Candidate Statements, MPAC 2020 Election
President - Rev. Terrence Miller:
My name is Terrance Miller and I am pastor of Reach Within Spiritual Center. In 1948 my grandparents bought property in Woodlawn on the 6400 block of Ingleside Ave. Currently, my mother and I still reside at that residence along with another family member. At the age of 24, after returning home from a tour of duty in the United States Navy, where I had the opportunity to travel abroad to a number of third world countries. It was during that time I made a commitment to become an instrument of change in my community when I returned.
I have over thirty years combined experience in non- for-profit program planning, development, coordination and supervision of community based services and operations. I also have a Masters Degree in Theology from McCormick Theological Seminary where I received the Marshall Scott Urban/Labor Ministry Award.
My commitment towards building community is reflected in the following successes: (1987 – present):
Founded the 63-6400 Ingleside Block Club; (1989 to present):
Founded Gloria’s Community Victory Garden; (2018)
Founding Board Member of MTM PAC
Founding Board Member of South Side Community Federal Credit Union
Founding Board Member of Woodlawn Community School
Lead Organizer for the Woodlawn 1000 Man, Youth and Family March and Rally
Lead Organizer for the Woodlawn Safety Symposium
Lead Organizer for WCSC’s Annual Kwanzaa Celebration, Black History Month Essay Contest and Family Empowerment Fellowship Breakfast
Lead organizer for WDA’s Annual Come Home to Woodlawn Festival
Last but not least, I am the founder of Gentleman’s Closet, a program that provides Free Suits to men who are unemployed and underemployed. And finally, I have revived the “once forgotten” Black Man’s Expo, which just completed its 4th annual conference.
If elected, I would use everything within my power to continue building bridges across the Midway to the Woodlawn Community, with the hopes of not only strengthening our collective voice but to expand access to the Midway’s rich history and resources to other residents in the community. I would also nurture existing relationships to create a united front that will ensure our success as we explore new frontiers towards building community life together within the Midway Plaisance that is safe, healthy and enjoyable for everyone.
Vice President - Genora Stone:
Greetings MPAC and community,
I'm Genora Stone, A active community worker who loves to engage myself in the well being of our community and city as a whole. I have worked hard in our community to strengthen community engagement as well as collaborating and working with a great team in many different positive loitering park and community events, such as:
A Annual Basketball tournaments with the children of our community, CPD and UCPD playing together, trying to help mend the relationship and gap between community and policing.
Yoga, Chess, Easter egg hunts, Summer kick off for family & friends, Musicals and Theater, Fall Festival all in the park as well as putting up Little Libraries, created a Junior PAC, Junior Gardeners to involve the children in their community all within the park.
An annual collaboration in one big event the Woodlawn Walk, Bike, Run, Akarama Health Fair, Back to School Jam, Play Streets and a ton of Vendors and every year it's more successful than the last.
As Vice President I will work hard with my team in working on positive loitering events, safety of the Midway, better lighting, drainage issues, proper signage, bike paths to start.
I see the Midway as the community hub that we need, we the people need to continue to care for, encourage, growth and development of our beautiful park. Let's make sure that our park is safe, enjoyable, fun and family friendly, a place of peace and beauty.
I believe in being Vice President, I can work hard in this process with a great team by my side.
Secretary - Myraim Weaver
My name is Myriam Weaver and for the past 20 years, my husband and I have been residents of Hyde Park and Woodlawn, the two communities that surround the Midway. We have raised our daughters, Lauren and Sydney, in these neighborhoods. We attend church, work, bike, march, and garden in these neighborhoods. Professionally, I have spent the past 30 years in various roles related to facilities operations and communication. I have a Bachelor of Science in Construction Engineering and a Masters of Business Administration with a focus in real estate finance. I hold IL Real Estate Broker and Certified Educational Facilities Professional licenses.
I value DIVERSITY and RESPECTFUL DISCOURSE...as my grandmother used to say, “we can disagree without being disagreeable.” I value CIVIC ENGAGEMENT and YOUR TIME! As the secretary for MPAC, I would bring three decades of experience in professional and volunteer positions to create the processes and documentation to facilitate PROGRESS for our park advisory committee. Specifically, I am asking for your vote so that I can provide the processes necessary to keep our PAC in compliance.
