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Fellows in Action

Fellows in Action

Attended a great conference.  Met a hero. 

I met Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone at the 2012 Children’s Defense Fund Conference. I was struck by Mr. Canada’s accessibility, humility, and willingness to engage and inspire attendees at the conference.

Years ago, I was introduced to Mr. Canada while watching a television segment featuring the “Baby College” parenting workshop.  I later discovered the parenting program was just part of a web of supports that reinforced the idea that we cannot help children through isolated initiatives but we must think about how to comprehensively support the whole child within the context of his or her family and community. 

I was captivated by the Harlem Children’s Zone model because it made so much sense.  It was refreshing to see someone breaking down silos and working collaboratively to make the most of community services and resources to strengthen families who will in turn, strengthen communities. 

Mr. Canada’s “whatever it takes” mindset is inspiring and he has proven that with passion and hard work you can help create and sustain effective ways to improve the quality of life for children. 

Mr. Canada was not the only dynamic leader who was accessible to conference attendees. Many influential leaders networked with emerging leaders, like myself, to discuss how we can create equitable opportunities for all children.  Conference organizers facilitated discussions around shared vision and collective efforts to ensure children, especially those in poverty, have the resources needed to live happy, healthy, and productive lives.

This conference will certainly be numbered amongst my most memorable experiences and I look forward to attending in the future.  My conversation with Mr. Canada has inspired me to plan to visit Harlem Children’s Zone in the coming months, to participate in a Practitioners Institute and learn much more.

Artishia Hunter, 2011-2013 Fellow


2009-2011 Fellows
Fellows activities include:

Fellows Seminar

Fellows meet every month in a day-long seminar, organized by Erikson Institute. Seminars address three themes: early childhood issues, leadership, and making change.

2011-12 Seminars have included orientation to the program (along with mentors, the program’s co-chairs, and the 2009-2011 Fellows); a session about DISC (a leadership assessment tool) and a discussion with young nonprofit leaders of color; a day-long training in strategic communications (which several Fellow colleagues also attended); and conversations with lobbyists, advocates, legislators, state agency leaders, and staff of the Governor's office in Springfield, IL.

Professional Development and Networking
Fellows frequently attend events and conferences to meet colleagues, learn about the field, and build their networks.  2011-13 Fellows have attended:

  • - Ounce of Prevention Advocacy Day, Springfield, IL
  • - Voices for Illinois Children Kids Count Symposium
  • - Harris Early Childhood Speakers Series
  • - National Association for the Education of Young Children National Conference
  • - Zero to Three National Training Institute
  • - Statewide Conference for Teachers of Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Students
  • - National Council of La Raza Annual Conference
  • - Illinois Infant Mental Conference
  • - Healthy Teen Network Annual Conference
  • - White House Connecting Communities for the Common Good Conference
  • - Chicago Forward: Education
  • - Lillian and Larry Goodman Annual Hunger Forum
  • - Family Focus Symposium

The Fellows are also encouraged to take advantage of other training opportunities, including workshops, webinars,and conferences on topics that include:

  • Leadership
  • Advocacy
  • Grant writing
  • Presentations
  • Management
  • Facilitator training
  • Undoing racism

Projects & Presentations
Fellows are encouraged to undertake projects with colleagues in their host organizations, with each other, and with experts in the field, and to present the results of their work at local and national conferences. 

Saleem Hue Penny’s work with young fathers at Illinois Action for Children was recently profiled in the group’s newsletter. “Youth who are parents themselves face twice the barriers that adult parents do,” Saleem said. “They are still trying to navigate the difficulties of adolescence while trying to care for and nurture their own young children.” But, he added, “They can still dream. If we can help get them dreaming for their children, both parent and child have so much better of an opportunity to succeed.”

Angela Hubbard has been working with the Ounce's National Policy Team to learn the role of Secondary Consultant with the goal of helping advocates develop and implement policy agendas.  She also helped organize the Ounce Advocacy Day.

Artishia Hunter has been working with the Community Systems Development Workgroup on updating its Resource Toolkit.

TeeNeka Jones-Gueye chairs a subcommittee on Assessment Team Design and Logistics, part of the Chicago Public Schools Early Childhood Evaluation Advisory Group.  She is also working on the Planning Coalition for FACT (Family Assertive Community Treatment Project).

2011-13 Fellows have made the following presentations:

Artishia Hunter

Chicago Metro AEYC 7th Annual Head to Toe: The Midwest Interactive Infant Toddler Conference - Infant Toddler Early Learning Guidelines - Stakeholder Input

Illinois State Board of Education Webinar: Infant Toddler Early Learning Guidelines- Stakeholder Input

Saleem Hue Penny

DCFS Office of the Inspector General:  “Risk Reduction & Education Training for Male Parenting Teen Wards”

Illinois Action for Children Associates Board: “Family and Neighborhood Partnership Program”