Dorri McWhorter

 The World According to Dorri

Dorri collage

Dorri and I crossed paths at several events over the past few years.  We became more acquainted once I joined the Associates Board of YWCA Chicago.  Two years into my Board membership, she was appointed the new CEO. Needless to say, I was excited to hear the great news. Dorri always impressed me as a woman of great intellect, passion and courage. I was very interested in her transition from a Partner with the Crowe Horwath accounting firm to CEO of a non-profit social services organization. We sat down one day this past summer to chat about her experience.

Dorri - personal and professional

The Personal

  • Personal Motto: Go Big or Stay Home! Live, Work, Play, Give….You do not serve the world by playing small.
  • Currently Reading: Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi
  • Currently listening to: JAYZ, Frank Sinatra, Big Sean and GOOD Music
  • Favorite Past time: Shopping
  • Supported Charities: YWCA, Make A Wish Foundation, Chicago Child Care Society, Search Inc., Chicago Architecture Foundation
  • Alma Mater: Undergrad: University of Wisconsin – Madison, Grad: Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
  • Home Town: Racine, WI
  • Guilty Pleasure: ???? I enjoy everything I do! #noguilt
  • Biggest Wish: For people to understand their unique gifts and live up to their full potential
  • Favorite Sports Team: Chicago Bears
  • Favorite T.V Show: Super Soul Sunday on OWN
Dorri and her mom

Dorri and her mom

The Professional

Dorri collage

How does your role as Partner with Crowe Horwath differ from your current role as CEO of YWCA Chicago?

As an Accounting firm partner, I was primarily responsible for client engagements, taking on leadership roles within the firm and managing areas of business. As CEO, the scope of what I do is broader. I am setting organizational strategy and determining how to accomplish our goals operationally. 

How are you adjusting to your first role as CEO?

It’s actually fun. I say that because the role is challenging and interesting.  As CEO, you’re looking at how you can solve major issues and challenges with limited resources.  The  non-profit industry is one of the most innovative because we have to think of creative ways to produce the best results with limited resources.

What’s the most interesting aspect of your role as CEO?

I get to use all of me at work. I believe that the world of business will change when people bring their soul selves to work

Also, my work at Crowe Horwath was clearly financial, so I primarily connected with people in that field. My work now crosses all boundaries.  It’s much more expansive but the focus remains the same across the roles.  It’s about providing high-quality services to clients while meeting stakeholder expectations.  I am committed to the YWCA’s mission and the more than 150,000 women and families the agency helps each year. 

Dorri on ywca red carpet

With your career success, you must get asked for advice quite a bit.

I’m fine with offering advice but I do it with caution.  I always preface my advice with the disclaimer, ” what you are about to hear is a perspective from the world according to Dorri”.  I advise people to listen to advice but analyze it and figure out how it applies to their specific situation and life goals.

How did you become CEO of YWCA Chicago?

I served on the Board for 8 years and volunteered for 9 years. Then in 2012, YWCA Chicago needed to begin the search for a new CEO. As the search process began, people sought my advice in determining what was needed in a new CEO and why.  I was approaching the end of my Board tenure and some of our funders actually mentioned that it would be a loss when I left. They made gentle suggestions as to how I could stay involved.  As I gave it more thought, I realized that with my experience and passion for community service, this would be the perfect role for me at this time in my life.

How large is the YWCA Chicago office?

There are 140 employees across all seven Chicago-land sites.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I am a visionary; constantly assessing the true meaning of things, determining how it is relevant and how we can connect the dots and prepare ourselves to take advantage of future opportunities. But I’m not just focused on the future, I also think of how best I can optimize today.

Has your leadership style changed?

My style is the same but my focus is different.

Do you have any role models?

I have several role models. They are specific to certain areas of my life.  I value people for different reasons, but mostly I appreciate people who express their true selves.

Did you ever plan to become a CEO?

Not exactly.  Although I have always wanted to take on a leadership role in my career, an exact title was never defined. 

Is the fulfillment you get from your accomplishments in the role as CEO of a non-profit different from that you experienced as an executive in the private sector?

No.  Whether its social service, government, non-profit or the private sector, we’re all here to serve humanity.  Business creates goods and services to use and in-turn employs people in society, so the reality is we are all serving society. 

When working at Crowe, I was very connected to my team and my clients.  I’ve always been driven to help people.  Delivering high quality results in business helps my clients maintain their livelihood and has a direct impact on society.  At the end of the day, I’m just creating a different deliverable.

Learn more about Dorri and YWCA Chicago at http://www.ywcachicago.org.

Feel free to contact me at sherryclayton78@gmail.com with questions and remember to connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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