If elected, I would build on the progress made by our current administration. I would maintain the PAC’s electronic records and binder such that our required documents are up to date and available. I would support our meeting process with pre-printed sign-in sheets, meeting minutes, and committee reports. I would keep the website updated with our activities and reports. I believe with these support mechanisms in place, we can be a much more effective decision-making body.
Treasurer - Mary Anton
My name is Mary Anton and I am running for the position of MPAC Treasurer. I am a graduate of the University of Chicago with degrees from the College and Booth Graduate School of Business. I have extensive experience in program and budget development and financial management through my 44 - year career as a University administrator and as a board member of a number of non-profit organizations where I have served as Treasurer or member of the Finance Committee. Currently I also teach financial management workshops and do pro bono consulting through the University of Chicago Community Accelerator Program.
As MPAC Treasurer I will fulfill the basic duties of fiduciary for MPAC per the description of duties in the By-Laws. Additionally, I hope to work with MPAC’s officers to fulfill the purpose of MPAC through identification and development of programming in keeping with its By-Laws and finding new sources of funding to support those initiatives.
In closing, I think it is worth stating the purpose of MPAC , as presented in the By-Laws, I expect to uphold as Treasurer:
a. To provide a forum for organized and unorganized users of Midway Plaisance Park through which information regarding Midway Plaisance Park can be shared;
b. To advise and to make recommendations to the Chicago Park District concerning improvements in program, park maintenance, and other matters relating to Midway Plaisance Park and the patrons of Midway Plaisance Park;
c. To encourage long-range planning for Midway Plaisance Park;
d. To promote ways for the community to better utilize the Chicago Park District’s programs and facilities at Midway Plaisance Park;
e. To increase community awareness by involving all segments of the Midway Plaisance Park community and all patrons of Midway Plaisance Park, in the planning and implementation of MPAC and Chicago Park District projects and programs; and
f. To assist in locating additional funding sources to enhance the facilities of Midway Plaisance Park for all patrons.
President - Bronwyn Nichols-Lodato
My name is Bronwyn Nichols Lodato. My family’s history in Chicago dates back to the early 1940s and my mother, a public school teacher in Oakland, instilled in my siblings and me the importance of Chicago to our family. I have spent my adulthood in Chicago, and the joy of my childhood memories of Chicago– including visits to the Museum of Science and Industry with my cousins --when it was free!—shapes my service. I believe that shared, joyful experiences on the Midway – whether it’s children making new friends while ice skating or families and friends gathering for a sunset picnic and taking in a movie under the stars—can serve to strengthen our community.
I joined MPAC in 2015 as one of six founding members. I wanted to do my part for my children and our community.
During my tenure as President, MPAC has grown to 100 members, and counting, representing diverse addresses surrounding the park. MPAC carries out preservation, maintenance and beautification events involving volunteers from literally all over the world.
In addition, MPAC has been recognized as a PAC and for leadership excellence, winning multiple awards, including the Chicago Parks Foundation’s Connecting Communities Award, Friends of the Parks’ Seed Grant Awards and Park Advisory Council VIP award, and the South East Chicago Commission’s Neighborhood Enhancement Grants.
I have remained effective as President as MPAC has become larger and more complex, insisting and ensuring that MPAC’s administrative procedures are governed by its by-laws and in compliance with Chicago Park District rules. With communication tools and practices expertly implemented by Radiah Smith-Donald and Donald McGruder, meeting agendas engage on-going and emerging issues. I invite representatives from organizations and agencies to address the body so MPAC is well-informed. Above all, I stress that MPAC’s work remains focused on the Midway, is transparent, and that MPAC is a respectful forum to advocate for the Midway.
I want to build on these achievements as MPAC’s President by prioritizing tasks aligned with MPAC’s mission, including:
. Planning for and completion of park repairs and improvements;
. Healthy lifestyles park programming; and
. Advocacy for increased funding for the park.
