Jeffery Beckham, Jr. Unanimously Selected as Chicago Scholars’ Chief Executive Officer

CHICAGO, April 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Leading youth development nonprofit Chicago Scholars is proud to announce Jeffery Beckham, Jr. as its new CEO. Following his leadership as Interim CEO since December 2020 and previous role as VP of Partnerships, Beckham will continue to empower Chicago’s academically ambitious first-generation and low-income students in his new role as the organization celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. After an executive search for the position conducted by Koya Partners, the Chicago Scholars Board of Directors unanimously selected Beckham for the role.

As a continuation of his work as Interim CEO, Beckham will be responsible for leading the development of the organization that serves more than 4,000 first-generation and low-income Chicago students to reach their dreams to pursue a college education. As a community leader, artist and tech-entrepreneur, Beckham has also advanced the fight for equity for youth and marginalized communities throughout the United States.

“The Chicago Scholars community and mission is so inspirational, valuable and necessary, and I’ve seen first-hand the lasting impact this organization has on our next generation of leaders,” said Beckham. “I’m honored for the opportunity to continue to empower driven young adults and grow such an outstanding program.”

In the past few months as Interim CEO, Beckham has already made important connections with a variety of new and ongoing partners to support Chicago Scholars’ vision. Beckham brought on the exceptional support of McKinsey and Co., which has helped the organization expand its technology, financially supported Chicago Scholars programs, and recently awarded scholarships to three students. He also connected with the national nonprofit Health Care Connection, which empowers students to choose and successfully pursue authentic healthcare and public health careers. 

Leading the next chapter of Chicago Scholars as it enters its 25th year, Beckham plans to continue expanding its reach to ensure college education is accessible for all Chicago students by deepening personal engagement, broadening technical capabilities and preparing for a post-COVID-19 world while maintaining the organization’s financial health. Opening new avenues to connect with black and brown students, Chicago Scholars will continue to fight for justice for a diverse group of Chicagoland leaders.

“Jeff’s continued leadership, passion, and promotion of our READI initiative [racial justice, equity, accessibility, diversity, and inclusion] were integral in the board’s decision, making him the perfect Chief Executive Officer for Chicago Scholars,” said Kathryn Thomas, Board Member and Chair of the CEO Search Committee. Chicago Scholars’ Board Chair Kourtney Gibson added, “Jeff’s demonstrated commitment to the organization’s mission, his relationships with key stakeholders in the Chicago community, and his vision for the future of Chicago Scholars will take our organization to new heights.”

Beckham’s thoughtful and dedicated leadership has earned him numerous accolades. WVON and Ariel Investments named Beckham one of Chicago’s Top 40 Game Changers Under 40 years old in 2015, he was a finalist for the Chicago Inno 50 on Fire Award in 2016, and The RAY Awards named him their 2018-2019 Man of the Year for his work in the community. He is also a New Leaders Council Alum (2016), Impact Fellowship Alum (2018), Civic Action Capstone Fellowship Alum (2019) and 2020 Bank of America Neighborhood Builder Award Fellow.

Chicago Scholars is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, leadership development organization that empowers academically ambitious low-income or first-generation students to overcome systemic barriers to success in college and beyond while preparing the city’s businesses and organizations for the next generation of leaders. For more information visit

Chelsea Rosenberg

SOURCE Chicago Scholars

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