CCH welcomes Northern Illinois Community Organizer Alex Shapiro

Alex Shapiro joined our staff this month, filling a new organizing position with a focus on Illinois communities outside of Chicago. We asked Alex to introduce himself.

Hi! I’m Alex Shapiro, and I’m excited to be joining the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless as the Northern Illinois Community Organizer. I’ll be working to build and support the Homeless Prevention State Network in northern Illinois communities outside of Chicago.

Previously, I taught and mentored reading and writing students ranging in age from 6 to 70 with a variety of institutions including high schools, college writing centers, the PEN America Prison Writing Program, and the Hudson Valley Writing Project. As an educator, I loved helping folks share and connect through stories, and am looking forward to continuing this work as an organizer.

I was raised in Beacon, NY, where Pete and Toshi Seeger also lived for many years. Over the course of my childhood, the Seegers showed me the value of grassroots organizing and local leadership. They were a constant presence at town events and in our schools, singing songs, discussing wildlife, and spreading awareness of their campaign to clean up the Hudson River. When institutions were finally pressured into a multistep cleanup plan, our local community was part of the impetus. We’d met the creatures that live in that river and had formative experiences on its banks.

I received a BA in English from Northeastern University in 2015, and an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute in 2017. In my free time, I coach track and field in Chicago Public Schools, and I co-produce a literary variety show called Exhibit B sponsored by the Guild Literary Complex. My first collection of poetry is set to release next spring. My participation in both the arts and athletics has strengthened my belief in the importance of authentic support and structure for folks attempting to overcome their circumstances.

I find CCH’s work in pursuit of ending homelessness truly energizing, and am looking forward to learning from and growing with this community!