From press release
A program titled “Racism and the Schools” will be presented at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4848 Turner St., Rockford (three blocks north and east of Alpine and East State).
A panel discussion will be held with People Who Care attorney Venita Hervey and former school board president Michael J. Williams, moderated by UU Minister Matthew Johnson-Doyle. A representative from the Rockford School District has been invited.
Also joining the panel is Kris L. Kieper, CEO of the YWCA of Rockford, who will speak about anti-racism workshops they are now providing to the school system.
Williams moved to Rockford in 1971. He has been married to former Winnebago County Board member Henrietta Dotson for 18 years. His first term as a member of the Rockford School Board was from 1985 to 1989; he was elected to the position of vice president. He served a second four-year term on the board and was unanimously elected in 2001 by his fellow board members as their president. He now serves as executive director of Rock River Training Corporation in Rockford. He has been active in many community and state organizations including Booker Washington Community Center Board, the Rockford Branch of the NAACP, Red Cross Board, Mayor’s Youth Policy Advisory Committee, Mayor’s Blueprint for Rockford Committee, Rockford Association for Minority Management, DCFS Resource and Referral Advisory Committee and others, and has received several community awards.
Hervey, a Rockford native, earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and lived in Ohio for 15 years, where she worked for manufacturing and retail corporations in human resources. She has a law degree from the University of Akron School of Law. In 1995, she returned to Rockford and spent six years working with Chicago attorney Bob Howard’s law firm on the People Who Care discrimination case against Rockford Public Schools. When the lawsuit ended in 2002, she went into private practice, concentrating on employment law and school law, but has remained active in local and national educational forums. She was a community representative on the District 205 Education Committee and was a special education due process hearing officer with the Illinois State Board of Education for two years.
Kieper is the CEO of the YWCA of Rockford, a position she has held for three-and-a-half years. Prior to that, she served a three-year term as board president during a four-year YWCA board commitment. She and her husband moved to Rockford in 1992 following stints with the U.S. Army. Her experiences encompass government, for-profit and nonprofit leadership. She began her professional career at the Pentagon in personnel management, proceeded to a position of senior consultant at a Naperville philanthropic consulting firm for nonprofits and private foundations, she has a unique look at how nonprofits should evolve to meet today’s needs. Kieper has a passion for empowering women and girls and has taken up the torch to eliminate racism in her community as a trained facilitator in racial justice and anti-racism curriculums. She serves on the Next Rockford Strategy Team and the Rockford Area Economic Development Council Board of Directors and is a member of the Business Retention and Expansion Committee. She is the current president of the Council of Illinois and St. Louis YWCAs Board of Directors.
The panel will provide a look at the Rockford school system’s struggle with racism and an update on programs that seem to be working.
The program is free and open to the public and sponsored by Rockford Urban Ministries. For more information, call (815) 964-7111.
From the Feb. 24-Mar. 2, 2010 issue