In Memory of Dr. Betty Jean Howard
1955 – 2014
Dr. Betty Jean Howard served the youth of Chicago for more than 20 years as an educator dedicated to special needs students in Chicago Public Schools. Teachers and students remember her as a “life-changing educator,” always going above and beyond, making home visits and working with young people before and after school.
Dr. Howard’s desire to empower others extended beyond the classroom. She worked as a Realtor, giving African American families a pathway to home ownership and wealth-building, all while being a loving wife and mother. She was killed on May 29, 2014, just steps away from here at 79th Street and Evans Avenue, when bullets pierced the wall of the realty office where she had stopped to submit a family’s mortgage application. She was 58 years old.
Dr. Howard’s life and untimely death inspired a movement to revitalize Chatham, spawning the Greater Chatham Initiative and its focus on improving outcomes in Chatham and the neighboring communities of Auburn-Gresham, Avalon Park and Greater Grand Crossing. The Chatham Education and Workforce Center was created to honor Dr. Howard and to restore Chatham to its status as a community of choice and prosperity by offering economic empowerment through education, career development and job placement. By harnessing the collective power of occupational training, career coaching and private investment, the Center fosters economic development and provides a beautiful space in which to learn, gather, and flourish.
May Dr. Betty Howard’s spirit inspire us to aim higher, be our best selves, cherish life and give back to our communities.