Cameron Van Fossen has joined Y2Y Network, bringing more than a decade of leadership experience in nonprofit management to the role of Executive Director.
Y2Y Harvard Square is the nation’s first student-run homeless shelter for young adults. The five-year-old facility serves 18-to-24- year-olds in Greater Boston, and last year sheltered 199 young adults, providing sanctuary, services, and leadership development programming.
Van Fossen will help Y2Y emerge from startup mode by bringing strategic leadership and best industry practices to the organization. Van Fossen’s work will include refining policies, operations, fundraising, and board governance. It will also position Y2Y to expand its efforts to address youth homelessness among young adults as other communities turn to Y2Y as a model.
“Cameron’s rare energy, talent, and expertise will help us grow our capacity to meet a growing need,” said Y2Y Network Co-Founder Sam Greenberg.
“Cameron’s career and education have been dedicated to measurably improving the performance of mission-driven organizations like Y2Y,” said Co-Founder Sarah Rosenkrantz. “Cameron is exactly the leader we need as we forge ahead.”
Experience and Results
Van Fossen comes to Y2Y after serving as Senior Manager of Strategic Development at Guest House, leading the Milwaukee homeless shelter’s efforts in management, fund development, marketing and PR functions, and programming. Prior to Guest House, Van Fossen was Director of Development at Neighborhood House, leading all functions of fundraising and marketing for a community center with a $2 million budget. Van Fossen also shepherded True Skool Inc. through the founder-to-CEO transition in a Board President capacity, served as a founding Board member of Arcos in Milwaukee, and is wellequipped to help Y2Y move from startup to a growth mode organizationally.
“Traditionally, creating safe and affirming youth shelter spaces has been a challenge. Young adults can uniquely benefit from a young-adult led shelter setting,” Van Fossen said. “Y2Y is the first to bring the youth-to-youth sheltering service concept to fruition. I’m eager to help this organization flourish, here in Cambridge and wherever our mission takes us.”
Van Fossen earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and French Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in Public Administration with a focus in Nonprofit Management from Marquette University.
Background on Y2Y Success
Greenberg and Rosenkrantz co-founded Y2Y in December 2015 shortly after graduating from Harvard. While volunteering at a student-run shelter for adults during their undergraduate years, they realized that young people feel vulnerable in traditional adult shelters.
With 27 beds, Y2Y Harvard Square has served over 500 unique guests since its opening with overnight and longer stays. Greenberg and Rosenkrantz were named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Social Entrepreneurs list, among other recognition for their work.
Guests come to Y2Y from a variety of circumstances, including family struggles. Often they are working or in school and priced out of the escalating housing market. Nearly 2 in 5 guests have been in the foster care system, and approximately 1 in 3 identify as LGBTQ+.
Facts on Youth Homelessness:
• One in 10 young adults ages 18-25 experienced a form of homelessness over a 12-month period, according to the Chapin Hall research organization at the University of Chicago
• About 1.1 million children have a young parent who experienced homelessness in the past year
• Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer young adults are more than twice as likely to experience homelessness as their non-LGBTQ peers