This week, Nick Jefferson joined our staff as Associate Director of Organizing, Strategic Campaigns.
Nick joins Director of Organizing Wayne Richard and Associate Director of Organizing Jim Picchetti in overseeing what will be a 9-member organizing staff. We asked Nick to introduce himself.
I am thrilled to join the organizing team at CCH!
I first got involved with organizing as a volunteer during my final year of college. I had just returned to Chicago from my third trip to New Orleans, where our group was rebuilding homes in the Lower 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina.
My most recent New Orleans trip had been the most frustrating yet. No matter what programs or initiatives were rolled out to support rebuilding efforts, there were too many systemic barriers that prevented families from getting back on their feet. I felt frustrated, angry and hopeless. This experience and these feelings stuck with me over the course of my last year of college, and really opened my eyes to similar inequities that existed in my own backyard.
I began to volunteer with Communities United, then known as Albany Park Neighborhood Council. Little did I know how much the resilience, passion and fire of the communities I worked with over the next seven years would shape me into the person I am today.
Let’s just say that I had been bitten by the organizing bug… hard.
After graduating from North Park University, I continued to work with Communities United through an internship with Midwest Academy. I was brought on as a full-time organizer that fall. My early days were spent organizing renters living in foreclosed properties to fight back against unfair evictions. That effort contributed to the passage of the Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance in 2013.
Shortly thereafter, I worked closely with community residents to develop Renters Organizing Ourselves to Stay (ROOTS). That initiative secured policy changes at Fannie Mae, Cook County’s Land Bank and Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development, limiting displacement of low-income families in gentrifying communities and keeping renters in their homes at rents they can afford.
I am excited to bring my experience to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless to work with the awesome team of staff and leaders, continuing to advance housing justice in Chicago and beyond.