CEO Karen Singer to Retire from YWCA Evanston/North Shore

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CEO Karen Singer to Retire from YWCA Evanston/North Shore

Categories: Blog, News

After serving nearly two decades, Karen Singer has announced she will retire from YWCA Evanston/North Shore (YWCA E/NS). She will continue to serve as CEO until her successor is hired. A transition committee composed 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,” said Singer. “Eliminating racism and empowering women is our mission. Each is key to creating a world where all women and girls—especially women and girls of color—have the opportunity to thrive and achieve the vision they have for their lives. We are at this point in our long history of working to end gender-based violence and racism because of the tireless dedication of our talented staff, strategic board of directors, community of partners, supporters, and ambassadors. Working together, we have built a strong team and stable foundation for the YW to take that next step in creating more just and equitable communities for all.”

“Karen has been a remarkable leader. Her entrepreneurial spirit, laser focus on equity and empowering women, and ability to engage with potential donors and community leaders has served us incredibly well. She has positioned us for a steep growth trajectory under new leadership,” said Jennifer Steans, YWCA E/NS board member.

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

  • A seven-fold increase in size, signifying new and expanded program impact areas—serving a total of over 200% more participants from our communities.
  • Initiation of 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 YWomen Leadership Awards.
  • The expansion of deeply rooted partnerships and heightened community presence across YWCA’s northeastern Cook County 16-community footprint.
  • Increased Aquatics scholarship funding and community partnerships to foster equitable access for all youth to learn the lifesaving skill of swimming.
  • Acquisition of two social enterprises, the YWCA Shop for Good resale shop and Crowded Closet consignment shop, with 100% of profits supporting programs for women and children.
  • A sustainable and diversified funding stream, with a more than 1000% increase in private funding.
  • MacKenzie Scott’s unrestricted gift of $9 million in November 2020, increasing the organization’s sustainability for generations to come.
  • Completion of an $18.5M capital campaign to launch the new YWCA campus expansion, doubling its footprint and programmatic impact.

“We are grateful Karen will continue to serve the YWCA Evanston/North Shore until our next leader is in place. Thanks to her leadership, we are a stronger and more resilient organization, perfectly poised to take the next step in deepening our impact. We will continue to do the hard work to drive systemic change and be an advocate in the movement to achieve gender and racial equity. While it is bittersweet to say goodbye to Karen, we’re excited to see what our next chapter will bring ” said Shabnum Sanghvi, chair of the YWCA E/NS board of directors.

The organization’s transition committee has selected Koya Partners, an executive search firm with an exclusive focus on recruiting CEOs and senior leaders to mission-driven roles, to support this effort. Over the next several weeks, Koya will be developing the Position Description in partnership with the committee. If you would like to nominate a potential candidate for the CEO role, please contact the Koya team directly at