We’re excited to continue our “Three Questions With …” blog series into the summer. As part of this, we’re sharing stories from the who’s who of our volunteers, philanthropists, and prominent Chicagoans.

Today, we’re thrilled to feature Jenné Myers, Chicago Cares‘ executive director, who came into her role exactly one year ago. Jenné is a lifelong volunteer who has converted her passion into a successful career. She worked in the Mayor’s Office under the Daley administration before landing the executive director role for Working in the Schools (WITS). She then returned to the city to serve as Chicago’s first-ever chief service officer, launching an ambitious effort in One Good Deed Chicago, a full-scale, awareness campaign and platform around volunteerism. On July 15, 2013, she took the helm of Chicago Cares and is focused on bringing our organization to the next level.

Chicago Cares Executive Director Jenné Myers and ABC7 Chicago Reporter John Garcia take a selfie during the kickoff of the 21st Annual Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon on June 7, 2014. © 2014 by John Zich
Chicago Cares Executive Director Jenné Myers and ABC7 Chicago Reporter John Garcia take a selfie during the kickoff of the 21st Annual Chicago Cares Serve-a-thon on June 7, 2014. © 2014 by John Zich

1) When did you decide you wanted to commit your life to public service?
I always knew that I wanted to live a life of service and help others. By the time I was 12, I was regularly volunteering at the senior home in my neighborhood. It was so eye-opening to engage in this trans-generational experience with residents. I would spend time with them and listen to their stories in an effort to bring some cheer to their days. I saw the impact I was able to make—not only on them, but on myself. I saw how I changed in the process and how I got as much out of the experience as I hoped they did. From then on, I was hooked. And I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to foster civic engagement among the next generation of Chicagoans eager to make a difference!

2) What are your plans for Chicago Cares in the next year?
At Chicago Cares, we’re investing in the volunteer experience. We’re thinking boldly about where our city needs to go and how volunteer service can help get us there. We’re digging deep into communities to better understand challenges and needs so we can map programming accordingly. And we’re heavily focused on our brand (the ways we communicate our impact) and technological infrastructure (the platforms that allow us to engage with volunteers).

3) What does Chicago look like to you? Feel free to share thoughts on Chicago’s personality, opportunities, and/or challenges.
Chicago is a great city full of many opportunities, but those opportunities often don’t extend beyond the borders of downtown. That’s why I believe in service as a way to connect people, communities, and causes. Once people experience working with others through a different lens, they realize there’s far more that unites than divides them. This is why Chicago Cares exists.

We’re celebrating the diverse and dynamic voices that make a difference in our city and are inviting all to be part of the conversation! Please continue to share what Chicago means to you through tweets, pictures, videos, and more using hashtag #MyChi.

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