Thumbnail Profile: M.A. in Public Policy, Northwestern University; M.B.A., Loyola University; B.A. in political science, Northeastern Illinois University. Currently vice president of Human Resources for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), with responsibility over talent management and human resource services and operations. Previously worked for employee benefit consulting firms Hewitt Associates and Perrin Consulting. Gained experience in pension fund management and public finance with the General Board of Pension and the Illinois Housing Development Authority. Served as diversity manager for the City of Chicago’s Office of Compliance and the University of Illinois Office of Business and Financial Services. Graduate of ETHS. Three children, one each at ETHS, Oakton and McGaw YMCA Children’s Center.
Civic Activities: Member of District 65 School Board (2014-present), served on the Financial Sustainability subcommittee for the District 65 Strategic Planning process, member of the Chessman Club of the North Shore, basketball coach with Fellowship of Afro-American Men (FAAM), steering committee member for the McGaw YMCA Achievers program, member of Y.O.U. board.
Top Three Priorities: If elected Mr. Brown says his top priorities will be enhancing the financial stability of District 65, implementing more strategies to decrease the achievement gap while strengthening ties with District 202, and creating a greater partnership with transparency between District 65 and the community.
Two Major Decisions of the Board You Agree/Disagree With: Mr. Brown says the selection of Dr. Paul Goren as superintendent of District 65 was “an excellent decision.” Dr. Goren “blends the perfect mix of community, education, and vision that is necessary for a successful School Board.”
Mr. Brown says he also agrees with the decision to “move forward with the strategic plan and insist that community involvement be part of the foundation that it stands on. The strategic plan allowed for community input at almost every stage, and embraced the concept of District 65 and Evanston as one community. It is essential for success that all voices are heard.”
How You Will Enhance Student Achievment: “There is no magic pill that the District can take to close the achievement gap or solve the problems within the District. As a School Board member I will continue to advocate that the District find a successful way to educate all children. I believe the District is headed in the right direction; there is commitment from the administration, the School Board, and the community to address all students. …We need to keep pushing forward with fresh ideas and reviews of current practices and policies.”
Mr. Brown says that a major weakness of the District has been its communication with the community as a whole and disconnected families. “The process taken to engage parents in the creation of the strategic plan was a giant step in the right direction,” he says. “There were ample opportunities for feedback from every corner of the District. We need that model of community engagement as the floor for future activities.
“My vision is that we find ways to engage families and students, while supporting schools in their vision. … I believe we need to focus on ensuring that the three-legged stool of education is successful: household, community, and school.”
Mr. Brown says partnering with District 202 is instrumental in having successful students. “The ideal situation would be a model that places an emphasis on the expectation that every student is established by the 12th grade. From there we work backward to ensure every student has exposure to the tools, curriculum, and learning necessary to accomplish those expectations.
“I would start with a curriculum alignment; we want the bridge from District 65 to District 202 to be a smooth transition. It’s important that every student have a road map to success. If the two Districts do not have the alignment the road could be long and bumpy.”
How You Will Influence Fiscal Efficiencies: “I will influence the fiscal efficiencies by continuing the discussion and asking that transparency be a cornerstone of the School District.”
As to where he would make cuts, he says, “I think it is a really an open-ended question and one that will most likely come up in the next four years. When the question arises, I will ask the administration to provide a list of areas to cut and the outcomes for such cuts. It would be unfair to say one area over another just based on my own thoughts.”
Preparation of Candidate Information
In the April 7 election, three seats will be filled on the District 65 School Board and on the District 202 School Board.
Omar Brown, Jennifer Phillips and Richard Rykhus are seeking a seat on the District 65 Board. Adrian Dortch is seeking a seat on both the District 65 and 202 Boards. Larry Gavin prepared the profiles of these candidates.
In addition to Mr. Dortch, Jonathan Baum, Mark Metz, Monique Parsons and Anne Sills are seeking a position on the District 202 Board. Kelley Elwood prepared the profiles of these four candidates.
The profiles were compiled based primarily on each candidate’s answers to five of 13 questions contained in a PTA Council Questionnaire.
Each candidate’s complete answers to the questionnaire are available in the “Election” section of the RoundTable’s online site at www.evanstonroundtable.com, and also at the PTA Council’s website, http://ptacouncil.weebly.com/. Videos of candidate forums sponsored by the PTA Council, the Evanston League of Women Voters and ETHS Parents Engaged are also available on these sites.