exploring, engaging, experiencing

The Leadership Evanston XXVI ten-month program completed in June, 2018. This cohort is now ready to focus on our community's challenges and opportunities, and make change happen.

The focus of the year: continuing to borrow Bryan Stevenson's four ways to change the world, LE XXVI will get proximate, change the narrative, preserve hope, and, at times, get uncomfortable.

the story of our year in photos (gallery below)


The LE XXVI participants photographed at the Evanston Art Center at the group's first gathering. Names and affiliations listed below

reflections and graduation

June 2018: Leadership Evanston XXVI celebrated the end of the ten month program with a pivot to action, a reflection on the year and a celebration at Red Hot Chili Pepper to honor each individual’s achievement. The cohort posed for a photo together.

The new leadership cohort left with this buzz in their ear, offered by the Kansas Leadership Center:
1. Leadership is an activity, not a position. 2 Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere. 3. It starts with you and must engage others. 4. Your purpose must be clear. 5. It’s risky.

working for evanston: project presentations & team dynamics

May 2018: To share the products and process of the project teams with the Evanston community, to analyze factors contributing to effective team performance, and to reflect on learning gained in the project process about Evanston, leadership, and group process. The buzz in the room: Unexpectedly, as the team project presentations unfolded, Evanston youth and providing the opportunity to commit to equity, empowerment and restorative justice was front and center in the minds of all the teams. The audience felt a connection and a commitment to the future.

LE May2018  -- 054-233x175.jpgFive different topics shared by five project teams over the course of the morning LE May2018 - 078-233x175.jpgThe five group project topics were: Public and Private Funding; Creating a Trauma-informed Community within Evanston Schools; Storytelling and Reconciliation; Empowering Youth to Access Opportunities and Create a Culture of Success; Restorative Practices and Restorative Justice in Evanston. LE May2018 148-233x175.jpgProfessor Leslie DeChurch, an expert on team dynamics, shared the acronym ABC (affect, behavior and cognition) to help LE XXVI understand what makes a successful team process.


the sustainable community: public and community service

April 2018: To become aware of engagement opportunities in the community and to review key concepts of nonprofit board goverance. To gain an understanding of Evanston police officers' challenges and public service, and to participate in a climate change focus group to support future action. The buzz in the room: Reflecting on what is important to have in place for a strong and vibrant community as the prospect of pivoting towards action. What come next for LE XXVI after June?


The four experienced panelists guided the group in exploring the important role of a board of directors, the relationship with an executive director and the challenges in sustaining a healthy nonprofit community.


Reflecting on individuals' police Ride-Alongs and facilitating true to life scenarios with the support of the Evanston Community Policing Unit broadened the cohort’s understanding of the multi-layered job of being a police officer in Evanston.


As a focus group for the City of Evanston’s task force on Climate Change our group helped think through priority issues for individual citizens and participating instituitions so the community will continue to maintain a level of awareness and preparedness.




youth, education and collective impact: working together — citizens, administration and elected officials

March 2018: To gain insight into the major strengths and challenges of education in Evanston, to gain understanding of the various forces that impact schools, to understand the Collective Impact model, and to propose ideas on how to support equity and trauma-informed school settings. The buzz in the room: What is happening for youth in Evanston in 2018? In explore this question, the group learned about the public educational system and its financial structure from educational leaders; and had an introduction to the collective impact model and how the shifting paradigm of a trauma-informed community is being embraced by several key institutions.


Learning from LE Alumni Tasha Triplett about Books & Breakfast at Kingsley School. The program's goal is that every child can enter the classroom physically, emotionally, and academically prepared for learning.


District 65 puts the emphasis on learning, not only academically, but socially and emotionally. The group focused on these issues throughout the day.


The notion of trauma informed communities is deeply part of the community conversation in 2018.  Kristen Kennard of the Moran Center shares the latest research and the affects of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) on the healthy development of young people.


creative collaborations: health and human services

February 2018: To understand the health and human services in Evanston, explore examples of creative partnerships that promote well being, learn team building skills to help improve work with teams, across departments, organizations and sectors; and, to gain an understanding of the core elements of successful collaborations. The buzz in the room: self-care and restorative practices are critical for sustaining energy to tackle community challenges. Today through collaboration and playful interaction, LE XXVI learned more broadly and deeply about how to create together.


Evonda Thomas-Smith, shares how the City of Evanston Health and Human Services promotes integrated health and well-being through several city-wide collaborations.


Working in collaboration with Dance Center Evanston, psychologist Rahul Sharma brings a unique social justice perspective through movement and drumming.


