Equity Advisory Council

The Equity Advisory Council (EAC) advises OERJ in its work and how to advance equity in the City of Chicago. In addition to providing input to our work, EAC is an extension of our efforts to build and strengthen partnerships with community organizations. The Council is comprised of thought leaders representing different communities and perspectives, offering us a holistic and strategic approach to our every day work. There are currently 18 members. 

OERJ and EAC convene on a quarterly basis to dicsuss existing work and recommendations. These convenings are open to the public with the opportunity for public comment. To learn more about how to join these meetings, visit HERE.


Victor Dickson

Victor Dickson, Co-Chair  

Victor B. Dickson is the President /CEO of Safer Foundation in Chicago IL. Safer Foundation is a national leader in the fields of community corrections, prisoner reentry and workforce development. Through a comprehensive suite of programs and services, Safer Foundation assists individuals pre- and post-release from jail or prison with a full spectrum of services designed to overcome the barriers to reentry. The core of Safer’s mission is job preparation and placement which enables Safer Foundation clients to experience a substantially lower rate of recidivism. 

Mr. Dickson brings a unique blend of leadership experience to the Safer Foundation. His experience includes more than 20 years in the corporate sector with AT&T and Sprint. Mr. Dickson finished his corporate career at Sprint Corporation as National Vice President Sales Support & Infrastructure Services. In this role Victor led a team of more than 3500 network & systems engineers, software developers and technical account consultants, supporting national and multi-national business clients. His team was responsible for maintaining an $11B revenue stream. 

Victor was appointed by the governor to the Illinois Human Services Commission. He represents Safer Foundation on the Illinois Workforce Investment Board and the national Council on Criminal Justice.  

Esther Nieves

Esther Nieves, Co-Chair 

Esther Nieves has worked with grassroots, statewide, and national organizations. Her career experience
includes leadership positions in city government (Chicago), not-for-profit/non-governmental, and
philanthropy. In these roles, she has supported communities' engagement and leadership participation in
efforts that improve their quality of life, advance inclusion, and bring about social, political, and economic

Her experience includes serving as director of WK Kellogg Foundation's leadership fellowship program
(Community Leadership Network) and as program officer for the community and civic engagement
portfolio; national director of American Friends Service Committee's Project Voice/Human Migration and
Mobility Initiative (Philadelphia); executive director of Erie Neighborhood House (Chicago) and, program
officer at the Field Foundation of Illinois. She has also served in municipal government, appointed by
Chicago's Mayor Washington as the second executive director of the Mayor's Advisory Commission on
Latino Affairs.

Equity Advisory Council member, Arianna Cisneros

Arianna Cisneros

Arianna Cisneros is a program officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she is responsible
for identifying and supporting equitable and transformative early childhood and education
systems across the country. Ms. Cisneros has experience in consulting, grantmaking, capacity
building, facilitation & training, policy advocacy, global research, and program evaluation. As a
child of immigrants and first-generation college graduate hailing from the south side of Chicago,
Ms. Cisneros is committed to dismantling racial and social injustice so that all individuals have
the power, resources, and opportunities to reach their full potential.

Equity Advisory Council member, Bela Mote

Bob Glaves

Bob Glaves has been Execufive Director of The Chicago Bar Foundation since 1999, prior to which he had a successful nine-year career as a civil litigator in private practice. As Executive Director of the CBF, Glaves is responsible for leading and overseeing the CBF's work that brings Chicago's legal community together to improve access to justice for people in need and to make the legal system more fair, equitable, and effective. Glaves currently serves on the Illinois Judicial Conference, previously was the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Donors Forum and President of the National Conference of Bar Foundations, served on other nonprofit boards, and continues to be active in a number of other nonprofit, court, and bar initiatives. He is a graduate of The John Marshall Law School and received a B.A. degree in Political Science and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin.

Equity Advisory Council member, Dee Atkins

Chandra Christmas-Rouse

Chandra Christmas-Rouse is a Senior Manager at Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC). A background in community development and environmental justice informs her design approach of working with community stakeholders in a participatory process to support capacity building, achieve place-based solutions, and reimagine systems. At MPC, she leads the Change Lab initiative which equips advocates, the public sector, and private entities with the skills and tools to affect structural change and to institutionalize equity. Chandra also directs MPC's housing policy work and supports land use & planning and equitable transit-oriented development (eTOD) programs by advancing research, policy advocacy, and outreach efforts. Her past experiences include integrating policy and strategy consulting with technical knowledge to advance economic mobility and sustainability for a number of organizations and firms including the United Nations, Jacobs Engineering Group and Enterprise Community Partners. She has been named a 2020 Threewalls RaDLab+Outside the Walls Artist Fellow and 2023 Chicago United for Equity Fellow. She serves as the co-chair of Elevated Chicago and on the board of Equiticity. Chandra was also appointed by IL Governor Pritzker to serve on the Illinois Clean Energy Jobs and Justice Fund Board. 

