UNSUNG HEROES: Becoming a Chicago Peace Fellow

By Jeanette Coleman
Chicago Peace Fellow

The part of the South Shore community that I represent has a large number of multi-unit apartment buildings with a very transient population. The need for family services was explored by our late pastor, Dr. Ronald J. Behm, who instituted day care services at both the church and our community center. With the increase in violence, our outreach initiative I AM MY BROTHER’S KEEPER UNITY DAY, founded by the Rev. Bailey M. Gant, sought to address this issue believing we could “change the culture, stop the violence.”

In other words, if we provide safe, positive alternatives for our youth, they will have more of a chance to be productive members of society.

Chicago Peace Fellows Jamila Trimuel (from left), Dr. Pamela Phoenix and Jackie Coleman discuss violence as an adaptive challenge in meeting with the Violence Recovery Team at the University of Chicago Trauma Center.


Becoming a Chicago Peace Fellow is a timely, refreshing opportunity in that it has helped me to learn more about myself and my leadership style, validated my life’s work, and connected me with passionate community leaders throughout the city who are dedicated to providing a unified approach to understanding and promoting positive initiatives to combat violence. Our collaborative efforts will surely make a difference.

The Chicago Peace Fellows share their personal learning styles using the Leadership Compass approach: Dr. Sokoni Karanja (from left), Dawn Hodges, Maria Velazquez, Jeanette Coleman, Velvian Boswell joined by John Zeigler of DePaul University's Egan Center.

As we take the time to connect with our community peace partners through neighborhood walks, I have particularly embraced the theory of Asset Based Community Development. This paradigm shift encourages us to consider the assets in our community rather than the deficits. I immediately was drawn to this concept and explored ideas of how I can approach community members, civic leaders and businesses as we work toward our unified goals of peacemaking.

Chicago Peace Fellows Dawn Hodges (from left), Robin Cline, Jeanette Coleman, Pamela Butts, Johnny Coleman, staff member Oz Ozburn, Executive Director Travis Rejman, Velvian Boswell, Jamila Trimuel, Coordinator Burrell Poe, Jacquelyn Moore and Gloria Smith participate in the CrimeLab presentation at the City Club of Chicago.

I very much enjoyed attending University of Chicago Crime Lab Executive Director Jens Ludwig’s presentation at the City Club of Chicago with other Peace Fellows. Ludwig cited crime statistics and inferred that a stronger, more positive relationship with the police department could make a difference. After that, I had the opportunity to engage in several conversations with policemen in my district, resulting in my agreement to be more active in CAPS meetings to address the concerns and present ideas of how we can build a stronger presence in our community.

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