The group explored creative collaborations in community work and and developing deeper ties within groups.


equity and restorative justice

January 2018: Learning about and experiencing restorative justice practices, listening to faith-based leaders describe equity and inclusion issues in their communities, and learning about equity-based training opportunities. The buzz in the room: the experience of practicing a restorative justice circle gave us the sense of the power of these practices in the community.


Learning how to practice and apply restorative justice circles, a powerful tool to use in building community, repairing harm, and resolving conflict.

E-Frolichstein-Jan2018LE-233x175.jpgThe group experienced the restorative power of music, as Leadership alum Ellen Frolichstein played two Bach preludes.


Four of the five faith-leaders who spoke about equity and inclusion, offering their perspectives on equity and what it means for their work.

economic development and strategic planning

December 2017: Understanding economic development issues in Evanston with visits to local businesses to explore how Evanston can attract and retains a vibrant business community, and through discussions about the City's role with other economic partners. The buzz in the room: connecting with for-profit business leaders helped shape a new understanding about the important partnership in keeping our community vital.


Alan Anderson, NU’s director of neighborhood and community relations explains the economic and civic relationship between Northwestern and the City of Evanston.

Rotay-LE2017DEC-233x175.jpgOur group spread out to meet with local business owners to learn about their mission statements, their assets and challenges in Evanston’s business community.


Paul Zalmezak, the City's Economic Development Manager, along with his team, addresses questions about how Evanston attracts and retains businesses. LE XXVI provided valuable feedback from the morning business interviews.


effective advocacy and organizing: city government

November 2017: Learning about city government, applying and practicing advocacy skills for social change, and actively listening to a panel of experts. The buzz in the room: affordable housing in Evanston is a multi-layered and complex issue we have to deal with.


Reading about the city's budget while learning about roles of staff and elected officials in Evanston, to better understand the structure of city government.


Listening and learning about affordable housing issues from Britt Shawyer (Housing Opportunities for Women), Michael McLean (Condor Partners, developers), Savannah Clement (City of Evanston, Adrian Willoughby (Reba Development Corp.)


Practicing an active listening exercise "One on One", a foundational advocacy strategy.


exploring Evanston's history

October 2017: From bus tour to small teams developing vision statements, the group examined Evanston's rich history. The buzz in the room: In order to change the narrative going forward, Evanston history has plenty to carry forward and plenty to be left behind.

P1010037-233x175.jpgThe group's bus tour of Evanston's history to explore different historical narratives included a stop at Shorefront Legacy Center to learn about Evanston's black community over the years. P1010079-233x175.jpgCreating an Evanston history timeline, by decade, the group ponders what to include based on their research about events and important historical figures. P1010123-233x175.jpgDeveloping aspirational vision statements to reference throughout the year, the five teams decided what to "leave behind" and what to carry foward from the city's history.


bonding as a group and the fundamentals of leadership

September 2017: Listening, sharing, creating, socializing.


LEXXVI participants are challenged to use both the right and left side of the brain to create their own original "Buddy Portrait".


Practicing active listening, two new Portrait Buddies introduce one another to the new cohort.


LE XXVI relax together at the Peckish Pig after an afternoon of sharing individual stories.



26 years in, NU Professor Paul Arntson continues to share his expertise about communication and community engagement, laying the theoretical base for the year.


By creating a map together through a  process called Collective Cartography, the group began to unearth Evanston's barriers and assets.


A list of shared attributes helped LE XXVI feel comfortable with the creative and collaborative aspect of map making.

class participants

Listed alphabetically: Susan Marshall Abraham, community volunteer Jorge Agulilar, Rotary International Kelli-Ann Alcott, Youth & Opportunity United, Inc. Carole Bass, community volunteer Ashley Brandt, attorney Karli Butler, Curt's Cafe Teri Campbell, Evanston Public Library Savannah Clement, City of Evanston Lori Coombs, Evanston Township High School Brandi Crawford, Youth Job Center Linda Del Bosque, Evanston Woman Magazine Neal Desai, LumenKids Jean Fies, community volunteer Ellen Frolichstein, Evanston In-School Music Association Steven Frost, Evanston/Skokie District 65 David Graham, Sidley Austin LLP Tanya Jenkins, Evanston Police Department Chantell Johnson, MacArthur Foundation Natalie Joy, Evanston Work Ethic Program Laurie Kaplan, community volunteer Lisa Levin, community volunteer Lesly Levitas, community volunteer Murphy Monroe, The Actors Gymnasium Mireya Morales, Rotary International Michael Moran, Anonymous Architects Miguel Ruiz, Evanston Public Library Joi-Anissa Russell, The James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy David Servillo, Gene Servillo Consulting Rebecca Slenk, McGaw YMCA Children's Center Rosa Ines Sriver, Evanston Cradle to Career David Stone, Northwestern University Bryant Wallace, Chessmen Club of The North Shore