Monthly Archives

June 2020

Announcing Our 2020 Cohort: Leaders for a New Chicago

By Field News


11 Local Leaders awarded for groundbreaking work

CHICAGO – The Field Foundation, in partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, today announced the 2020 Leaders for a New Chicago cohort. The leadership awards are part of Field’s ongoing investment in racial justice visionaries and organizations addressing systemic issues in Chicago’s divested communities. The MacArthur Foundation committed $2.1 million to support the awards to recognize and support diverse leaders from communities affected by Chicago’s history of structural racism, discrimination, and disinvestment.

The 11 leaders in three categories — Media & Storytelling, Justice, and Art — reach across boundaries to find new ways, new stories, and new ideas that propel Chicago toward its full potential, said Angelique Power, president of the Field Foundation of Chicago.

“This award recognizes power. These visionaries are changing the game across the city and we need them now more than ever,” Power said. “Each leader will receive a $25,000 cash award in recognition of past accomplishments, and their affiliated organizations will each receive an additional $25,000 general operating grant.”

“We are committed to reflecting, serving, and amplifying the voices of leaders from across Chicago, with an emphasis on communities that are historically underrepresented in civic discourse,” said MacArthur President John Palfrey. “When the Leaders for a New Chicago are included in city- or sector-wide discussions, their community-based expertise and experience can help inform the decisions that shape our city.”



Dorothy Burge, Co-founder and Activist, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials
One of the strongest voices in Chicago for police accountability and reparations for survivors of police torture, Burge amplifies the voices of survivors and of activists in the movement. Burge and others designed a curriculum for Chicago Public Schools to expose students to the history of and battle against police violence and successfully advocated for the grandchildren of torture survivors to be recipients of free tuition at Chicago community colleges.

Hoda Katebi, Founder & Organizer, Blue Tin Production Co-op
Katebi created a 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. As an activist and community organizer and part of campaigns to end surveillance programs and police militarization, Katebi brings an arts-based approach to systems change.

Ryan Keesling, Executive Director, Free Write Arts & Literacy
Keesling has worked in locked facilities such as the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and in the community with criminalized youth and young adults for two decades. Keesling has developed highly effective, healing-centered methodologies for engaging incarcerated youth in arts and literacy programming. He cultivates the leadership of criminalized youth and amplifies their stories through publishing, exhibition and multidisciplinary art practices.

Faheem Majeed, Co-Director, The Floating Museum
Majeed flips the idea of museums on its head, moving a museum outdoors, on the Chicago River, floating through the city. Through a commitment to collective leadership, Majeed has developed a long history within the South Side community, the citywide arts community and of working in community-based art organizations.

Elijah McKinnon, Co-founder and Director of Development, Reunion Chicago
McKinnon is an award-winning strategist, creative director, entrepreneur, artist and advocate for queer history, queer artmaking, and queer practices in Chicago. McKinnon co-creates an art gallery, event space, and project incubator located in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood for marginalized communities and narratives.

Jackie Taylor, Founder & CEO, Black Ensemble Theater
Taylor founded, directed, and for 45 years has led the only African American theater in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse Uptown community on Chicago’s North Side. Taylor makes racial equity primary in her mission and is committed to Chicago as a cultural hub for theater and for the arts in general.


Juliet de Jesus Alejandre, Executive Director, Logan Square Neighborhood Assoc.
Alejandre developed a strong racial justice framework that centers Latinx youth from the community in actions, policy conversations, and strategy meetings. Alejandre has a commitment to long-term problem solving in Logan Square through community-driven solutions and coalition building at the local, city, state and national levels.

Asiaha Butler, Executive Director, Resident Association of Greater Englewood
Butler is a key community strategist and one of the most recognized and powerful voices in the Englewood community. She uses education, youth development, economic development, and civic empowerment to uplift, inspire, and change perceptions of the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago.

