Karin Norington-Reaves

Karin Norington-Reaves


Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership

Chicago, IL USA

You have value and limitless potential. Don’t let anyone stomp on that or make you think that you are not enough.


By Roadtrip Nation

Karin Norington-Reaves


My road in life took a while to figure out.
My parents divorced by the time I was two years old, so I was raised by my mom as a single parent—she worked hard, long hours and wasn’t home often, but I also had support from my extended family.
I started working in retail when I was about 15 years old, which was my first exposure to professional responsibility.
I got into my dream school, Northwestern University, for my bachelor’s degree and was the second African American student government president!
After graduating, I joined Teach for America and was selected to teach in Compton, California, during the Los Angeles riots—I realized that some of the most brilliant students were underserved.
I eventually left to go to law school and fulfill my dream of becoming a lawyer so that I could make a bigger and more systemic impact.
I got a job at the Department of Justice and was hoping to get promoted to the civil rights department, but my dreams were crushed when I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder.
I moved back home to Chicago, regained my health, and went back to work—I held a variety of jobs that ultimately led me to aid the merge of the city and county’s workforce development efforts.
I now work as the CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Development Partnership, helping to create career opportunities for overlooked individuals with untapped potential.
Keep following my journey


High School
Hispanic Studies—Spanish Language and Literature, with a concentration in Portuguese and Italian
Northwestern University
Southern Methodist University



I oversee the nation's largest workforce development system.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Helping People

Day to Day

No two days are the same. My days involve lots of meetings: some with my staff where I listen to their suggestions and ideas while providing guidance; some with elected officials; some with funders who support our initiatives; some with Board members or business leaders. The most important aspect of my work is building or modifying the framework that makes connections between people seeking jobs and employers seeking to hire them.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

Research! Be curious. Learn about the industry, identify people in it, and read about their journeys. In this digital age you can access almost anyone. Reach out to people, do informational interviews, make contacts. If you find it hard getting the initial job in the industry, volunteer at an organization in the field. Building a network of professionals in the field, coupled with building a reputation as a dedicated, curious, hard worker will all eventually lead to opportunity.


The Noise I Shed

From Peers:

"You won't be any better of a lawyer than you are a teacher."

Challenges I Overcame

School Stress
Physical Issues