The Orthodox Union’s (OU) Yachad, the leading group for individuals with disabilities in the Orthodox community, has appointed Debbie Harris as its Regional Director for the Chicago area. Harris, a noted special needs educator in the region, will oversee the development of programs and will provide policy direction for all Yachad Chicago participants, staff and volunteers.
Harris brings nearly 25 years of experience working with individuals with special needs to this position. She joins Yachad after holding various roles at KESHET, a nationally recognized organization providing community-based programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout the Chicago area. There, Harris ran the Pritzker Pucker Inspire Center where she helped communities and organizations implement disability inclusion programs. She previously developed & oversaw the organization’s adult programs, Giving Adults Daily Opportunities for Living (GADOL) initiative as well as their residential programs.
She received her Master of Arts in education from National Louis University in Evanston, Illinois, and her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Evansville, Indiana, where she majored in special education.
“Yachad is one of the greatest treasures of the Chicago community. The work they do has positively impacted individuals with disabilities and their families for many years. I’m looking forward to working with our amazing team of volunteers to provide important programming and services for our community as we take Yachad Chicago to new heights” said Harris.
Harris resides in Skokie, IL with her husband, Benji and 2 sons, Stone and Truman. Her 2 daughters, Samantha and Rachel, live in Israel with their spouses.
Founded in 1898, the Orthodox Union, (OU), serves as the voice of American Orthodox Jewry, with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network. As the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry, the OU is at the forefront of advocacy work on both state and federal levels, outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals through NCSY, Israel Free Spirit Birthright, Yachad and OU Press, among many other divisions and programs.