Derion Barnes is a black culture wellness advocate dedicated to improving the quality of life in Chicago's most impoverished neighborhoods by any means. Born and raised on the Westside of Chicago, Derion saw firsthand the disinvestment in his Garfield Park community but also saw the potential for growth and development. As a community leader, Derion has facilitated local food drives to combat the lack of grocery stores and provide healthier food options for residents, assisted with back-to-school fundraisers for CPS students, and mentored youth by introducing holistic health practices like yoga and meditation as methods for gun violence prevention. With new projects, programs, and businesses starting to emerge west, Derion has positioned himself to engage with community to inform and reassure that changes are being made for us and by us.
Corey Dooley, is a survivor of domestic and gun violence. In 2013 he was shot 4 times by his stepfather who ambushed him and his family with a gun as they left his little brother's football game. Doctors gave him less than a 1% chance to survive. They said he wouldn't walk again, then he became the youngest candidate to run for the Chicago City Council in Chicago's 2023 Municipal Election; Alderman of the 29th Ward. Since overcoming this obstacle, he went on to play football and graduate from Concordia University, now working on his second Masters Degree in Architecture at Arizona State University.
Corey helped build up the business district on Chicago Avenue known as Soul City working with the Austin African American Business Networking Association, under the Invest South/West initiative. He has taught in Chicago Public Schools and also written a book, using pictures from his art therapy sessions. He is happily married to his beautiful wife and college sweetheart, Sierra.
"Just as I fought for my life, now I am fighting for our community."
Jasmin Graham is a Chicago native, raised in the West Garfield Park Community. She attended high school in the North Lawndale Community, and was a part of the first graduating class from North Lawndale College Prep - Collins Campus. In 2011, she attended Illinois State University and completed her final undergraduate semester in Greece, where she attended American College of Thessaloniki. Upon her return in 2015, she graduated from ISU with a degree in English Studies.
She has a Master's Degree in Education from DePaul University, and currently holds a Professional Educator License in the state of Illinois. Jasmin is also a Certified Yoga Instructor and wellness entrepreneur. In 2020, she became the founder and CEO of Spiritchill Wellness, which was created as a means to provide accessible and comprehensive yoga and fitness pop-up experiences. As a dedicated community advocate, Jasmin strives to build connections within her community to inform, advise and disseminate valuable information; to reach a common goal along with her fellow community stakeholders of improving life expectancy in Garfield Park.
Jasmin currently serves as the Family Support Coordinator at Breakthrough Urban Ministries, working closely with one of Chicago Public Schools newest initiatives, Back to Our Future. In addition to her commitment to serving her community, she is a board member of the following: Breakthrough Urban Ministries Young Professionals, Garfield Park Conservatory Community Advisory and the West Side United Community Advisory Council.
During her spare time, Jasmin loves going to the gym, traveling, reading, trying new recipes and spending time with family and friends. In the future, Jasmin plans to expand her business, continue community involvement and travel to every continent in the world.
Jonathan Johnson serves as one of the Ministers at the Maypole Avenue Church of Christ. Jonathan is a native Chicagoan who grew up in the East Garfield Park area with his three older sisters. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration at East West University as well as a Bachelor's Degree in Biblical Studies from New Life Bible College in Cleveland, Tennessee. For the past eight years, Jonathan has worked in the youth advocacy field where he provides mentorship and support for struggling youth, helping them with their particular needs. Jonathan has an intense passion for giving back and rebuilding communities on the Westside of Chicago.
Ant Jones serves as the Organizer & Outreach Coordinator for Westside Rising. His focus is to build relationships with other leaders , individuals & organizations to help build a better and more equitably invested Westside. He has lived on the Westside his entire life , having deep roots in the community. His latest accomplishments was organizing the 2023 Mayoral Candidates Forum which was held at Bethel Lutheran Church. He also serves as the president of Bethel Lutheran Church, CEO of By Dezignz Painting & Renovations, Director of his own not for profit The Street Priests and organizer for the Westend/Maypole & Washington Block Club.
Outside of community work, Ant loves bowling, steppin' and grillin'.
