Meet the 2020 Chicago Peace Fellows

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By Travis Rejman
Executive Director

The Goldin Institute invites you to learn about each of our 2020 Chicago Peace Fellows representing 14 community areas across the city.  Founded in 2019 in collaboration with the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities, the Chicago Peace Fellows program is the only leadership development program that is built by and for grassroots community leaders on the South and West sides of Chicago.

Peace Fellows participate in GATHER, an online asset-based community engagement course, as well as in-person training, collaborative action projects, and networking experiences with civic leaders, academic researchers, and policy makers. The Chicago Peace Fellows reduce violence by building relationships, engaging youth, collaborative peace building projects over the summer and by creating new networks among residents, families, schools, and nonprofit organizations.

 

2020 CHICAGO PEACE FELLOWS

Angelina Zayas PPAngelina Zayas (Hermosa) is the CEO and co-founder of GAP Community Center. She has been serving as executive director for 20 years in the Hermosa community. Her vision is to see children of all ages succeed in school, to help under-resourced families, and to provide wellness services to her community. The mission of the GAP Community Center is to unlock the potential in and with our community by providing services to the Greater Chicago area through education, health awareness, advocacy, and community-linked services. The purpose of the community center is to provide a variety of services to families and youths on the Northwest Side in order to build on individual, family and community strengths, and develop the individuals’ and families’ capacities to thrive. 

 

Annamaria Leon PPAnnaMaria Leon (North Lawndale) is co-owner of Homan Grown, L3C, a social enterprise focused on propagating urban durable perennials, and on creating regenerative edible and ornamental landscapes. A certified permaculture designer and teacher, she is co-founder of the Permaculture Chicago Teaching Institute, located in the North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago's West Side. Annamaria focuses her community organizing efforts through projects that reflect her love of greening and beautification.

 

Cosette Nazon Wilburn PPCosette Nazon-Wilburn (Woodlawn) is a humanitarian, teacher, marketing entrepreneur and executive director of the Love, Unity and Values (LUV) Institute, a not-for-profit organization actively working to reduce poverty among vulnerable youth impacted by trauma, ages 11 to 24, at critical stages in their lives. Through its five programs and professional development workshops, LUV is building youth resiliency through social-emotional learning, providing college and workforce readiness, and facilitating job placement for more than 300 youth annually. A fearless and dedicated community activist organization focused on bringing law enforcement and youth together, LUV was selected to oversee the 2019 Hyde Park Halloween Festival. As a result, there were no arrests or vandalism. This is a significant improvement from the 2018 event, which cited significant property damage and 12 arrests. LUV will continue to lead the event in 2020. Cosette and her organization are recipients of several community awards.

 

Damen Morriss PPDamen Morris (East Garfield Park) is a 39-year-old African American man who was incarcerated at the age of 17 for 10 years and 3 months. When he was released, he fortunately came into contact with Breakthrough Ministries, who gave him a second chance, and surrounded him with a great support system and leaders who encouraged and challenged him to develop professionally. In his 12 years at Breakthrough Ministries, he has been promoted from a program assistant for homeless intervention to the director of violence prevention under the Communities Partnering for Peace initiative.

 

David Gonzalez PPDavid Gonzalez (Back of the Yards) is executive director of Port Ministries, located in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood. Before that, he was program director for AS220, a non-profit arts organization in Providence, RI, that worked with adjudicated young people. He likes comics and Hip-Hop. Port Ministries is always trying to create out-of-the-box projects that engage the entire community. In addition to ongoing programs and services, Port Ministries hosts various unique community projects that aim to educate, inspire, engage and empower participants of all ages.

