Young Professionals Board Spotlight Q & A with Jessica Panza

Young Professionals Board President, Jessica Panza

LCBH’s Young Professionals Board (YPB) began in 2010. The YPB has played a very important role in Hearts for Housing – acquiring raffle prizes, selling raffle and event tickets, and volunteering during this popular LCBH annual event. On the heels of celebrating the tenth annual Hearts for Housing, we thought we would introduce you to YPB President, Jessica Panza. Thank you, Jessica, for all that you do for LCBH. Your enthusiasm is infectious!

How did you first get involved with Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing?
Claire Battle, LCBH Board Secretary, introduced me to LCBH several years ago, when we were both starting our careers as attorneys. She had been involved for quite some time and her enthusiasm for the organization spurred my involvement. As I learned about LCBH's mission, the real need for LCHB's services in our community, and lack of other similar resources, I better understood Claire's passion for LCBH and jumped at the opportunity to get involved with the formation of the Young Professional's Board.

What do you wish other people knew about LCBH?
I do not think people realize the impact that housing issues have on every aspect of a person's livelihood. Most of us take for granted the fact that we have access to safe, decent and affordable housing, and do not have to worry about how a financial emergency, family illness or other circumstances could jeopardize our housing. Add to that the magnitude of housing injustice that actually occurs in Chicago and it becomes much easier to understand the great need for LCBH's services.

Why do you support Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing?
I choose to support LCBH because I believe in their mission and their ability to make a meaningful impact. LCBH has a selfless staff that is always going above and beyond to serve its clients, and they are actually able to effect change in a measurable way. LCBH changes lives daily by preventing unjust evictions and by giving tenants a voice, not to mention the policy work they are involved with that has a long term impact. Unlike other charitable organizations, which focus on a specific (albeit very worthy) cause, the issues LCBH addresses are ones we all should be concerned about and helping to solve: providing affordable stable housing for our neighbors.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering or donating to LCBH?
We would love to have as many volunteers and supporters as are willing. LCBH values its contributors in all respects. Volunteer time is valuable to both LCBH and the clients and is honestly some of the most rewarding pro bono work you can do. LCBH provides the resources to support its volunteers, such as the training and guidance of LCBH Pro Bono Coordinator, Samira Nazem. If you choose to give to LCBH through a financial donation, be assured that donations go towards the meaningful work of LCBH. With a strict budget, LCBH focuses on maximizing each dollar it receives to have the greatest impact and every dollar allows LCBH to expand its services and reach tenants who may otherwise be at risk of homelessness.

What do you enjoy most about serving as President of the Young Professionals Board?
As the Young Professionals Board has expanded, we have been able to share new ideas and passion for LCBH's mission with many of our peers, raising greater awareness in our community of both LCBH and the need for an organization that addresses renters’ issues faced by so many people. I really enjoy working with the other members of the Young Professionals Board, the Board, and the LCBH staff. t has been rewarding to have the benefit of so many perspectives and to see how the hard work everyone puts in has translated into the exponential growth of LCBH services since I first became involved.