We are extremely proud to present the 2020 Leaders for a New Chicago.
Artists. Organizers. Journalists. Storytellers. Visionaries.
Like our 2019 group, these 11 individuals represent a broad array of Chicago residents, with strong representation from African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American (ALAANA) communities. These awardees include a diversity of religion, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and practice, and those from different geographies and income levels. Some are executive directors, some are co-founders, some are organizers, and some are part of collective or shared leadership models. The story that this cohort is telling isn’t just celebrating leadership, it is redefining leadership in the city of Chicago. More than ever, leadership, which is the umbrella over all our program areas at Field Foundation, needs to be part of the city and state dialogues around relief, recovery, and reimagining.
This award recognizes past accomplishments in the fields of Justice, Art, or Media & Storytelling and promotes and advances a range of leaders whose influence will inform decision making across the city of Chicago. Each leader received a $25,000 cash award in recognition of past accomplishments, and their affiliated non-profit organizations each received an additional $25,000 general operating grant.
This year, we also asked our first round of awardees to be the voice in determining who comes next. Eight of the 2019 Leaders cohort made up the majority of the selection committee and join us in presenting this new cohort to you. Their unique perspective and experience working in justice, art, and media & storytelling was pivotal in picking the 2020 cohort. We look forward to seeing how this group of individuals collectively elevates leadership and equity in Chicago.
Meet the 2020 Leaders for a New Chicago:
Though her previous title was youth director, Juliet had been recognized for a long time as an organizational leader, bringing a deep political analysis and organizing framework to issues that penetrate the neighborhood, especially as Logan Square has been experiencing an exponential increasing rate of gentrification. She leads collectively, bringing LSNA staff and youth into decision making and using every opportunity to build the capacity of those around her and has a commitment to racial justice and restorative practice. Educators, youth, restorative justice practitioners, and other community leaders who are currently working across Chicago credit her as the catalyst for leadership roles.
Hoda’s work is centered on bringing an arts-based approach to systems change. She steadfastly built Blue Tin Production into a cooperative model that removes oppressive fast-fashion practices of extractive and dangerous work conditions. She created this fashion house that brings together those who have historically been most marginalized in this industry, working class women of color, to collectively profit from the work they create. In doing so, this organization shares power, agency, decision-making, and creative work. Ultimately, she works to destabilize historic notions devaluing the labor of women of color, while flipping structures of power within the fashion industry’s supply chain.
In addition to serving as the Founder and Director of People Who Care, Inc. --- an independent consultancy that works exclusively with nonprofits and grassroots initiatives such as AIDS Foundation Chicago, Northwestern University, The Andy Warhol Foundation, Grindr for Equality, Raúl Anguiano Art Museum, Center for Disease Control and many more -- they are also deeply involved in queer, creative and philanthropic communities around the globe.
They are constantly moving and shaking in an attempt to build meaningful relationships and encourage resource sharing. Elijah’s artistic practice and advocacy work currently centers around the intersection between trauma, wellness, race, sexuality, gender, new media and storytelling. They push community and self-care to the forefront of all conversations and interactions, extolling values of healthy practices for all people to take care of themselves before they begin to guide a team or initiative.
Dorothy is a quiet leader who is amplifying the voices of survivors of police torture and of activists in the movement. She is one of the key figures in Chicago who has changed the way police violence is publicly talked about and engaged with. She merges on-the-ground activism with a push to change city-wide perceptions and policy and brings together people from art, justice and grassroots organizing to work together towards a common goal. She designed curriculum to expose students to the problem of police violence but also to involve them in building further awareness and contributing to the work local organizations are doing to address police violence. A trusted voice across Chicago, she has a keen ability to work with, move through and influence diverse activist and civic communities. She did this on top of the work she did as a faculty member Associated Colleges of the Midwest Chicago Program where she taught seminars on systemic racism, criminal justice, and social problems for twenty-six years ending in 2019.
As a DJ, producer, and audio engineer known as Ryan Searchl1te, Ryan has toured nationally and internationally while holding down DJ residencies on WNUR 89.3 FM and throughout Chicago’s underground dance music and club culture. He brings these skills to his students through Free Write’s Sound & Vision (S&V) program. S&V is committed to social justice and employment equity in the arts industry. S&V hires and trains alumni of Free Write Arts & Literacy and other young adults who have historically been excluded from the field, creating pathways into an industry that is in need of a diverse, young workforce.