Elaine Marthel, the resilient founder of Project Impact 180, has firsthand experience growing up in a community plagued by economic decline. Despite facing personal hardships, such as becoming a single teen mother and losing her father at a tender age, she defied the odds and achieved remarkable success.
Elaine's journey is a testament to her unwavering perseverance and determination. She tirelessly pursued her education and transformed her own experiences into a powerful platform for guiding young individuals in overcoming their obstacles. Her mantra, "Youth are not a job but youth are my ministry," exemplifies her unwavering commitment to transforming the lives of young people.
With over 25 years of dedicated youth advocacy through Project Impact 180, Elaine has mentored and positively influenced the lives of more than 1000 young individuals. Her deep affection for the youth resonates through her every action, firmly believing that with hope and support, anyone can transcend their circumstances.
Elaine's inspiring story serves as a powerful reminder that our origins and challenges do not define us. She empowers others to recognize their own potential to effect change within themselves and their communities. By sharing her journey, Elaine encourages individuals to harness their inner strength and embrace the power they hold to shape a brighter future for themselves and those around them.
Del Marie is a Chicago born Creative Visionary & Performing Artist hailing from the Westside of Chicago. Teaching Artist by Day Performing Artist by night, Del Marie was originally known for her Afro Diaspora & Hip Hop Dance Moves, and now she is primarily known for her powerful music and beautiful live performance concerts.
Fun fact, you may have caught her on national television a few times: in Black Girls Rock National Commercial "Love", Windy City Live, and in Chance the Rapper and Joey Purps music video "Girls@".
Outside of being great on the stage or T.V. screen, you can find her being great in the classrooms. She is a Teaching Artist in schools across Chicago, for Dance, Rapping, Poetry and Visual Arts. She has taught Performance Arts to students in Juvenile Detention Centers, India, and trained in the arts in Costa Rica.
Felicia Oliver is a visionary entrepreneur and the esteemed founder of O & A Financial Services, a renowned business consulting firm located on Chicago's Westside, specifically in the vibrant Austin community. With a passion for empowering small businesses and startups, Felicia embarked on her entrepreneurial journey in 1991, establishing O & A Financial Services as a beacon of guidance and support for aspiring entrepreneurs in the area.
Felicia's unwavering commitment to her community has been the driving force behind the success of O & A Financial Services. Recognizing the need for financial education and empowerment in underserved communities of color, she set out to make a lasting impact. With each passing year, Felicia's firm has grown exponentially, expanding its services and client base while remaining deeply rooted in its mission of fostering financial literacy.
Under Felicia's astute leadership, O & A Financial Services has become a trusted partner for small businesses and startups seeking comprehensive business consulting solutions. Felicia and her dedicated team provide invaluable expertise in areas such as financial planning, budgeting, tax preparation, and strategic business development. By offering tailored services and personalized guidance, they enable entrepreneurs to navigate the complex world of finance and unlock their full potential for growth and success.
West Side born, North Lawndale raised, ---Jay Simon is a Chicago based photographer, curator and creative director in the arts, fashion design, and architecture industry.
He has spent the last 10 years developing his expertise as the "go to guy" for executing engaging projects that cultivate connections and profitable business in many diversified communities.
His mission is to create, document and share memorable and interesting stories of unknown people, places and things one community at a time.
Drea Slaughter is the Community Engagement Manager at Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance. This is her second year in the role, but she brings over ten years of experience and commitment to improving lives on the westside of Chicago.
Meet a determined individual whose life journey has been a rollercoaster of challenges and transformation. Born and raised in the heart of old Humboldt Park, Chicago. The streets Dee Velez grew up on exposed him to a world filled with drugs, gangs, violence, and homelessness, casting a shadow of uncertainty over his early years. However, his life took a profound turn when his parents decided to change their lives for the better, leading him to discover the beauty of healthier lifestyles, security, peace, and opportunities.
Through the guiding light of community and church programs, he found a beacon of hope and realized that there was a better way to live; one that embraced positivity and progress. While he may not have always made the wisest decisions, he has learned to draw strength from his mistakes, extend forgiveness to himself, and forge ahead with newfound determination.
