Like many Chicagoans, Marissa grew up at the Library. Now, she returns to her roots – sharing stories that make Chicago Public Library a beloved institution.
“I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer,” Marissa shares with the conviction of someone who has found her calling. As the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s Marketing Associate, learn how Marissa uses her gift of storytelling to elevate the voices and inspire supporters into action.
Do you remember when you started writing and telling stories?
I’ve been writing since I learned how to write. As a child, I would write fiction stories inspired from true events.
Why do you want to tell stories for a living?
Writing fulfills my soul. Storytelling is so powerful in helping make things happen. As long as I can tell stories, I will—especially about Chicago.
You have a journalism degree and have worked in corporate. What drew you to the Chicago Public Library Foundation?
The Library is an institution that has given me and my family so much throughout my life. So, when I found the opportunity to serve the Library and Chicago, I went for it.
You’ve been with us for almost a year now. What lessons have you learned at the Library Foundation?
Visiting the branches and getting to know the many different people using the Library is my favorite part of the job. Writing stories about and with Library users and people involved in the programs made me realize just how strong Chicagoans are and how much they care about the city. It’s both humbling and inspiring.
A lot of the time, we think of the Library as a space to receive knowledge, but it is also a space to create knowledge – learning from each other and learning together. That’s such a powerful thing.
As a marketer, I’ve learned the value of collaboration in action – working with different people, partners, and perspectives to bring a project to life.
What is your library story?
As an introverted child, the Library was my safe space. I felt empowered having access to many books. It also was and is where my family goes to feel safe, where we can just be and exist. For example, my grandparents who don’t speak English feel comfortable coming to our neighborhood branch – West Belmont.
The job resources at the Library have also been important to my family throughout the years. I’ve had family members who hit the wall in applying for jobs, rely on the Library to learn Microsoft applications and other digital skills.
What Library program resonates the most with you? Why?
Special Collections has my heart. I have always loved the archives. I think it is important in mapping our collective story. We have to know what our city looked like years ago and how we have evolved as a community. Also, when I was a student writing research papers and working on projects, having access to the archives for free was so critical.
Then, there’s the exhibits, too. The Library’s Special Collections has made complex and complicated information digestible to people of all ages and stages of life.
What’s your favorite book?
All About Love by bell hooks is a book I always come back to, especially the chapter on community!
What’s your favorite genre?
Team audiobook? E-book? Hardcover?
Hard cover all the way!
Aside from reading, what’s your hobby?
I take my film camera with me all the time. I go around different neighborhoods and just take photos. Every film roll has a theme. I have one that’s just Belmont Cragin. I have another that’s just Little Village. I’m actually learning how to develop film on my own.
If you’re not a writer, what would your career be?
I honestly can’t picture myself as not a writer or a storyteller in any capacity. But in an alternate universe, I’m probably a dentist.
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