West Side United convened its inaugural Community Advisory Council last week, a group of 18 West Side residents and employees collectively tasked with providing a dedicated and representative community perspective.
At their kickoff meeting, members of the advisory council worked with WSU’s program managers across its four fields — neighborhood and physical environment, health and healthcare, economic vitality and education — to place themselves into working groups aligned with their interests, professional and personal experiences. Going forward, council members will participate in working group meetings to plan and develop the collaborative’s core initiatives.
“The enthusiasm of each and every member was on full display,” said Senior Program Director Ayesha Jaco. “Beyond engaging directly with the core issues impacting the West Side, the members also showed what they have to offer to our working groups. With their expertise, both in the issues and the community, we can better work toward improved outcomes for local residents.”
The 18 members were selected from a broad pool of applicants and interviewed with WSU leadership through May and June. They join the collaborative with demonstrated leadership in their communities, as well as passion for social justice and service.
“Working on the West Side allows me to work in communities that are resilient and thriving,” said Esteban Rodriguez, a WSU council member and director of community schools and youth for the Northwest Side Housing Center. “As a West Side United council member, I will continue to develop communities without displacing people.”
As a body, the advisory council will meet monthly through 2019 and quarterly in subsequent years. Members serve two year terms, with the option to renew for a third.
“Working on the West Side is very fulfilling and exciting,” said Keith Freeman, a WSU council member and community organizer for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. “Through the advisory council, I have the opportunity to build power, shape and create change, and turn pain into power in the neighborhoods.”
Last Tuesday, the group nominated six members to join the Leadership Council, which also consists of WSU executive staff and leadership from the six partnering hospitals
“For West Side United, 2019 is the year of community engagement,” said Executive Director Norman Kerr. “At the heart of everything we do is a commitment to the neighborhoods, families and individuals of the West Side. And with so many community leaders featured prominently at the table, we’ll ensure that our initiatives remain aligned with the interests of the community.”
The 18 appointed members live or work in WSU’s 10 focal neighborhoods. The following individuals sit on the Community Advisory Council’s various working groups:
- Elizabeth Abunaw (Austin/West Town), Neighborhood & Physical Environment – Healthy Food
- Edward Boone (Austin/Humboldt), Health & Healthcare – Live Healthy West Side
- Vanessa Ford (Garfield Park), Education
- Keith Freeman (Garfield Park), Economic Vitality – Local Hiring
- Esmirna Garcia (Pilsen/South Lawndale), Economic Vitality – Small Business Grant Pool
- Marshall Hatch Jr. (Garfield Park), Economic Vitality – Local Hiring
- Tanesha House (North Lawndale), Economic Vitality – MAPP
- Emma Lozano (Humboldt Park/South Lawndale), Health & Healthcare – Live Healthy West Side
- Levi Moore (Near West Side/Humboldt Park), Neighborhood & Physical Environment -Impact Investing, Economic Vitality – Small Business Grant Pool
- Esteban Rodríguez (Belmont Cragin), Economic Vitality – Small Business Grant Pool
- Nathalie Rosado (South Lawndale), Economic Vitality – Small Business Grant Pool & Procurement
- Celeste Sánchez (Near West Side), Education
- Natasha Smith-Walker (Austin), Education
- Kevin Sutton (North Lawndale), Education
- Heather Tarczan (Garfield Park/Lawndale), Economic Vitality – MAPP
- Angela Taylor (Garfield Park) Neighborhood & Physical Environment – Healthy Food
- Richard Townsell (Lawndale), Neighborhood & Physical Environment – Impact Investing, Economic Vitality – Small Business Grant Pool
- Greg Van Hyfte (West Town), Health & Healthcare – Live Healthy West Side
Read more about the 18 members of the Community Advisory Council.