Class Notes Profile: Community Developer
“I never knew this job existed,” says Erica Bauer, PHD ’10 LAS, sounding amazed that she’s the Chicago Bulls’ director of community relations.
Her journey to the Bulls started at Illinois, where she wrote her dissertation on HIV-AIDS stigma and helped underserved populations get access to resources. From there, she helped provide students in Chicago Public Schools with a more equitable education.
It was in that role that Bauer caught the attention of the Bulls. She seemed the ideal candidate to help the organization achieve its mission to effect real change in Chicago. For Bauer—who joined the Bulls weeks before the pandemic took hold, followed by nationwide protests against police brutality—it was perfect timing. The team is rebuilding its on-court product with a new general manager and head coach, while Bauer and her team revitalize community relations. Bauer serves as the Bulls’ liaison for the NBA’s social justice task force, which was occasioned by a league-wide call for racial justice after the murder of George Floyd and other Black Americans.
Bauer and the Bulls aim to reduce community violence across Chicago by focusing on community investment and outreach. The Bulls are partnering with organizations that already have effective programs in place.
Bauer says initial gains will be defined by the success of these partnerships. And since the Bulls are a business, she knows her job also will be defined by winning more fans. She believes that by getting involved with more social justice initiatives and events, the Bulls will achieve that goal.
“If you are into social justice, then you’re into the Bulls,” she says. “If you are into community change, then you’re into the Bulls.”