Movements are built together.
They’re built out of family, reinforced by courage, and sustained by faith. Through a commitment to the power of community, movements can alter the course of history.
I grew up with the understanding that the gas and electricity might shut off and paying for prescriptions or covering the bills might not be possible. At 13, I moved in with my grandparents on 79th Street in Auburn Gresham. I watched my grandmother work tirelessly to reinvigorate our block and open a local food bank in St. Philip Church in Englewood. As we bagged and distributed food to our neighbors, I realized that she was the first true organizer I ever met.
Every break from school, I was at her food bank in St. Philip Church, helping to bag and distribute food to our neighbors. She taught me not only the value of community activism, but blessed me with the resolve to treat every individual with dignity and compassion. Through a sustained model of inspiration, she provided the support and love I would need to rise from a 1.2 GPA to the honor roll for the rest of high school. After graduating from Perspectives High School, I enrolled at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
When my college sweetheart, Brittani, and I moved back to Chicago, we both landed dream jobs in the non-profit, impact space. I began my career as a Manager of Program Innovation for OneGoal, focusing my efforts on projects which aimed to increase college-persistence in low-income communities, and as a Community Leader with the Obama Foundation, assisting young organizers around the country and developing initiatives designed to heal their communities from within.
My involvement in community initiatives has shown me just how powerful advocacy can be when backed by a coalition of determined individuals, fighting tirelessly for justice.
Although I held an amazing and fulfilling job, I still couldn’t afford the deductible for a therapist session or a city-sticker to avoid a fine. This is the very cycle that defines the lives of so many in the First District of Illinois. Throughout all my experiences, my highs and my lows, I have come to understand that through a commitment to community and a dedication to organization, we can become the very solution we need to reverse this cycle.