By JOANA SALIEVSKA
Maryland native Chandra Rouse is the new Harvard University Community Service Fellow at the South East Chicago Commission (SECC), 1511 E. 53rd St.
As the Summer Fellow, Rouse will support SECC’s business development, internal strategic planning and economic development strategies. She will help develop neighborhood outreach tactics and work with local business owners within the SECC’s footprint to better understand their priorities and needs.
According to a statement released by the SECC, Rouse “has experience in developing urban planning strategies to reduce poverty, expand economic opportunities and advance sustainability in cities and regions in the United States and developing countries.”
She has worked on climate action planning strategies for the United Nations and holds a bachelor’s degree with distinction from Duke University in environmental sciences and policy.
Rouse is currently pursuing a master’s degree in urban planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she is a research assistant for the Just City Lab, an organization dedicated to “investigating the definition of urban justice and examining how design and planning contribute to the conditions of justice and injustices in cities, neighborhoods and the public realm.”
This is Rouse’s second time in Chicago. She completed a short-term internship with Eric Williams, a Harvard University Loeb Fellow and The Silver Room owner, in January. During her internship, Williams introduced Rouse to Diane Burnham, executive director of the SECC. After speaking with Burnham about her career goals and skills, Rouse knew she wanted to come back to Chicago and work for the SECC.
During her summer in Hyde Park, Rouse hopes “to understand how to best connect city services and resources with those who need them the most in the community.”
Although she has only been at the SECC for a week, Rouse is already enjoying the “collaborative and friendly” work environment.
“This is a really incredible opportunity to work in the civic space to understand how to best leverage institutional capacity from government and non-government organizations,” Rouse said.
After she obtains her graduate degree, Rouse hopes to build a career in public service. “I’m really interested in equitable urban development and economic empowerment,” she said. Rouse would like to return to Chicago after graduation.
“There is a great opportunity in the city given the passion of the residents and the commitment of organizations, like the SECC, so I would love to come back and help lead efforts for more equitable urban development,” she said.