31 attend Speakers Bureau retreat in Evanston

2014 Speaker Bureau Members
(From left to right, standing) Gloria Davis, Glenda Sykes, Kendra Smith, Marilyn Escoe, Charles Jenkins, Lorenzo Rowell, Jayme Robinson, Cassie Sahler, Ashley Allen, Sonovia Petty and Charles Austin. (Front, from left) Leeanna Majors, Keleyah Wesley, Associate Director of Organizing Hannah Willage

Hosted by Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern University, the CCH Speakers Bureau’s retreat drew 31 participants Monday evening — formerly homeless speakers, as well as representatives of the 182 students mobilized this past school year at 14 Chicago area high schools and colleges. 

“This was the best yearly retreat we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Charles Austin, a leader on the Speakers Bureau and the CCH Reentry Project.

Time together was utilized to reflect on the past year and recognize how important the Bureau’s 15 speakers are to the CCH mission.

“It was a really powerful experience and I loved coming together with all of the speakers and hearing them share their stories, from people that have been a part of the coalition for years to more recent members,” said Gabby DiLullo, a CCH summer intern and Northwestern University sophomore.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the Speakers Bureau reached 4,498 people at 81 school, religious and civic venues, with leaders sharing their personal stories of homelessness and poverty. Leaders speak about a variety of topics, including affordable housing, living as an unaccompanied youth, and community reentry after incarceration.

Associate Director of Organizing Hannah Willage launched the Speakers Bureau in 2007.

– Elizabeth Panetta, Speakers Bureau intern and Loyola University senior