My name is Rose Shapiro, and I’m joining JCUA as the new Community Development Manager. In my role, I’ll be leading our Community Ventures Program (CVP) — JCUA’s revolving loan fund that works to strengthen neighborhoods across Chicago.
I’m originally from West Orange, New Jersey, where Judaism and Jewish community were at the forefront of my experiences at home and school. I first moved to Chicago after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis in 2017 and immediately sought out a Jewish community like the one I knew growing up.
What I eventually found at JCUA was like nothing I had experienced before. Not only did I gain new friendships, text-based spiritual insights, and a beautiful vision for immigration, racial, and economic justice, my participation in JCUA’s Immigration Committee revealed to me my civic power, our collective power, and how to leverage both to pursue justice and liberation.
During my later work experiences in violence prevention education at Imagination Theater and as I supported organ transplant recipients through Richie’s Spirit Foundation, I witnessed the economic and racial injustices underlying our nation’s health and safety disparities. This motivated me to return to school to pursue a Master of Social Work in Economic Development, in which I had the opportunities to teach civic education, intern at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Community Development Department, and work with St. Louis Alderwoman Tina Pihl.
Now that I’m back in Chicago, I’m excited to lead JCUA’s CVP program for affordable housing and economic development, which provides a powerful vehicle to make our values concrete. CVP’s unique model includes providing zero-interest loans to community organizations across the city, who use the funds to get projects off the ground, create good jobs, and then cycle the money back to JCUA so we can partner on even more projects! I am fortunate to be able to follow in the footsteps of the visionary people who built this program over three decades and especially in the last few years to the point where it requires a full-time program manager (just check out all our current projects!). CVP is a critical part of how JCUA is building a city where everyone can flourish.
I envision (thanks to the help and visions of others) a racially and economically just Chicago and Illinois where all neighborhoods are equipped with quality affordable housing, schools, grocery stores, public transportation, well-maintained infrastructure, and health care. Neighborhoods where residents are enfranchised, engaged, safe from interpersonal and state violence, and part of a vibrant community life. I am so excited to be at JCUA doing this work to pursue racial and economic justice with each of you.
In the meantime, you can find me lakeside playing spikeball, at home consumed by a puzzle, or across the city eating ice cream with friends. Please reach out at email@example.com – I would love to connect!