Fellicia Foster is Vice President and Head of Inclusion & Diversity at BMO Harris Bank. Fellicia has an international directive where she is accountable for developing the talent strategies aligned towards creating a diverse and inclusive workforce while breaking down barriers for employees to pursue and excel in their careers. Fellicia has served in progressive leadership positions over her 10+ years at BMO. Fellicia is a Past President and Executive Advisory Council member of NAAAHR Chicago and sits on the Board of Directors for Illinois Diversity Council and Illinois State University Alumni Association. Fellicia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Illinois State University where she has been awarded the State Farm College of Business Early Career Achievement Award in 2016. She was also named 40 Game Changers Under 40 by the Urban Roundtable in 2020 and “Top 40 under 40” by Collaborate Magazine Illinois in 2014. Fellicia was recently featured in Crain’s Chicago Business – “How to diversify Chicago’s C-suites” and Savoy Magazine through her published article “Turning the Page – the Next Chapter in Diversity and Inclusion”.
Kimberly Neely Du Buclet has been an elected member of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) Board of Commissioners since November 2018. As a native South Sider and a lifelong Chicagoan, she is proud to serve the residents of Cook County.
Commissioner Du Buclet previously served as a State Representative in the Illinois General Assembly where she represented the 26th District. She was recognized by and received an award from the Illinois Environmental Council for consistently voting with the environmental caucus.
As a Commissioner, her focus is on increasing awareness of environmental justice issues, climate change, and preserving clean water.
Commissioner Du Buclet attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools for high school and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She finished her education by earning an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Commissioner Du Buclet is active in numerous community organizations including Alpha Kappa Alpha, The Links, Inc., The Girl Friends, Inc., Quad Cities Development Corporation board, former MCA Women’s Board, Jack and Jill, and AIDS Foundation of Chicago board member.
From the south side of Chicago, Jamila Trimuel began her career in a leadership role at one of the top hospitals in the country. She then pivoted from health systems management to educational leadership to pursue her purpose. Jamila is now the Founder of Ladies of Virtue, an award-winning mentoring and leadership program that has empowered over 1,000 girls to become confident and purpose-driven leaders.
Jamila serves as a Steering Committee member for the Greater Bronzeville Neighborhood Network as well as the Status of Women and Girls Working Group led by City Clerk Anna Valencia. Jamila is a Tedx speaker and the co-author of “A Status Report on Teen Girls in Chicago”. She was also appointed by Mayor Lightfoot to serve on the 78 Community Advisory Council.
Jamila graduated from UIUC and holds Master of Science in Health Systems Management from Rush University. She also holds a Master of Education from The Broad Center for Management of School Systems. Jamila is a graduate of the IMPACT Leadership Development Program. She lives in the South Loop community with her husband, Damien.
Jasmine E. Guy is a beacon of light and provides hope, strategic direction, and vision to many civic organizations and boards. She is a staunch advocate for equality, social justice, and educational access and opportunity. As a natural leader, she noticed that communities are suffering and are no longer safely anchored to solid principles. Concerned that Chicago communities are beginning to drift without a clearly defined road map, Jasmine answered her calling through community activism by bringing lasting, personal change to underserved populations. In the workplace, she implements strategic initiatives and programs that support Major, Lindsey & Africa/Allegis Partners’ diversity, inclusion and belonging and corporate social responsibility goals. In the community, she serves as board of directors of Margaret’s Village; president of the Women’s Board of the Chicago Urban League; vice president of professional development of NAAAHR Chicago; ResearcHERS ambassador of the American Cancer Society; member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., leadership circle member of March of Dimes Chicago, and member of the Jackson Park Advisory Council. She is a graduate of Spelman College and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Adrianne currently serves as the Director of Programs for Project SYNCERE, an educational not-for-profit organization creating pathways for underrepresented students to pursue careers in STEM.
In 2011, she joined the Project SYNCERE team as a teacher with a passion to encourage students, especially girls, to develop a good sense of why they want to pursue a STEM career while creating a culture of belonging and risk-taking in her classes.
In her role as Program Director she uses her ingenuity to maximize Project SYNCERE’s capacity to serve more students through its two programs, E-CADEMY and ENpowered, by seeking out new and innovative partnerships.
Beyond Project SYNCERE, she is a Doctoral student at DePaul University in the College of Education with an emphasis on Education Leadership as it relates to Middle School STEM teacher development, a Board of Trustee member at the St. John M. B. Church in the Roseland Community of Chicago, and currently serves as the Chair-Elect for the American Society of Engineering Education Student Division. Overall, Adrianne lives each day motivated and unconstrained to live life on purpose.
Who is Peytyn Willborn? Peytyn Willborn is the epitome of a superwoman. She has proven that it is possible to be a supportive wife, loving mother and business mogul effortlessly. Peytyn has always had the drive and determination to go after her dreams. At an early age Peytyn developed a passion for the beauty industry. After graduating high school, she attended the prestigious Pivot Point Academy where she obtained her Cosmetology license. Peytyn realized her innate business sense while attending Pivot Point Academy. Opening three daycares on the southside of Chicago, one being open 24 hours. This discovery sparked her journey to becoming the business mogul she is today. Founder of Truth Italian Restaurant Peytyn Willborn’s vision which included a “world class kitchen that produced five-star Italian Cuisine for everyday people” came to life. Her vision was to also bring this elegantly designed establishment with great service to the South-side of Chicago. She has managed to bring this full vision to fruition with Truth Italian Restaurant located in the heart of Bronzeville.
