I arrived at Community Renewal Society (CRS) in June as the new Executive Director, succeeding the important tenure of Dr. Calvin Morris, who was my seminary professor at Howard University. Under my leadership this 132 year old organization will continue as a faith-based organization with deep roots and relationships in the United Church of Christ and the broader Christian community, as well as a full embrace of interfaith and other community partners. CRS will also remain a civil rights organization working for systemic racial and economic justice through the unique programmatic combination of church-based community organizing, policy advocacy, and investigative journalism.
At the same time, I see my season of leadership as moving CRS into a new day. Our past four executive directors were products of the Civil Rights era—from Donald Benedict sitting at the convening table for the Chicago Freedom Movement in the 1960s to Calvin Morris, whose rich history included serving on the staff of Martin Luther King, Jr. I am deeply connected to this generation through mentoring by Civil Rights leaders and education at Howard University.
We must now fully move into the 21st century. I commit to serving with a staff and board that are culturally competent, address privilege, and represent the diversity of Chicago. My arrival coincided with that of five other staff: Melissa Sanchez (reporter), Ivan Moreno (communications), Ciera Walker (organizing), William Taplin, III (development), and Maria Torres (organizing). Our cohort of three women and three men is comprised of three Latinas/os, two African Americans, and one white. Five of the six of us are in our 20s and 30s (one of us in our 50s!). The five other members of my employee cohort signal where we are headed. They are young leaders of color rooted in local Chicago communities. Any of the five could be the next Executive Director at CRS.
I will periodically call attention to our emerging vision and programmatic efforts for for social justice. I welcome your support and partnership as we move forward addressing racism and poverty in Chicagoland and Springfield.