles for the organization.
“Dorri’s passion for mission driven work and her visionary leadership are evidenced by her numerous accomplishments and outstanding stewardship of the YWCA,” Sharon Fairly, the first Black woman to head the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s Board of Managers, said in a news release. “I look forward to partnering with Dorri and see a bright future based on the strategic innovation she will bring to the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.”
Founded in 1844 in London, the Young Men’s Christian Association began as a group for young men who had migrated to London in search of jobs. The organization provided fellowship, and more importantly, much needed housing for workers. Years later, the first YMCA chapter in the United States was started in Boston to offer a “home away from home” for marine merchants and sailors.
Today, YMCAs across the country offer health, wellness, educational and other community-based programs for men, women and children. McWhorter said she plans to continue to build on the success of the YMCA while looking for ways to address diversity and inclusion in a world dealing with pandemic and racial injustices.
“So many pieces of the world have changed … it’s a good time to bring in a new perspective embracing diversity in all of its forms, on the ethnic side as well as on the gender side,” McWhorter told Better.
Dorri McWhorter, who revitalized the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago as CEO, will take over at YMCA of Metro Chicago, which saw losses balloon to $18.2 million last year. https://t.co/8Lperp4NBW
— Crain’s Chicago Business (@CrainsChicago) May 18, 2021
In a news release, McWhorter pointed to the YMCA’s history in Chicago. The Wabash YMCA, for example, is where historian Carter Woodson stayed during visits to Chicago and where he started what is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in 1915. In 1926, Woodson launched “Negro History Week” which later became Black History Month.
“At this pivotal time in America and in Chicago, I look forward to the opportunity to help drive change, collaboration and true inclusion at the helm of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago,” McWhorter said in a news release. “Building upon its rich legacy, like having sowed the seeds of Black History Month, the YMCA of Metro Chicago will continue to lead and light the way in tackling issues standing in the way of joy, growth, opportunity and well-being for every family and child we serve.”
Having served at the helm of the YWCA for eight years, McWhorter pointed to the similarities between the two organizations — each organization initially started to help immigrant men or women — and that both have evolved through the years to offer programs to both men and women.
During her tenure at the YWCA, McWhorter has led the 145-year-old agency as it increased its annual operating budget from $10 million to $35 million. She is credited with bringing new services to the organization, including an online YWCA Chicago merchandise store, an online resource to help women maximize their physical, mental and financial health and wellness, and a mobile app that expands access to YWCA programming, according to a news release.
Prior to her work with non-profit organizations, McWhorter was a partner at the accounting firm of Crowe LLP. She also serves on various boards including Lifeway Foods, William Blaire Funds and Skyway Concession Company and is the immediate past Chairperson for the Illinois CPA Society.
She was previously named to Better’s list of the Chicago-area’s Top Black Women of Impact. She also was included in the inaugural list of “The Blue Network,” the Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky Innovation list of top 100 innovators and is a 2019 inductee in the Chicago Innovation Hall of Fame. She also has served on the board of Chicago Woman magazine and has spoken at events such as the Family Foundation seminar.
McWhorter replaces Richard Malone, who stepped down as CEO and President in November. Board member James Hayes has served as interim CEO since November.
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Alicia Fabbre is a Chicago-area freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Naperville Sun and Daily Southtown. She lives in the suburbs with her husband and their twin teenagers. When she’s not working, she enjoys bike riding or walking the trails at her local forest preserve, cheering on her student athletes and family game nights.