Erica Faye Watson (1973-2021) grew up in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. She graduated with a BA in Film Production and MA in Media Management from Columbia College Chicago. Her talents included: hosting, producing, acting, stand-up comedy and ﬁlm/television/theater directing/writing.
Erica was a recurring contributor on ABC7’s “Windy City Live,” WCIU’s “The Jam”, WGCI’s Morning Show and WBEZ’s “See, Hear, Eat”. She hosted a dating podcast called “Get in The Game”, an online talk show “NightCap with Erica”, and starred in the short ﬁlm,” BlacKorea”.
Erica appeared in ﬁlms “ChiRaq”, “Top Five”, “Side Effects”, “Dirty Laundry”, and Oscar-nominated ﬁlm “Precious”. Guest-star TV appearances included: Showtime’s “The Chi ”, Fox’s “Empire”, NBC’s “Chicago Med” and “Chicago Fire”. Also, featured in The Dr. Phil Show, TLC, Oxygen Network, WE Channel, BET, MSG-TV, and TV Guide Network. Her latest project was a dark comedy theater production, the “Waiting Room” with Deﬁnition Theater.
Erica owned “The Brainstorm,” a creative-strategy agency helping small businesses and entrepreneurs acquire media placements on tv, ﬁlm and radio. Her legacy continues through her work and all the lives she touched.
Shanina M. Thomas, a native Chicagoan has woven service, purpose and passion into her work as an Educator, Mentor and Public Servant. She began her academic journey at Olive- Harvey College where she earned a A.A degree in African American Studies graduating with honors. From there, she matriculated to Chicago State University where she earned a B.A in African American Studies and a M. A in History. After graduation, Shanina began her incredible journey with the City Colleges of Chicago system. Shanina is a 16 year veteran of the City Colleges of Chicago system where she has and continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor of African American Studies, History and Social Sciences. In 2011, Professor Thomas, proudly earned the title of a Distinguished Professor; She was named “Faculty of the Year” by the Illinois Community College Faculty Association in 2016, which made Professor Thomas the first African American recipient of this Award. Professor Thomas always encourages her students to be “Agents of Change”; by being the change that they wish to see.
Prof. Shanina M. Thomas is the proud mother of two children.
Diana Sharpe is the Vice President of Economic & Workforce Development for ComEd, where she oversees efforts to grow the regional economy and strengthen communities throughout northern Illinois. She works to build economic and human capital to create business and community sustainability, remove barriers to decrease unemployment and underemployment, and ensure a diverse, highly skilled workforce for the region we serve.
Prior to this role, Diana served as Chief of Staff to the company’s CEO and has experience in Communications, Regulatory and Customer Operations where she led the build of the ComEd’s social and mobile tools, refined the customer experience strategy, and led communications around the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA). Diana has 20 years of experience in the corporate, non-profit and government industries.
She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She serves on numerous boards, including those of Women Employed, the Will County Workforce Investment Board, and the Gethsemane Church Of God In Christ, Inc.
Samantha Thomas is an Emmy Award Winning Journalist and native of Chicago, Illinois.
Samantha began her career in Television News after graduating from Lincoln University of Missouri, an HBCU where she graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.
Her media career as a TV News Producer took her to several local news markets across the U.S. starting including, Missouri (CBS), Las Vegas (FOX and CBS), and Chicago (CBS News & WGN). Her TV News career behind-the-scenes earned her an EMMY Award in 2008 for “Excellence as a Producer.”
In 2014, Samantha decided to take the Entrepreneur and Social Media Influencer route, starting her own Blog/Web-Series, SmallTALK with Samantha. In 2017 Samantha relocated back to Las Vegas where she was a Live Reporter for the city’s ABC News Affiliate, KTNV-Channel 13.
In 2019 Samantha returned to Chicago, and in 2020 became an On-Air Personality at the legendary WVON-1690AM | iHeartRadio. She currently hosts the Evening Show, “Samantha TALKS,” weekly.
Samantha is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated the National Association of Black Journalists.
April B. Ruffin is an anointed, blessed, radiant woman chosen by God to speak deliverance to His people. God’s anointing works powerfully through her, resulting in miraculous transformation. She is a firm believer of Romans 12:2 “do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Life experiences along with a renewed mindset cultivated her passion to lead others into experiencing the power of transformation.
April has worked with large corporations for over 20 years, where she provided executive leadership in managing multiple aspects of finance and healthcare administration. She is the Senior Pastor of Transformed Life Ministry and the Founder/CEO of Applied Business Resources, LLC. Her most honorable service is that of Caregiver to her wonderful parents.
Her exceptional leadership demonstrated as an author, pastor, personal development coach, and business strategist empowers people to recognize their worth and achieve their full potential by cultivating a healthy mentality and unleashing their creative power, allowing them to indulge in the fullness of their aspirations.
April is dedicated to transforming lives spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally and financially.
