The term “community pillar” often gets overused, but the City of Chicago truly lost one in the passing of civic leader and organizer Joyce Chapman.
Family members announced her passing in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
News of Chapman’s loss resounded throughout Chicago as longtime friends and colleagues from the Far South Side community she faithfully served for decades to the fifth floor at City Hall remembered her as a visionary leader, force, bright light and unwavering advocate for children and families, particularly from underserved populations.
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of longtime community organizer and former Chicago Board of Education member Joyce Chapman,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson in a statement.
“As an organizer on the Far South Side, she worked tirelessly to unite her community and to bring all people together. From founding the Pullman Community Development Corporation and serving as chairwoman of the Far South Community Action Council, to serving our CPS families as a member of the Board of Education, Joyce’s impact reverberates throughout every corner of our city.”
Former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who appointed Chapman to the school board in 2022, added in a social media post: “I join the legion of family, friends and colleagues who are devastated with the passing of our beloved Joyce Chapman. Joyce gave to everyone and every endeavor with her whole heart. Rest in power, dear friend.”
Chapman held numerous positions for various organizations and was an unabashed advocate for the community and city she loved so dearly.
She founded the Woman Empowered Civic Engagement, an organization dedicated to promoting and advocating women’s participation in city, county, state, and federal legislation.
She was the organizer and developer for the Quality of Life Plan of LISC Chicago.
Chapman was also the Vice President of the National Community Based Organization Network, committed to fostering community organizations’ involvement, engagement and empowerment.
“Whether it was her work uplifting the humanity of vulnerable residents or the heart of service she carried for our city’s children, Chapman represents the best of the city, country and the human spirit. As a member of the Chicago Board of Education, Joyce showed us what is possible if we center the voices of those closest to the pain and ensure that their voices are heard and incorporated into policymaking,” said the Chicago Teachers Union in a statement.
Chapman was born in Tokyo yet resided in the historic Pullman neighborhood for over 50 years. Her profound connection to her community and desire for its uplift led her to found the Pullman Community Development Corporation.
“Chicago will miss her fighting spirit and her public service. I pray for her family during this trying time and send my deepest condolences to her friends, colleagues and loved ones,” said Mayor Johnson.
Plans for Chapman’s funeral arrangements are forthcoming, according to family members.