Sharlyn Grace, Executive Director, Chicago Community Bond Fund
Sharlyn Grace’s work provides direct resources and organizing efforts to end people being jailed simply because they are poor. The use of money bonds has decreased by over 50 percent thanks to pressure from litigation and community organizing led by CCBF and her leadership. Through Grace’s coalition building efforts, eliminating money bond is now a statewide issue. She is a lifelong organizer who uses her legal skills, credentials, and access in support of grassroots movements for social change.


Stephanie Manriquez, Executive Producer & Educator, National Museum of Mexican Art
A trusted voice in the Chicago radio community, Manriquez trains and mentors her community members in their pursuit of access to the equipment, networks, and ecosystems that allow their voices to be shared. Manriquez is the force behind a fast-growing ecology of young Latinx radio talent in Chicago.

Tiffany Walden, Co-founder & Editor-in-Chief, The TRiiBE
As co-founder and editor-in-chief of The TRiiBE, Tiffany Walden has impressively built a news organization that has become a vital piece of Chicago’s media landscape and a voice for black Chicago. As a reporter, editor, media visionary, and fierce advocate for systemic change, Walden shifts the sensational coverage black communities receive and is determined to bring voices out of neighborhoods.

“These leaders are changing the city and will be key in leading it to new places post-COVID, Power said. “Watch them. Listen to them. They are incredible visionaries we are honored to support. They work in various ways, but they all share a love of Chicago.”

About the Field Foundation
Founded in 1940 by Marshall Field III, the Field Foundation is a private, independent foundation that has been dedicated to the promise of Chicago for more than 80 years. The Field Foundation aims its grantmaking toward the goal of Community Empowerment through Justice, Art, Media & Storytelling and Leadership Investment. With racial equity at the center of its giving, it directs dollars to critical organizations working to address systemic issues in Chicago and aims to directly benefit some of our city’s most divested communities. Learn more at

About the MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. MacArthur supports Chicago nonprofits, leaders and communities by strengthening organizations, contributing to civic partnerships, investing in vital communities, advancing influential and diverse leaders and cultivating creative expression and art. Learn more at

Ask Questions & Be Crititcal

By Field News

Courtesy of Tatiana Cortes


Flashback to October 2019: the days were full of sunshine reflecting my excitement for my first week at the Field Foundation. Upon arrival, I received a binder full of resources on the history of the Field Foundation and its grant-making process, among other resources. In the binder, I also found a letter from a past fellow. They shared that this would be a transformative year at the Field Foundation and urged me to take stock of my time. It was my intention then, as it is now, to add to the archives of past fellows and write a letter. So as an ode, farewell, and thanks, I write this letter to future fellows, sharing my lessons.

Lesson #1: Know your history.  I came into the Field Foundation at a transitional time. We were three years into a new model that centers racial equity and invests in Community Empowerment through all our program areas.  We were also preparing for our big move into the FBRK Impact House, our soon-to-be interactive campus, with other organizations striving for equity in Chicago. We at the Field Foundation come from a long lineage and tradition of striving for equity in Chicago, with 80 years of grant-giving and impact. I urge you to learn both the history of the Field Foundation and the history of this city.

Lesson #2: Don’t forget to look at email addresses!  In my second week I was fooled into online fraud by someone pretending to be a staff member. The details of the story are not so important. The important part is how staff showed up and supported me; the care with which folks responded was so incredibly telling of the compassionate, transparent, and equitable culture of the Field Foundation. I knew early on that I was not only going to be supported professionally, but also personally.

Lesson #3: Ask questions & be critical. You will be encouraged to ask questions. Ask them! About yourself, about the art and science of philanthropy, and about the sometimes-weird dance of philanthropy.  Ask how we as a foundation are living out our values and what we need to change in our processes to better serve our grantees. As you ask yourself these questions, you will also find others who are eager, excited, and ready to ask the hard questions.

Lesson #4: Jump in. Get your feet wet! In addition to doing work around grant processes, program officers and staff members are heavily involved in various ways all over this city. Responding to invitations, starting their own projects, supporting important initiatives and, most importantly, people. I  had the opportunity to take part in the Investment Committee meetings to learn what it looks like to use our endowment to invest for equity in our community.