Equity Advisory Council member, Dee Atkins

Dee Atkins 

Dee Atkins serves as the Chief of Community Engagement and Equity at Threshold, a mental health and substance use treatment provider serving 7,000 clients annually. Atkins is a Certified Diversity Professional with 20 years of experience in corporate social responsibility, nonprofit development, and community outreach. She has previously worked in leadership roles at Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, Marillac St. Vincent Family Services, and Mercy Home for Boys and Girls. In her work, she leads Thresholds in building partnerships with peer organizations, elected officials, and local neighborhood groups to promote health equity and racial justice in the communities they represent. 

Equity Advisory Council member, Glenance Green

Dr. Glenance Green 

Dr. Glenance Green is a researcher, activist, author, storyteller, community organizer, and content creator who uses various art forms as tools of healing and liberation for systemic change. With over 10 years of research experience and 15 years in the non-profit sector, Glenance has been keenly focused on institutionalizing racial equity. Focused on enhancing her practice, Glenance was a 2019 Racial Equity Fellow for Chicago United for Equity and a 2020 Fellow for New Leaders Council. She serves on the Board of Kuumba Lynx and is the Youth Engagement Committee Chair for the Ellis Park Advisory Council in the community of Bronzeville. 

Equity Advisory Council member, Grace Pai

Grace Pai

Grace Pai is the Director of Organizing at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. Born and raised in a predominately Asian American community in Los Angeles, she has spent the last seven years organizing in Chicago and training hundreds of organizers and community leaders across the country. Building political power is one of her passions — in 2018, Grace led the effort to launch Asian American Midwest Progressives, a political organization that endorses progressive candidates for elected office. 


Equity Advisory Council member, James Rudyk

James Rudyk 

James Rudyk is the former Executive Director of Northwest Center. During his tenure, James has grown the NWC from a team of eight to 30 and increased the annual operating budget by over 300 percent. Under his leadership, the team successfully expanded the scope of services at the Center by adding financial, workforce development, youth, parent and older adult programs that respond to the broad needs of the community. 

In 2017, James joined the adjunct faculty of DePaul University teaching in the Department of Public Policy. Since then James has taught courses for the Department of Sociology and the School of Public Service.

James is a graduate of the Latino Policy Forum’s Leadership Academy and is an inaugural fellow of the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy. James earned his BA from John Carroll University and holds a Masters in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University, writing his thesis on the influence of race, socioeconomic status, and parental involvement on children’s educational attainment.

Equity Advisory Council member, Jose Rico

Jose Rico

José Rico is a community leader and educator from Little Village. He is the director of Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT), a comprehensive, multi-year national and community-based process to bring about transformational change. He weaves extensive education and public policy experience with an intimate knowledge of people across class and cultural lines. José brings his experience as a Mexican immigrant, teacher and father who is deeply committed to confronting racism, building community and fighting for racial justice in all his endeavors. 

Equity Advisory Council member, Kim Jay

Kim Jay

Kim Jay is the Senior Community Health Worker Consultant and Trainer for Sinai Urban Health Institute.  She started with Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI) in 2012 and currently works primarily on SUHI's Center for CHW Research, Outcomes, and Workforce Development (CROWD), to train and onboard CHWs within various organizations and provides support for CHW Supervisors and Managers to insure the most effective integration into their programs.  In addition, Kim continues her work as a CHW within SUHI, where she meets clients in the home or in clinic to address any literacy, navigation or social barriers that may be preventing them from being healthy within our medically complex model. This work further supports the integration of CHWs into the healthcare team. In addition, she serves as an ambassador for the Illinois National CHW Association (NACHW), Co-Chair for the Illinois Community Health Worker Association and Co-Lead for a workgroup under Healthy Chicago 2025. 