Jackie has a firm, immovable vision of racial equity in all her work. With a vision defining all aspects of BE, she has created a theater company committed to eradicating racism that is recognized throughout the nation for its outstanding original productions and exceptional educational outreach programs. As an actress she refused all roles that were derogatory in their portrayal of African Americans and made that a core mission of Black Ensemble Theater. As president of the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago for the past 24 years, Jackie has worked directly with most African American arts leaders in Chicago to help them strengthen capacity and grow their organizations. She has changed the culture, trajectory and narrative for hundreds of arts organizations and individual artists, providing resources, creating programs and developing systems that directly affect their sustainability and effectiveness.
Asiaha galvanizes residents in the areas of civic engagement, education and youth development, economic development, arts activism and public safety, by hosting bi-monthly community village meetings where members and residents share information, discuss and debate current Englewood issues, and establish solution-based action plans to improve Greater Englewood. Through programs such as voter registration, anti-violence block parties on blocks grappling with high-crime violence, and engaged youth programming throughout Englewood. Butler has played a crucial role in Englewood’s 40 percent decline in shootings/homicides in 2019. Through R.A.G.E. she advocated, designed and implemented the Large Lot Program which allowed homeowners to purchase city owned lots for $1. She served as the Action Champion/Chair of the Englewood Quality of Life Housing and Public Spaces Task Force, leads the Buy the Block Home Ownership Campaign and R.A.G.E. served as the lead organization for the Englewood Public Safety Task Force for two years. Butler recently founded her own housing development company to ensure that housing development in Englewood happens from the bottom up to avoid gentrification or displacement of current residents. Asiaha’s authentic approach to community development sits on a foundation of grassroots, asset-based, change-making organizing driven by Englewood residents.
Faheem blends his unique experience as a non-profit administrator, curator, and artist to create works that focus on institutional critique and exhibitions that leverage collaboration to engage his immediate and broader community in meaningful dialogue. At Floating Museum, he has a commitment to collective leadership, facilitation of public discourse, active listening, and generous community engagement. Faheem’s personal art practice has demonstrated a model of how to use art to facilitate and elevate important citywide conversations in areas like racial justice, access to cultural assets, and systemic disinvestment in communities.
Since The TRiiBE’s founding, their audience grew to an average 30,000 monthly page views by spring 2020, with a combined social media following of over 15,000, making The TRiiBE a recognized and stalwart news source in Chicago. In 2018, they started partnering with the Chicago Reader to publish “The Block Beat,” an award-winning multimedia series about black Chicago musicians and the neighborhoods they cherish. Tiffany has placed outreach and community impact at the core of its mission, producing stories that spark necessary dialogue within Chicago’s black communities and reaching beyond the digital realm into face-to-face interactions. She pushes community access to news and information to the forefront, asserting, “It’s unfair to ask someone, ‘Can I come in your community and write a story on you?’ and then they turn around and don’t have access to that story.” Tiffany strives to repair the relationship between the most disenfranchised communities and the media while simultaneously humanizing black life.
Sharlyn brings organizing experience and values into her role as a leader, building strong partnerships and coalitions and engaging individuals in both community organizing and policy change. She pushes CCBF forward by acknowledging that all the wins, both policy and on the ground, are not won alone. In the justice field, it is also essential that legal system reforms are addressed in a way that takes into account the US’s distinct histories of racial oppression and exclusion, particularly anti-Blackness, and seeks to highlight and move on root causes and not merely tangential or easy issues.
Stephanie helps train and mentors her community members to have access to the equipment, networks, and ecosystems for their voices to be shared between each other and their respective communities. As a teacher, she is mentoring the next generation of Latinx media makers and cultural workers, who are civically minded, and artistically innovative with a larger goal of changing the representation of public and alternative radio. As a journalist, she consistently speaks on the topics that most affect her communities. As a cultural organizer, she develops spaces for diverse voices to be heard and respected by a larger audience.