In 2019, he resolved to make better decisions, then 2020 happened, which he now calls the "year of reflection." That year Dee created a mission statement: to create a long-lasting positive impact on my city, my country, and the world. Since then, he has strived to align every decision with this mission, becoming more intentional about his actions and contributions to society.
Now, he finds himself part of an exciting program that holds promise for my future. Filled with enthusiasm and hope, he is eager to see where this journey will lead him. Armed with a burning desire to effect change, he aims to utilize his unique experiences, resilience, and unwavering determination to shape a brighter future not only for himself but for the communities that have shaped him. His story is fueled by positivity, authenticity, transparency, and a commitment to lasting relationships. Dee believes in making a global impact, breaking barriers, and shaping a brighter future.
Edward Ward is a husband, a minster, an activist, an Educator, and a community organizer. Edward was born and raised on the Westside of Chicago. He attended Orr High school and graduated in 2016 from DePaul University with a degree in Political Science. He is the founder of MOVE, a black men's empowerment organization.
As a Restorative Justice policy advocate, Edward is passionate about changing the structure of public education in marginalized communities. He is currently running for Elected School Board on the Westside of Chicago. Edward has vowed to be an advocate for those who can't advocate for themselves, and to train young people in advocacy work across the country.
Michelle Williams is a lifetime resident of Austin. Born and raised in the community she loves and is 100% vested. Michelle is Chicago Police Officer. She currently serves as a District Coordination Officer in the 15th District where she focuses on building and maintaining relationships with community stakeholders, identifying chronic crime conditions, addressing community-oriented concerns, and establishing problem-oriented solutions. This has allowed her to address the community in a more personal and accessible approach. Michelle attended Proviso West high school and Central State University in Ohio and later returned to Austin to teach special needs children in Austin's very own McNair elementary. Michelle's goal has always been to give back as much as she gets from her favorite neighborhood, and she has been able to do just that as a District Coordination Officer (DCO) providing the necessary resources, guidance, support and collaboration with many great organizations in the Austin community. Michelle has had the opportunity to work as a mentor/ coach for Chicago Westside Sports program creating a safe and fun environment with a little help and guidance along the way for the youth on the Westside of Chicago. Every year, Michelle chooses a young lady and sponsors them with their senior fees, prom, and luncheon. Michelle is also a certified G.R.E.A.T instructor. She educates and trains the youth at schools on the Westside about gang resistance. Michelle was recently honored in her community as one of Austin's Great 28 for all the amazing work she has done.
Metasha Young is a 5-year experienced officer in the Chicago Police Department. She currently serves as a Community Policing Officer in CPD's 15th District, as a Domestic Violence Liaison Officer, where she connects with victims and brings awareness to Domestic Violence to the community. She is a graduate of Concordia University. She is a certified personal trainer and the owner of a fitness studio in Austin. She is a certified Doula.
Her goal is to positively impact the community and help create a better community through wellness and fitness. She would like to give young girls the opportunity to see that hard work and determination will help you achieve your goals.
Metasha also serves as a coach and mentor coach for the Chicago Westside Police and Youth Sports Conference.
Metasha believes serving others is her purpose and is her passion. She enjoys serving the City of Chicago.
Elianne "Ely"Bahena (she, her, ella) is an immigration rights advocate and justice-driven professional from the Little Village neighborhood. She has a background in community partnerships, nonprofit management, and empowering vulnerable communities. Elianne serves as the Director of Policy and Community Outreach at the 22nd Ward Public Service Office where her focus is to ensure the best quality of life for the residents of the Ward. Before joining the 22nd Ward, she worked in the nonprofit sector for more than seven years, advocating for the protection of immigrant survivors of Domestic Violence and for the rights of immigrant communities across Illinois.
In addition to her work, Elianne currently serves as the Chairwoman of Enlace Chicago’sAssociate Board (ECAB),Co-Chair of the Young Women’s Giving Council at the Chicago Foundation for Women, the Executive Board of HACE's Chicago Auxiliary Board, and the Board of Directors for Mujeres Latinas en Accion.
As a proud daughter to immigrant parents and as a first generation college graduate, Elianne uses her personal experiences to empower and bring justice to immigrant communities.
