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Leadership in Chicago

Our executive director, staff, alums, board members and partners are committed to building a stronger Chicago by supporting and developing our AmeriCorps members as leaders in their schools and community.

Meet Valencia Koker

Senior Vice President and Executive Director of City Year Chicago

City Year Chicago Executive Director Valencia KokerValencia Koker, senior vice president and executive director for City Year Chicago, takes pride in her role as a transformational leader with over a decade in the field of education. In her former role as the Managing Director of Impact for City Year Chicago, she oversaw the Impact department, which constitutes responsibility for 75% of the local Chicago site, representing the largest site of AmeriCorps members across the national organization.

Her career in education began as a teacher in Wisconsin. After being accepted in the nationally recognized New Leaders principal preparation program, she relocated to Chicago and served as a resident principal at one of the city’s selective enrollment high schools in West Englewood. Immediately following, at the age of 27, she was selected as the founding principal to lead the turnaround efforts for McNair School of Excellence in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side. She served as the principal for three years. During her tenure, McNair’s school rating improved dramatically and, on all metrics, including attendance, student growth and student attainment in reading and math (as determined by Chicago Public Schools). After almost two decades of being categorized as one of the lowest performing schools in the district, McNair achieved level 1+ and level 1 status under her leadership. Koker has also served in the capacity of an executive director of a charter school and principal of Dewey School of Excellence on the South Side. She takes pride in leadership development and that of others with experience as a New Principal mentor, Chicago Leadership Collaborative Mentor Resident Principal, Network Lead Principal, a participant in the 2019-2020 Chicago Principals Fellowship offered in partnership by The Fund and Northwestern Kellogg School of Business. Most recently, she participated as a fellow in the Class of 2023 Chicago Urban League IMPACT Fellowship.

Alongside her career in education, she is the Board Chair of GODDESS Mentoring, a longtime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and proud veteran, serving in the United States Air Force Air National Guard for nine years as a recipient of the Air Force Achievement Medal. Above all else, she is the doting mother to her son, Carter, and will always acknowledge it as her greatest accomplishment.

More leaders in Chicago

Our board brings to City Year Chicago their expertise and commitment to local communities and schools.

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Our alumni board is dedicated to civic leadership and advancing City Year Chicago's work in our community.

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Our associate board is committed to supporting and promoting our AmeriCorps members and organizational goals.

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City Year depends on committed public and private sector partners in Chicago to support our work.

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