Equity Advisory Council member, Laurence Bolotin

Laurence Bolotin 

Laurence Bolotin serves as the Assistant Vice President of Constituent Engagement & Executive Director of the Loyola University Chicago Alumni Association. He is responsible for leading the volunteer engagement efforts of more than 150,000 alumni while working with volunteer leaders who serve on boards and committees throughout the university. He believes in the value of relationship-building as a way to help volunteers find their passion and guides them to identify areas to serve. Laurence is no stranger to volunteering as he has served his community as a volunteer in a variety of ways, ranging from one-off opportunities to serving as the 2016 National President of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Equity Advisory Council member, Niketa Brar

Liliana Scales

Liliana Scales serves as the State Director for the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC). The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) is made up of hundreds of environmental advocacy organizafions, businesses, community leaders, consumer advocates, environmental justice groups, and faith-based and student organizations working together to improve public health and the environment, protect consumers, and create equitable, clean jobs across the state. After more than three years of community organizing and policy leadership, in 2021, ICJC was instrumental in helping pass the nation-leading Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA). Prior to her current role with the ICJC, Lili served as the Advocacy Director at a nonprofit where she led coalition building in support of independent redistricting and was responsible for the organization's census efforts. She has also served as the VP of External Relations and Resource Development for a human services nonprofit in Chicago, serving veterans who were experiencing homelessness and children in foster care, where she was responsible for and led all fundraising, media, marketing and advocacy efforts. Lili is a graduate of John Carroll University (Cleveland, OH) where she received her Masters in Nonprofit Administration. She was a 2020 Chicago United for Equity Fellow and has recently been appointed to serve on the Clean Energy Jobs and Justice Fund Board for Illinois. 

Equity Advisory Council member, Niketa Brar

Lisa Lee

Lisa Yun Lee is the Executive Director of the National Public Housing Museum, a cultural activist, and an Associate Professor of Public Culture and Museum Studies in the UIC School of Art & Art History, teaches classes at Stateville Prison as faculty with the Prison and Neighborhood Arts/Education Project, and is a member and Board member of the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials. Lisa is working with public housing residents to open a museum in the last remaining building of the historic Jane Addams Homes with the mission to preserve, interpret and propel housing as a human right. As the previous Director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, she oversaw a renovation of one of the US's most important historic sites, installed a new permanent exhibition, and reinvigorated public programming. As the Director of the UIC School of Art & Art History from 2010-2017, she helped to find the Museum and Exhibition Studies Program that is committed to social justice. She served on both Mayor Brandon Johnson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot's Arts & Culture Transition Teams. She was recently reappointed by Governor Pritzker to the Board of the Illinois State Museum, and serves on the Boards of 3Arts, and the Field Foundation, and the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials. 

Equity Advisory Council member, Laurence Bolotin

Mary Kate Daly

Mary Kate Daly has been at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago for 22 years and has served in various external affairs positions. In her current role as Vice President, Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities, she provides leadership and strategic direction for the hospital's community health programs and initiatives. The goal of the Magoon Institute at Lurie Children's is to advance health equity for youth in Chicago. Mary Kate and her team do this by building strong collaborations with community organizations to address shared health priorities, including social and structural influencers of health, violence and injury, mental health and chronic health conditions. Mary Kate has been a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow since 2015, and she currently serves Chicago Youth Program's Board of Directors and the iHeart Media Local Advisory Board. She earned a BA from the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts in 1998 and an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in 2007.

Equity Advisory Council member, Niketa Brar

Niketa Brar

Niketa Brar is a policy strategist and civic systems organizer working to grow the community-led policymaking movement in Chicago. In her role as co-founder and executive director of Chicago United for Equity, she works to transform civic systems to be designed by the communities they serve. She organized Chicago's first public Racial Equity Impact Assessment, a community process that set national precedent for stopping a school closure on the grounds of racial discrimination, designed the Vote Equity Project, an award-winning citywide voter guide built by thousands of residents, and co-created the People's Budget Chicago, a popular education model and community budgeting process. Niketa comes to this work from a career working to bring a community-centered approach to government.

Equity Advisory Council member, Sharif Walker

Sharif Walker 

Sharif Walker is a change agent who is passionate about serving disadvantaged youth and revitalizing communities. Challenges and changes in family dynamicsduring his early childhood and adolescent years inspired him to become a community advocate dedicated to providing supportive environments that enable underserved youth on Chicagos South and West Sides to thrive. Sharif earned a bachelors degree from Lincoln University (Missouri) and a masters in organizational leadership from Lewis University. A proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and a committed father and husband; Sharif resides in Chicagos Austin community with his wife, Natasha and daughter, Morgan. 

Equity Advisory Council member, Sharif Walker

Teny Gross

Teny Gross is Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago. A veteran of the Israeli Defense Force, Teny began his career working to build peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Soon after, he became a street outreach worker in Boston. He was later founder and CEO for the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, RI in 2001. In 2015, Teny was recruited to Chicago to aid in our violence reduction efforts. He founded the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago and now serves as Executive Director. Teny is actively involved in shaping Chicago's citywide community violence intervention strategy and building partnerships with key institutions—what he terms the New Civilian Architecture of Violence Reduction. Teny has a BFA from Tufts, an MTS from Harvard, and a fellowship in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management from Harvard Business School.