Members of Advocates for Action, a community leadership council formed by Evanston Cradle to Career (EC2C), were honored and celebrated on June 6 at Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center with almost 100 people present.

The vision of EC2C is “By the age of 23, all Evanston young adults will be on the path to leading happy, healthy, productive, and satisfying lives.”

In her opening remarks, Kimberly Holmes-Ross, Community Engagement Coordinator for EC2C, said, “We celebrate a new and exciting movement in our community, the Advocates for Action. We’re ready to hit the ground running.

“Our team is made up of an eclectic group of people,” said Ms. Holmes-Ross. “This team was hand-picked based on two factors, which included our diverse background. And after doing so, I believe we are truly the example of Evanston’s community.

“This team was formed with a specific goal in mind – that it would become effective leaders in our community and we do not take that lightly as a task.”

Ms. Holmes-Ross said the team went through training between February and May to learn how to be effective leaders. Members of the team determined their skills as individuals and as a group, accepted their weaknesses, developed their skills and stepped outside their comfort zones.  

“We are ready to take on the issues that have been plaguing our community for decades,” said Ms. Holmes-Ross.

“We will stand for social justice,” she said. “We will fight to rid the education gap. We will help find the resources for affordable housing in Evanston and every ward. We will stand up for the rights of our children in school and everywhere they go. We will be Advocates for Action.”

Pastor Monte’ L.G. Dillard Sr., Senior Pastor of First Church of God Christian Life Center, conducted training sessions for members of Advocates for
Action. He said, “At our church we’ve been focusing on what we call people ‘who have gifts to give the helpless,’ and that is non-leader, non-titled people who create tremendous impact.

“The premise is, ‘Why don’t we share this in the community?’ You don’t need to be the Mayor, or the Alderman, or the School Superintendent to have a voice and to create tremendous and lasting impact in your community.

“What would happen if we shared this message with people, that you with your ‘regular self’ would have a voice in that you could do something that would really change the trajectory of your family and families in our community and that was our approach.”

PaTrina Gregory, a member of Advocates for Action said, “I am very excited to work with Advocates for Action. They are ready to do what I wanted to do for the past three years and that is to be out in the community talking to community members, being on the ground running and doing the work.”

Glenn Mackey said members of Advocates for Action have organized themselves and educated themselves, so “we can start liberating people and educating people.”

Sheila Merry, Executive Director of EC2C, said that more than 40 organizations, including School Districts 65 and 202 and the City, are partners in EC2C.

“We see the Advocates for Action as playing a critical role in ensuring the work of EC2C is directly responsive to the needs and concerns of the community,”  Ms. Merry told the RoundTable. “They will be pivotal in engaging with the community and playing a leadership role as we refine our work going forward. … I cannot tell you how excited we are about the Advocates for Action.”

Ms. Holmes-Ross presented certificates to EC2C partners JoAnn Avery and Bettye Cohns, and to the members of Advocates for Action who completed the training course: Adrian Dortch, Charetta Williams, Daisy Copeland, Damita Cravens, Daphne Dortch, Djorgy Leroy – emeritus, Mr. Mackey, Kelly Marcelle, Marquise Weatherspoon, PaTrina Gregory, Roman Walker, Sandra Hewitt and Tiffany Jackson.

After the presentation, everyone went to the patio of Gibbs-Morrison for a butterfly release. “It will release some beautiful things in this community, with our Advocates for Action,” said Ms. Holmes-Ross.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...