Only three of the speakers scheduled by the Family Action Network (FAN) to come to Evanston Township High School this year did not make it – two them canceled due to ferocious weather.

Those who were able to come – and even those did not – are an illustrious group that over the past six years has included Ishmael Beah, Senator Cory Booker, Colson Whitehead, Bryan Stevenson, Brené Brown, Pedro Noguera, Representative John Lewis, Andre Aydin, Sean Reardon, Gary Wills, Marley Dias, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Astro Teller, Karamo Brown, Isabel Wilkerson and Sam Quinones.

Family Action Network, an organization that brings topline speakers on current topics to ETHS, New Trier Township High School and other local education institutions, has a mission  “elevating minds and expanding hearts,” FAN board member Sharon Graboys said.

At the June 10 District 202 School Board meeting, Lonnie Stonitsch, Executive Director of FAN, gave a rundown of the year, goals for the coming year and speakers engaged for the fall.

“This is the fun victory lap,” Ms. Stonitsch told the Board. In the coming year, she said, FAN would like to host at least seven – and possibly 11 – programs, increase corporate donations and explore ways to reach students.

“We like to figure out how to leverage FAN speakers in the classroom.” Ms. Stonitsch said.

Early childhood education will be a focus, Ms. Stonitsch said. “We’re making a concerted effort to engage the early childhood community and have early childhood speakers.” She added FAN is looking for a way “to reinvigorate the relationship with District 65,” possibly involving Foundation 65.

Ibram X. Kendi, Anthony Jackson, Patti Smith, Robin DeAngleo, Luis Alberto Urrea, Paul Tough and Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor are among those slated for the fall.

Board President Pat Savage-Williams said, “Thank you for continuing to bring us such amazing speakers and making such a huge difference in our community.”

“FAN’s lucky,” Ms. Stonitsch responded. “The schools that we serve are lucky.”

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...