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Join Us in “Recognizing Female Leadership in the Pursuit of Justice”

March 16, 2021

On Wednesday, March 31st join female faith and community leaders for a special observance of Women’s History Month, highlighting the critical role of female leadership in community healing and the pursuit of racial justice in Chicago. Hosted as part of the Together We Heal series, which was inspired by an initiative of the same name launched by the City of Chicago, that aims to build racial healing across Chicago and promote civic unity by encouraging Chicagoans to connect across lines of difference and support a collective conversation about our truth and our promise as a City.

The program entitled, Together We Heal: Recognizing Female Leadership in the Pursuit of Justice, asks each of the featured panelists to reflect on:

  1. Your experiences as a female leader in your community and the ways that racial injustice has shaped your work and your leadership.
  2. Our communities and City have faced a tough year with COVID which has negatively increased inequality and violence, can you share some of the tools or lessons from your work that have helped you and your community heal from the trauma?
  3. Looking to the future, what do you hope your leadership and experience will foster for the next generation of leaders working toward social justice in the City?

The program will feature the participation of Dr. Mary Nelson, Rev. Marilyn Pagán-Banks, and Rev. Dr. Waltrina Middleton.


Dr. Mary Nelson

Mary Nelson is President Emeritus of Bethel New Life a faith-based community development corporation, where she served for 26 years. Bethel pioneered in creative community-based efforts to build healthier, sustainable, and equitable communities on Chicago’s west side. The Bethel efforts are examples of ABCD in action. She still lives, works, and worships in the same low-income African American community. She was Executive Director (2012-2015) of the Parliament of the World’s Religions where she participated in developing the 2015 Parliament event in Salt Lake City. She is on the faculty of the ABCD (Asset-Based Community Development) Institute at DePaul University, on the Board of Christian Community Development Association, where she recently spent almost a year as the interim Executive Director.

Rev. Dr. Marilyn Pagán-Banks

Rev. Dr. Marilyn Pagán-Banks (she/her/ella) is a queer womanist minister, healer, writer, and life-long co-learner committed to the liberation of oppressed and colonized peoples, building power, and creating community. She currently serves as executive director of A Just Harvest,
pastor at San Lucas UCC, and adjunct professor at McCormick Theological Seminary. Rev. Pagán-Banks received her Masters of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary and her Doctorate in Ministry from the Chicago Theological Seminary where she has twice been named Hispanic Scholar. She is a joyful contributor in the newly released book “Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle.” Rev. Pagán-Banks lives in Chicago with her spouse and loves laughing and dancing with her beautiful grandchildren.

Rev. Dr. Waltrina N. Middleton

Community Renewal Society’s 13th  Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Waltrina N. Middleton, a passionate preacher and keynote speaker has shared a vision and message of faith, love, and justice in diverse settings across the world, including the World Council of Churches Forum on Peace and Justice in Trondheim, Norway; National Council of Churches; The Carter Center; Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Churches Uniting in Christ, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; Ecumenical Advocacy Days; and as a part of a United Nations delegation addressing U.S. drug policies and mass incarceration.

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