Eddie Bocanegra joined Heartland Alliance in June 2017 as senior director of READI Chicago. In this role, he oversees the management and implementation of the evidence-based and trauma-informed program to reduce gun violence and promote safety and opportunity in the city.
As a pioneer in the field, Mr. Bocanegra brings years of experience in community-based organizations and programs created to address trauma and build resiliency among those most impacted by violence. Most recently, he served as executive director for the YMCA of Chicago’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention program, where he was responsible for programs that focused on trauma-informed approaches, such as Urban Warriors and Bridging the Divide.
Prior to working at the YMCA, Mr. Bocanegra was the congregational organizer for Community Renewal Society, where he led FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality), a coalition that advocates for increased opportunities for the formerly incarcerated. He also worked as a violence interrupter for Chicago’s CeaseFire and was featured in the award-winning documentary The Interrupters. His work has been highlighted on CBS, NPR, and other local media outlets.
Mr. Bocanegra holds both a master’s and bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago and Northeastern Illinois University, respectively. Previously he served on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Commission for a Safer Chicago, and most recently he co-chaired Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Public Safety and Accountability Commission for a Safer Chicago.
Mr. Bocanegra is a committee member of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Leadership Council and a board member of Illinois’Juvenile Justice Initiative. Currently he serves as a trustee for the Council of Criminal Justice. He has been featured in the novels “Bleeding Out” by Thomas Abt, “An American Summer” by Alex Kotlowitz, and “Jesus Saved an Ex-Con” by Edward Flores, as well as the “Chicago Stories” podcast with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Mr. Bocanegra has presented and spoken at the United Nations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and various institutions including Harvard University, Yale University, and Columbia University. The U.S. Department of State has invited Mr. Bocanegra to the U.S. Embassies in Madrid, Haiti, and Uganda on the topic of trauma and its relation to community violence.