Chicago Regional Organizing for Antiracism (Chicago ROAR) formed in 2009 as a Regional Organizing partner of Crossroads to assist organizations in the Metro Chicago Region to transform institutional cultures through organizing, building, and equipping, so the organizations may develop policies and practices promoting racial justice. Chicago ROAR envisions fully inclusive, equitable and life-giving institutions that partner in dismantling White supremacy, systemic racism and all forms of oppression in a movement that builds healthy, restorative, and sustainable communities in the Chicago Metropolitan area. Chicago ROAR emerged from over 20 years of partnership between Crossroads and Chicago-area institutions and organizations that sought to claim an antiracist identity.
Chicago ROAR offers a variety of ways to work to dismantle systemic racism, from hourly consulting services, to introductory and in-depth workshops, to strategic planning sessions.
Program Coordinator for Chicago Regional Organizing for Antiracism or Chicago ROAR National Organizer/Workshop Facilitator
Derrick C. Dawson is Program Coordinator for Chicago Regional Organizing for Antiracism (Chicago ROAR), and an organizer and trainer for Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training. He is also an ADA 25 Advancing Leadership 2020 Fellow. He served on the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, and served several terms as Co-Chair of the Antiracism Commission of the Chicago Diocese. Before becoming an antiracism organizer and trainer, Derrick served in the United States Navy as a broadcaster and journalist in the Pacific, and worked for over 20 years as a corporate trainer for major law firms in Chicago. He studied English and Linguistics at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago where he received a Bachelor’s degree.
The Chicago ROAR Leadership Team is designed to be a leadership development incubator, its role is to develop leadership inside of institutions in Chicago and also to provide a pipeline for potential future CROAR/Crossroads staff members. The Leadership Team is a group of volunteers working in their own institutions (sometimes as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion or Racial Justice staff, committee member or in some other position) to develop their capacity to organize antiracism outcomes in their own institutions. A hoped-for outcome is a growing community of institutions in a given geographic region that are working cooperatively and collaboratively on antiracist transformation.
Eric Bjorlin is an educator and organizer with a varied and diverse personal and professional history. He spent three years as a HS math teacher, two at a public school in Chicago’s northern suburbs and one at a small, alternative-credit HS in Milwaukee, part of a year-long volunteer program. He also spent 5 years working with schools around walking- and biking-related issues at the non-profit Active Transportation Alliance. He has also worked as a camp counselor, recruiter, tutor, and lifeguard, and spent two months as part of a peace team in Palestine in 2008. Eric is currently a Master of Social Work candidate at Northeastern Illinois University. He also considers himself a writer and storyteller, having performed at various live lit shows around Chicago, and enjoys biking, theater, and being outdoors.
Vicky Curtiss has been a Presbyterian pastor since 1980, currently serving as interim co-pastor of Edgewater Presbyterian Church in Chicago. She previously served as Associate Pastor for Mission at Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago; as a co-pastor of churches in Cleveland, Ohio; Tucson, Arizona; and Ames, Iowa; and as interim co-pastor in Corvallis, Oregon. Vicky also has been a presbytery executive and director of three non-profit organizations. One non-profit focused on Central American issues, another offered retreats for women to explore issues of money, spirituality and justice, and the third was Chicago Lights, which offers youth development and social service outreach in the city. Vicky co-founded the Interfaith Coalition Against Racism in Chicago, and staffed the Racial Equity Council at Fourth Church with the guidance of CROAR consultants. Vicky is also a certified spiritual director and trained in community organizing. She has been married since 1985 to Kent Organ, who is also a Presbyterian pastor. She enjoys quilting, theater, travel, reading, and being in nature.
