I met Monique Parsons two years ago, while participating in the Leadership Evanston Course sponsored by the Evanston Community Foundation.  I was looking for guidance on our group’s assignment: how can we enhance the feeling of community in Evanston?

I have never forgotten our meeting.  Monique is Chief Operating Office of the YMCA.  She came into the office with a big, warm smile.  When the subject came up – the subject of community – before saying anything, she asked questions.  What projects were we looking at?  Why those projects?  And the most important question that stuck with me: what is our intention?

Before saying anything Monique asks questions.  She wanted to understand our goal, to understand us as people and where we were coming from, and to understand our intentions.  She made the last point so beautifully clear that I wrote it down: above all, be intentional.  Do your best to go about this with open eyes, recognizing what you mean to say and how what you say will be received. 
Monique pointed out something to me: the YMCA we were sitting in, our community’s YMCA, had a room downstairs called the Plantation Room.  The Plantation Room was ‘inspired’ by scenes from 19th century plantation life – the life made possible by slavery.  This room was in the building designated as the community’s YMCA, for all its citizens to enjoy.

It wasn’t just the image she gave me – it was the softness and directness of how she spoke.  There was no accusation – no anger – more of a logical, practical look at the world and the request to see everything, not just what I tend to see from my background.

I cannot imagine a better way to serve the Evanston community through the 202 School Board than the approach I saw that day with Monique.  Ask questions first.  Understand where a person is coming from.  Gain as much clarity as possible on the goal.  Be intentional.

Monique will be an outstanding addition to our community’s High School Board.  I will vote for her and hope you will support her as well on April 7th.

Michael Baskin