Nicole Ray Robinson is a global brand builder, brand strategist, and innovation disruptor with over 20 years of marketing experience in the consumer-packaged goods industry in beauty, personal care, and housewares. A “Scrappy Marketer” with a unique outlook, Nicole has built her career not only thinking outside of the box but also “thinking up new boxes,” and it is this very wisdom she imparts to those she mentors in the field of marketing. Currently, she serves as the Head of Marketing for a dynamic, minority-owned company with three distinctive brands: AcneFree; a Gen-Z-focused skincare line; Baxter of California, a luxe men’s grooming line; and Ambi, a 50-year-old multicultural skincare line.
Nicole holds a BA in Economics, Business and French from Macalester College, an MBA in Marketing and International Business from the University of Chicago Booth, and an Integrated Digital Marketing Communications Certification from DePaul University. She speaks both French and Thai and in her spare time enjoys traveling and learning about new cultures. She currently resides in Chicago’s North Kenwood neighborhood with her husband Limahl and their dog Farley Jackmaster Funk Robinson.
Britney Robbins is a serial social entrepreneur that loves innovation, forward thinking and is constantly identifying problems that can be solved through business creation. She’s worked within Chicago’s entrepreneurship and tech community for the past eight years working within some of Chicago’s top venture capital firms and incubators including Cleveland Avenue, Sandbox Industries, Lightbank and 1871.
In 2016, she founded The Gray Matter Experience – a nonprofit dedicated to unlocking the self-determining power of Black youth and strengthening their ties to community through real world experience in entrepreneurship and has since served over 600 Black teens in this mission.
In June of 2020, Britney became the Relationship Manager for CAST US, an initiative of Cleveland Avenue - to help fund and support Black, Brown and women entrepreneurs in the Chicagoland area. Britney is passionate about improving the well-being of Black communities and is focused on providing quality resources, more direct access and education to see that vision made reality.
Melanie Power-Burns is a graduate of Kenwood Academy, and attended Tennessee State University where she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. In 2019, she completed an Executive Scholar program in Leadership at Northwestern University.
Melanie has an accomplished 31-year career in the Pharmaceutical Industry. Entering the industry as a quality control chemist, she has successfully achieved progressive leadership roles in quality assurance. In 2019, Melanie was appointed Senior Vice President, Quality Assurance for North America at Fresenius Kabi USA, LLC. She is committed to promoting STEM careers within the pharmaceutical industry to high school and HBCU graduates.
Melanie was inducted into the National Association of Professional Women’s “VIP Woman of the Year Circle” for excellence, leadership and commitment to her profession. She enjoys serving her community. Melanie is an active member of Xi Nu Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, the Will County Black Diamond chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. and the Chicago Metropolitan chapter of National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc.
Affectionately known as Sista Afrika and The Queen of Hyde Park, Afrika is the youngest of six children to Rev. Dr. Kwame John R. Porter and June Porter. Dr. Porter, a retired Pastor, Educator and author. June Porter, retired from Literacy Chicago, teaching them how to read and loving it.
Sista Afrika is a great example of the apple not falling too far from the tree. She is an Educator and Activist, Executive Producer of 5 time Emmy Award Winning Film: (www.chicagoatthecrossroad.com). She started at The National Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Press and Registered over 50K voters. A Community Developer, Public Speaker, and she has a marketing and promotions as well as a music production background.
Sista Afrika is the CEO of Afrika Enterprises, a full service Public Relations and Consulting Firm, and she has clients from Entertainers, Authors, New and Established Businesses. She has worked with President Barack Obama, Kanye West, Common, Rhyme Fest and hip-hop Pioneer/Professor KRS 1, to name a few. A Producer on various podcasts with current topics.
Afrika Porter: www.afrikaent.com
Dr. Jennifer Norrell Cole, superintendent of East Aurora School District, is the first female superintendent in 170 years for IL’s oldest school district and first African American female superintendent in Kane County. Leader of one of the largest IL school districts, she oversees a $200M annual budget and 2000 employees.
In over 25 years, Jennifer served in many roles including liaison for IL overseeing underperforming districts across the State and working as university faculty for Saint Xavier and Governor’s State Universities.
The daughter of a life-long educator, she believes in preparing the next generation. She has supported improvement efforts and mentored educators for districts including; Dallas ISD, Indianapolis and Atlanta Public Schools, and school leaders in Chicago Public Schools.
Jennifer serves to better lives in underserved communities by closing the opportunity gaps through volunteerism. She serves as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and The Links, Incorporated. She also volunteers for the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry.
Raised on Chicago’s south side and south suburbs, Jennifer currently lives in the western suburbs with her daughter Madison and husband Vernon.
Rita J. McGuire, M.D., affectionately known as Dr. Rita, is a globally recognized
OB/GYN with over eight thousand deliveries throughout a 30-year career within the United States, Virgin Islands and Caribbean. She is a well-established medical profession serving as Medical Director, Attending Physician, Infection Control Preventionist, and recently appointed, Interim Clinician for Infectious Control COVID-19 Preparedness and Emergency Use Authorization Vaccine Team.
Dr. Rita, a member of the Illinois Perinatal Quality Collaborative, serves at prominent academic and community safety net hospitals throughout the Midwest and Caribbean, providing effective patient care and innovative training techniques to medical students.
She passionately serves her community as a COVID – 19 vaccinator and advisor , educating individuals and organizations on COVID-19 prevention and vaccine safety, and participates in the development of programs designed to address local and national infectious disease trends and recommendations from regulatory organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control.