 

Jennifer Maddox PPJennifer Maddox (Woodlawn) is the founder of Future Ties, a not-for-profit organization that provides a safe place where youth can come and experience love, support, and protection. A single mother of two African American males, and a new grandmother to a beautiful grandson, Jennifer holds multiple advanced degrees and has 23 years of service with the Chicago Police Department, currently working in Restorative Justice Division. She fights to educate, protect, and serve communities, and in 2011, she incorporated Future Ties to provide after-school and summer programs to youths and also training in workforce skills and other topics for parents as well as teens of the Woodlawn community, primarily residents of Parkway Gardens Apartments. Jennifer has won multiple awards and honors, including being named one of CNN's top ten Heroes for 2017 and as "Someone You Should Know" by ABC 7.

 

Joseph Williams PPJoseph Williams (Woodlawn) is the founder of the Mr. Dads Fathers Club and husband and father to 5 beautiful children. In 2019, Joseph ran for alderman of the 15th Ward and he is also the president of Parents Advisory Council and Local School Council at Beasley Academic Center. His entire life's work has dealt with helping others and focusing on ways to support our youth.

 

 LaKeisha Gray Sewell PPLa'Keisha Gray-Sewell (Englewood) is a writer and digital strategist by trade; and a nationally recognized girls advocate by life assignment. Combining both, she serves to help individuals and organizations identify relevant digital platforms to narrate their stories. She is the author of “Move Beyond the Block,” a self-empowerment tool for women and girls. In 2011 she founded the Girls Like Me Project and in October 2015, the organization was acknowledged by U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis and the 114th Congress for its efforts. La'Keisha recently visited Kumasi, Ghana, to build partnerships for the organization’s Global Connections program. A native Chicagoan, La’Keisha has been named as a Salvation Army Hero; Chicago Defender’s 40 Under 40 to Watch in 2012; recognized amongst Trumpet Magazine’s Movers and Shakers Under 40; and featured in Ebony Magazine as well as WVON. She is a proud wife, and mother of 2 brilliant humans and 2 furry babies.

 

 Margaret Murphy Webb PPMargaret Murphy-Webb (South Chicago) is a Chicago-based musician and activist. A graduate of Chicago State University with a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance, she is an award-winning international performer with over 30 years of experience. Margaret retired as a Chicago Police officer with 22 years of service. One of the first police officers trained in crisis intervention, she was named Police Officer of the Year in 2004 for her work with teens and homeless people in Uptown. In 2018, Margaret was named Chicago’s Jazz Hero by the Jazz Journalists of America for her work as co-founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, the South Side Jazz Coalition, which produces and promotes free music and educational events on the South Side. Margaret is a co-chair of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events for the Year of Chicago Music 2020 and a member of the City of Chicago Cultural Council.

 

 Marqus Crockett PPMarqus Crockett (Auburn Gresham) is an artist, designer, yogi, writer, and health enthusiast. Marqus uses art as a tool to get my message across, and over the last 3 years, his organization has started a garden in the Auburn Gresham community and hosted events and workshops spreading health information. A frequent public speaker and a member of the Obama Community Leadership Corp, he created a collection of products including clothing designed to help individuals stay rooted in their personal health journey. As a child, Marqus saw health issues plaguing his family, but as a young adult, he was privileged to access information that the previous generation lacked, and connected the dots of eating habits and ways of living. He changed his diet and lifestyle, and now dedicates his life to spreading a message of wellness as the Director of SOUL: Sustainable Options for Urban Living.

 

 Marvinetta Woodley Penn PPMarvinetta Woodley-Penn (South Chicago) is the founder and executive director of Global Girls, Inc., a 20-year-old female empowerment/performing arts organization. She is also a voice-over talent, writer, performer and workshop facilitator. Ms. Penn has worked with youth for nearly 40 years - 19 years as a Chicago Public Schools English and theatre instructor. She worked abroad as a performer, and returned to youth work and founded Global Girls. She firmly believes that all girls, given the right foundation, can grow into womanhood whole and healthy while contributing to the community. Sharing her love of international travel and girls’ empowerment, she’s taken Global Girls company members on arts exchange initiatives to Ghana, Kenya, India and Grenada. Ms. Penn has been recognized as an outstanding leader by several organizations including the 8th Ward Democratic Organization, Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, Club Owners Association and Bronzeville Children’s museum.

