Evanston/North Shore

Summit Breakout Sessions

Participants can attend two breakout sessions during the Racial Justice Summit. On the registration form, you will be asked to indicate your 1st – 4th preferences among the workshops listed below. We will do our best to place registrants in their preferred workshops.

Advocacy 101: Developing the Tools for Racial Justice Advocacy - Nia Brown

Through collaborative dialogues centered on participants’ already existing power and influence, participants will discover how they can push for positive change in their community. Using the World Café format, we will explore:

  • foundational advocacy concepts;
  • strategies for gaining power and influence;
  • racial justice issues in the Evanston/North Shore community;
  • how we can address these issues through advocacy.

Who should attend: Open to anyone, of any age or profession, who is interested in doing advocacy work within their organization or at the local, state or federal level.

Nia Brown is the Policy and Advocacy Manager for YWCA Evanston/North Shore, who sees YWCA as uniquely positioned to play an increasingly activist role in advocating for policies that promote gender and racial equity. She is particularly motivated by the natural intersectionality of racial and gender justice. A graduate of Emory University School of Law and Spelman College, Brown has a background in education policy and social justice, with a focus on civil rights. She has served as a policy specialist for Chicago Public Schools.

Building Community, and Facing Intersectionality, through Local Organizing – Tamar Manasseh

Using her experiences through Mothers Against Senseless Killing (MASK), our keynote speaker will go into depth on steps taken that ignited, and educated, a community about how violence, racial inequity and access to education intersected (literally!) on their corner.

Who should attend: Those beginning to look at the intersectionality of various forms of oppression as one means of dismantling racism.

Tamar Manasseh (See bio above)

Cultural Competency for Moving Forward - Dilnaz Waraich

How does your past experience impact you as you work for social justice? How does one develop cultural competence? This session will provide participants with tools for identifying and building bridges across differences, rather than having differences become roadblocks to working together.

Who should attend: People looking for clarity about what cultural competence is, or how it can be helpful in building stronger relationships would benefit from this session. Organizations that are working to create an equitable atmosphere, across all identities would be well-served.

Dilnaz Waraich is an educator with 20+ years of experience in culturally competent classrooms from preschool-college. She is passionate about creatively inspiring people to understand themselves through their past experiences, and to build stronger relationships by understanding cultural diversity. She is co-founder of Envision Education Strategists, and an adjunct professor at Benedictine University. She serves on the Board of Open Communities and is Vice President of the Winnetka Interfaith Council. Dilnaz has her M.Ed from Northwestern University.

DACA, Travel Bans and Current Immigration Action – Fred Tsao

Where do things stand on DACA and immigration legislation? How can we support immigrants in our communities? How do we resist the rampant racism, sexism and xenophobia that currently impact the national discussion? What actions could lead to systemic change? This workshop will provide participants with up to date information and resources for taking action to break the cycle of inequitable treatment of many in our own communities.

Who should attend: Anyone who: wants the most current information about immigration issues; is looking for an opportunity to support their immigrant and refugee neighbors.

Fred Tsao is Senior Policy Counsel at Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights (ICIRR), providing updates and analysis of changes in immigration policies and procedures to ICIRR members and allies, and assists with the coalition's legislative advocacy efforts. A self-described “recovering attorney,” Fred practiced law at the Rockford office of Prairie State Legal Services, after receiving his law degree from the University of Michigan. He has also worked with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, the Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation, and the Missouri Public Interest Research Group. A native of Chicago, Fred is the son of immigrants from China, and has had a lifelong concern with immigration issues.

Equity in Housing Policy: Yesterday, Today and the Future – Sue Loellbach and Nia Brown 

How have housing policies impacted the broader community? What are the costs in loss of opportunity when we price a large portion of the population, particularly People of Color, single moms, and senior citizens, out of our neighborhoods? We’ll look at increasing equity by increasing the amount of affordable housing we make available, and provide suggestions for actions individuals and organizations can take to be part of the solution.

Who should attend: All who are interested in/concerned about the current affordable housing crisis. Those who want to be part of addressing this issue, whether with their neighbors, other interested organizations, or their civic government.

