Youth Safety and Violence Prevention–Our Team

Eddie Bocanegra

Eddie Bocanegra is the Executive Director of the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention initiative (YSVP). He has pioneered many community-based programs to address trauma and build resiliency among those most impacted by violence, including LuchARTE, Grupo Consuelo, and the Y’s Urban Warriors.

Prior to joining the Y, Eddie served as a congregational organizer for Community Renewal Society where he led FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality), a coalition that advocates for increased opportunities for ex-offenders. He also worked as a violence interrupter for Chicago’s Ceasefire. He currently serves on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Commission for a Safer Chicago and on Chicago’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Cabinet. He has spoken at the United Nations in New York City, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain and many universities throughout the U.S. on the topic of trauma and its relation to community violence. He was featured in the Independent Spirit Award-winning documentary The Interrupters.

Eddie has a B.A. in Social Work from Northeastern University and an M.A. in Social Work from the University of Chicago.


Meg Helder

Meg Helder has a history of working with at-risk youth, providing clinical social work services to youth impacted by trauma, and serving as an attorney for youth in child protection, juvenile justice, school expulsion, and special education proceedings. Meg earned her J.D. with a specialization in child law and public interest and a master’s degree in social work from Loyola University Chicago. She serves as the Director of Program Operations.


Grant Buhr

Grant Buhr is the Operations Coordinator of the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention initiative. He pioneered YSVP's Story Squad program, which uses trauma informed group processes to promote the development of self-reflection, critical thinking, self efficacy, and audio production and storytelling skills. Prior to joining YSVP, he worked with youth and community development projects centered around storytelling in Uganda, Chicago, and Ecuador.

Grant has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Master of Arts in Social Work from the University of Chicago.