 

 Meghan Olson PPMeghan Olson (West Garfield Park) started her work in 2006 after an incident in which her father was falsely accused of a crime in Puerto Rico. While there, Father Miguel Ferrer provided guidance, kindness, compassion and faith to the Olson family, and though Fr. Ferrer passed away shortly afterward, she founded the Ferrer Foundation to honor his life through the work being done within One For One. A lifelong Chicagoan, Ms. Olson worked with the Chicago Public Schools Office of Early Childhood Education, and facilitated the Cradle to Classroom Program on the West Side of Chicago. In 2010, Ms. Olson partnered with the Community Renewal Society to successfully change a Department of Corrections policy in favor of families of the incarcerated. Ms. Olson holds a B.A. in Child Development and Family Studies from Arizona State University, and served on the advisory board for Passages Alternative Living Programs, a social service agency.

 

Michael Henderson PPMichael Henderson (North Lawndale) is a Youth Development Coach at UCAN with a passion for mentoring, life coaching, and helping others succeed. Michael has a decade of successful experience in counseling and community development. A strong believer in the power of positive influence, Michael is a hands-on coach who invest his time and resources in his clients dreams and goals. Michael is a visionary leader with a vision for youth entrepreneurship and community collaboration. Michael enjoys a good Netflix binge but can also be found in the gym lifting weights or taking a nice run in the Forest Preserve.

 

 Michelle Day PPMichelle Day (Roseland) is a minister, attorney and certified mediator with years of experience in conflict transformation, and is dedicated to the healing of community. She leads Nehemiah Trinity Rising, which educates and trains restorative justice practices and provides implementation strategies for restorative practices in all community settings. Through the Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative, Ms. Day is assisting in developing trauma informed communities and congregations. She participates in the End Money Bail Coalition and is a member of the governor-appointed Task Force on Children of Incarcerated Parents. She serves as the Resource Section member of the Community Restorative Justice HUBS leadership circle, which provides guidance to RJ Hubs and assisted in the formation of the Community Restorative Justice Court. She is a graduate of McCormick Theological Seminary, DePaul College of Law and Indiana University.

 

 Mona Antwan PPMona Antwan (Citywide) is the founder of Mindfulness Leader, a not-for-profit organization that is the first-of-its-kind high school elective and after-school program in the City of Chicago dedicated to creating positive changes in the lives of our youth through teaching them the art of mindfulness. This project-based series equips youth with the power to ignite their light and become the best version of themselves. Under Ms. Antwan’s senior leadership, Mindfulness Leader has seen a rapid expansion from its conception in 2017 to a highly sought-after initiative with students racing to join the class and learn to lead from within. Her signature issues include reversing generational poverty, showcasing inspirational youth who beat the odds, and promoting the importance of self-awareness. Ms. Antwan brings over 18 years of intensive training in mindfulness.

 

 Pamela Bosley PPPamela Montgomery-Bosley (Roseland) graduated from Olivet University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and spent more than 20 years as a banker. But after one of her sons, Terrell Bosley, was shot and killed on the grounds of a church in 2006, she decided to make a difference in the lives of youths and parents whose children were taken by violence. As St. Sabina’s violence prevention manager, Bosley has empowered young people to be leaders and self-advocates, guiding them to discover their own voices and abilities to bring change to their communities. Bosley is also the co-founder of Purpose Over Pain, an organization founded to support parents who have lost children to violence, advocate for common sense gun measures, and provide a safe space for youth. She also is the president and founder of The Terrell Bosley Anti-Violence Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping youth and families in need.

