Leadership Lab at Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation


Leadership Lab, a program of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, held its first graduation and celebration on June 8th 2018, introducing twenty-five committed community leaders!

This year’s cohort (“Lab 1”) shared six presentations, exploring the issues and proposing solutions on the following topics: “Living Together” – social inequities and understanding of one another’s points of view, “Aging in Place” – affordable senior housing, “Racial Equity NOW in Oak Park – River Forest” – racial equity, “simple changes, GREEN impact” – environmental sustainability, “365” – community engagement and volunteerism, and “Austin R.I.D.E.” – anti-violence and mobile community resources in the Austin neighborhood.

“Lab 1” Graduates are: George Bady, Self-employed; Lynette Kelly Bell, A House in Austin; Qia Carswell, OPRF Youth Advocate; Mary Susan Chen, Physical Therapist; Julie Dee, Grant Thornton LLP; Jennifer Doyle, Riveredge Hospital; Dawn Ferencak, Wednesday Journal; Reesheda Graham-Washington, Communities First Association; Laura Gutierrez, The Chicago Community Trust; Patty Henek, River Forest Village Trustee; Stephanie Kiesling, LCSW, SAHM, Professional Volunteer; Valerie Lester, Treehouse Foods; Caroline Marinoff; Dan Moroney, Village of Oak Park Trustee; Libbey Paul; Rachel Rettberg, Wonder Works Children’s Museum; Michele Rodriguez Taylor, Oak Park Regional Housing Center; Jeanne Schultz Angel, Nineteenth Century Charitable Association; Dawne Simmons, River Forest School District 90; Michael Starrick, Community Bank of Oak Park & River Forest; Vanessa Stokes, Austin Neighborhood Stabilization; Karin Sullivan, Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200; Romiesha Tucker, Housing Forward; Respicio Vazquez, Franczek Radelet, P.C.; Deborah Wess, Gloor Realty

The mission of Leadership Lab is to gain and share valuable insights into how our community works, to create stronger, more engaged leaders in a vibrant and thriving community. Over ten months, the cohort explores community topics such as Education, Health and Human Services, Diversity and Inclusion, and Environmental Sustainability. In partnership with over 50 community experts and professional speakers, the class deeply studies issues and concerns unique to our villages, builds key leadership skills, and develops plans to make a difference.

Leadership Lab is a reinvented version of the Community Leadership Program (CLP), previously co-sponsored by the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation and Dominican University.  Members of the previous seven cohorts under CLP now make up the Leadership Lab Alumni Circle, and contribute to the promotional and fundraising efforts of the program, under the guidance of Program Coordinator, Carrie Summy.

Applications have already been accepted for the “Lab 2” cohort, and those accepted to the program, which begins its journey next fall, have been notified of their acceptance! To learn more about Leadership Lab, please visit oprfcf.org/leadership-lab or contact Carrie Summy, [email protected].