By: River Journal
Joanne Dunn of Peekskill, was well aware that her new role as executive director of The Youth Shelter Program of Westchester, Inc. would require her to bring all of her experience as a youth advocate to bear. She was just settling in when COVID-19 hit and is now trying to navigate a world in which racial unrest born of the death of George Floyd, at the hands of the Minneapolis police department, has taken center stage. Located in Mt. Vernon, NY, Ms. Dunn is the first woman to lead this organization since its incorporation in 1975. Conceived by a Westchester judge and school teacher who recognized the need for early intervention in the lives of young offenders, Youth Shelter Program of Westchester has been providing a home-like alternative to jail for young men, for over 40 years, with great results.
Prior to joining Youth Shelter, Ms. Dunn spent 12 years with Westhab Inc. where she eventually became Assistant Vice President of Youth and Employment Services. Highlights of her time at Westhab include placing over 1,900 individuals into employment and 550 placed in 2018 alone, while also serving over 2000 youth through Westhab’s comprehensive year round youth programs. She was instrumental in Westhab’s expansion of programming into 3 of the 5 boroughs of New York City and 5 counties (Ulster, Dutchess, Rockland, Sullivan and Orange) in the Hudson Valley.