As a compassionate and people-oriented physician, motivational speaker, Holistic Health, Wellness & Fitness expert, Dr. Rita uses her gifts to educate and empower individuals to pursue and maintain healthy lifestyles through proper nutrition, physical fitness, and health awareness.
A champion of education, Karin McFall’s advocacy for African American scholars is unmatched. Her passion is to ensure that our youth have equitable educational opportunities and that those that serve them do so with care and compassion. Karin leads this effort as Assistant Principal at King College Prep (KCP), a CPS Selective Enrollment High School. While at KCP, she has proudly established partnerships with the University of Chicago Neighborhood Schools, City Colleges of Chicago, and After School Matters programs, all in support of providing exceptional resources for students.
Outside of her professional pursuits, Karin is a promoter of self-care, and an avid fitness buff. She is competitive and can often be found setting personal records in the Peloton Community.
As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.’s she serves on one of the sorority’s signature program committees #CAPSM- and is an Associate member of Jack & Jill of America – and she also volunteers in her community. Karin is married to Kevin McFall, a 2020 MOE, and mother to Nia, a 2021 NYU Honors graduate.
Jennifer O. Maddox was born in Chicago and raised on the South Side. Jennifer graduated from Corliss High School and received a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois. She earned her M.B.A. from St. Xavier University, and is currently enrolled at Lewis University pursuing an ED.D in education. For the past 25 years, Jennifer has served with the Chicago Police Department.
Jennifer founded a 501(c)(3) organization in 2011 called Future Ties, which provides afterschool and summer programs to increase the academic achievement of the youth who attend. Future Ties also works to equip parents, youth, and teens primarily residents of Parkway Gardens Apartments, with the workforce development skills needed to be competitive in the workforce.
Jennifer has received recognition for her work in the community, being selected as one of CNN’s Top Ten Heroes for 2017, and one of Chicago’s 20 most inspiring Chicagoans of 2018. She has also been acknowledged as “someone you should know” by ABC 7, received a Humanitarian honor from the Anti-Defamation League and recognized as a 2018 Women of Worth by L’Oréal.
Following her historic election, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot has undertaken an ambitious agenda of expanding opportunity and inclusive economic growth across Chicago’s neighborhoods, with accomplishments including landmark ethics and good governance reforms, worker protection legislation, and closing a record $1.2 billion budget gap.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Lightfoot has led coordinated, citywide efforts to effectively address its impact, including the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team, the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, among other initiatives.
Previously, Mayor Lightfoot served as a senior equity partner in the Litigation and Conflict Resolution Group at Mayer Brown, President of the Chicago Police Board, Chair of the Police Accountability Task Force, Chief of Staff and General Counsel of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, interim First Deputy of the Chicago Department of Procurement Services, Chief Administrator of the Office of Professional Standards, and an Assistant United States Attorney.
A native of Massillon, Ohio, Mayor Lightfoot has been a resident of Chicago since 1986 and lives on the Near Northwest Side with her wife Amy Eshleman and their daughter.
Jackie Lomax is the Founder and Executive Director of Girls 4 Science. Girls 4 Science is Chicago’s only all girls’ STEM initiative for girls 10-18 years old. Currently the program operates a quarterly six week middle and high school Saturday STEM Academy at Olive Harvey and Malcolm X City of Chicago Colleges along with the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL. Since its inception in 2009 more than 500 girls have participated in G4S free Saturday STEM Academy.
Through her daughter’s expressed interest in science, Girls 4 Science was founded. The lack of available STEM programs for minority girls under 12 years of age was a challenge Jackie hoped to solve. She surveyed the community, and a plan of action was created to develop a STEM initiative exclusively for girls. The organization works to provide hands on experiential learning and professional mentorships to girls.
Congresswoman Robin Kelly has dedicated her career to public service as an advocate for Illinois families. Since being elected to serve the 2nd Congressional District in 2013, she has worked to expand economic opportunity, community wellness, and public safety across the state, championing numerous initiatives to generate job growth, reduce health disparities, and end gun violence.
Congresswoman Kelly is a Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She is a Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and represents the Midwest (Region IV) on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. Representative Kelly is a Co-Chair of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce and is the author of The 2014 Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America, the first-ever Congressional analysis of the nation’s gun violence epidemic that offers a blueprint for ending the crisis.
Congresswoman Kelly attended Bradley University in Peoria, where she earned her B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in counseling. She later received a Ph.D. in political science from Northern Illinois University. She lives in Matteson with her husband, Dr. Nathaniel Horn, and has two adult children, Kelly and Ryan.
Tiffany Hamel Johnson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Chicago United, a corporate membership organization that aims to achieve parity in economic opportunity for people of color in the Chicago area. She leads its mission to advance multiracial leadership in corporate governance, executive management, and business partnerships, thereby transforming the Chicago region into the nation’s most inclusive business ecosystem. Her accomplishments in business, government and non-profit organizations allow her to adeptly collaborate with publicly- and privately-held corporations, as well as small businesses, and drive diversity, equity and inclusion across sectors.
Prior to joining Chicago United in April 2020, Tiffany was the executive vice president of strategy and administration for World Business Chicago (WBC). There, she supported the president and chief executive officer in developing, implementing and executing WBC’s organizational and strategic priorities. From 2000 to 2004, she served as WBC’s director of business development, focusing on corporate headquarters and the financial, insurance and real estate sectors. Tiffany has also served as an assistant and deputy chief neighborhood development officer in former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s administration.
