Most of us know Shakespeare’s phrase about greatness: “Some are born great; some achieve greatness; and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Many of us also are lucky enough to know someone who consistently demonstrates greatness. For the staff, children, and families of Chicago Youth Centers, Dixie Adams is one of these leaders. For the past two years, Dixie served as CYC’s Board Chair, committing her time and talent to ensure that CYC remained fiscally responsible, organizationally sound, and deeply committed to its strategic goals. Her term ended on November 17, 2016. From 2014-2016, she led the Board of Directors, helping to bring CYC’s strategy to life in the Centers.
Dixie is proud that the Board and staff have been able to turn their strategy into a reality, particularly in the creation of three Maker Labs and the development of the STEAM Program, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. “We created something truly unique in Chicago. Other organizations are recognizing what we’re doing and have asked: ‘How did we get this done?’ The work the team has done is exceptional,” Dixie said.
As a General Manager at IBM, Dixie understands the importance of STEAM education and the need to bridge the employable skills gap facing both our children and our nation’s employers. During her tenure as Board Chair, she nurtured valuable partnerships that enable CYC to be a leader in youth development. Thanks to Dixie’s vision and guidance, CYC now has an active partnership with the Museum of Science and Industry and new Board members from Google and Facebook. Dixie also forged a partnership with the Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy. Thanks to her advocacy and the support of IBM, CYC employed two bright and enthusiastic interns from the STEM Academy in our Bronzeville Maker Lab this past summer. (Read more about CYC’s Partnership with the Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy.)
Dixie’s goal is to create greater visibility for CYC in the city of Chicago. She understands the transformative results children and families experience by attending CYC, and she believes that the organization will soon be considered the premier youth services expert in Chicago. Dixie said, “My vision is that we are an integrated component of the communities we serve, keeping kids engaged and challenged, empowering them to grasp what’s possible…I want us to continue to have a deeper impact and greater reach.”
Not only was Dixie a strong presence in the Board room and an advocate for STEAM education, but she also was a frequent visitor to CYC Centers, even bringing other members of her family on tours. After one memorable visit to CYC’s Elliott Donnelley Youth Center in Bronzeville, Dixie commented that in the eyes of children, CYC offers the same experiences as youth centers in more affluent communities. She realized that any child would want to attend CYC, including her daughter. “CYC creates equality of access, making everything possible. It is a place of excitement,” Dixie said.
She also commended CYC staff, saying, “It is unbelievable how much people care. For these people, you can see that it’s a passion, not just a job. That’s special.”
As Dixie looks back on her time as CYC Board Chair, she is grateful for her experience and looks forward to the work ahead. “We are called upon to make Chicago better. I want our kids to be able to stand up and say: ‘This place made a great difference in my life,’ ” she said.
Introducing the 2016-2018 Board Chair, Daniel Feeney
At the November 17 CYC Board meeting, Dixie’s term as Board Chair ended and Daniel Feeney’s began. A partner at the Chicago law firm, Miller, Shakman & Beem, Daniel Feeney brings his tenacity, thought leadership, and energy as an attorney to the CYC Board room, invigorating staff and fellow Board members while keeping them keenly focused on organizational goals and outcomes. Dan has been involved with CYC for more than 12 years and has served in a variety of capacities, first as a member of the Metro Board (today known as the Auxiliary Board), then as a Board member, Board Development Chair, and most recently, Fundraising Chair of the Board of Directors.
Dan is eager to begin his new role as Board Chair and is grateful to have benefited from Dixie Adams’ example. He said, “Dixie Adams has been an extraordinary leader for CYC during the past two years. I admire her strategic vision and boundless optimism, and I have seen the organization thrive under her leadership. I look forward to assuming the role of Board Chair and working with Dixie and the entire Board of Directors to continue to lead the organization forward.”