Seva Gandhi has been in the field of community development as an organizer and facilitator, locally and abroad, for the past decade. She received her Master’s in Social Work (MSW) with a focus on community organizing and nonprofit management from the University of Michigan. Seva is the founder and executive director of Collaborative Connections. She is Mentor Trainer and Certified Trainer in Technology of Participation facilitation methods. She currently serves as Board Chair for the Asset-Based Community Development Institute. Seva supports groups, organizations and communities working on social change through her consulting, facilitation, and training. Seva’s own work focuses on the intersection community engagement, environmental justice, and anti-racism.
Abbi Heimach-Snipes is a Presbyterian pastor and currently serves as Associate rector at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Oak Park, IL. She has a Masters of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary and a BA in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Religious Studies from the College of Wooster. Some of her past work experience includes teaching elementary special education in Nashville, TN and working in the Hunger and Young Adult Ministry offices of the Presbyterian Mission Agency in Louisville, KY. Inspired by the sense of awe her little child has for the world already, Abbi hopes for, longs for, and organizes for a world where we all can live fully into our humanity.
Kenji Kuramitsu is an organizer and trainer in the Chicago area with cultural roots in the Hawaiian islands. Kenji studies ministry at McCormick Theological Seminary and clinical social work at the University of Chicago. He is the author of A Booklet of Uncommon Prayer: Collects for the #BlackLivesMatter Movement and Beyond. Kenji has served on the boards of directors of the Reformation Project and the Japanese American Citizens League.
Mary Pat Martin
Mary Pat Martin has been an Early Childhood Education professional with experience as a director of an Early Childhood Program. She was a professor at Oakton Community College in Illinois, and a member of the Oakton antiracism team. She has an M.A. in Early Childhood and a Masters in Education. Mary Pat has also been an elementary and preschool teacher and an early childhood education consultant in the Chicago area. She has done extensive consulting and training in culturally relevant and anti-bias education. Mary Pat has been associated with Crossroads for more than 20 years.
Arij Mikati is originally from Lebanon, but thinks of Minnesota as home. She was born the daughter of a diversity organizer, and her mother serves as her greatest mentor and inspiration for her anti-racism work. She has her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Theater from the University of Minnesota as well as her Master’s in Bilingual Education from the University of North Carolina. Arij has spent her career working as a teacher, teacher coach, and education nonprofit professional. Currently, she is the Managing Director of Persistence at OneGoal, a nonprofit that focuses on college access and persistence for first-generation college students. In her spare time, Arij enjoys exploring the Chicago arts scene, improv comedy, acting, traveling, and playing her ukulele.
Iván A Pérez
Iván A Pérez was born in Puerto Rico but grew up and resides in Chicago. He is the proud partner of Victoria Alvarez, a civil engineer from Colombia, and father of Nicolás, a rambunctious child of God and the person who motivates him to carry on with this work. As a bicultural, bilingual Latinx male in the US, “living on the hyphen” has provided him unique insight into the destructive nature of racism. As a result, Iván has devoted his life to positively impacting the evolution of our society and of our hopeful witness to this world. A founding member of the antiracism ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Iván currently serves as co-lead organizer/trainer for Another Pebble the Metropolitan Chicago Synod Antiracism Team. Iván holds Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture and Master of Management in Organizational Development degrees and spends his days as a Technology Project Manager in the financial services industry. Iván loves reading comic books, spy novels and latino literature and exploring museums with Vicky and Nico.
Soukprida’s journey in equity work began in Savannah. Ga., teaching middle school students storytelling through performance art and poetry. As a daughter of Laotian immigrants, striving to understand how she can be a good ancestor serves as her driver and passion for this work. Soukprida has spent time in both the arts and education nonprofit sectors as a teaching artist, capacity builder, and learning & development practitioner. Presently, she is the Director of Learning, Development & Culture on the national marketing & communications team at Teach For America, a non-profit focused on developing leaders who work toward eliminating educational inequity for all children. She also sits on the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusiveness Council, Teach For America – Chicago-Northwest Indiana’s transformation team, as part of their inaugural board. She has her B.F.A. in Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design and trained with NPR’s Next Generation Radio Fellowship on radio journalism and story. When not working, Soukprida enjoys hanging out with her rescue pup, Wilbur, exploring Chicago’s arts and eats scenes, and making her own clothes.
