Double Chai in the Chi
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Yana Karnaukhov

Yana Karnaukhov fights for fair and equitable housing for all by holding those who are supposed to provide it accountable. Yana works in enforcing key housing rights laws for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. She's won a HUD Secretary's Award for her work on gender-based and sexual orientation discrimination in housing, a topic on which she often speaks at conferences and leads trainings.

Yana also mentors law students as an adjunct professor at Northwestern and Loyola law schools and is a director of the Chicago Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section. In the Jewish world, she serves on B'nai B'rith International's young professionals board and volunteers with the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Born in Russia and raised in Tel Aviv, Yana is a world traveler who loves collecting languages and recipes and cares deeply about Israel and its role in the world. 



Primary gig:

Acting Enforcement Branch Chief, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

On the side:

Adjunct Professor, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law; Adjunct Professor, Loyola University Chicago School of Law; Chicago Federal Executive Board, Mediator; Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Arbitrator

Relationship status:


Something most people don’t know about me:

During law school, I mentored a 9-year-old girl whose adoptive parents gave her up. One of my professors at Northwestern was on the board of the organization where the girl was staying, and she thought I could be a good mentor for her. I was able to be there for this girl and support her during a difficult period in her life until she found a new family. This experience taught me a lot about the power of human connection.

How do you Jew in Chicago?

Usually I do it Israeli style. I love volunteering with Jewish organizations, enjoying Shabbat dinners and actively practicing my Hebrew. For Passover, I make homemade gefilte fish with my dad using a really old family Russian recipe.

Me in 10 years:

I hope to start and manage my own not-for-profit organization that connects disadvantaged youth in Chicago’s poorest neighborhood to startups and entrepreneurs in Israel. Through programming and innovative approaches, the goal would be to reduce violence and change the trajectory of youth that otherwise would be a part of the endlessly revolving door of the criminal justice system. And while doing that, also help to further improve Israel’s image as a country of innovation and social consciousness.