LaCreshia Birts is a Chicago native who is deeply devoted to restorative and economic justice. She began organizing in 2014 around police accountability and criminal justice reform. She earned her stripes as a community organizer by volunteering with groups such as BYP100, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR), and Ujimaa Medics (UMedics). In 2019, LaCreshia co-founded the Black Remembrance Project and initiated a city-wide campaign to get Juneteenth recognized as an official holiday. In addition to coordinating local Juneteenth efforts, she works with local and national groups fighting for reparations for Descendants of U.S. Chattel Slavery. LaCreshia is now the Coordinator for the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA).
Jamil is originally from E. St. Louis, IL and moved to the Chicago area with his mother and younger sister when he was about to start 5th grade. His mom ended up meeting his father figure when he was turning 12 yrs old, who worked for the Kane County Sheriff Dept. His father figure was the person who led Jamil into a career in law enforcement. Jamil has worked in law enforcement over the last 27 yrs of his life, but he has worked for Chicago Police Dept. for the last 10 yrs of his career. He is currently assigned to the 010th District CAPS Office as the Youth Liaison and the Faith Based Liaison. Having that assignment means that Jamil is Officer Friendly. He visits the schools in the community to conduct the officer friendly training for kindergarten through 3rd grade students.Another aspect of his job in the CAPS Office is that he works with churches in the community, and he hosts monthly meetings to build relationships. He has spent his entire career working the North Lawndale /Little Village community, but the reason he moved to North Lawndale was that he fell in love and got married to a wonderful woman. They both have a passion to serve their community, and attempt to live that daily with their children.
Patricia "Patty" Carrillo is a driven Community Activist and impassioned President of the 1000 & 1100 Block of Monticello Block Club. She has been a champion community leader for the past 5 years. Deeply devoted to her neighbors and community at large. Patty’s name resonates deep within the community and she seeks to build alliances with everyone. The way she engages in her activism has caught the attention of City Hall, the Chicago Police Department, and most importantly the community members. Patty’s strength and tenacity has created such an impact that community based organizations have sought her assistance to aid in building a safer community. Patty is doing the “Work of the Community” while working two jobs, a Beat facilitator - 11th District, Court advocate, and union steward. Patty is a stealth communicator designing ways and carving out time addressing the many ills of our blocks and surrounding areas. 1000 & 1100 N. Monticello overrun by drug dealing, shootings, noise pollution, and loitering for well over 40 years. Patty began to organize the neighbors, police and community organization which has brought about the change you see today.
Patricia Carrillo, a Mexican immigrant sought refuge in the United States 24 years ago seeking a better life for her and her family. Patty is the oldest of 5 children born to Clementina and Gerardo Carrillo. A mother raising two sons Hugo Jr. and Angel along with her paramour of over 15 years Hugo Sr.
Alees Edwards is a community organizer that has over 10 years of experience meeting the needs in the underserved community. Her extensive work in the community has stretched across her professional career and personal life. Alees uses faith-based principles as a foundation to implement anti-violence strategies for community safety, minister to those that are experiencing homelessness, reaching out to those that with a previous record and/or have been incarcerated, and providing resources and meeting the needs in marginalized communities. Her mission is to facilitate the process of creating whole individuals, financially thriving communities, and healthy strong family units.
Lee Ann Eiland is a collaborative thought leader and highly experienced nonprofit professional. Lee Ann grew up on the west side of Chicago in the Austin neighborhood. She studied both Biochemistry at University of Illinois at Chicago and Organizational Management at Concordia University, however she found her passion in nonprofits. Lee Ann has worked in social service, healthcare systems and educational nonprofit institutions throughout her professional career. Lee Ann is the principal of Eiland and Associates, a financial and nonprofit consulting firm. Her wealth of knowledge and experience comes from more than 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector.
Lee Ann Eiland currently works with Hope Excel Reaching the World Academy and Excel Community Development Corporations as their Director of Strategic Funding Partnership. She supports these local nonprofits with their individual and corporate partnerships as well as fundraising events. LeeAnn was drawn to the mission of the organizations because working with children and in the Austin community both hold a special place in her heart. Lee Ann used her intersectionality as a woman, mother and entrepreneur to co-found a brave and safe supportive space for moms entitled Mama Needs Love Too. Through her work with moms, Lee Ann is able to champion self care, entrepreneurship and living fearlessly.
