Caitlin Ewing is a former LCBH staff member and Young Professional Board (YPB) Chair. While at LCBH, she served as the pro bono coordinator during the height of the mortgage foreclosure crisis. We recently had time to chat with Caitlin and she shared some of her experiences.
How did you first get involved with LCBH?
Full credit goes to Claire Battle. We were Craigslist roommates during law school and she was involved with LCBH during her undergraduate career. By her invitation, I attended the Hearts for Housing event in 2007. This led me to connect with a lot of people affiliated with LCBH. Upon graduation, I was looking to find opportunities to get my feet wet as an attorney. I started volunteering with LCBH in late 2008. I started volunteering as a staff attorney and the opportunity presented itself to apply for a pro bono coordinator position, which I started in 2009. I stayed for about a year and loved it. I got to work with Mark Swartz, LCBH's Executive Director, when he was relatively new to the agency and I learned a great deal from him. At the time, I was heavily involved in eviction court; it gave me a new perspective and a much more tangible respect for the people that we serve.
What led to your work with the LCBH?
The people who introduced me to the agency were already a part of my life but joining LCBH ultimately felt like the right decision. Meeting the clients and feeling like this work is so valuable in a city like Chicago became a daily impression. This type of advocacy keeps communities alive.
How would you describe your experience as the YPB chair? Where were you working at the time?
I joined the YPB after I left LCBH. I had started my job at a mid-sized law firm and a few folks reached out and encouraged me to join the YPB. I was new to the leadership role. It was fun to interact with everyone. What made it appealing was my predecessors, who laid such excellent groundwork in their leadership. I learned a lot from them and followed in their footsteps. One thing that was nice was that we maintained a constant way to manage all our responsibilities. It brought in folks from other industries and we tried to keep that alive. I always appreciated that I had a group of colleagues who weren’t just attorneys. I really appreciated the varied perspective on the YPB.
A memory or decision that made the biggest impact?
So much of it was trusting the people who had been a part of it and their dedication. A lot of it boiled down to having a good group of people who were dedicated to the cause, trusting each other’s experiences and instinct. We always had a lot of fun at the annual event. It was the one time that you were almost guaranteed that everyone would attend. It was the manifestation of the work we put in.
How did your work inform KCRO?
So much of my focus was on isolated eviction cases. I did get some exposure to it just by learning from Mark. Ultimately, I learned how important developing policy was in impacting communities.