 

 Phillip Jackson PPPhilip Jackson (North Lawndale) has served God full-time in urban youth ministry for over 30 years. In 2003, Pastor Phil planted at church called The House a hip-hop worship service. The House has been featured on BET, Fox News Chicago, MSNBC Nightly News, PBS, WGN, Jet (2006), Ebony (2010), Campus Life (2005), The New York Times, and the Chicago Sun-Times. Phil is founder and CEO of the Firehouse Community Arts Center, a converted 100-year-old Chicago Firehouse, preventing and interrupting violence through the arts and faith, moving young men 18-25 toward workforce development, education, wholistic transformation and empowerment with dance, culinary arts, music, film and visual arts. He co-authored the book, “The Hip-Hop Church,” and was praised as “one of the most superbly gifted youth ministers I have ever met" by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.

 

Quilen Blackwell PPQuilen Blackwell (Englewood) is president and co-founder of the Chicago Eco House, a nonprofit based in Englewood that has the mission of using sustainability to alleviate poverty. We do this by converting vacant lots into off grid flower farms that creates jobs for at risk young people. Eco House has four farms around Chicago in the Englewood, West Garfield Park, and Woodlawn neighborhoods, and one farm in Detroit.

 

Tameka Walton PPTameka Walton (Washington Park) is a social activist for change who believes in utilizing the tools of yoga and mindfulness to help communities heal. Tameka has worked in the area of nonprofit development for over 15 years, including serving as Executive Director for Strive and providing leadership for Restored Hope. When not running her nonprofit or teaching yoga, she enjoys soccer games with her four children.

 

Victoria Brady PPVictoria Brady (South Shore) is the Founder/Pastor of Restoring Hope Ministries International. She is also the president of Annie B. Jones Community Services, a unique center for cross-generational arts-entrepreneurialism, culture, peace-building, activism, and community empowerment. She is developing a leadership model to help aspiring artists and other youths become change agents in their communities. She is a member of the 3rd District Clergy Sub-Committee, which focuses on building a positive relationship between the Chicago Police Department and the community. She recently completed her first film, “Healing the Divide,” to feature some of the work of Third District CAPS and its clergy committee. The film can be used as a training tool for community engagement and peace-building. She hosts peace circles with ABJ youth and Third District CAPS. Her burning desire is to bring a ray of hope to the next generation of leaders as they take their rightful place in society.

 

ABOUT GATHER

The Fellows are learning together through GATHER, which is both a mobile platform for shared learning and a curriculum for people who want to build on the talents of their neighbors and the assets of their communities to make real and lasting change. Gather Fellows learn and work together through an innovative curriculum that comes pre-loaded on a tablet device with all the connectivity, materials, videos, practices and tools necessary to provide a mobile classroom and toolkit for community leadership.

The Chicago Peace Fellows project will connect and equip a select group of past grantees of the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities to reduce violence and promote peace. Chicago Peace Fellows will be the second all-Chicago cohort to utilize the GATHER platform, an online learning hub built by the Goldin Institute to empower grassroots leaders.

The participants have been selected from past grantees of the Chicago Fund. They will engage in a 14-week course of intensive shared learning as well as group projects, culminating in a graduation event in October, 2019. The curriculum has been designed in collaboration with the grantees themselves, based on their practical knowledge and hard earned wisdom, with input from a wide range of civic leaders. Fellows will reflect on their past summer work, identify successes and lessons learned, and improve their abilities by sharing strengths and learning new skills.

The Goldin Institute and the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities have aligned missions that value authentic community leadership. The Chicago Fund is uniquely effective at finding motivated problem-solvers and community-builders. By connecting Chicago leaders through GATHER, their efforts to nurture safer and more peaceful communities will be more effective, interconnected and lasting.

A special thanks to the Conant Family Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, the Polk Bros. Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies and the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities for making this program possible.

 

To follow along the learning journey with the Gather Fellows, please sign up for our newsletter and follow up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

If you would like to apply for the next cohort of Gather Fellows, please visit apply.goldininstitute.org.

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