Lee Ann enjoys reading, playing sports and board games with her two kids and retail therapy.
Union Organizer & Community Activist. The youngest of Mary & Joseph (et al) Gardner’s 3 daughters, Crystal E Gardner was born into a public servant lifestyle. Crystal is a proud Westsider, daughter of Austin, the 3rd largest neighborhood by population & geography, and a proud CPS alum. Crystal graduated from Sayre Language Academy (1997) and Whitney M. Young High School in 2001. After high school, Crystal attended Florida A&M University for 2 years and returned home to complete her BA in Arts, Entertainment and Media Management at Columbia College Chicago. She then worked at Plato Learning Academy in Austin before enrolling in DePaul’s School of Public Service Masters program. In 2013, Crystal would ultimately receive her MS degree in Public Service Management with a focus on International Public Service. It was through this program Crystal was able to study abroad in Kenya, and learn the beauty and effectiveness of social enterprise, and other forms of grassroots, assets-based, community-driven development.
Crystal’s professional resume would reflect her desire to serve and enhance the quality of life for vulnerable populations. Having worked a multitude of jobs that allowed direct engagement with the public cemented the values that guides her community advocacy and work throughout the 1st District. While working at a UCAN Residential, a child welfare agency in North Lawndale, Crystal Gardner was introduced to worker’s collective bargaining rights and union organizing. After being educated and trained by the AFSCME Council 31 Organizers, Crystal would step up and become the public face of the 2018 UCAN employees organizing drive and winning despite a challenging fight.
Crystal Gardner currently serves on the board of the Austin, faith-based criminal justice reform organization, The Justice Renewal Initiative, as the 2nd Vice President & Chair of CommunityPartnerships. She is a Civic Engagement Strategy Lead for the Austin Coming Together Quality of Life Plan. Crystal works as a Union Organizer for AFSCME Council 31, and recently lead the museum workers at the Art Institute of Chicago to a union victory in January 2022! Crystal made history within her staff union as well, as the first Organizer in 10 years to be elected as a Member-At-Large on the Bargaining Team.
Crystal stands firmly on her belief that fighting for social justice on the job and within her communities is an assignment from God, and the only way to enhance the quality of life of our most vulnerable sisters and brothers is through progressive organizing and people power.
Jaleesa Harris is a physician who is passionate about health equity and health education. She is currently completing her residency training in family medicine at Stroger Cook County Hospital. She has attended some of the best educational institutes in Chicago. From graduating from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, to receiving her Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago to obtaining her medical degree from Chicago Medical School. Dr. Harris was born and raised on the west side of Chicago and this is where she chooses to invest her gifts, talents and skills. In 2017, she founded the community project Mystery Organs where she used cadaver organs to teach health-centered science lessons to elementary and high school aged students in the Austin community. In her free-time, she enjoys writing and spending time with the youth at her local church.
Jackie Hoffman grew up in Chicago’s Westside Garfield Park Community. Jackie used sports as an outlet from the reality of Chicago’s inner city issues. He attended Curie High School. While attending Curie, he played both basketball and football, with football making the Final Four appearance. He earned Team Captain, All-Conference and All-Area honors. After graduating from Curie High school, he attended College of Dupage Community College. While at College of Dupage he was named first team All Conference and All-Region, earned preseason NJCAA All- American nod, and played in NJCAA All American game. He Earned a Division 1 scholarship to Bethune Cookman University. Jackie was a key contributor to Bethune Cookman’s top FCS program during his two year career at the university, winning multiple awards including MEAC All- Academic Team. Jackie graduated from Bethune Cookman with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Jackie’s professional football career concluded with a Chicago Bears workout and Arena League appearances with teams in both Iowa and Pittsburgh.
Jackie’s football career done and wanting to continue pursuing making a difference in the community, he turned to a career to be of service for the community. Which led him to law enforcement. His career choice mirrored his purpose and passion he has for his community. Through his experience in law enforcement he’s had the opportunity to give back to the community by mentoring at risk youth in detention centers and correctional facilities .Participated in community events such as career days, school fairs, athletic youth leagues, and 5K runs. It was in this profession he learned that health and wellness was important to him. As a law enforcement officer with the Atlanta Police Department and being directly impacted by the stress of the job, and long hours it was quite easy to get out of shape and become unhealthy. This is where he began his own fitness journey and realized how eating healthy and working out not only relieves stress but also improved his overall health.