Stephanie Hart is a baker of southern desserts. She was inspired to create Brown Sugar Bakery after craving the taste of cakes her grandmother made. For years, she couldn’t get the taste of her childhood no matter what. Stephanie recreated her grandma’s recipes in her home kitchen dissecting and fusing 100s of soulful recipes with different ingredients. It took many attempts. Finally, in March of 2004, she remastered the taste of the pineapple coconut cake and many others, and Brown Sugar Bakery in Chicago was born.
Brown Sugar Bakery serves up cakes, cobblers, pies, cupcakes, bread pudding and other baked goods, including The Obama Cake, a four layer red velvet cake, chocolate and yellow cake topped with cream cheese frosting, chocolate drizzle, and pecans.
In November of 2016, Stephanie opened a second Brown Sugar Bakery location at one of Chicago’s favorite landmarks, Navy Pier. In March of 2019, Stephanie opened the doors to her third Brown Sugar Bakery location on Chicago’s west side (Austin), employing people who live in the community.
As a Chicago native inspired by the city’s vibrancy, Akilah is committed to social change through human-centered strategies for youth and community development. She has spent 15 years focused on equitable approaches to helping make Chicago a better place for all people to thrive through art, education, and philanthropy.
Currently, Akilah is the Executive Director of Marwen which inspires young people to nurture their growth and build their futures through art and community. She previously led communications with Crown Family Philanthropies, marketing with Urban Gateways and external aﬀairs with Chicago Public Schools.
Akilah is a member of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council and the Art Institute of Chicago’s Leadership Advisory Committee. She is an alum of the Sorkin Center Children and Youth Leadership Program and National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program. Akilah served on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Arts and Culture Transition Committee and is a former co-chair of Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy.
She holds a master’s in Design Planning from Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design and a bachelor’s in Industrial Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Maya Green MD,MPH is a proud south side Chicagoan, who formerly served as an educator in the private, and public school sectors. After obtaining a dual degree ( MD/MPH) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she completed a residency in family medicine at the University of Miami, and a specialty fellowship in HIV medicine at Rush University Medical Center. Her client panels include pediatric and adolescent patients, adults who speak Spanish or American Sign Language, and people who experience substance use disorder. She now serves as the Howard Brown Health Regional Medical Director for the South and West sides of Chicago.
When COVID 19 began ravaging the Black and Brown communities , Dr Green quickly put all her equity training into action, establishing the first Southside testing center in Chicago, then quickly pivoting to establish testing on the West side. Dr Green continues her COVID work in five vaccination sites city-wide and a mobile unit, making vaccines accessible the communities hardest hit. Dr. Green is a board member of Chicago Task Force Prevention & Community Services and the founder of HIV Real Talk - NFP. Both of these organizations focus on decreasing disparities in underserved communities.
Dr. Cheryl Green brings 30-plus years of experience in higher education to her role as the President of Governors State University. A passionate educator, Green believes fiercely in the power of education to change lives.
Most recently, Green served as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Wisconsin (UW) Oshkosh, as Interim Chancellor for the UW Whitewater,
and as Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Tennessee State University.
At Chicago State University, Green served in a variety of administrative and academic roles, including director/chair of the counseling department, dean of freshmen, and as a tenured professor of counseling.
Green’s community service includes work with ten advisory or boards of directors, including the Association of Governing Boards Council of Presidents, South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium Executive Board, and Manchester University Board of Trustees.
Green has a Ph.D. and master’s degree in counseling psychology from Southern Illinois University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Manchester College (now Manchester University) in Indiana.
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Green is the loving mother of two adult children.
Esther Franco-Payne is the Executive Director of Cabrini Green Legal Aid, leading the organization’s strategy, fundraising and management. With a long career in violence prevention and criminal justice advocacy, Esther’s personal commitment has been to serve as a voice for underserved communities of color. Growing up on Chicago’s south side, she understands the issues that permeate communities impacted by crime, poverty, and disinvestment. Through her work with CGLA, Esther aims to spread CGLA’s impact throughout Chicago and Illinois. She is an advocate who has engaged the public in the development of effective criminal justice and juvenile justice policies and continues to educate communities about issues related to exposure to trauma, violence prevention, and criminal justice reform.
Ms. Franco-Payne is an alumnus of the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, is a member of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, the federally mandated State Advisory Group to the Governor, the General Assembly and the Illinois Department of Human Services, and Chairperson of the DMC Committee, focused on eliminating racial disparities in the juvenile justice system.
For 20+ years, Doris has been in the fitness industry. She received her Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Because of her passion for helping women reach their health and fitness goals, Doris received another valuable NASM Certification as: Women’s Fitness Specialist – (providing support – Adolescence to Senior, Prenatal/Postnatal Women, and Women with Eating Disorders).
Doris owns and operates Eye Candy Fitness, LLC; a personal training studio located in South Holland, Illinois. During her tenure at Longwood School Doris created a fitness program (KID FIT) teaching children at an early age that eating “Good Food” and exercising can be fun! Doris enjoys speaking and instructing at various venues and for multiple organizations and groups interested in health and fitness. Doris is an avid runner and has many marathon miles – most notable: the Chicago Marathon, Ragnar 200 Mile Relay, and many more across the USA. She is a mother of 4 sons, a wife, a grandma, a Live Strong Ambassador, and a member of numerous fitness and running clubs throughout the Chicagoland area.
