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Meet Monica Jirak of DANK Haus German Cultural Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to Monica Jirak.

Monica, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
As a lifelong resident of the Lincoln Square/Ravenswood community, I have been dedicated to preserving and maintaining German American culture. I served a 3 year term on the DANK Board of Directors where I chaired the programming committee which is responsible for all the events at the Haus. I organized new events and strengthened partnerships with the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce. I was extremely instrumental in the DANK Haus’ participation in Apple Fest and Small Business Saturday. I hold a Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and worked previously in the public sector for nine years. The Executive Director position is a dream job for me and I am excited to bring my passion and dedication to the forefront.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Nothing in life is easy and the Executive Director position at the DANK Haus definitely brings it’s challenges. Though at times it can be difficult, I am always open to the challenge and will continue to work diligently and tirelessly to problem solve and develop sustainable solutions.

DANK Haus German Cultural Center – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Founded in 1959, DANK stands for Deutsch Amerikanischer National Kongress. The DANK Haus is the original chapter of this national organization; the DANK Haus also provides a home for the Chicago North Chapter of DANK.

Our mission is to preserve and promote German culture, heritage, and language through activities including, but not limited to, maintaining a center consisting of a museum, art gallery, library, and language school, and organizing educational and social programming focusing on and emphasizing the history, traditions, and contributions of Germans and German Americans.

The headquarters of the Congress is housed in the center. Also founded in 1959, largely through the work of Leonard Enders, editor of the German-language newspaper Abendpost und Sonntagspost, the congress has chapters in different areas of the United States.

The Cultural Center building was designed by architect Paul Gerhardt and built in 1927, as a multipurpose center for a social club. It still contains an Olympic size swimming pool. It was purchased by DANK in 1967. The DANK Haus building is celebrating its 90th birthday this year and the Haus will be planning a big birthday bash!

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success as having a positive impact on society whereby my contributions bring people together from all walks of life.


  • Friends of DANK Haus: $50 for individuals and $ 75 for families

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