When he moved back to Chicago and witnessed how much quality gyms cost and the lack of knowledge and resources that people in the community had on health and wellness he put his passion and purpose into giving back to the community and PeaceRunners 773 was created. Jackie Hoffman currently is Founder and President of PeaceRunners 773. PeaceRunners 773 is a non-Profit 501(c) 3 organization founded On June 19th 2021 with the mission is to provide affordable health and wellness in Chicago’s underserved Westside communities. Programming focuses on the three main points of health and wellness which are physical, mental and social.
DeAngelo is a first-generation college graduate, earning a Bachelor ofArts in Criminology, Law, and Justice from the University of Illinois At Chicago. As undergrad, DeAngelo worked as a student administrative assistant in the Criminology department and briefly as a research assistant in the Sociology department. While working as a student administrative assistant and research assistant, DeAngelo learned new skills such as using excel and canvas to analyze and collect data and create a visual representation. Also, honing his skills, such as effective communication, leadership, team-working, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
DeAngelo grew up on the Westside of Chicago. As a youth, he attended a youth center in East Garfield park known as Breakthrough Urban Ministeries. There he participated in both after-school sports and mentoring programs.This experience helped mold him as a young man through the mentorship and support from Breakthrough staff. After graduating from college, DeAngelo took a full position at Breakthrough as the Sports and Fitness coordinator. In this role, he led a weekly middle- school-age boys mentoring group, created community partnerships with local elementary schools, and implemented new youth sports and fitness programs. Three years into his role now as a Sports and Fitness CenterAssociate Director, DeAngelo has built intentional relationships with youth and families within the community. His aspirations are to provide the families he services with equity opportunities and resources.
Roberta Logwood has 15+ years of experience as a mentor, youth organizer, and spoken word artist. Additionally, she’s very passionate about modeling, and ensuring young women see themselves as beautiful, both inside and out. She believes that part of succeeding is knowing who you are (your true identity), and this can be fostered by providing mentorship, and encouraging accountability. Roberta has led programs that include but not limited to: Spoken Word, Suicide Awareness, and Missing & Exploited Teens. In addition to her experience, she has 3 years of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) training, is CPR &AED Certified, Mental Health FirstAid Certified, and has 10+ years of early childhood in-home education. Roberta envisions a world where everyone is able to fully express themselves with confidence, thereby alleviating some of the stressors that come with the trials and tribulations of life.
Aisha T. Oliver is an innovative empath, with a passion for healing and relationship building. A born advocate and leader within and around her community. Partnered with her savvy business skills she found her niche in community engagement. As the founder/strategy leader of Root2fruit Youth Foundation she creates, develops, and leads programs tailored to the youth in the Austin community. Now adding Community Engagement Specialist with Ann & Robert Lure Children's Hospital to her title. Aisha is able to advocate and be a liaison between the hospital and Austin, responding to the needs of the residents. Aisha wrote and published her first book "IUsedToKnowHer" in 2020. As a long time resident in the Austin community, Aisha has been successful at building relationships with Austin resident youth, community leaders, local business owners and school administrators. She leads a team of youth that are responsible for creating safe intergenerational community spaces. Aisha also designed the strategy for the youth led Austin Safety Action Plan, leading and developing the next generation of young leaders on Chicago's Westside. In2023 Aisha will launch her C3 Strategy for Culturally Competent Community Engagement.
Mercedes Pickett is the founder and CEO of a local non-profit, Earth's Remedies (E.R.). As a community architect, she connects the West Side scholars, families, and small businesses to free developmental resources, allowing the residents to improve their quality of life and life expectancy. Mercedes is also a database developer at an innovative analytics firm, StrategIQ Commerce, and has grown with the company for more than a decade. She uses her technical skills to create a cohesive, decentralized network for shared resources and streamline communications.