Kelly Fair is the Founder and Executive Director of the Reflections Foundation and the Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program, non-profit organizations that enhance the life skills, career readiness, and leadership ability of girls and young women. She is the author of They’re All the Same Girl and Every Girl is a CEO, the first career and success guide for girls of color. Kelly is an award-winning social entrepreneur and sought-after speaker who advocates for girls, women, mentoring, and workforce pipelining.
Since launching Polished Pebbles in 2009 in Chicago, Kelly’s signature communications and job readiness programming has expanded from elementary age girls to include young women in high school and college. The program has now engaged more than 5,000 girls and 500 mentors across 100 different program sites in Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs, Northwest Indiana, Texas, and North Carolina.
Kelly currently serves on the U.S. Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls Taskforce, the Harold Washington College President’s Advisory Board, and the Illinois Council for Women and Girls. She is a proud graduate of Howard University and the University of Iowa, with honors.
Dr. Latrice Eggleston Williams is a life-long learner, higher education administrator, scholar, civic leader, and entrepreneur who has made outstanding contributions to higher education and her community for over three decades.
She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earning her B.A. in English (1995) and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies (2004), and an M.S. in Educational Administration and Policy Studies (1997) at SUNY Albany.
Dr. Williams is the Chief Principal Consultant and CEO of LEEW Educational Consultants and Associates, LLC. She is the immediate former Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Research and Interim Vice President of Enrollment Management at Chicago State University. Her passion is to analyze access to education and to study academic achievement holistically for underrepresented populations in higher education.
She is a civic leader and an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Xi Nu Omega Chapter, North Shore (IL) Chapter of The Links, Inc., and the chartering 2nd Vice President of Finance and Fund Development for the Chicago Metropolitan Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.
Javondlynn Dunagan retired in January 2016 after a successful 25-year career as a United States Probation Officer. During her career, she was concerned about how women protect themselves with or without a firearm. Javondlynn opened JMD Defense, LLC in March 2017 to primarily focus on empowering and training women through firearm and safety related trainings. Firearm education classes include men as well. Some of her consulting clients and presentations have included the Wilmette Public Library, TUCC Child Care Facilities, The Chicago Association of Realtors, McField & Associates, Cook County Public Guardian’s Office, CHA Owners Symposium, CHA Owners Webinar, Coalition of Early Childhood Leaders, City Year-Women’s Lunch Series, and Black Women at the Center. She founded The Ladies of Steel Gun Club® which grew from 15 to 435 ladies in four years.
Javondlynn’s story has been covered by numerous media outlets and podcasts. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Javondlynn received a Masters’ Degree in Social Service Administration from The University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work from Hampton University.
Chris-Tia Donaldson is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Thank God It’s Natural (tgin), a manufacturer of natural hair and skin care products, currently sold in Target, Whole Foods, Sally’s Beauty, and Walgreens. In her role, she oversees all aspects of day to day operations, sales, and strategic partnerships. Chris-Tia has been featured in major media publications such as USA Today, Marie Claire, Essence, Black Enterprise, Ebony, Heart & Soul, the Chicago Tribune and Crain’s Chicago. Her book Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Natural Hair is a #1 Amazon bestseller, and was hailed the “Natural Hair Bible” by Essence Magazine. Prior to starting her own company, Chris-Tia represented Fortune 500 companies in complex business transactions involving technology and open source code. Chris-Tia is also a breast cancer survivor and is deeply committed to supporting causes that eliminate health disparities between women of color and the general population with respect to this condition. Chris-Tia earned her A.B. in Economics from Harvard University with honors, and is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
Ms. Day, executive director of Black United Fund of Illinois, Inc. (BUFI) has broad communication skills, the ability to work cross-functionally, and helping organizations succeed. Carolyn has passion and enthusiasm for educating about philanthropy, self reliance and economic innovativeness. She serves as a board member for both Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV) and a National Treasure -South Side Community Art Center. An avid volunteer for servicing disabled persons, including children and adults. Carolyn has an unwavering commitment to her faith, service and time with the Trustee Ministry at her church. In her free time, she enjoys music, antiquing, visual and the performing arts.
(BUFI) is an independent affiliate of the National Black United Fund. Designed to improve the quality of life of Black People through self-sufficiency at the local level. BUFI has worked for over 35 years throughout Chicago, the South Shore Community and other state of Illinois communities. BUFI promotes voluntary payroll deductions, economic vitality, workforce training and academic development for at-risk youth who are from first-generation college families.
Mrs. Davis efficiently known as Shaunna, currently holds the role as Deputy Procurement Officer for the City of Chicago Department of Procurement Services under Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
In this role Shaunna is responsible for developing relationships through targeted outreach and increasing public awareness of various incentives and programs offered through the City of Chicago Department of Procurement Services.
Prior to the role as Deputy Procurement Officer Shaunna served as the Political Director to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Shaunna has worked in the Mayor’s Office of Legislative Counsel and Government Affairs, serving as a primary contact between the City Council and the administration. Prior to this role, she served as Public Engagement Coordinator in the Mayor’s Office under then Deputy Mayor and Chief Neighborhood Development Officer, Andrea Zopp.
In addition to her heart for the community and residents of Chicago, Shaunna has a passion for mentoring youth. She is the oldest to her two siblings, proud daughter of Nikki Hayes (Pier 31) and Marc Hayes (Water Reclamation) and honored wife of Inspector Howard Davis.
