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New CEO of Local Youth Development Organization Aims to Deepen District Partnerships

Published: April 16, 2018 Syd Stone, City Editor, The Daily Northwestern

As the new CEO of local nonprofit Youth & Opportunity United, Maggie Blinn DiNovi said she hopes to deepen partnerships between her organization and local school districts as well as better prepare high schoolers for life after school.

DiNovi assumed the new position on March 26. Although she’s fairly new to the job, she said she “very firmly” believes in Y.O.U.’s mission of closing the opportunity gap among students.

According to its website, Y.O.U. provides academic, social and emotional support to 1,600 children and their families in Evanston and Skokie.

“It’s a fantastic team,” DiNovi said. “Everybody who works here (comes) from very diverse backgrounds and are brought together with a very clear mission for the students that we serve.”

Y.O.U. advancement and communications manager Katie Wade said DiNovi joins the organization after working with Chicago Public Schools. She said DiNovi is prepared for her new role due to her experience as the deputy chief officer at CPS and at the Chicago Public Education Fund.

Susan Brenner, president of Y.O.U.’s board of directors, said in a news release that DiNovi brings “extensive” experience in education and strategic planning to the organization.

“I am confident her leadership experience and longstanding dedication to improving the lives of youth will strengthen Y.O.U.’s impact and manage the organization through a period of change and innovation,” Brenner said.

DiNovi served as the executive director of New Leaders for seven years where she recruited, trained and supported a pipeline of leaders for CPS.

“I believe very firmly that you do not have any great schools without great leaders,” she said. “I am very much committed to ensuring all kids have access to great education, and I believe education is the great equalizer.”

As for her work at Y.O.U., DiNovi said she hopes the organization will allow her to work more directly with students. She said working in a city like Evanston gives her the opportunity to work with students from elementary school through high school.

“That whole continuum, that opportunity for impact on really expanding opportunities for students and changing the life trajectory for generations of kids,” she said. “That is really inspiring for me.”

She said she hopes to deepen Y.O.U.’s partnerships with Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School/District 202. Strong district partnerships are “critical” for effective programming, she said.

DiNovi said in addition to Y.O.U.’s central mission of closing the opportunity gap, she hopes to ensure the organization also prepares students for life after school. She said the organization has the potential to increase programming targeted toward high school students.

In doing so, she said, she hopes to continue partnering with Northwestern and Evanston nonprofits.