Mercedes' community service work began during her primary education year, as she would tutor her peers and mentor the younger class. Receiving the Gates Millennium Scholar in 2009, Mercedes attended DePaul University, receiving her Bachelors in Literacy Studies. In 2016, Mercedes launched Earth's Remedies, a platform that connected free tutoring services to scholars located in historically disinvested neighborhoods. As Earth's Remedies evolved into a hub of resources, Mercedes noticed, that in order to meet the scholar's needs, the community would have to address additional hardships the scholar and their families were facing. Earth's Remedies now connect disenfranchised communities to free financial literacy, health & wellness, education, business resources, and violence prevention resources; and as a community stakeholder, investing on the West-side of Chicago, Mercedes hopes to create greenhouses around the West-side to connect families to safe spaces and wellness resources.
Lady was born and raised on the Westside of Chicago in the North Lawndale community. She’s a proud aunt of 18 nieces and nephews. Lady graduated with a B.A. in Mass Communications from Benedict College. She’s a proud HBCU graduate! While working on the pursuit of her dreams to one day become a Film Producer and Director, she focuses on giving back to the youth within and outside of her community. She is persistent and dedicated to the greater good of all people especially young people and seeks to advance as an individual. They say “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”
Edward Whitaker is an experienced officer in the Chicago Police Department. He currently serves as a Community Policing Officer in CPD’s 15th District, where he develops community-based strategies involving law enforcement and nonprofit partners. Edward is a Chicago native who was born on the city’s Westside in the West Humboldt Park community and is now a resident ofAustin. He is a graduate of George Westinghouse HS and North Park University.
At the heart of his philosophy to positively impact the lives of Chicagoans, is creating a culture of legacy. The goal is to provide a tangible example to the youth he mentors. In community policing, the goal is to employ social justice as a violence prevention strategy. Addressing issues of access, equity, rights, and participation has yielded positive results in both reducing violence and improving the quality of life for residents in some of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods.
Edward was named Illinois Fatherhood Initiative 2021 Community Father of The Year. Edward also serves as a coach and mentor for the Chicago Westside Police and Youth Sports Conference.
Born in North Lawndale and raised in the Austin Community on Chicago’s Greater Westside by two phenomenal parents who taught her to operate with integrity, care for and about people, advocate for her community, especially it’s most vulnerable, have a strong work ethic and lastly be truthful in her words, actions and deeds. Arewa Winters gained much lived experience and cultural identity working as a Youth Prevention Specialist and Case Manager for the mentally ill and homeless at Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Community Health Care Center. She is currently taking a Trauma & Resiliency Training with the Arizona Trauma Institute to become a certified Life Coach in Trauma Care. She is the Founder and Spokeswoman for The 411 Movement for Pierre Loury since 2016. She lost her great nephew to a police involved shooting and it is what ignited her work for police oversight, accountably, reform and social justice.
She currently serves as the Administrative Coordinator for United Congress for Community and Religious Organizations. UCCRO is a grassroots-led multi-ethnic and multi-faith human right alliance mobilizing people, policy and ideals to drive societal transformation and forge unity for the equitable advancement of marginalized communities. She is also the Project Lead for Roots To Wings (GKMC). RTW is an initiative from Goodkidmadcity Peacebook. RTW is a collective of Impacted Families, Organizers, Activist that desire to create opportunities for families who have experience gun violence to receive financial support and resources that may help with the trauma, pain, and harm following the loss or injury of a loved one. She is a member of the Oral History Working Group with The Human Rights Lab-Pozen, aboard member with Women’s All Points Bulletin, a Racial Healing Practitioner with Truth, Racial Healing &Transformation, a Campbell Plaintiff which has caused her to become an integral part of the Coalition overseeing the Chicago Consent Decree. She is also served as the first ever Cochairman of the CPD Use of Force Working Group along with Chief Ernest Cato III. She currently volunteers with Empowering Communities for Public Safety. ECPS is a Coalition formed out of negotiations between Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) campaign and the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA).
Arewa is a classically trained chef (LeCordonBleu-2012), spoken word artist and a loving mother & grandmother, who when not fostering civic changes and racial equity; enjoys spending time with family, friends and comrades, cooking, laughing, learning, loving, and enjoying life.