City Club of Chicago: Making a Difference for Chicago Youth in 2016

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Juan Salgado, Haki Madhubuti and Rufus Williams during the Making a Difference for Chicago Youth in 2016 panel at the City Club of Chicago, April 11, 2016 (City Club of Chicago)

April 11, 2016

Making a Difference for Chicago Youth in 2016 – Moderated by Shari Runner – Featuring Haki Madhubuti, Juan Salgado, and Rufus Williams

A leading poet and one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement, Haki R. Madhubuti—publisher, editor, educator and activist—has been a pivotal figure in the development of a strong Black literary tradition. He has published more than 31 books (some under his former name, Don L. Lee) and is one of the world’s best-selling authors of poetry and non-fiction. His Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? The African American Family in Transition (1990) has sold more than 1 million copies. His publications include Liberation Narratives: new and Collected Poems 1966-2009 (2009); Honoring Genius: Gwendolyn Brooks: The Narrative of Craft, Art, Kindness and Justice (2011) and By Any Means Necessary, Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented (co-editor, 2012). His poetry and essays were published in more than 85 anthologies from 1997 to 2015. Two book-length critical studies on Madhubuti’s literary works are Malcolm X and the Poetics of Haki Madhubuti by Regina Jennings (2006) and Art of Work: The Art and Life of Haki R. Madhubuti by Lita Hooper (2007).

Professor Madhubuti founded Third World Press in 1967. He is a founder of the Institute of Positive Education/New Concept School (1969), and a co-founder of Betty Shabazz International Charter School (1998), Barbara A. Sizemore Middle School (2005), and DuSable Leadership Academy (2005). Professor Madhubuti is an award-winning poet and recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, the American Book Award, an Illinois Arts Council Award, the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award and others. In 2014, Dr. Madhubuti received the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award presented by Poets & Writers Magazine. In 2015, Madhubuti was the first poet to receive a Life Time Achievement Award at the Juneteenth Book Festival Symposium at the Library of Congress; and he was honored by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in the Fine Arts and he received the Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.

He is the former University Distinguished Professor and a professor of English at Chicago State University where he founded and was director-emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center and director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program. Professor Madhubuti served as the Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor at DePaul University for 2010-11.

Shari E. Runner is the President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League. A native of Chicago, she has been an active part of the city’s civic and cultural life. She is passionate about the importance of inspiring youth and empowering African American lives. Established in 1916, the Chicago Urban League works for economic, educational, and social progress for African Americans and promotes strong sustainable communities through advocacy, collaboration, and innovation. Runner leads the strategic planning, development, programming and community outreach for the organization, one of the largest of the 95 affiliates of the National Urban League.

Runner began her tenure with the Chicago Urban League in 2010 as Senior Vice President for Strategy and Community Development. In this role she oversaw operations in all programmatic areas, and worked with the president and CEO to increase financial support to the Urban League and to establish short and long term strategic objectives.

Runner began her career in finance and trading with the First National Bank of Chicago. As a Vice President she traded foreign exchange, and traveled nationally and internationally marketing banking services. She later worked for ABN/AMRO bank leading the overnight trading and EMS currency desks. With more than 25 years in operations and financial management she has also worked as an entrepreneur, management consultant, and community advocate.

Her civic leadership includes serving on the board of directors of Urban Gateways and as the president of the board of directors of the Bright Promises Foundation. She has been actively involved with the Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity program since 2000. From 2010 through 2012 she served as the program’s executive chair.

Runner received her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and her MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Juan Salgado is a community leader helping immigrants overcome barriers to success in the workplace and build the human capital of their communities. Through the Instituto del Progreso Latino, which he has led since 2001, Salgado works with members of the low-income, Latino immigrant communities on Chicago’s southwest side. Most adults in these communities work in menial jobs and face formidable barriers to upward mobility; few have high school diplomas, and many lack the English-language skills needed for a GED or vocational training program.

Salgado has pioneered an education program that adapts the principles of contextualized learning to equip these workers with the skills that lead to higher-paying employment in manufacturing and health care, sectors with a growing demand for a diverse, multilingual workforce. Participants achieve three goals concurrently: complete an adult basic education, improve language abilities, and acquire job skills. Instituto’s Carreras en Salud program prepares adults for college-level registered nurse programs, meeting a need for bilingual health care; its Manufacturing Technology Bridge program gives workers the high-level skills needed on the modern factory floor. Instituto also provides counseling to identify and overcome other obstacles to employment, such as transportation, child care, and elder care. Salgado has raised funds from private and public sources to expand Instituto’s programs, and he has built strong partnerships with community colleges and business owners to open up further opportunities for participants to gain training and employment.

Salgado continues to broaden Instituto’s reach. In 2010, he opened a charter school, Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy, which offers counseling and support to students beyond graduation through the first two years of postsecondary education or training. Through Salgado’s creative leadership, Instituto is widely recognized as an example of success, and it provides technical assistance to groups replicating its techniques in California, Indiana, Minnesota, and Texas. Salgado has built an effective ladder to opportunity in the Instituto del Progreso Latino, empowering individuals, lifting families out of poverty, and creating a model program with national reach.

Juan Salgado received an A.A. (1989) from Moraine Valley Community College, a B.A. (1991) from Illinois Wesleyan University, and an M.U.P. (1993) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was programs director of The Resurrection Project, a community development organization in Chicago, prior to becoming CEO of the Instituto del Progreso Latino in 2001.

Rufus Williams is the President and Chief Executive Officer of BBF Family Services, formerly known as the Better Boys Foundation. He is also President and CEO of Olympus, LLC, a financial management and professional representation firm.

Williams is a Certified Public Accountant, having begun his career at Arthur Andersen & Co., where he rose to the level of Senior Audit Manager. He was Corporate Audit Manager at Baxter Healthcare Corporation until he left to join Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo, Incorporated. At Harpo, Williams held several positions: Vice President, Controller, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Financial Planning and Strategy. He organized and managed Ms. Winfrey’s philanthropic efforts. He was also Vice-Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Northstar Lottery Group.

The fifth of six children, Williams was born and raised in Chicago. He attended Crown and Dvorak Elementary Schools in Lawndale before his family moved to the West Garfield community, allowing him to attend Morton Upper Grade Center, Lane Technical High School, and, ultimately, Orr High School, from which he graduated. Williams has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA.

Williams has always been concerned about the welfare of others. His service includes roles as President of the Chicago Board of Education, President of the Children First Fund, President of the Fund for Inner-City Athletic Equipment, President of the Whitney Young Magnet School Local School Council, Treasurer of Francis W. Parker School, Vice-Chairman and Treasurer of Providence St. Mel School and President of the Board of Directors of the Better Boys Foundation, among his many civic and philanthropic endeavors. During his time on Chicago’s Board of Education, he garnered an anonymous contribution to provide shoes for the boys and girls basketball teams in each high school for ten years. He also created the “Real Men Read” program which brought almost 1,000 men to read books to children in elementary schools throughout the city for one day each month, gifting a copy of each book to every child.

Williams is a highly sought-after speaker on issues of education. He also hosts phone-in, issues-oriented talk shows on WVON radio in Chicago.

Rufus Williams is married with two children and a grandson.