Scott Issen

Scott Issen

Scott Issen cares about the future. Whether it's nurturing young entrepreneurs and professionals, or helping to lead the next generation of Chicago Jews, Scott is fostering a brighter tomorrow for so many people.

For eight years, Scott has inspired the next generation of entrepreneurs by helping high school students turn creative ideas into business. Two years ago, he co-founded a non-profit called the Future Founders Foundation, inspiring even more of Chicago's low-income children to explore new careers. The organization connects underserved young people with business mentors, and offers fun ways for students, grades 3-12, to experience careers firsthand. Students from Scott's programs have gone on to exhibit at the White House Science Fair, attend Ivy Leagues, and have even become entrepreneurs themselves.   

Since graduating from college, he's also been very Jewishly engaged here in Chicago. He has participated in many programs through the Jewish Federation, including JFNA's Tribefest, YLD's LEADS program, and he was selected to take part in the 2013 YLD Gesher program, in recognition of his leadership and potential.

But perhaps one of his fondest Jewish experiences was traveling on the JUF National Young Leaders' Mission trip to Israel, where he met his girlfriend, Ruth, who was living in Los Angeles at the time. "We met in true Jewish fashion-on the beach at sundown in Tel Aviv," Ruth recalls. "We were just friends throughout the trip, and then reconnected and began dating at Tribefest in Las Vegas in 2012. We dated long distance for a year, and I just moved to Chicago last winter so we could be together. You might say we are the poster couple for the Jewish community."

Scott Issen


Pays the bills:
President & CEO of the Future Founders Foundation

On the side:
I volunteer with Washington University in St. Louis (my alma mater) and local non-profits dedicated to entrepreneurship/technology.

Relationship status:

Describe yourself in 10 words or less:
Community builder who inspires, engages, and makes others laugh.

Celebrity doppelganger:
Seth Meyers from Saturday Night Live or Ryan Seacrest because my dream is to become a TV or game show host.

How do you Jew in Chicago?
Participate in as many YLD programs and events as possible (LEADS, Gesher, etc.). Shabbat dinners. Lox and bagels. Like to keep the traditions alive on a daily basis.

Entrepreneurship, technology, exercise, inspiring youth, international travel, reality TV, Food Network, pop culture, and emceeing events.

How do you give back?
I run a non-profit, so I eat, sleep, and breathe "giving back." My work is all about inspiring youth to explore careers they never imagined. I want to help kids develop the passion, skills, and network they'll need to succeed in the future. It's about empowering youth to create their own opportunities instead of having to depend on others for them. We served 550 kids in 2011-12, 11,000 kids in 2012-13, and this is just the beginning-we have so much more work to do.

Fill in the blank: If time and money were limitless, I would:
Travel the world and immerse myself in new cultures for months at a time.

Chicago's Jewish community in 10 years:
I hope our community is even more active, connected, and vibrant than it is today. Other cities will look to Chicago as a model for how to engage people of all generations.

Me in 10 years:
As an entrepreneur, it's hard to look past 1-2 years in the future because everything changes so quickly. Ideally, I'd be running the Future Founders Foundation, living with my family in Chicago and moonlighting as a game show host.