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PASSAGES Longtime non-profit advocate Vicky DiProva dies
by Carrie Maxwell

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Victoria "Vicky" DiProva died Feb. 12 due to multiple health complications. She was 54.

She was born May 18, 1964, in Elgin and lived in Chicago her entire adult life.

DiProva graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor of arts in communication. About a decade later, she returned there for a master's degree from the college's School of Social Service Administration.

In the 12 years prior to her death, DiProva was a non-profit consultant, with clients ranging from Consumers Advancing Patient Safety, Season of Change Fitness, McLean County AIDS Taskforce, the Between Friends women's shelter and the National Runaway Switchboard.

She also served as executive director for a number of entities over a 20 year period, including Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cook County, National Association of Women Lawyers, Rape Victim Advocates and the Lesbian Community Cancer Project (LCCP) (now the Women's Health Services at Howard Brown Health).

Additionally, DiProva produced experimental films and ran her own 'zine during her young adulthood. She was able to leverage her creativity to connect with a variety of people, further enabling her to be successful professionally and earn money for the causes she cared about.

DiProva is survived by her sisters Cathy Wingo (Denis), Debra Suhweil (Husam) and brother John DiProva, as well as nieces Najia Sobhy (Mohamed) and Amira Suhweil and nephews Yousef Suhweil (Angela) and Adam Suhweil. She was preceded in death by her mother Dolores DiProva (Kessel), father Albert DiProva and beloved dogs Jaoa, Antonio Carlos and Isabella.

"It is impossible to capture in a few words what we lost with Vicky's passing," said longtime friend Tamale Sepp. "Vicky had a passion for traveling and spent a lot of time in New York and abroad, as well as in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the winter, and taking part in practice sled rides with Iditarod musher teams during their off season. One year we went and were on the sled, yelling back and forth with the musher about stuff, and it turned out he was a guy I went to high school with in Arizona. What a small world. She loved to go on adventures.

"Vicky was one of the rare, eclectic people who could break bread with anyone, meeting people where they were to find a common ground for connection. She had a generosity that shone through her actions and fueled much of her success in life. To know Vicky was to love her. Her loss is devastating."

Jessica Halem, who took over the LCCP executive director role from DiProva, said, "Vicky led the LCCP during its huge 10th anniversary celebration and the expansion of the work into cultural competency training—making it one of the first LGBTQ health organizations in the U.S. to provide this service. She also oversaw LCCP's first government grants that allowed for real infrastructure investment and growth. The Chicago LGBTQ community would not be where it is today if not for the leadership of Vicky all those years ago. Thank you friend. You will be missed."

"Vicky was truly a one of a kind, larger than life and complicated yet mesmerizing person," said friend Sjaak Blaauw. "A kind soul who is missed already. Gone, but never forgotten. Get some rest Vicky; it is well deserved."

"I had the pleasure of knowing Vicky for 34 years," said longtime friend Peggy Miller. "Her compassion was boundless and she gave of herself completely to others. She was smart and had a dry sarcastic humor through which she filtered the world, making life's cruelties seem somewhat less so. She loved music [and] art, and was very happy when she put that all together as a perfect hostess, with any event large or small. Vicky was an amazing human being whose life was too short, but whose memory will carry those of us who loved her through. We will miss you so very much as the world becomes smaller without you in it."

"Vicky asked to emcee my 50th Birthday party held at a now defunct club with Redmoon entertainers, catered treats and an open bar," said friend Rick Stoneham. "At the party, Vicky made an announcement that if anyone wanted to know a secret about me she would charge them a fee, and whatever was made would go to three of my favorite charities or arts group. Amazingly, she raised several thousand dollars that I donated. She was such a powerhouse."

"I met Vicky while she was working with Rape Victims Advocates," said friend Patricia "Cookie" Dominquez. "She was a tireless supporter and great fundraiser for this charity. She contributed to many causes, and should be remembered for her kind and generous heart."

"For nearly 40 years, I have had the honor and privilege of calling Vicky my good friend," said Michael Gorski. "We were introduced by a mutual art teacher in high school, who must have recognized two misfits that needed to join forces to conquer the world. Vicky was a kind, compassionate, creative and generous soul with a fast wit and an absurd sense of humor bordering on the macabre.

"One year for our favorite shared holiday, Halloween, she sent me lilies that she spray-painted black inside a small hand-made coffin with a lovely hand-painted whipping/bondage scene on the lid. People may not know, but Vicky was a very talented artist and that was her first line of study. We became fast friends. She would always be there with laughter, advice or a shoulder to cry on when needed. Vicky wanted to make the world a better place, and it will be a much sadder and lonely place without her in it."

"Vicky was a strong advocate for social justice and brought the compassion and knowledge of her counseling background to her leadership role at Rape Victim Advocates," said friend Joy Airaudi. "She was a mentor to the staff, board and volunteers and built relationships with funders and community stakeholders, always with intelligence, kindness and humor. She never lost sight of the core mission to help victims become survivors and was instrumental in growing RVA into the thriving agency it is today. She had a positive impact on so many lives, and the advocacy community is better for her contributions."

A celebration of her life will be held May 18, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Fox Run Golf Club Links, 333 Plum Grove Rd., Elk Grove Village.

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