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Shana Wills

Executive Director / Founder

Shana first became involved with Chicago's refugee community in 1991 as a volunteer tutor in preparation for her work with displaced young people in war-torn Africa. After several years developing accelerated academic curricula and vocational training for Angola’s war orphans and researching the demobilization and reintegration of former child soldiers in places like Mozambique and Eritrea, Shana returned to her work with refugees here in the U.S. As director of Heartland Alliance’s refugee & immigrant community services and later as director of Chicago Public School’s international newcomer center, she focused on improving systems and empowering refugee youth and families in ways that could benefit all. Recognizing a systemic disconnect between American public school culture and refugee families, and a growing need to engage newcomer adolescents in a meaningful way, Shana launched REACH. As an avid hiker, cyclist, paddler, and lifelong learner, Shana aspires to share her love for the human and non-human elements of the life-world with REACH participants.


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