Laura Duda Finds Meaningful Way to Get Involved at Erie House
June 26, 2015 | Chicago, IL
Exelon executive Laura Duda joined the Erie Neighborhood House Board of Directors this spring, bringing with her a strong background in communications and strategic planning as well as a passion for empowering Chicago’s immigrant community.
Laura is vice president of corporate communications at Exelon Corporation, parent company to Illinois utility ComEd, and has been involved in the Erie House Future of Promise awards dinner over the past several years (Exelon served as an Impact Level sponsor at the 2015 annual dinner, which raised more than $440,000). “I am hoping to find a more meaningful way to get involved in the community,” she says of her decision to join the Board of Directors.
Laura’s relationship with Erie House dates back to fall 2010, when she entered a year-long Leadership Greater Chicago (LGC) fellowship alongside executive director Celena Roldán-Moreno. As Class of 2011 fellows, the two women leaders quickly found common ground as they explored issues facing their communities together with fellow business, public and civic leaders in the city.
“Even though she’s not from here originally, Laura struck me as someone so invested in and committed to the city of Chicago,” says Celena of the Florida native. She notes that Laura even agreed—under an undisclosed amount of pressure from her soon-to-be Board of Directors colleagues—to embrace her new city in the recent Stanley Cup Finals that pitted hockey’s Tampa Bay Lightning against the Chicago Blackhawks (Chicago went on to win the series 3-2 for its third championship in six years).
Celena describes Laura as an asset to the community whose leadership will be valued immediately by the Erie House Board of Directors. “She is trying to build better bridges between the business and nonprofit sectors in order to help others in her adopted hometown.”
An avid traveler with a penchant for experiencing new cultures, Laura is a good match for an immigrant-serving organization like Erie House. She studied abroad at la Universidad de las Américas in the state of Puebla, Mexico, where she developed a deep appreciation for Mexican culture. “I really fell in love with the people and the language,” she says, acknowledging that the Latino community still holds a special place in her heart.
Her past experience as a volunteer adult literacy tutor has also made her aware of the challenges many adult immigrants face when arriving in the U.S. with below average literacy and English language skills, from navigating the immigration system to obtaining employment to supporting the education and development of their children. “This has so many impacts that I didn’t even think about before I began volunteering,” she says.
For this reason, Laura is particularly passionate about adult education. “My focus is on the individuals who recently emigrated or who haven’t had the chance to acquire the skills necessary to succeed,” she says. “I appreciate programs like (ESL and Community Literacy) that allow adults to live up to their potential. This is extremely important to me.”