Sue Loellbach is Director of Development at Connections for the Homeless. She is founding member of Joining Forces for Affordable Housing, the advocacy coalition formed by Connections for the Homeless, advocates for affordable housing solutions by partnering with organizations and individuals that support people in need in North Suburban Cook County and the north side of Chicago.

Nia Brown (see bio above)

Institutional Equity: Steps for Moving Beyond Your Equity Assessment – Gloria Woods

Your organization has completed an equity assessment, and you have the information that has been collected through that process. Now what? How can your organization move forward to create an equity and inclusion plan? What goals will you set? Who will be involved? This session will provide participants with various steps to consider, and to “ask an expert” about possible scenarios for continuing your internal equity work.

Who should attend: Organizational leaders, members of Diversity/Equity Teams, and anyone who wants their organization’s equity and inclusion efforts to succeed! People looking for practical, next step solutions on their equitable institution journey.

Gloria Woods, a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant/Trainer for The Kaleidoscope Group, has 25 years’ experience helping organizations and businesses address issues of Diversity Leadership, LGBT Inclusion, Diversity Councils/Employee Resource Groups Strategy, Measuring Diversity Results, Human Resources Practices, and Employee Relations. Her mission is to help organizations embrace the value of diversity as a key ingredient to business success, and to create workplaces in which inclusion drives positive results. She’s a former Captain in the U.S. Army, as well as a proud University of Michigan graduate.

Moving an Organization from the Sidelines to Active Equity Leadership – Karen Courtright and Martha Holman, Members of the REAL (Racial Equity and Action Leadership) Team

What did it take for a local congregation (Unitarian Church of Evanston) to mature from being “good-hearted folks” to racial equity activists? What processes did they go through, individually and as a congregation, to reach decisions about things such as a huge Black Lives Matter sign out in front of their church on Ridge? What can your organization learn from their experiences? What questions do you have or what ideas can you bring from your organization’s experience?

Who should attend: Anyone who hopes their organization will consider, or has considered, the steps necessary to build their racial equity capacity.

Karen Courtright and Martha Holman will present on behalf of UCE’s REAL Team. The team is made up of members of the Unitarian Church of Evanston who worked to create a plan: the congregation would study and receive training about racial equity, with the goal of being allies and taking intentional action whenever/wherever possible.

Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR) – Local high school activists 

Current students involved in various forms of equity activism in their high school will share how they see their own activism (what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, how it impacts them and others) and discuss ways the adults in the community could support their activism or become allies/accomplices to the students’ work.

Who should attend: Those of any age who want to see current issues and activism from the young people’s point of view. Any who are seeking to be supportive to young people, without taking over the initiatives. Those who, as Bryan Stevenson suggests, want to “remember hopefulness.”

When Voting Rights, Race and Economy Intersect – Ami Gandhi 

The right to vote is fundamental to a healthy democracy. The Voting Rights Project works to prevent, reduce, and eliminate barriers to voting and civic participation, especially in communities of color and low-income communities, to ensure that each eligible citizen is able to cast a ballot and make her voice heard. Learn what efforts are already in place to assure voters’ rights. What role can individuals and/or organizations play to support these efforts?

Who should attend: Young, old and middle aged folks, who want to guarantee that the voting rights of all in our communities, even those in prison, are protected and upheld. Teachers who need clarity about how to discuss voting rights issues with their students.

Ami Gandhi is the Director of Voting Rights and Civic Empowerment at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, working to reduce barriers to voting and improve civic participation, especially in communities of color and low-income communities. Ami’s experience includes leading statewide voter protection for the 2016 election, advocating for communities of color during Illinois redistricting, advising local election boards as they implemented the first Hindi ballots in the country. She previously worked as the Executive Director of South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI), where she led initiatives in voting rights, immigrant rights, and other civil rights and racial justice issues. Ami is the Board Chair at Common Cause Illinois and a Board Member of ACLU of Illinois. She earned her J.D. from George Washington University Law School.

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