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Kendra and young student holding a book, smiling
January 21, 2020

826CHI Executive Director, Kendra Curry-Khanna, Moving On From 826CHI

Dear 826CHI Community,

2020 is a landmark year for 826CHI. As of a few weeks ago, we entered our 15th year as an organization.  In June, we wrap our first comprehensive strategic plan. Every day, our team brings 826CHI's mission to fruition with integrity and heart.

2020 also marks Executive Director Kendra Curry-Khanna’s tenth year at 826CHI, half of which she spent at the helm as Executive Director. It is with mixed feelings that I share Kendra has decided to move on from her role in April.


Under Kendra’s leadership, 826CHI has become a leader in the field of youth writing and publishing in Chicago and has more than doubled in size.  Over the last year, 826CHI served 3,600 students, published 150 books of student writing, supported 111 teachers in 115 Chicago Public Schools.  A champion of equity, Kendra shifted 826CHI’s programming from more broad-based enrichment to a laser focus on serving students with limited access to the arts.

In light of this news, Kendra shares a few thoughts on her tenure at 826CHI:

Throughout these pivotal years, I've framed my relationship with 826CHI around both my respect for the role its mission plays in our city and my temporary stewardship of its growth. Each of us is here for a limited time - charged with laying the tracks for 826CHI and moving it along that path. I'm extremely proud of what we have done to honor that commitment and continue to build on the 826 movement across Chicago and the nationwide 826 network.
Reflecting on this decade and the work we have done together at 826CHI, my deepest spirit of gratitude is for the bravery of 826CHI students and the words they write; their stories are the gospel of Chicago. I’m profoundly appreciative of every person that has put in time, dollars, and expertise to make space for youth voice and lift their words for the city to hear. I will remain in the front row as 826CHI's advocate, joining the community of volunteers who believe fiercely in this organization.

It has been the honor of my career to serve as Executive Director at 826CHI. Each staff, board member, student, parent, volunteer, donor, and educator has taught me something new. I feel deep gratitude for what each person has done to make my job achievable and a lot of fun. I will remain in awe of the myriad talents the 826CHI community puts into action serving this mission and each other.

While we are sad that Kendra's time leading 826CHI is concluding, the Board of Directors is optimistic in beginning the search for the next Executive Director of 826CHI. Supported by Kris Torkelson, an experienced HR consultant, we hope to identify a visionary leader committed to amplifying youth voices in the months to come. Please share this announcement with individuals you think might be the right fit for the job.

Please feel free to contact me or any of our Board of Directors with any questions at info@826chi.org. Thank you for all that you do to support 826CHI and Chicago students’ ability to tell their own stories.  

Sameer Gadkaree
Board Chair of 826CHI