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 13 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, 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, 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
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.
Bela Moté, Chief Executive Officer of the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, is an experienced non-profit executive and early childhood professional who has spent her career supporting early childhood and youth development at the local, national and international levels. She is committed to providing high-quality, deeply impactful programs for children, youth, and families and has previously held leadership positions at the YMCA of the USA, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, Teaching Strategies Gold, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Bela holds a master’s degree in Education from Erikson Institute, is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and participates on many councils and committees across Chicago and Illinois.
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.
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.
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.
James Rudyk is the Executive Director of Northwest Center. Since 2012, James has grown the NWC from a team of eight to 30 and increased the annual operating budget by over 300 percent. He has focused on expanding and deepening organizing efforts and adding financial, workforce development, youth, parent and older adult programs that respond to the broad needs of the community.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sharif Walker is a change agent who is passionate about serving disadvantaged youth and revitalizing communities. Challenges and changes in family dynamics during his early childhood and adolescent years inspired him to become a community advocate dedicated to providing supportive environments that enable underserved youth on Chicago’s South and West Sides to thrive. Sharif earned a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University (Missouri) and a master’s in organizational leadership from Lewis University. A proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and a committed father and husband; Sharif resides in Chicago’s Austin community with his wife, Natasha and daughter, Morgan.