Yolanda Knight is the Steans Family Foundation’s Managing Director of North Lawndale Programs. In her role, she supports the Foundation’s North Lawndale staff and partners to deliver programs and processes that positively impact those who live, work and attend school in the North Lawndale community. Yolanda’s core work includes strengthening the outcomes and capacity of community-based organizations and collaboratives through the strategic use of data, frequent communication, and most importantly, through strong and enduring relationships.
Prior to SFF, Yolanda served as Director of Development and Evaluation at the University of Chicago’s Network for College Success (NCS). During her time as Director, she helped NCS grow from an initial budget of $300k to more than $1.5M. Yolanda’s professional experience also includes her position as Program Officer at the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, where she advised its Board on strategic priorities and investments for a $2M education portfolio, and supported the Foundation’s High School Initiative—a five-year, $9M effort to improve learning environments in five Chicago public high schools. As Associate Director of the Chicago Public Schools original Department of Postsecondary Education (now the Office of College and Career Success), Yolanda developed the framework and model to increase college enrollment and completion rates in the nation’s third largest school district. She began her career as a middle and high school history teacher in the Garfield Park neighborhood.
Yolanda graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in Psychology and African American Studies. She earned an M.Ed. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Yolanda enjoys practicing yoga, studying neuroscience for fun, listening to ALL kinds of music – from Classical to Afro beat, and cooking healthy meals. More than anything, Yolanda cherishes spending time doing all of the above and more with her amazing daughters.