Dorothy Stoneman

Dorothy Stoneman

Founder, YouthBuild USA, Inc.
Dorothy Stoneman

After graduating from Harvard University in 1963 and joining the Civil Rights movement through the Harlem Action Group in NYC 1964, Stoneman organized a summer pre-school for 120 children who had missed kindergarten. She then lived and worked in Harlem for the next 24 years. She was a public school teacher at PS 92, and then a Head Start teacher and director at the highly successful parent-controlled East Harlem Block Schools, where she was promoted by the parents to Executive Director in 1969.

She began the first YouthBuild program in East Harlem in 1978, and served as its director for ten years. In 1984 she orchestrated its expansion city-wide, in 1988 took it national, and in 2000 began its international expansion, starting in South Africa. She guided the expansion of this social innovation through many stages and to substantial scale, building YouthBuild USA as an outstanding national non-profit support center, working with the federal government to create a dynamic delivery system, and with the local programs to create a democratic affiliated network in which directors and young people have equal voice. By the time she left as CEO at the end of 2016, 180,000 YouthBuild students in 250 USA programs had produced over 33,000 units of affordable housing, while working toward their own GED or high school diploma and preparing for college or construction jobs.  Another 80 programs had been launched in 21 other countries.

As a leader committed not only to the health and impact of YouthBuild, but to building momentum, public will, and policy toward the elimination of poverty, Stoneman has served in leadership roles in various organizations: Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Youth Network, Voices for National Service, America’s Promise, ServiceNation, Public Allies, the National Advisory Board for Public Service at Harvard University, Emerald Cities Collaborative, and the Markle Initiative for America’s Economic Future in a Networked World, among others.

In 2013, Stoneman was thrilled to be invited to speak at the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march on the Washington mall at which Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

She currently works for Opportunity Youth United, led by young leaders who have emerged from poverty through programs like YouthBuild, Public Allies, Service and Conservation Corps, and others. They are working to build a dynamic movement to increase opportunity and decrease poverty in America.

Stoneman has a bachelor’s degree in history and science from Harvard University, a master’s degree in early childhood education and a doctorate of humane letters from Bank Street College of Education.

Honors and Awards


National Advisory Board for Public Service