Feature News

A champion for affordable housing

At North Central, Amanda Zahorak ’17 discovered she is purpose-driven

Oct 06, 2023

Amanda Zahorak
Amanda Zahorak

Amanda Zahorak is the senior advocacy and communications manager for Habitat for Humanity - DuPage and South Suburbs. It’s a role she could not have imagined when she began as a music education major at North Central — before making a key discovery about herself.

Q: What experiences at North Central inspired you?

A: I took a marketing class with Dr. Donnavieve Smith. She was so wonderful that I changed my major from music education to marketing. I minored in writing and music, so I sort of built my own degree. I stayed involved with music, singing in the choir and founding an a cappella group. I began to see that I’ve always been purpose driven. After graduating, I initially worked in advertising. In May 2023, I earned a master’s degree in public policy and public administration from Northwestern University.

Q: What do you do today?

A: I work at the intersection of communication and public policy. At Habitat for Humanity, we focus on affordable home ownership, affordable home repair, and neighborhood reinvestment. We’re also a leader in the fight for housing justice. My role includes being state coordinator for Habitat on the Hill — meeting with leaders in Washington, D.C., and making the case for affordable housing in Illinois.

I also have the honor of being in the inaugural cohort for The Change Collective, a national leadership network launched by President Obama. It’s for rising local leaders who are solving issues in their communities and combating social isolation, political polarization and civic disengagement.                                                   

Q: Any advice for today’s students?

When you’re in college, it can be hard not knowing what’s next. But nothing is permanent, especially when you realize there’s so much life in front of you. If you stay determined and have patience, you will figure it out.

Learn more about majoring in marketing at North Central.