Her title is CEO of YMCA Metro Chicago, but Dorri McWhorter believes she’s in the business of doing good. That’s been a through line for her whether she’s been in the not-for-profit world or the private sector.
It was all there in a childhood wish list she made in a letter to Santa Claus; #1 was “to let everyone in the world today be okay.” Her titles and industries have changed, but Dorri has held tight to her original mission in life.
Dorri became a not-for-profit executive in 2013, as CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. Hers was a business background as a partner at a leading accounting firm, not a nonprofit.
“Business is one of the most effective ways to do good,” she says. “If you don’t have any intersection with business, your project won’t move.”
Some of the lessons she took from the Wisconsin School of Business helped Dorri revitalize the YWCA and are what she incorporates into her role at YMCA Metro Chicago.
“The rigor of my education prepared me to take on anything,” she says. “I had that great educational foundation that allowed me to solve problems and connect the dots.”
Building partnerships with business leaders is key to success for an organization like hers, Dorri believes. A not-for-profit, she says, must be able to connect and communicate with business leaders and say, “This is why this matters.” She’s done that with civic leaders and CEOs, creating partnerships that benefit both sides—such as when the YWCA teamed with Uber to hire women drivers and provide discounted rides to women going to job interviews.
Santa Claus didn’t give Dorri her top wish, that everyone in the world would be okay. Instead she now has the gifts of vision, commitment, and collaboration that help make things a little bit better. And part of her vision is to bring others along for the ride.
“If you’re doing finance, doing accounting—there are lots of ways to do good that don’t involve working for a nonprofit,” she says. “I challenge people to look at where you are and see where you can do good.”
Learn about the Wisconsin Undergraduate Program.
Read about Dorri McWhorter’s career path in Update magazine.