Nina D. Sánchez
Nina D. Sánchez is a proud second-generation Chicagoan with roots in Pilsen and Central Mexico. As the director of Enrich Chicago, Nina collaborates with a network of 31 arts and philanthropic organizations whose goal is to end racism in the arts. She has over fifteen years of experience supporting initiatives and organizations working to advance equity in the Chicagoland area and is currently working to launch an anti-racist, anti-bias learning community for children and families in Chicago. Nina and her partner, Mike, are parents to a high-energy, curious toddler who teaches them something new every day.
Sara Shanley is originally from Arlington, Virginia and now resides in Chicago. She is a Director of Innovative Partnerships at Urban Initiatives (UI). UI uses sport and the power of play to empower youth to develop social-emotional skills and build social capital. Sara co-founded and co-leads UI’s Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Committee which works toward transforming UI into an anti-oppressive organization.
Before joining UI in 2016, Sara spent a year in Rwanda working with a gender equity non-profit. She also spent a couple of years in Denver, Colorado working in the sports-based youth development field.
Sara now lives in Logan Square with her wife, whose name is also Sara. Their dogs Bentley and Maggie, their cat Whizz, and many many house plants.
Heather is an urban planner and adjunct professor of Geography at DePaul University. Her work is centered at the intersection of urban planning, environmental justice and equity. She holds over 20 years of nonprofit experience most recently as a Senior Program Officer at the Field Foundation of Illinois. Heather is a racial healing practitioner trained through the Woods Fund Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Initiative. She serves as a Vice-Chair of the American Planning Association’s Illinois chapter Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. Heather served as the Planning Director for the Congress for the New Urbanism for nine years. She developed regional plans for Chicago Metropolis 2020 making the business case for planning and worked for the New York City Planning Department. She received an American Planning Association fellowship to foster sustainable development and planning in the United States Senate. Heather was also awarded a fellowship through the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth to advance equity and inclusion in philanthropy. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago and serves as Vice-President of the board for the Youth Sailing program for the Jackson Park Yacht Club Foundation. Heather holds a bachelor’s in Urban studies and Japanese from Macalester College and a Master’s in Urban Planning from Columbia University.
Terry A. Solomon
Terry A. Solomon is an advocate, change agent, and visionary leader for social justice on behalf of African-American children, families, and communities. Solomon is the founding executive director of the African-American Family Research Institute, Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work, and Results Based Accountability Coach for Sisters of the Academy. Solomon is dedicated to improving the quality of life of communities through family-centered public policy and racial equity programs. Solomon has facilitated the creation of social policy impacting human services in the areas of education, child welfare, and public health, coordinated anti-racism trainings, and co-developed a racial equity assessment for child welfare professionals
Anne Stewart has worked as an Organizer/Trainer for Crossroads since 1992. She believes that her life experience has prepared her to focus on systemic racism. That experience includes: growing up in Mississippi, teaching high school English on Chicago’s South and West Sides, counseling individuals and couples, teaching and social work in an Early Childhood setting, and parenting and grand-parenting African Americans.
Stacy Williams has brought her passion for social justice to bear on her work in the field of education for two decades, working in large city schools from preschool to adults, as a classroom teacher, school administrator, district leader and most recently consulting on school improvement initiatives in Chicago. Her work has centered on addressing the needs of students of color and supporting schools to address challenges such as disproportionality in diverse learner education, college access for underrepresented populations, exclusionary discipline, and becoming trauma responsive. She holds a master’s degree in Trauma and Resilience in Education. Stacy originally is from California and now resides in Chicago, IL with her spouse, Reggie Williams, and their two children. Stacy loves to travel, explore the outdoors, and spend time with her family.