Chico Tillmon, PhD

Executive Director, Heartland Alliance
READI Chicago

Chico Tillmon is the executive director of READI at Heartland Alliance, where he leads a team that provides strategies, capacity building, technical assistance and direct service in the community violence intervention space. He is also a senior research fellow at the University of Chicago Urban Labs and a violence prevention expert who has consulted with Harris County (city of Houston), city of Austin Texas, Cities United, Live Free, Life Camp in Queens, New York, and several other organizations throughout the country. Dr. Tillmon is the former executive director of the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention programs. After serving 16 years in prison under draconian mandatory minimums, Dr. Tillmon came home with a purpose of trying to change his community in a positive way. He works with youth, young adults and direct service providers in marginalized areas to help them hone their skills professionally and improve their work performance. Dr. Tillmon believes professional development can lead to economic growth and improve the quality of life for men and women in our most vulnerable communities who have been heavily impacted by systemic oppression and disinvestment. He has worked with hundreds of young adults on the West and South sides of Chicago, many who are returning citizens. In addition to Chicago, he has worked with young adults in various cities throughout the U.S. Dr. Tillmon was recognized for his work in violence prevention nationally by President Joe Biden and was invited to the Rose Garden at the White House in 2021. He received the 2018 Congressional Veterans Braintrust Award and 2017 Ford Men of Courage Award for his work in Chicago’s most vulnerable communities. In 2016, he was awarded The Practitioner of the Year recognition by the University of Illinois at Chicago Criminology, Law and Justice Department. Dr. Tillmon is trained in trauma informed care practices, a member of the national honors society and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northeastern Illinois University. He holds a doctorate in criminology, law and justice from UIC and a master’s degree in inner city studies education from Northeastern Illinois University. Dr. Tillmon is a veteran who served in the Illinois Air National Guard.


Tuesday, March 21
3:15–4:15 p.m.
Leadership Insights: It Takes a Village—Partnering for Success to Prevent Gun Violence