On February 23, 2021 history was made as the Village of Lynwood elected its first African American Woman to the office of Village President (Mayor). Village President Elect Curry ran on a platform of Trust, Transparency and Transformation.
Jada D. Curry, MA,PHR is Owner and Chief Recruiting Specialist for Education Recruiting Specialists, a full service, search firm that also offers Human Resources consulting. Mrs. Curry has spent her entire life nurturing and cultivating relationships in both her personal and professional worlds.
Perhaps her greatest title held is that of wife and mother. She enjoys being married to a law enforcement officer and considers it an honor to be a Police Wife. She is the mother of a 26-year-old daughter who is a Teacher and a 15-year-old son.
When asked how she wants to be remembered, she simply references the following Helen Keller quote: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”
Donna Clarke joined the NHS staff as Chief Operating Officer in November of 2017. In this role, she has been instrumental in driving operational efficiency throughout the entire organization. sources of funding.
Ms. Clarke has always been attracted to transformative and socially responsible projects.
Originally from New York, Ms. Clarke went to El Paso, Texas where she took on the monumental task of managing the rehabilitation and revitalization of the city’s entire public housing program through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) initiative.
Ms. Clarke has also held leadership roles at The Walt Disney Company and Time Warner, primarily in print media and digital operations. She was subsequently tapped to launch and sunset revenue operations for CNNMoney.com, a 13-year partnership between Turner Broadcasting and Time Inc.
Ms. Clarke comes to NHS with a strong background in operations and the ability to bring together different lines of business to optimize strategy and impact, along with her substantial experience creating, launching, and incubating new products and platforms.
She holds a Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.
Konyia Clark, Co-founder of Clark Catering Inc., is a native Chicagoan. She is a food service professional with nearly 30 years of experience in event planning, management, and production. Before embarking upon the food service industry, Konyia received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Loyola University of Chicago. Konyia also consults start-up businesses. She is passionate about philanthropic opportunities and has an innate desire to help societies underserved communities.
With the goal of keeping her family’s entrepreneurial legacy alive, Konyia joined forces with her mother to turn a passion for cooking into a robust business that has served clients all over the globe!
“Food has always been the vehicle used to establish long standing relationships in my family. It is an instrument that transcends barriers and creates an environment of engagement and fellowship. It is my belief that food nourishes the soul!”
As Konyia has been blessed with many successful businesses, her passion is people. Ultimately, she intends to work in her field of study to help individuals obtain nutritional and mental health to live their best lives!
Dr. Linda Caradine-Poinsett is CEO of the American College of Prosthodontists and ACP Education Foundation. She has led the organizations through a critical refocusing of their strategic objectives and revamped governance structure. The new direction enables the organizations to place greater emphasis on the specific needs of the membership.
She received the Reach Award from National Louis University in 2018. The Award is presented to individuals who exhibit exceptional character and a sense of higher purpose to increase opportunity and quality of life for others. She hopes her passion for lifelong learning encourages others.
She was featured in Association Now magazine in 2018 for her work on designing continuing education programs.
Dr. Caradine-Poinsett serves on the Board of Directors of A Silver Lining Foundation; and is a member of the Advisory Board of the South Side Help Center in Chicago.
She is adjunct faculty at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology where she also received a PhD; holds an MJ degree from Loyola University School of Law; an MBA and BS from National Louis University.
Spring Capers is the owner and operator of an upscale hair studio. She has been a successful entrepreneur for over 30 years, moving move the southside to her current location, Spring’s Place-The Hair Studio in the South Loop. In that time Spring has trained 40 plus hair professionals and salon owners.
Coming from a family of hairstylist, Spring started in college, as a distinguish member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, she began honing her skills on members as a way to make ends meet while pursuing her degree in accounting. After graduating from Chicago State University with a BS in accounting in 1983, she took a chance on her passion and pursued a career in the fast-growing lucrative beauty industry.
Her tenacity prevailed, with the help of her knowledge and background in accounting. Spring has amassed and expanded her business into real estate and property management.
Today Spring is proudly married for 25 years to James Capers Jr., with two lovely daughters. Spring sits on the Foundation board at Chicago State University as was former President of Jack and Jill.
Karen Calloway, a Chicago native, is an alum of Lindblom Technical High School. Upon graduation Ms. Calloway attended Lewis University, where she received a Bachelor’s of Art in Psychology, Masters of Arts in Clinical and School Psychology and a Master’s in Education Administration.
Ms. Calloway joined the Kenwood family. During her tenure, she has assumed several roles: Professional School Counselor, Dean of Students, and Assistant Principal.
In July 2018, Ms. Calloway accepted the position of Principal. In accepting this role, she said, “As the principal of one of the best neighborhood high schools in the country, I am excited to encourage, nurture and arrange building blocks for success for our 2100 students.” During Principal Calloway’s tenure at Kenwood, it continues to progress as a 1+ neighborhood high school, winning over 50 million dollars in scholarships while graduating over 70% of seniors with 15 college credits, giving them a head start in college. Currently, while in a pandemic, she is rebuilding the school’s infrastructure by working with architects to link Kenwood’s two school buildings as well building a state of the art STEM lab.
