Leadership in Democracy

McCormick Launches 2021 Program Supporting Current and Emerging Leaders

Best-selling author and business consultant Peter Drucker once proclaimed “Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.” Great managers can become great leaders — and vice versa — if opportunities to grow learning and expand experience are provided to them.

It is with this purpose that the Robert R. McCormick Foundation launched the Leadership in Democracy Program in 2020. The goal is clear: develop high-capacity civic leaders, representative of the communities they serve, who invite constituent participation and advocate for and implement inclusive policies.

By investing in senior leaders within key Foundation’s grantee organizations, prioritizing leaders of color, and connecting these leaders with executive coaching and other management training and supports, the Foundation can help leaders enhance inclusiveness and impact at their organizations and contribute to a more robust pipeline of civic leadership talent in the region.

Assisting with this year’s work includes leaders themselves: Genita Robinson, from GCR Consulting, will be designing and facilitating the leadership sessions with our cohort; the Executive Service Corps, will be pairing program participants with executive coaches; and the Management Center will be providing their 2-day “Managing to Change the World” training for all program participants.

The 2021 Leadership in Democracy Cohort includes the following individuals:

Bessie Alcantara

Executive Director, Alternatives Inc.

Bessie earned her master’s degree in social work from Loyola University and has been working for youth-serving organizations for the past 10 years. Through her executive leadership experience across multiple organizations, she has cultivated strong expertise in strategic planning, fund development, program evaluation, and quality improvement, among other key areas.

Anwulika Anigbo

Development Director, Invisible Institute

Anwulika is the Development Director at the Invisible Institute. She joined Invisible Institute after years of working in fundraising and communications. She has devoted her career to developing a fundraising style rooted in black queer feminist principles, critical race theory, and Elinor Ostromâ’s paradigm-shifting work around the viability of the commons.

Jill Bass

Chief Education Officer, Mikva Challenge

Jill has been the Chief Education Officer at Mikva Challenge for the past 10 years. At Mikva Challenge, she manages curriculum, professional development and partner sites for the organizations work nationally. Jill has written chapters for Teaching the College, Career, and Civic Life Framework, and Teaching for Democracy in an Age of Economic Disparity. Prior to joining Mikva Challenge, Jill worked as professional developer, curriculum writer, educational consultant, and instructional coach. But, in her heart she is still a teacher, especially after teaching in Chicago and New York City public schools for 13 years.

Lawrence Benito

Chief Executive Officer, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Lawrence joined ICIRR in October 2002 to direct the health and citizenship programs. Since 2002, he has also organized in the north and northwest suburbs of Chicago, lobbied in Springfield, and directed the electoral work of Illinois Immigrant Action (ICIRR’s 501c4 arm). Prior to ICIRR, he worked for the national Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Marquette University, and master’s degree in social work from Loyola University. The son of immigrants from the Philippines, Lawrence has spent nearly 30 years working on social justice issues in various communities. He is a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana, West Africa.

Sangini Brahmbhatt

Director of Development, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago

Sangini is the Director of Development at Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago, which builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity. Previously, she has held development positions at Arts Alliance Illinois, Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago, Chicago Cares, and The Night Ministry. Sangini is a Cultivate: Women of Color in Leadership alumni. A first-generation Indian-American and Chicago native, Sangini currently serves as a committee member of Edgar Miller Legacy and is an emeritus Board member of Latitude Chicago. She received a degree in art and design from DePaul University.

Eliza Bryant

Director of Academic Programs, Big Shoulders Fund

Eliza has spent nearly 20 years in Chicago since attending UChicago in 2002. She holds a master’s degree in teaching from the Urban Teacher Education Program and a Bachelor in History, both from the UChicago. After graduating, Eliza taught in Chicago Public Schools and became a professional development leader and instructional coach before landing her current role as director of academic programs at Big Shoulders Fund.

Juan Cruz

Communications Director, Communities United

Juan is the Communications Director at Communities United, a community based organization. A graduate of Northeastern Illinois University, Juan has been a community organizer since 2007, and the Communications Director since 2017. As an organizer, he has worked with youth and adults through local and collaborative campaigns to improve the quality of public education and promote immigrant rights at the city and state levels.

Adeshina Emmanuel

Editor-in-Chief, Injustice Watch

Adeshina is the editor-in-chief at Injustice Watch, a nonprofit investigative newsroom based in Chicago. His work over the past decade has spanned hyperlocal and national reporting with a focus on race, class, and institutional injustice. Adeshina is also a former education reporter at Chalkbeat, a former investigative reporter at the Chicago Reporter, and a former neighborhood reporter at DNAinfo Chicago who worked on the breaking news wire at the Chicago Sun-Times before interning at the New York Times in 2012 at the start of his career. He was born and raised in the Uptown neighborhood on Chicago's North Side by an African-American mother and Nigerian father and studied journalism at Loyola University Chicago.