I ask for your vote to be President of MPAC.
Vice President - Donald McGruder
My name is Donald McGruder, and I am the current Vice-President of the MPAC. I am running for re-election and am asking for your support. It has been my honor to serve in this role and to be an organizing member of the current council. The growth our PAC has experience over the last year has been astonishing and, in some ways, overwhelming. When I first joined the MPAC, I didn’t know a lot about park advocacy, as my background is in civil rights and youth advocacy. Despite my being new to the world of parks, I have been a part of a team that has
been able to do some award-winning work in the Midway Plaisance. In my role specifically, I have coordinated several outreach and beautification projects, including It’s Your Park Day, Park Volunteer Day, and Earth Day. I have also had the privilege to represent the PAC on several committees, including the Woodlawn Stakeholders Committee and the Section 106 Consulting Parties group.
There is no doubt that the MPAC has received a lot of exposure recently and rightfully so. Our PAC has been able to exert our voice and create change for the better. I am very proud to have been a part of this work. I believe that the MPAC still has a lot more work to do. As members, we have the chance to elect officers that will do the work of the park, whether that is clean it up or fight for political action. We must ensure that the officers we choose believe in fairness, equity, and representation. We must look past agendas and attitudes. I hope that regardless of whoever you vote for that you know that that person knows our park has been involved in our park and only has the agenda of the park and not their own. If you vote for a candidate who fits this description, then regardless of who wins, the MPAC win be in good hands. As for me, I can say without question; I fit that description.
Secretary/Treasurer - Radiah Smith-Donald
My name is Radiah Smith-Donald, and I’m running for re-election as MPAC Secretary and Treasurer. I’ve been pleased and surprised by MPAC’s rapid growth over the past year. I think people have been drawn to MPAC for a variety of reasons: Because they care about the Midway, because they care about parks, because they care about the community.
When Louise recruited me in 2015, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. She was working to activate more park advisory councils and identified me because we volunteered together with AYSO. Louise assured me that I was up to the task, and I joined her, Donald, Bronwyn, Gary, and Ken for the first meetings.
So, what was I getting into? Per the Chicago Park District: “An advisory council is a voluntary group of individuals who meet on a regular basis to support the effective functioning of their local park” and who:
Promote better utilization of the park district's programs and facilities, ài.e., engage people with the park
Communicate to the park district, increase community awareness of park projects, and provide a vehicle for sharing park information, ài.e., communicate about park needs and happenings
Locate alternate funding to enhance the park ài.e., support the park
Have I been up to the task?
Thanks to Donald, MPAC’s Facebook page and website launched a couple of years ago. As MPAC Secretary I have shared over 130 posts this year alone with information about park district programs and events on the Midway, as well as for other parks and free community events in the area. I’ve captured pictures of the park’s natural beauty to enhance the posts, or gathered them from others. It’s been terrific to see people “liking” the Facebook page and making use of the information to engage with the park. (Please check it out if you haven’t already.)
Robust communication relies on monthly meetings, an up to date email roster, frequent checks of the MPAC account, and collaboration with the other officers. Notes are sent out each month, posted on the website, and stored in the binder. In addition, because of where the Midway is situated it’s important for MPAC to communicate with more than just the park district. I’ve done my best to support Bronwyn’s work connecting MPAC with the various stakeholders - following up and sweating the details.
Finally, I’m so proud that MPAC’s conversations about cleaning up and beautifying the neglected park space near the train tracks eventually helped bring more than $5500 to the park through planting projects and community events. These efforts have also brought hundreds of volunteers to the park. As Treasurer, I took the lead on writing the various grant applications, kept track of the funds in and out, and coordinated with volunteer groups.
If I’m elected again, I plan to continue the work I was first “voluntold” to do in 2015. 1) I would like to help MPAC engage people with the park – to enjoy it and take care of it. 2) I would like to help MPAC be a conduit of information about park and community events. 3) I would like to help bring more investment and support to the Midway, we deserve it. MPAC’s growth has meant significantly more work, stress, and bureaucracy, but it also allows for new opportunities to think creatively about making an iMPACt.