Senior Community Engagement Manager
She, Her, Hersjcanas@kidsfirstchicago.org
As Senior Manager of Community Partnerships, Jessica utilizes a collective impact model to build and strengthen collaboration between K1C and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), schools, and faith-based institutions throughout the city. She works to expand advocacy for education issues that CPS parents most care about, including the city’s transition to a fully elected school board.
Prior to joining K1C, Jessica was the Assistant Director of Education for the Little Village Education Collaborative (LVEC) at Enlace Chicago, a CBO serving the predominantly Mexican immigrant community of Little Village on the Southwest Side of the city. Through LVEC, she worked on collective impact and system alignment between Chicago Public Schools and local post-secondary institutions to ensure more Little Village residents could access and flourish at college. While at Enlace Chicago, she authored a research report titled Little Village College Enrollment Report: Where Data Calls for Social Change.
Born and raised in the Albany Park community on the Northwest Side of Chicago, Jessica is the daughter of Mexican immigrants, an environmentalist, researcher, and life-long learner. Shegraduated from Loyola University with her Bachelors of Science in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. Jessica then worked in environmental conservation and justice for over 13 years before heading to the University of Michigan, where she earned her Master’s in Diversity and Social Justice in Higher Education. Michigan’s Marsal Family School of Education recently awarded Jessica the Emerging Leader Alumni Award for her commitment to the field of education and passion for equity and justice in education.
Jessica’s passions and interests lie at the intersection of natural area conservation and the peoples and cultures they sustain, social and environmental justice, community-based participatory research, and racial disparities in higher education, particularly in STEM disciplines.