Erica Heidrich is an extremely valuable member of the Urban Initiatives team. As Office Manager, she plays a key role in making sure our organization is operating effectively and efficiently. Day-to-day, Erica completes tasks that support Program, Finance, Volunteerism, Development, and Human Resources. Her contributions are invaluable and we’re lucky to have her on our team.
Erica initially got involved with Urban Initiatives as a Junior Board Member in 2010 – the same year she started graduate school at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology to pursue a Master’s in Forensic Psychology. She was drawn to Urban Initiatives because of the role sports played in her life as a child. Erica began swimming at the age of seven and continued competing through high school where she was recognized as an All-State Swimmer.
While she no longer competes she continues to enjoy the sport that helped to make her the person she is today and values so much the contributions her sports participation made to her childhood development – mainly leadership and discipline. Last June, Erica took her involvement with Urban Initiatives to the next level by becoming a full-time employee. She stated, "When I started school I knew I was also going to need a job. When Urban Initiatives was looking for an Office Manager I was in a tough spot and they were in great need of someone to fulfill the role. It seemed like a really great fit."
Since Erica started working at Urban Initiatives she has enjoyed her experiences tremendously. She said, "I don’t know many other jobs that provide such a variety of opportunities." One of her greatest accomplishments was being an integral planner of this year’s Soccer Ball benefit and helping it to be our most successful fundraiser to date – raising over $250,000. She also notes that through her involvement at Urban Initiatives she has been able to attend cool events and meet great people doing incredible work throughout Chicago.
Even though Erica’s role at Urban Initiatives is predominantly office based, she makes a point to get out and see the program in action. "The first time I saw the program in action, the thing I noticed most was how much every child was smiling," she stated.
Within her first hour visiting our schools, she saw firsthand the impact our program makes. "Some of the kids didn’t want to run laps for warmups, but their teammates cheered them on. It was incredible to see such young kids working together to build each other up. I was impressed to see what we work to support operationally from the office play out in such a fun-filled and impactful way." Her visits to the schools support her role as Volunteer Coordinator because she realizes the benefits volunteering with Urban Initiatives and is better able to communicate with individuals who want to get involved. She enjoys playing a role in connecting people with the opportunities Urban Initiatives provides for direct service.
When asked if her psychology background provides a unique perspective on our programming, she stated, "It’s great to see that the youth in our program buy into their comprehensive development at such an early age. Urban Initiatives helps kids to not be victims of their circumstances and think outside the box because they’re capable of so much." With her graduate school graduation rapidly approaching in May, we wanted to take a moment to appreciate her hard work as well as congratulate her on her incredible accomplishments. Way to go Erica! We’re extremely proud of you!