As the Executive Director of Crossroads Fund since March of 2000, Jeanne Kracher has guided the organization to new heights. Under her direction, Crossroads Fund has grown its grantmaking from $200,000 to over $1,000,000 in FY2018, the most the organization has granted in a single year. During her time, Crossroads Fund was proud to have contributed to some of Chicago’s most important movements including the moratorium and abolishment of the death penalty in Illinois, the movement for Black lives, the mass mobilizations for immigrant justice, and the campaign to win reparations for the Jon Burge torture survivors and their families, to name a few.
When asked about her time at Crossroads Fund, Jeanne says, “I know our work has made an impact. Our grantees are at the center of organizing in Chicago. These fearless activists are knocking on doors, occupying city hall, and taking to the streets with their intersectional campaigns that confront oppressive systems and the powerful people who benefit and profit from injustice. We fund the people in the streets demanding change, even when no one else will.”
Over her 19 years at Crossroads Fund, Jeanne has built a strong organization that embodies a commitment to justice. Because of her activism while a young person, Jeanne worked with Crossroads Fund staff and board to center community voices, especially youth voices, in the organization’s grantmaking and leadership. Jeanne helped to create the Youth Fund for Social Change - a fund designed to give grants to youth-led organizing where the grantmaking committee is composed of young activists – in order to elevate young people in decision-making for allocation of resources in movement work.
Crossroads Fund Staff
Further, Jeanne helped to pilot the Giving Project, an annual cohort of cross-race, cross-class, cross-identity community members who participate in a six-month program of political education, donor organizer training, and grantmaking. This thriving model is building resources for movements by finding a place for people at all giving levels to become donor organizers.
Assuming that there will always be a fight for justice, Jeanne ensured that Crossroads Fund will continually be able to fund radical activists by successfully growing the organization’s first endowed funds. In Jeanne’s time, Crossroads Fund became the home of the Synapses Endowment; established a general endowment through the Big Change Campaign, which contains several focus funds like the Lisa Fittko Internship, the Elliot and Frances Mecklenburger Lehman Fund (to support youth activists), and the Lynda J. Tipton Memorial Award for Social Justice. Each of these endowments has enabled Crossroads Fund to continue to grow its impact and give more grants.
Finally, Jeanne has been fortunate to work with strong leaders on Crossroads Fund board and staff –particularly leaders of color who have partnered with her in guiding the organization. “Since day one the staff and board of Crossroads Fund has been multi-racial. But in 37 years we have never had an Executive Director who is a person of color. I am so excited that Jane Kimondo has been hired to be the Executive Director and I know she will do an amazing job leading the organization into the future.”
Prior to Crossroads Fund, Jeanne was a documentary filmmaker, the Executive Director of Women in the Director’s Chair, and a founding member of ACT-UP/Chicago. ACT-UP/Chicago was pivotal in expanding access to health care for people with HIV/AIDS through fearless direct action and strategic campaigns targeting the elected officials, companies, and others whose complacency and neglect allowed for the virus to become an epidemic. She also served on the board of Crossroads from 1996 to 1998.
Jeanne Kracher and members of ACT-UP performing an action at Chicago's City Hall.
“When I was out on the streets as a young activist shaking the can, selling t-shirts for movement work – whether for ACT-UP or freeing the Puerto Rican political prisoners or closing down control unit prisons or confronting the Nazis and the Klan – Crossroads Fund was the only institutional funder who would even consider funding our work,” Jeanne offered when asked about why she joined Crossroads Fund as the Executive Director in 2000. “That meant so much to us back then and, to this day, I know how much it means to all activists who are confronting systems and making their voices heard.”
Jeanne plans on staying connected to Crossroads Fund as a supporter and will continue to join campaigns and mobilizations fighting for justice in Chicago and beyond.