Jes is a community organizer and an advocate for social & economic justice issues including racial equity, LGBTQIA rights, fair & affordable housing, living wage & immigration reform.
They prioritize initiatives that address systems of oppression while simultaneously empowering people & ensuring all voices are heard, especially in decision-making processes. All of Jes's work aims to dismantle heteropatriarchal white supremacy and deconstruct the false gender dichotomy.
Jes a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Togo from 2010 to 2012. They are on the Board of Directors of Expanding Lives, a nonprofit based in Chicago that empowers West African women who are the first in their families to attend high school.
Jes received their BSW from Illinois State University & their MSW from Loyola University Chicago.
SELECTED PRESS MENTIONS
- 09/27/2017, People's World: Homeless continue their battle for right to live in “Tent City”
- 09/25/2017, Windy City Times: #HireTrans Chicago campaign launches
- 09/21/2017, Chicagoist: Protesters Erect Tent In Uptown Alderman's Yard To Blast Displacement Of Homeless
- 06/21/2017, Windy City Times: 18th Annual 30 Under 30 Awards
- 06/01/2017, The Daily Northwestern: EPL librarian Lesley Williams to face possible termination on Friday
- 04/18/2017, Northbrook Patch: Letter to Local LGBTQ-Friendly Businesses 'Touches Hearts, Spurs Action'
- 03/29/2017, Truthout: When the Movement Itself Tears Us Down
- 02/13/2017, Winnetka Patch: Community discussion to state core beliefs, plan local action
- 11/30/2016, Windy City Times: Chicago woman alleges CPD attack during protest
- 11/10/2016, charles-clarke.com: Open Letter to the CPD, from a Peaceful Protester
- 09/07/2016, DNAinfo: After Pro-Police Ribbon Dust-Up, Woman Adds Rainbow To Garfield Ridge Trees
- 06/22/2016, RedEye: Chicago's gay bars and clubs are beefing up security post-Orlando
- 04/24/2016, Evanston Patch: Inclusive Groups Unite Against Anti-Muslim Hate in Evanston
- 05/02/2016, Chicago Tribune: McDonald's workers, teachers rally in separate suburban May Day events
- 02/17/2016, The Daily Northwestern: Fair housing agency reaches settlement to improve accessibility standards
- 12/10/2015, Uncustomary: Volunteering: Self Love, Altruism, Or What?
- 12/08/2015, Mic: Here's What No One Ever Tells You About Bisexuality
- 07/16/2015, Daily North Shore: The March Continues in Winnetka
Jes determines what needs to be done, finds partners, makes an action plan, and gets it done.
~ Leslie Natzke, Founder & Executive Director of Expanding Lives
I had the privilege to work alongside Jes as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Through their resilience and ability to communicate from the heart, they touched the lives of so many and continues to do so today.
Their courage to challenge societal norms evokes thought, planting seeds of change in the hearts of divisive peoples. I am constantly amazed at their energy to accomplish anything they put their mind to while investing their personal time and energy to uplift the voices of marginalized communities.
Their integrity is palpable here in America and abroad.
~ Whitney Shields, Master in Food Policy Candidate 2017, Vermont Law School
I was lucky enough to supervise Jes during their MSW internship. Jes brings equal amounts of passion, innovation, and critical thinking to everything that they do. They are a quick study, ask good questions, and are open to giving and receiving constructive feedback. Jes is committed to trauma-informed practice in a way I have rarely seen, even in colleagues who have been in practice for decades. They value and prioritize genuine human connection, whether it be with clients or peers, and because of this they are a phenomenal networker, able to connect clients with needed resources and peers doing similar work. My own practice has grown and deepened because of Jes's influence.
~ Kate Harrington-Rosen, Manager of TransWorks Program, Chicago House
I've known Jes in a variety of ways - classmate, colleague, accomplice, friend - and I can say that their brilliance and passion surfaces in everything they do. They are the type of person you want on your team because they make clear with word and work when they believe in your vision. You will meet few people in this life who care deeply for others, consider what is just, and educate themselves on the people, places, and things that can be engaged to dismantle oppression like Jes does.
~ Alicia Crosby, Executive Director & Co-Founder of Center for Inclusivity
I met Jes as a student in my philanthropy and public policy class. They were an absolute joy to be in class with. They are smart, grounded and deeply committed to social justice. They are a fantastic writer and orator with a wonderful sense of humor. But what I have enjoyed most about Jes is their willingness to place themself in unfamiliar territory for the sole purpose of growing and stretching as a human being.
~ Consuella L. Brown, VP of Programs, All Chicago
As a communications consultant to Open Communities, I worked with Jes in multiple capacities when they were hired as a Director of Communications for the organization during a time of extreme transition. I was Jes’ mentor for more than 2 years, and the mutual respect and friendship we developed was a hallmark of that very exciting and productive time. I am in awe of Jes’ passion, work ethic, insight, and wicked sense of humor! They are unafraid to learn, and to act on what they have learned. They also are unafraid to lead, to move forcefully and bravely into the uncharted social justice waters in which we now find ourselves. I gave Jes the benefit of my experience. But every day, Jes gives me the benefit of their courage.
~ Katie Seigenthaler, Managing Partner of DVL Seigenthaler
I met Jes when I was organizing a rally in support of local Muslims. Jes was the media specialist with Open Communities, a civil rights organization in the North Shore. I had almost no media experience, and had no idea how to market or promote the event, but I didn't have to; Jes was there and within hours of finding out about it, was successfully pitching the #StandWith Muslims that got a huge turnout and terrific TV & newspaper coverage.
I've been fortunate enough to work with Jes on other projects and they have always been professional, committed and ethical in their work. I was impressed with their work at a social justice symposium at Loyola University and with their knack for conveying complicated concepts in a readable and laconic style for media.
I am very fortunate to have such a thoughtful, media savvy and ideologically committed colleague.
~ Lesley Williams, co-chair of Jewish Voice for Peace Chicago's Network Against Islamophobia