Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Robinson

DePaul alumna Nicole Robinson, CEO, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
By Eric Butterman

Nicole Robinson (BUS ’92, MBA ’00), CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, has a deep respect for the enduring impact of the 145-year-old organization she’s led since January 2022.

“The YWCA has been at the forefront of addressing our city’s and region’s most challenging problems including poverty, inadequate child care, racial inequity, violence and mental health challenges,” says Robinson, who previously worked in executive roles at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

“We do this by building community resilience to heal from trauma, unleashing youth and family potential, and creating the economic equity needed for communities to thrive,” she says.

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago offers a range of services such as early childhood and youth programs, employment training and placement in high-demand careers, entrepreneurship programs, and programs that support mental and physical well-being. The programs reach deep into the community, promoting change and growth.

For example, the organization was selected as the lead community outreach partner for the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot, the city of Chicago’s cash-assistance program that provides $500 a month for a year to selected low-income households.

“Transitioning to DePaul’s great business school made such a difference for me. It sparked my curiosity on how to do well while doing well for others.”

Home ownership is a leading way to build wealth, Robinson says, so the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago works with the Illinois Small Business Development Centers to offer home-ownership counseling and entrepreneurship education on topics such as how to start a child care business.

“Embedded in our programs and advocacy efforts is the fundamental belief that racial equity, belonging and gender equity is essential to ensuring that women and their families have the resources they need to reach their full potential,” she says.

Robinson’s education at DePaul, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and an MBA with a focus on entrepreneurship, bolstered her ability to serve communities, she says.

“I started out in liberal arts, but it was transitioning to DePaul’s great business school that made such a difference for me. It sparked my curiosity on how to do well while doing well for others,” she says.

“I formed strong relationships and tremendous bonds at DePaul, which made me feel included and feel that DePaul was a place where I belonged,” Robinson says. “DePaul offers community. I want YWCA members with many different goals to have that feeling of community that I’ve felt.”

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