Nicole C. Bullock is an entrepreneur, author, consultant, and motivational speaker. Since 2017, Nicole has been raising awareness about lymphoma through The Nicole Cares Foundation, Inc., a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization she founded during her battle with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. The foundation provides assistance to cancer patients through their hospital outreach programs, blood drives, fundraisers, and other vital work in the community.
Today, Nicole is cancer-free and has devoted her life to speaking about the importance of early detection and health advocacy. She credits her strong faith, family, and friends for carrying her through her difficult journey. Nicole is also the author of “If I Be Lifted Up,” a stress relieving coloring therapy book for the SOUL.
Nicole holds a B.S. in Organization Management, and an MBA from Purdue University. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, and Top Ladies of Distinction, Incorporated. Nicole has been married for 20 years to James Bullock, Sr. and they have three children, William, Taylor, and James, Jr.
Andrea L. Brookins is a licensed funeral director, owner and CEO of Brookins Funeral Home.
Andrea believes in celebrating family traditions, building strong communities and serving those in need. Her dedication to giving back ignited the creation of a community outreach program that fosters meaningful community experiences and neighborhood pride.
In partnership with community organizations and public officials, Brookins Funeral Home hosts several outreach events to build partnerships with neighbors and local business owners. These annual events include a health and wellness fair, a live summer music series, and community beautification awards.
Andrea serves on the Boards of Directors for the Metropolitan Community Service Calumet Center, the Bronzeville Children’s Museum Women’s Board and the Camp of Dreams. She is a proud lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and the Girl Scouts of the USA organization.
Andrea has been recognized and honored by the organizations she serves.
Andrea holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mortuary Science and Psychology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She is also an alumna of the Goldman Sacs 10,000 Small Businesses program.
Crystal R. Braboy, SPHR, CDP, is a dedicated professional for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, where she serves as the Vice President of Human Resources, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As a seasoned HR practitioner, Crystal has developed a passion for cultivating a work culture that leverages and celebrates similarities and differences, and she prides herself on serving as a senior leader who is focused on aligning business decisions with socially-conscious outcomes. Crystal is a sought-after diversity facilitator, known for leading robust discussions on racial bias, racial polarization, and educating on race equity interventions on both the interpersonal and institutional levels. She is a passionate voice for social justice, and founded the group Human Resources Practitioners of Color (hrpoc.org) as a supportive community for fellow practitioners of color. She strives to amplify traditionally-silenced voices and is also passionate about creating safe spaces, both physically and psychologically, for those voices to be lifted.
Crystal earned her MA in Communications from DePaul University in 2010, and also serves as a proud mentor to several first-generation college students from Chicago as they pursue their dreams.
A proud mother, national lecturer and global volunteer, the Rev. Dr. Alise D. Barrymore is also a founding and the Lead Pastor of the Emmaus Community, a suburban congregation where you can “belong before you believe.” Her commitment to developing experiences that embody creativity, multi-ethnic diversity, Christian tradition and postmodern thought has been shared both in the marketplace and in Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal and other denominations. Whether mentoring college students in Thailand, facilitating home ownership in South Africa, or connecting neighbors in greater Chicago to needed resources, she seeks to journey with people, holding their hearts and hopes. Dr. Alise graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in African & African-American Studies. She has earned the Master of Divinity (MDIV) and the Doctor of Ministry (DMin.) degrees from McCormick Theological Seminary. She is currently a candidate in the inaugural cohort of the PhD Program in Black Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric, under the direction of Rev. Frank A. Thomas, PhD. Her research interests are focused on postmodern spirituality and Black preaching in multi-ethnic ministry contexts.
Dr. Karen D. Barbee-Dixon, is the Chief Operating Officer for Habilitative Systems, Inc (HSI) in Chicago, Illinois, a comprehensive community behavioral health organization that provides services for persons with mental illness, developmental disabilities, substance use and others at risk. During her 36 year employment, her responsibilities have included; day to day administrative and programmatic operations of the agency, implementation of special strategic initiatives, quality improvement activities, program evaluation, and development of various Research and Education partnerships. For the past 25 years, she has traveled nationally and international to conduct Accreditation surveys as a CARF Surveyor CARF, International and frequently serves as a mentor and trainer for new surveyors across the United States.
Dr. Barbee-Dixon maintains a Doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from Northern Illinois University with a clinical and research background in programs for children, youth and families. She completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the UIC-Department of Psychiatry. Additionally, she received numerous honors for her work with Children, Youth and Families and her collaborations with University-based researchers in recognizing factors associated with community based research, from a practitioner’s perspective.
Dr. Mable Alfred has served as an educator for 33 years. With a focus on equity, innovation and quality, Dr. Alfred is currently serving as the Superintendent of Schools for Elementary School District 159 in Matteson, Illinois. Since joining the School District in 2016, Dr. Alfred has worked to create a system of great schools.
During her five-year tenure as Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Alfred has helped launch several major initiatives across her district. Dr. Alfred is distinguished by her ability to identify, leverage, and develop the untapped talent of others. Throughout her career, she has provided mentorship, professional training and development to help subordinates recognize their unique capabilities and position themselves for leadership roles.
Dr. Alfred is also a skilled facilitator of professional learning. She has been an adjunct professor at several universities and has been assigned to chair the committees of doctoral fellows in the graduate programs for Loyola and Argosy Universities. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and belongs to many other professional organizations. Dr. Alfred proudly serves President of the Board for All About Pink Breast Cancer Foundation.