Chico Tillmon is the executive director of the YMCA of Metro Chicago's Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) programs. Before joining the Y in July 2017, Chico Tillmon served as a senior program manager at Ceasefire Chicago.
Growing up in the Austin community on the west side of Chicago, Chico was exposed to violence and the many issues that plague urban communities. A believer in the power of education, Chico earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and an M.A. in Inner City Studies from Northeastern Illinois University. He is currently earning a Ph.D. in Criminology, Law, & Justice Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Chico also mentors youth and teaches pro-social life skills to children throughout the Chicago area. He has been featured by the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, People magazine, “Crime Watch Daily,” Al Jazeera, Dutch TV, Discovery TV, among others.
Meg Helder serves as director of program operations for YSVP. She has a long 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.
Chaunese oversees the YSVP programs at the South Chicago YMCA location. She coordinates, mentors and makes sure the programming runs as smoothly as possible and that youth are engaging within the program.
Chaunese has always wanted to work with youth to provide them with the tools they need to see their options and help them realize that they can have long term goals. Before, she wanted to work as a probation officer but felt that she would not be able to help reduce recidivism. Prevention was the impact she was striving for, in addition to working to help youth out of the system.
Before becoming a YSVP program director, she was a camp counselor at Rebecca K. Crown Youth Center and later an outreach worker at a Y Community Schools Initiative program. Chaunese has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Roosevelt University where she minored in psychology.
Art Guerrero is a Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor. Art joined the YSVP program in 2015 after volunteering at that year’s Urban Warriors graduation. Art was moved and decided to be a part of the program after watching post-9/11 military veterans standing beside Chicago youth. He has been a mentor, court advocate and substance abuse counselor for youth on juvenile probation in Little Village since 2007, helping to build Little Village's Urban Life Skills and Enlace community programs before joining the Y in 2015. Art's goal at the Y is to continue to serve and support youth within the community.