Lesson #5: Know your superpowers!  In the fall of your fellowship you will be trained on all the ins and outs of site visit preparations and you will have the opportunity to shadow and co-conduct site visits alongside program officers. Know your own superpowers and the superpowers of your team members. I learned that my superpowers are much like Wonder Woman: compassionate, outgoing, and ready for battle. As for the team, meet The Mighty Field Foundation:

Tempestt – Buzz Lightyear: To Infinity and Beyond

Angelica – Spiderwoman: My Spidey Senses are Tingling (seeing the web/interconnection of systems)

Lolly – Black Panther: The Untold Story

Hilesh – The Flash: Speedy and Engaged

Tommie – Clark Kent/Superman: Ordinarily Super

Angelique – Captain Marvel: Action and Hope

Mark – Tony Stark/Iron Man: Inspiringly Committed

Michelle – Mrs. Incredible: Stretching the Limits

They are my heroes. Ask them why!

Lesson #6: Be prepared & stay informed. Be prepared to sit in many conversations and in many rooms: ones you never thought you’d be in. You will see things on a macro view of this city, and you will see how philanthropy plays a role in shaping and supporting lowercase policy. Stay plugged in to remain prepared, engaged, and informed.

Lesson #7: Be moved.  Without a doubt, you will be moved. You will be moved by the program officers and staff, by our grantees who are experts of their communities, by the various stakeholders in this city and their commitment to meeting the needs of Chicago; all of whom are showing up when and where it matters most. You will be moved by New Leaders of Chicago recipients who are various ages, races, and program areas, all committed to working hard in Chicago without seeking recognition. You will be moved to uncover all the innovative and creative ways in which people are responding to the needs of their communities. And you will grow from it.

Lesson #8: It’s about our community. You will hear time and again that what matters most is the groundwork. Our role is to keep our ears on the ground, build relationships, show up, and make sure that the messages of those in the field are passed on and shared to various channels. It is about using the power and influence of philanthropy to elevate the voices on the ground and urging other entities to make space for those who are historically kept out of conversations that most impact them

Lesson #9: Pay it forward.  That fellow from years ago, whose letter I read when I first started, was right: this really has been a transformative experience.  I’ve learned some great lessons and gained so many new skills. Now it is my honor and responsibility to pay it forward and build on this communal learning, to continue the lineage of striving for equity.

A Paradigm Shift in the Newsroom

By Field News

Courtesy of Dawn Rhodes


When Field Foundation grantee, Block Club Chicago, announced that they recently hired a former Chicago Tribune reporter as a senior editor, it was celebrated, in part, because Dawn Rhodes brings a breadth of experience and because the news organization is expanding during a time when most newsrooms are shrinking their staffs.

But, while the addition of Rhodes brings a dynamic writer, reporter, and meticulously attentive line editor and self-starter to the organization, the move also lands the digital news site its first, full-time African American editor with decision making power. That means the story assignments, their placement on the website and sourcing will be vetted by a voice that reflects a community too often shut out of mainstream media.

One goal of the Field Foundation’s Media & Storytelling program is to amplify the voices and impact of African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American (ALAANA) journalists, media makers, and storytellers in the local media landscape. The addition of Rhodes to the staff, with the help of a grant aimed at editorial diversity growth, fits with our mission.

“We are truly emphasizing ALAANA within our newsroom, not only with our reporters but among our leadership as well,” said Maple Walker Lloyd,  Block Club Chicago’s director of development and community engagement, in an email. She is also African American. “We’re really excited about us being on an incline rather than a decline. We’re looking forward.”

Rhodes’ hiring comes at a time when there are a number of ALAANA voices being elevated at some major news organizations.  At the same time, too many mainstream newsrooms are struggling with diversity and inclusivity, especially in leadership roles.

