Director Designate of the Queens Community House
Irma Rodriguez has grown in the Queens Community House just like the organization has flourished throughout the community over the past 30 years.
Rodriguez was recently named the Director Designate of the Queens Community House, a non-profit, which serves the community at 19 different sites through many youth programs, adult education programs and other community services.
Rodriguez’s promotion occurred shortly after the organization changed its own name last March from the “Forest Hills Community House,” to express its expanding outreach among the entire community of Queens.
In her new position, she is taking over the responsibility of the daily operations of the organization from Lou Harris. “He grew this organization and I’ve been able to work with him for many years,” Rodriguez said.
One of Rodriguez’s daily challenges is fundraising for the Queens Community House, which gets about 75-80 percent of its money through government contacts and by making calls or writing letters to donors.
She continued her education at City College of New York and got her Masters in social work from Hunter College. She has worked in the “Bronx Youth Services” for the United Neighborhood Houses of New York. While in school during the 1970s, she went on to become Director of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program in the Bronx for the City Commission of Human Rights where she said her work was focused on tenant organizing to try to lower the amount of housing being shut down at that time.
Throughout her 24 years with the Queens Community House, Rodriguez has seen amazing growth.
“When I started out, we only had 35 staff members and a budget of below $1 million,” she said. “Now, we have a staff of 400 and an $11 million budget.”
One concern the organization is facing is the amount and pace at which it is growing. Rodriguez hopes to create a successful campaign to build additional space for more offices and a community center. She also wants to do more community organizing and social justice work by bringing members of the community together on issues that are important to them through organizational assistance and giving them use of their facilities.
Rodriguez cited one example in Jackson Heights where the Community House conducts educational services for adults.
“There are 500 students that come through the door everyday to learn English; most of them are immigrants searching for better jobs.”