Bea Young Bio

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Bea Young, Founder

Bea’s passion for this work began in the early l960’s when she and her students in a Black Chicago high school revised the history curriculum to include the missing roles of African-Americans, primarily based on oral history gathered by her students interviewing family members.

After writing her master’s thesis in l964 on African-American history, she taught a graduate course at the Center for Inner Studies of Northeastern Illinois University entitled, “The Educational Implications of African-American History.” This led her to Mississippi in 1964 to help develop the curriculum for the Civil Rights’ Freedom Schools.

Other key milestones in her pioneering efforts include: creating the first Human Relations Education Services Department at the Illinois Commission on Human Relations, providing race relations workshops and curriculum throughout Illinois school districts.

She also was selected by the Board of Directors to become the Executive Director serving several Illinois governors. During her tenure, her staff also developed proactive approaches to racial change in Illinois through departments of Police-Community Relations, Community Relations and Housing.

In l974, she joined ACTION, the federal agency coordinating volunteer programs such as VISTA and the Peace Corps, serving as the Region V Training Manager. During this time she also facilitated her first corporate diversity program and as a result was invited to join Harbridge House, Inc., an international management consulting firm in 1976.

She established their Managing Diversity Practice, becoming one of the pioneers in the diversity industry. In 1979, she co-authored a corporate training program entitled, “Affirmative Action: The Next Phase” which became the industry standard for making the transition from Affirmative Action to Diversity and Inclusion.

Some of the early clients, who engaged in her organizational development approach to diversity, included Sears, Allstate, Motorola, S.C. Johnson, Merck, Corning Glass and The Northern Trust Bank. In l978, she became a partner in the firm and later a member of the Executive Committee, Senior V.P. and Managing Director of the Chicago Division of this Boston-based firm.

When Harbridge House joined Coopers & Lybrand in l993, Bea created her first entrepreneurial experience called Bea Young Associates and began to serve many profit and nonprofit organizations with diversity expertise. In 1995, Bea was invited to conduct diversity training for corporations in South Africa, the first of its kind since the end of Apartheid and helped to train members of the South African Black Managers Association to facilitate her organization development approach to diversity.

In l997, Bea formed a racially diverse partnership and created The Kaleidoscope Group LLC. During Bea’s 17 years with The Kaleidoscope Group, she and her partners were able to introduce their “Systemic Diversity Journey” to many organizations such as HP, Owens Corning, Advocate Health Care, Federal Reserve Bank, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, National Louis University, Moraine Valley Community College, the Illinois Association of School Boards and several Illinois school districts and communities.

Since forming her new firm in 2010, Bea has been consulting with educational and community organizations such as the Denver Public Schools, Elgin Community College, Oakton College, the Illinois Community College Trustee Association, CityYear Chicago and the municipality of Addison, IL. She is currently writing a book with her client and colleague, Dr. Carmen Ayala, the Superintendent of Berwyn North School District 98. Their book, entitled “Restoring the Soul in Education”, will explain the processes they utilized to diminish the achievement gaps in several Illinois school districts.

Bea has her BA and MAT degrees from the University of Chicago, where she also worked toward her Ph.D. She completed advanced studies in Organization and System Development at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland and has been a member of NTL since l978. Bea has received many awards over her career; in fact, in l968 she was featured in the Chicago Tribune for her work in race relations and most recently she has received the “Dare to be Great 2011” award from the Illinois Women in Educational Leadership.