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Tyra | The Community Organizer
A writer, community organizer and program evaluator, Tyra Owens, is dedicated to building and strengthening community. She has worked in youth development—both in schools and in the out-of-school-time arena—for over than ten years. Her career began with the Chicago Housing Authority’s non-profit arm, Windows of Opportunity as a teacher and coordinator for their summer and afterschool programs.
She worked for Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) as the Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) organizer where she developed groups of youth leaders in Bronzeville who wrote and advocated for their own legislation such as the Campaign for Common Sense Discipline, a bill that would be successfully passed by the Illinois legislature in 2015.
Her passion for helping youth and emerging adults develop as professionals led her to the housing development corporation, The Community Builders where she increased job readiness by 80% and job placement by 30% in their workforce development program at TCB’s Oakley Square site.
At Gary Comer Youth Center, Tyra served as the Community Resource Manager to design innovative experiences that bridge cultural gaps between communities. Past events have included the “Bridging the Gap” Series that created safe spaces for intergenerational conversations around the Black family dynamic, Black youth in conversation with the 003rd District Chicago Police Department officers. As the convener of the GCYC Coalition for Safe & Healthy Teens, Tyra also curated “The Youth Practitioner’s Lunch & Learn” to serve as an avenue for the professional development of youth workers across the city.
Due to the pandemic, her most recent in-person large-scale convening, a partnership with family planning agency, The Cradle, took place in December 2019. The “Developing Empowered Black Boys” panel discussion worked to help youth development professionals understand how Black males experience various forms of racism during adolescence. Guest panelists were Black male founders and leaders of nonprofit organizations such as CHAMPS Male Mentoring program, Greater Chatham Initiative, and Safe & Sound Connect.
Tyra looked forward to continuing work that celebrated youth, emerging adults and the practitioners who serve them in her previous role as the Assistant Director of Student Success at North Park University. In addition to teaching, during her time there, she accomplished 439 in-person touch points with students over the course of 154 business days. She built sustainable relationships between educators and community partners while reminding students of the power of their voice and participation in campus activities.
Her newest role is community-centered as well. As the new Director of Community Planing and Economic Deveolpment for Chicago’s 20th Ward Alderwoman, Jeanette B. Taylor, Tyra is excited to lead a community-led, resident-driven development process.
To share speaking opportunities, or for more information about Tyra in general, please email: email@example.com.