Longtime social justice activist and prominent faith leader Rev. Calvin S. Morris, Ph.D., has announced he will retire from his current post as Executive Director of the Community Renewal Society in June 2012, prompting an organizational effort to plan for its next phase.
Dr. Morris has served as leader of Community Renewal since 1998. The faith-based agency empowers people to combat racism and poverty through community organizing and training offered through its Civic Action Network of roughly 70 congregations throughout the Chicagoland region, and through the investigative, independent journalism of its two award-winning publications, Catalyst Chicago (which focuses on Chicago Public Schools and urban education issues) and The Chicago Reporter (which focuses on a range of issues affected by race and poverty).
“My service here has been one of the most exciting, challenging and meaningful points in my career,” said Morris. “I express my deep appreciation to the staff and board and to all of our supporters who have stood with us in solidarity with those who need us most.”
Previously, Morris held executive leadership positions at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta; Howard University’s School of Divinity; and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Social Change. His work in Chicago began many decades ago as a leader in Operation Breadbasket, now Rainbow PUSH.
During his tenure, Morris oversaw the streamlining and consolidation of many of Community Renewal’s programs to focus on the combined power of journalism and community organizing.
The organization has achieved significant successes under his leadership, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s use of Chicago Reporter-generated data in her successful lawsuits fighting racial disparities in home mortgages by prominent lenders; state legislation increasing the quality of care for nursing home patients; and policies that foster stronger family ties for children with incarcerated parents.
The board of directors plans to begin a search for Morris’ successor this year, and has hired two respected Chicago-area firms–Davidoff Communications and ThinkInc.—to conduct an organizational strategic plan prior to his departure to assist in this process.
“We cannot thank Rev. Morris enough for all that he has done for CRS, but most importantly, for what he has done on behalf of so many,” said CRS Board President John D. Purdy, Jr. “We are sad to see him go, but are excited about what the future holds for CRS and all it can continue to give to people throughout the region.”
Originally the Chicago Missionary Society, the organization was founded in 1882 under the auspices of the United Church of Christ (then the Congregational Church) to meet the needs of newly arrived immigrants through the founding of churches, schools and settlement houses.
Its mission expanded later to include racial justice issues, such as assisting Japanese families who were interred during World War II and supporting the growth and development of many community organizations and local congregations which continue their work for justice today, and still utilize Community Renewal’s training and other resources to increase their effectiveness.
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Ph: 312-673-3865, Cell: 312-593-0719