Rita Zimmer’s professional career began as the first executive director of a small American Red Cross chapter in Canandaigua, New York. She shifted her career goals after starting a recovery program which led to her decision to work as a substance abuse counselor. Moving to New York City, she completed a Master’s Program in Public Health at New York University, and in 1983, she founded Women in Need (WIN) serving as its first Executive Director until 2000. Shifting gears again, Rita began volunteering at an upstate women’s correctional facility to prepare women for their return to NYC. The lack of housing was a major obstacle to re-entry; this led to the founding of HousingPlus in 2002 with the purpose of establishing affordable and safe housing options with a service model to support individuals experiencing homelessness and overcoming addictions, trauma, and the effects of incarceration. She is the current Executive Director. As part of her journey, Rita helped to found the Women’s Community Justice Association (WCJA) in 2018 with the purpose of advocating for alternatives to incarceration at the Rose M. Singer Center at the NYC Rikers jail and to imagine a healing community justice system that is safe.