Founded in 1971, Centers for New Horizons, Inc. (Centers) is a nonprofit organization that assists children, youth, and families to become self-reliant. With 200+ full-time staff, most of whom live in or near its service communities, Centers provides programs in seven locations throughout the Bronzeville and Riverdale communities of Chicagos Southside that reach over 1,000 individuals daily. Centers is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) and our Early Child Care sites are NAEYC Accredited.
Centers' programs, staff, and leadership continues to receive local and national recognition. A few examples include: 101 Best Places to Work in Chicago, 50 Best Places to Work for People over 50 (AARP); Neighborhood Builders Award (Bank of America Foundation); MacArthur Fellowship to Founder Dr. Sokoni Karanja; James Brown IV Award (Chicago Community Trust); Sara Lee Spirit Award.
Our agency exists to serve and partner with community residents in their efforts to bring about positive changes. We envision that through our focus on community collaborations, a unified, well-organized community is built. Our work strengthens community protective factors including comprehensive workforce development, affordable housing for a range of income groups, effective schools, supportive programs for preschoolers, youth, elders and families, along with viable businesses, improved public transportation, and amenities, such as parks and the arts, that support and nurture health and spirit.
Dr. Sokoni Karanja
Sokoni T. Karanja has over four decades of experience of community building leadership. Prior to founding Centers for New Horizons in 1971, he organized communities and developed programs in Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Boston. He holds a PhD from Brandeis University, conducting his dissertation research in Tanzania, and three Master’s degrees. Dr. Karanja serves on several citywide boards, co-chairs the Child Welfare League of America’s Community Building Advisory Committee, and is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including the coveted MacArthur “genius” award (1994).
The Centers for New Horizons, Inc. board of directors named her CEO/Executive Director in June 2014, being promoted from the role of Director of Workforce Development. This promotion makes her just the second individual–and first woman–to serve in this capacity since the agency’s incorporation in 1971. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida A&M University, and a Master’s in Business Administration from National Louis University. Christa is a tireless advocate of the mission of Centers for New Horizons, Inc. and brings with her a strong background in performance based leadership, operation management, and strategic development. She also has extensive experience working with the agency's strategic partners both across the city of Chicago and at the state level. Prior to joining the Centers team, Christa held positions at the City Colleges of Chicago, the Department of Labor and the Walgreens company. In addition to her service at Centers for New Horizons, she currently volunteers on the Board of Directors for several other organizations, including: Reflections Foundations, Allied Health Care Career Network, and 741 Collaborative.
Rob A. Jackson
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Rob has over 30 years of marketing and advertising experience, most recently he led strategies that generated system growth from the $800 Billion African-American Consumer Market for McDonald's as a Regional Marketing Director for the Greater Chicago Region. He is an active community leader, and has previously served on the board for the Southeast Chicago Commission, a neighborhood planning organization, Hyde Park AYSO soccer, Chicago Youth Programs and the Southside Ronald McDonald House. Rob holds both an MBA and undergraduate business degree from Florida A & M University.