By Brianna Deigan, Communications Intern
On Wednesday, July 1st, the Niagara Foundation hosted the Chicago and Global Family event “The Impact of Chicago Urban League.” All in attendance were given the opportunity to meet, learn, and speak with Andrea Zopp, a highly accomplished and distinguished public and corporate leader in the city of Chicago, as well as a current 2016 candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Zopp began by briefly discussing the highlights of her past achievements: the amount she has accomplished thus far throughout her life is astounding. After graduating from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in history and science and a Juris Doctor degree, Zopp worked as a clerk under the renowned Federal Judge George Leighton, the first African-American to hold the position as judge First District Appellate Court of Illinois. As she continued her journey, she decided to become a prosecutor; this was a field characterized by little diversity, and as an African American woman, she hoped to have a greater impact. After working for firms, she left to private practice, and then once again to corporate, in order to further expand her skill set. During her 10 years in the corporate field, Zopp learned a great deal about business but missed being involved with a community. It was then she found her most recent position as President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.
The Chicago Urban League (CUL), one year shy of reaching its 100th anniversary, has aimed to strengthen the African American community in Chicago ever since the height of the Great Migration in 1916. Zopp explains that with African Americans making up more than 30% of Chicago’s population, if they do not prosper, neither will the city. Therefore, CUL focuses on three main aspects: economics, education, and social justice. A few ways they address these concerns, Zopp discusses, is through programs such as job training and placement, a mentoring for students who are not on the path to graduate, hosting community forums, and helping citizens register to vote. The overall impact of CUL is simple: to build a future generation of leaders in the African American Community.
Now, Andrea Zopp plans to continue to grow in her career as she launches her campaign for the U.S.Senate. She believes that America is in need for a different kind of leader, because we as a nation can no longer wait for change. In addition, the wide array of experiences and accomplishments she possesses give her a unique edge on her opponents. She excels at making compromises, and above all else, has an understanding of what people need.
As the event is coming to an end, a member of the audiences inquires: “What gives you hope?” She responds by explaining: one person can make a difference, and although change is quiet, as a U.S. Senate the influence she will have to make a change will be huge.
We at the Niagara Foundation would like to thank Andrea Zopp for taking the time to share some of her history and wisdom with us. After meeting her, it is clear she is not a woman who will back down to any challenge she is confronted with. She was surely an inspiration to all.