Jen Casorso – a much loved Social and Community Planner from Kamloops, is broadening her reach and joining the Canada wide team of Urban Matters. Walking down the street with Jen through Kamloops you quickly get a picture of the incredible depth and breadth of trusted relationships she has developed in her work to advance housing supply goals, recreation opportunities and access to services for fellow community members. Her City of Kamloops co-workers had this to say, “[Jen] has been a tremendous advocate for housing and excelled at communicating the significance of it to the public.”
As Jen says: “I have always, as a person, felt this innate calling to be connected to community. To help break down challenges that people have and come up with some pragmatic solutions that see people’s lives improve.” Having ‘filled her heart’ doing this for 9 years with the City of Kamloops Jen is curious what wider impacts she could have.
Building on her experience with the City, Jen has turned her efforts to tackling the issues she’s always wanted to face head on. For example, Jen is acting as a leading member of several local Community Action Teams, created by municipalities to provide a response to the on-going opioid overdose crisis in the Province.
She is also diving deeper into the Urban Matters housing practice by leading an affordable housing development project in Lake Country, BC with partner EllisDon and standing as the face of the Reframe Housing Competition, a social enterprise competition hosted by Urban Matters CCC and the BC Non-Profit Housing Association.
Jen’s connections to Canada run far and deep. While she was born in BC and has spent most of her life in Kamloops, her heritage extends across the country. On her Father’s side she is a 5th generation Canadian, of Italian and English descent. On her mother’s side, she is Metis (Cree/Swedish) from Northern Manitoba and the French speaking part of Canada. And just before you think her perspective is limited to the Great White North, she also lived in Japan and Sweden for brief periods.
Why ‘Community Well Being’ – the road to here
As Jen says: “While all my work and education experiences have contributed to getting to this place there are a couple notable reasons why I am here and passionate about community well-being. One, there are very few people I have encountered in life including myself that haven’t experienced some form of poverty or emotional challenge that has forced them to draw on the community social supports that are a foundation to our well-being. Hence, my curiosity to learn and support preventing people from having to experience those same challenges. Second, my passion for learning, listening, and critically thinking through complex problems excites me every day. Sure, some days are more challenging than others, but I have always maintained a solution focused approach – How can we do this? Instead of we can’t do this.”
Being ever curious and and having a growth minded passion for this space, Jen is not only pursuing this new role with Urban Matters, but in that she is completing a Masters of Arts in Community Development at the University of Victoria at the same time too! When she sleeps, no one knows.
Jen giving Jade Arignon, Urban Matters, a tour of downtown Kamloops.
The opportunity at Urban Matters?
“Urban Matters for me is an opportunity to apply my knowledge and experience to advancing positive social outcomes working with a dynamic team of creative/innovative thinkers motivated for the same purpose. Communities have complex social issues that will not all be solved by government or communities on their own. There is a unique opportunity for Urban Matters to connect the dots for communities and develop creative solutions to support strength and resilience in communities. I am so enjoying working across business, government, non-profit AND communities to get to positive and healthy outcomes for the communities we live in.”
When not championing community well-being, or heading to the office with rocket fuelled lattes in hand, Jen loves time with her two young children and husband.