Oi Eng-Crandus

Chief Finance and Operations Officer, Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights

Oi is the Chief Finance and Operations Officer of Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, a nonprofit working to secure racial equity and economic opportunity for all. In this role, she oversees finance, human resources, information technology, and office management for the organization. Prior to joining Chicago Lawyers' Committee, Oi served as Vice President of Customer Development, Digital Channels at Essendant and held positions in strategy, finance, and business development at Sears and BP Amoco. Oi earned an MBA from UChicago and a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Jaye Hobart

Director of Development, Civic Federation

Jaye is the Director of Development and joined the Civic Federation in September 2019. In this role, she works directly with the President and alongside communications staff and membership staff to advance the overall development strategy for the Federation. Prior to joining the Civic Federation, she worked at Woods Fund Chicago managing a city-wide racial equity process. She also worked at the Center for New Community and the ACLU of New Mexico’s Regional Center for Border Rights. She received a master’s degree from UChicago and a bachelor’s degree from Luther College. Jaye is a 2020 Fundraising for Good Leader at Loyola University Chicago's Baumhart Center. She serves on the Board of Korean Adoptees of Chicago and the HANA Center, the steering committee of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy Chicago and the IDEA committee and Asian Affinity Group of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Chicago.

Erica Hodgin

Co-Director, Civic Engagement Research Group (CERG) at the University of California-Riverside

Erica is the Co-Director of the Civic Engagement Research Group (CERG) at the University of California, Riverside. CERG partners with educational leaders and key stakeholders on district-wide reform efforts that seek to Leverage Equity and Access to Democratic Education (LEADE). She has authored articles in Social Education, Theory and Research in Social Education, and the Journal of Digital and Media Literacy as well as book chapters in Fake news: What is it, why it is problematic, and what educators can do about it; Digital Equity and Educational Opportunity; and #youthaction: Becoming Political in the Digital Age. Erica received her EdD in educational leadership from Mills College. Before joining CERG, Erica taught English and social studies and served as an instructional coach at the middle school and high school level.

Alisa Kaplan

Executive Director, Reform for Illinois

Alisa joined Reform for Illinois (RFI) in 2018, drawn to the organization’s long history of fighting for campaign finance reform and against systemic corruption. As Executive Director, she leads RFI’s policy development, advocacy, and educational initiatives and oversees operations. A Yale graduate with a JD and PhD in political science from Northwestern University, Alisa brings expertise in law and the political process and a background in community organizing, grassroots activism, and nonprofit administration. She has been a faculty lecturer in constitutional law, civil rights, and law and politics at Northwestern, and is co-president of the Board of Open Communities, a Chicago-area civil rights and housing justice organization.

Frank Latin

Executive Director, Westside Media Project

Frank is the Founder and Executive Director of The Westside Media Project, an organization that provides exposure, training and support in digital media and technology to area schools and community residents. Latin previously published Nitty Gritty News, a community newspaper that highlighted many positive aspects of marginalized neighborhoods across Chicago. He is a graduate of Roosevelt University where he obtained both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics. Latin also has extensive experience working with international labor issues serving as a prevailing wage specialist and an Immigration Program analyst for the U.S. Department of Labor.

Janeen Lee

K-12 Social Science Manager, Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement, Chicago Public Schools

With a career in education for more than 20 years in Los Angeles and Chicago, Janeen has expertise in curriculum design and instruction, designing and leading professional development, and managing teams. She is currently the K-12 Social Science Manager for Chicago Public Schools in the Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement and leads a team of social science content specialists who provide culturally relevant and sustaining instructional coaching, professional learning and curriculum design support to all social science teachers in Chicago Public Schools. She received a BA in African American Studies and Sociology from the University of California and a master’s degrees in public policy and in curriculum and instruction from the University of Michigan.

Maureen Tatsuko Loughnane

Executive Director, Facing History and Ourselves

Maureen became the Executive Director of the Chicago office of Facing History and Ourselves in June 2016. As a lifelong Chicagoan, she is dedicated to expanding Facing History’s mission to use the tools of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to racism, bigotry and hate. Previously, Maureen was the Director of Development for the ACLU of Illinois, developing support for their efforts to protect our fundamental rights including reproductive and women's rights, and LGBTQ rights across Illinois. She began her career at UChicago as the Associate Director for the Pozen Center for Human Rights. Maureen received her bachelor’s degree from UChicago and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Wieboldt Foundation, which supports grassroots community organizing in Chicago.

Stephanie Manriquez

Communities Amplified Multilingual Radio Executive Producer, Public Media Institute

Stephanie is an award-winning writer, radio producer, journalist, and teaching artist with a passion for highlighting social justice issues affecting Latino communities. Her journalism work has been published in Contratiempo, The Gate Newspaper, Pilsen Portal, and Gozamos, and she regularly produces and creates content for Lumpen Radio. She is a Social Justice News Nexus Fellow at Northwestern University, leads WLPN’s new Communities Amplified multilingual initiative and the National Museum of Mexican Art’s youth journalism program. She was recognized in 2020 by the Field and MacArthur Foundations as one of 11 "Leaders for a New Chicago."

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