Meet Berwyn’s Leaders: Josephine DiCesare – Executive Director – Youth Crossroads
Describe yourself using 3 words:
I would describe myself as personable, motivated, and caring.
Which person from history would you most like to meet?
I would have to say I would like to meet James Dean. I have been a fan since I was a teenager. He was so young when he passed away and such a talented actor.
What song or artist are you listening to now? What is your go-to song or artist?
I really like Kip Moore. He is a country artist with a lot of rock influence. I’m listening to his song “Crazy One More Time” on repeat!
What is something that you’re NOT good at?
I absolutely cannot follow instructions to build anything. Don’t ask me to put together your Ikea furniture!
What do you bring with you everywhere you go?
I bring Chapstick everywhere I go. My lips are addicted.
What is one question you get asked repeatedly about your profession?
I would say people are curious about how non-profits get money since we don’t sell anything. I explain that it is through various fundraising streams like government contracts, grants, donors, etc. Some non-profits do actually “sell” products, like merchandise or classes.
Other than your business where, in Berwyn, is the first place you would take someone that has never been to Berwyn?
I would take them Cermak Plaza and talk about the cars that used to be there (and how they were in Wayne’s World) and the Italian Festival with the flying angels that I used to go to when I was a kid. Now I’m dating myself. I would also take them to Proksa Park – it’s such a lovely place.
Are there any myths/untruths about your profession or industry that you would like to clear up?
I would say that a lot of people don’t view non-profits as a business. We absolutely are a business, but are mission driven rather than profit driven. The revenue that we make (through donations, grants, etc.) goes back into programming rather than to shareholders. Non-profits and their employees are professionals.
If you could travel back in time, what 3 tips would you give yourself before opening your business?
I have a unique perspective on this because I didn’t “open” Youth Crossroads. However, I would say that when starting a new venture have a clear business plan, do something that you are passionate about and don’t give up.
Why do you work in Berwyn/Why did you choose Berwyn for your business location?
Youth Crossroads has been part of the Berwyn community since 1974 and Youth Crossroads chose me to fill the Executive Director position when Dave Terrazino retired last May. In that time, I’ve seen that Berwyn is a vibrant, diverse community with much to offer in hospitality, education, the arts and more.
What resources would you recommend to a fellow business owner or someone thinking of starting their own business which have been key to your success?
The Berwyn Development Corporation has been a great partner to Youth Crossroads. I would say to also reach out to people that have already gone through the process. They can help you know what to expect and navigate the bumps in the road. Having committed employees is priceless.