In 1968, in response to numerous race riots that occurred across the country, the Kerner Commission published a report that concluded that one reason there was racial discord at the time was because of racist stereotypes pushed in the media. That report accused news outlets of imbalanced reporting and of ignoring issues that were important to the black community.

The only way news coverage would actually change is if newsrooms changed. And not only did newsrooms need ALAANA reporters, but they also needed decision-makers that reflect diverse perspectives, the Kerner Commission report concluded.

“… The press has too long basked in a white world looking out of it, if at all, with white men’s eyes and white perspective. That is no longer good enough. The painful process of readjustment that is required of the American news media must begin now,” the report said.

Still, some 50 years after that report was published, a number of news industry watchdog organizations found that its interrogation of the media still rang true. 

And while there has been some progress on diversity since the 1960s, there hasn’t been enough, recent statistics show.

In 2019, a survey of news organizations by the News Leaders Association found that only about 18.8 percent of people of color made up management at both print/digital and online publications.

Ideally, news organizations would make diversity and inclusion among management a priority on their own. But one way to ensure it is by making it a priority in philanthropic giving.

“The [push] in getting more women and women of color into news organizations’ management tier has made some progress, but it has been slow and needs to be improved upon,” said Teri Hayt, executive director of the News Leaders Association. “We believe that a diverse news staff will be a staff that connects with their community. Building back trust with our communities requires us to tell the stories of those communities, and it’s hard to do that when a news operation staff doesn’t reflect that community.”

Dawn Rhodes worked for a decade at the Chicago Tribune, one of the largest print publications in the Midwest. During her tenure, she covered general news assignments, wrote about west suburban municipal government and community issues. She also covered the state’s public and private universities and education policy.

While she thrived as a reporter, Rhodes said moving into editing felt like a natural progression. At the Tribune, she was tapped to work as a weekend editor and juggled both reporting stories and editing at the same time.

“I was at a stage where editing was more pleasurable for me,” she said. “I knew for a while that it was the next step. I didn’t see myself moving into another reporting role.”

Rhodes said she found herself informally mentoring younger reporters, helping them shape their writing voices and she wanted to have a stronger impact on their work.

Yet, there was no defined pathway to move from the daily grind of covering an important topic beat to management. To try to prepare herself for a bigger role in the newsroom, Rhodes attended leadership workshops sponsored by the Poynter Institute and what was once known as the American Society of News Editors. Still, she found it challenging to get a seat at the table where the actual editorial decisions were being mapped out, she said.

That changed when she was hired in April at Block Club Chicago.

“There just aren’t enough women of color, or people of color, who get to have an influence over the news coverage decisions,” Rhodes said. “It feels good to have a role that involves being a source of emotional support and advice, but I also get to directly influence the work that young people do. I can shape how they approach the stories, how they conceptualize the stories, how they write them, who they interview.

“I can finally say, as a woman of color, I am an editor now.”

Having Rhodes in a senior position also signals to the reporters and other ALAANA staffers that there is room for them to grow, said Maudlyne Ihejirika,  president of the National Association of Black Journalists Chicago Chapter. It gives them a colleague to talk to about sensitive conversations about race, to discuss what they encounter while doing their jobs and someone to confide in who has been on their same journey.

“While anyone can cover a story, the story must be identified and assigned,” Ihejirika said. “When there is no one in management with any nuanced perspective on the issues afflicting communities of color … there are stories that may never get told. And if they do get told, they may never be told in a way that unveils and reaches those communities to affect change.”

Rhodes’ position is funded, in part, by a Media & Storytelling grant that was awarded in January.


Lolly Bowean
Program Officer, Media & Storytelling




About Media & Storytelling

Lolly Bowean is the Media & Storytelling Program Officer. The goals of the Field Foundation’s Media & Storytelling program, a partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Democracy Fund, are to create more just and inclusive narratives about Chicago that foster policy change; amplify the voices and impact of African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American journalists, media makers and storytellers in the local media landscape; and support more reporting and storytelling by traditional and alternative journalism platforms about the root causes of the city’s inequities. Learn more about our program here.