Rev. Eddie Knox, Jr. and Delia Ramirez join Leadership Team

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 3, 2016

For more information, contact:
Kristine Scott, kscott@communityrenewalsociety.org or 312-673-3829

REV. EDDIE KNOX, JR. AND DELIA RAMIREZ JOIN LEADERSHIP TEAM AT COMMUNITY RENEWAL SOCIETY

Community Renewal Society (CRS), among Chicago’s oldest faith-based social justice organizations, announces that Rev. Eddie Knox, Jr. has been elected President of the Board and Delia Ramirez has joined the organization as its Deputy Director. 

Knox, a CRS Board member and longtime face of its organizing arm, and Ramirez, the former Executive Director of the Center for Changing Lives in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, join Executive Director Rev. Curtiss DeYoung in leading the organization as it increases its impact in the struggle for racial and economic justice in Chicago.

“We are fortunate that Pastor Knox and Delia have committed to roles of leadership at CRS during this season of great struggle in our city and state,” said Rev. DeYoung. “In addition to deep roots within the communities we serve, they each bring gifts of practicality, optimism and profound faith that help us all to envision the path from where we are to where we need to go.”

Knox, Pastor of Pullman Presbyterian Church on Chicago’s South Side, has long been on the front lines of faith-based racial justice work locally and nationally. In addition to founding and convening local groups to address specific challenges faced by African-Americans and their faith communities, he has served as moderator of the Racial Ethnic New Immigrant Church Growth Task Force for the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA); the group’s recommendations for outreach, development and congregational growth in communities of color were adopted by the denomination’s 2012 General Assembly. 

“It is essential in this day that our minds and hearts are gathered to address systems of racial inequality to bring about transformation in all communities,” Knox said.

Ramirez, a Humboldt Park native, brings a fresh, young vision to the organization, along with management skills honed in leadership of social service and faith-based organizations since the age of 21. She will assist Executive Director DeYoung in managing the organization’s Development, Communications, Organizing and Policy units. 

“I am incredibly fortunate and thankful for the opportunity to serve through Community Renewal Society. I look forward to being in partnership with congregations, community leaders and our dedicated staff as we stand boldly and courageously for the work of peace with justice," Ramirez said.

Rev. Robert E. Biekman, Senior Pastor of Maple Park United Methodist Church (UMC) and Urban Ministry Coordinator for the Northern Illinois Conference of the UMC, said the new leadership team is poised to elevate the impact of CRS.

"The team of Rev. Curtiss DeYoung, Rev. Eddie Knox, Jr. and Delia Ramirez is the perfect confluence of courage, conscience and compassion,” said Rev. Biekman. “This uniquely gifted leadership team embodies the strength to withstand the mandates of today and bright hope to take on the unforeseen challenges to justice of tomorrow."

Community Renewal Society is a progressive, faith-based organization that works to eliminate race and class barriers. Founded in 1882, Community Renewal worked with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Chicago fair housing campaign in 1966 and was instrumental in developing the West Side Organization and Casa Central. Today, CRS informs, organizes and trains communities and individuals to advocate for social and economic justice.

Biographical information for Rev. Knox and Ms. Ramirez follows:

Board President Rev. Eddie L. Knox, Jr., D.Min., has served Pullman Presbyterian Church as its pastor for 28 years, transforming it from a congregation of 88 members that was slated for closure or merger to a vibrant church community of over 300 members. The revitalization of the church led to a capital and building campaign that raised $3.2 million for a new and accessible church facility. Rev. Knox has been an active leader at all levels of the Presbyterian Church USA denomination (PCUSA), including Moderator of the Chicago Presbytery and the Synod of Lincoln Trails and as an elected Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA on two occasions. He served as moderator of the Racial Ethnic New Immigrant Church Growth Task Force, whose recommendations were adopted at the 2012 PCUSA General Assembly. He served on the board of McCormick Seminary, mentoring seminarians from 1988-2013 and co-founding  the Pan African Student Organization in 1983. Other notable community commitments include Associated Urban Ministries – Transforming Communities, African American Congregational Transformation Covenant (formed with seven other African-American congregations), and the Developing Communities Project.

Rev. Knox’s involvement with Community Renewal Society (CRS) began in 2008 when he and his congregation worked on a successful campaign to improve nursing home conditions on local and state levels. He has become one of Community Renewal’s most visible and respected leaders, having led many legislative meetings and co-chaired a number of CRS’ public events, including the recent Martin Luther King, Jr. Faith in Action Assembly, where he moderated a forum for the Democratic State’s Attorney candidates. Rev. Knox joined the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the organization in 2014.

Deputy Director Delia Ramirez comes to Community Renewal Society from Common Cause Illinois, where she served as Campaign Manager, staffed their voting rights work and oversaw development and communications. Born and raised in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, she was involved with her local church from a very young age, which provided her with leadership and travel opportunities to Russia, Palestine, Bolivia and Grenada. These experiences inspired a strong commitment to community development and built a skill-set which equipped her to act upon that commitment. The life-changing experiences of these trips at a very young age, her family’s story of migration and resilience, along with the shelter and soup kitchen ministry work of her local church, inspired Delia to pursue justice studies and commit her life to that work. 

At the age of 21 she became Executive Director of the Center for Changing Lives (formerly Humboldt Park Social Services), a role she held for nine years. In 2005 she expanded the capacity and impact of the organization by opening The Center for Changing Lives (CCL) – a community support center that provides housing, employment, financial counseling and case management services for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the Logan Square and Humboldt Park areas. Under Ms. Ramirez’s leadership, the organization tripled its operating budget, quadrupled its number of employees, and increased its service delivery to over 2,500 community households.

In addition to serving on multiple local and statewide coalitions and boards, she has served on a variety of local and national committees and boards within the United Methodist Church, including the Executive Committee of the United Methodist Church’s National Hispanic Plan, as a jurisdictional delegate to MARCHA (the Methodist faith-based advocacy caucus representing Latinos in the United States), and the National Community Developers Program. In 2013 she completed an Emerging Leader Fellowship with The Chicago Community Trust. The completion of that fellowship (together with her proven ability to address community issues) moved the United Methodist Church of Northern Illinois to appoint Ms. Ramirez as Director of Administration and Community Engagement for Humboldt Park United Methodist Church. During her time there, she oversaw the expansion of its social justice ministry center and helped the congregation through a sudden pastoral transition. 

Ms. Ramirez received a 35 under 35 award from Community Renewal Society in 2007, which recognized her as a “fresh voice” in the fight to eliminate racism and poverty. 

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