click to enlarge Regarding building board diversity, “Conversations are tough, but they are happening.”
Regarding building board diversity, “Conversations are tough, but they are happening.”

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Diversity and inclusion has become a part of the conversation for the nonprofit sector in Springfield. David Blanchette's article, "How and Why to Diversify" (Nov. 14), was a great introduction to the work taking place in this community with the help of United Way, Forefront and the Building Board Diversity task force. Many of our local nonprofits are leading the way with events, board evaluations and diversity plans that are intentional and meaningful.

The Springfield Junior League has been bold in their willingness to hear and share messages about anti-racism and becoming an ally in their recent diversity and inclusion workshops.

The Springfield Big Brothers Big Sisters board has expanded during the organization's recent acquisition and is off to a strong start to increase board and staff perspective across gender, age, race and geographic location.  

Illinois Women in Leadership (IWIL) has authentically owned its struggles with diversity and inclusion. The IWIL board is meeting this week to discuss their diversity vision and how to make the necessary changes to improve the representation of women in the organization.   

The conversations are tough, but they are happening. Organizations are stepping up and being deliberate about their plans to make change. It must begin with changing the processes and structures that don't allow diversity and inclusion to thrive. There is more work to be done, but the conversations are inspiring.

Raychel Yokem


About this time last year, a group of people known as One Sangamon Schools were celebrating the passage of the 1% sales tax referendum and what it would mean to the future of our community.

Superintendent Jennifer Gill demonstrated to me and others, through a series of public meetings and engagement opportunities, that District 186 had thoroughly outlined a strategy utilizing tax revenue for existing facilities. I was honored to lead this group of parents, board members, District 186 and Sangamon County school supporters. We dedicated energy and effort to inform and educate voters about the benefits of a tax referendum that had failed before.

I don't recall seeing Jack Pfeiffer, Alan Woodson or Thomas Kerins at the facility planning meetings, or any referendum strategy planning. I didn't see them as we walked precincts weekend after weekend. All are entitled to their ideas and opinions. In this case, I would suggest any economic or academic research and analysis supporting a two high school concept be made public and available to the district meetings ("Double vision: Should Springfield have two high schools?," Nov. 7).

One Sangamon Schools engaged voters and various community stakeholders, including labor and commerce groups vital for community growth. We learned that academic achievement is important, but equally important is vibrant and secure schools bring pride to neighborhoods and our community, and over time bring growth and continued economic benefits.

With all due respect, and gratitude for the support of the district, the time for that concept has passed. The voters made their choice.

Amy Madigan Brown
District 186 parent and president, One Sangamon Schools

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