Peace Fellows Advisors Review Progress

With the first cohort of the Chicago Peace Fellows finishing their summer projects and nearing the end of their curriculum, the Goldin Institute convened a dinner meeting of prominent advisers on Thursday, September 12, to discuss strategies for sharing the Fellows’ accomplishments and wisdom during their upcoming graduation.

Advisors Dinner 3

Held at the Erie Café in the city’s River North neighborhood, this was the third advisors dinner, and was attended by Goldin Institute Founder and Board Chair Diane Goldin, GATHER alumnus Raymond Richard, founder of Brothers Standing Together, a Chicago-based non-profit organization; Leslie Ramyk, Executive Director, Conant Family Foundation; Teresa Zeigler and John Zeigler, director of DePaul University’s Egan Office of Urban Education and Community Partnerships; Mimi Frankel, a member of the Frankel Family Foundation’s Board of Directors and the Goldin Institute’s Board of Advisors; Lisa Dush, a DePaul University professor who is conducting an academic evaluation of GATHER; Justice Stamps, who runs the Marion Nzinga Stamps Youth Center mentoring program on the Near North Side; José Rico, a Director of  Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation for Greater Chicago; Rob Rejman, vice president, Ascent; as well as Goldin Institute staff led by Executive Director Travis Rejman, along with Oz Ozburn, Jimmie Briggs and Burrell Poe.

The Goldin Institute team began with an update on the many workshops and events that the Peace Fellows have participated in, including the strategy session with the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago, the exploration of the role of urban planning and design in building safe communities with Studio Gang and the Rebuild Foundation and the meeting with Alderman Burnett on how grassroots leaders can more effectively collaborate with city-wide initaitives.

All the participants framed the Peace Fellows’ work in the context of the continuing unacceptable levels of violence in some Chicago neighborhoods. Jose Rico spoke about the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformational Initiative as well as about regular meetings in the office of Chicago’s newly elected Mayor Lori Lightfoot, and how the Fellows’ work could inform their discussions.

The Conant Foundation’s Leslie Ramyk said Chicago’s philanthropic leaders were mobilizing beyond their daily duties to respond to the crisis, including collaborating to publish a recent Op Ed, Enough With Hate, in Crain’s Chicago Business. Many family foundations are responding to the violence, moreover, by seeking out and listening to community leaders, using their leverage, power and privilege to try and make the social standard more equitable.

[quote]“This is outside of our job descriptions. We do it because of the necessity of this crisis.” -- Leslie Ramyk, Conant Family Foundation[/quote]

Mimi Frankel of the Frankel Family Foundation observed, “We are dealing with a totally different environment than we have had before.”

Goldin Institute Executive Director Travis Rejman talked about the importance of building a movement of connected peace-makers and quoted the maxim, "Great leaders don't inspire movements, movements inspire great leaders."

Senior Adviser Jimmie Briggs suggested building interest from journalists in the Peace Fellows’ efforts through various efforts, including a panel discussion. As a New York-based writer with roots in the Midwest, Jimmie was enthusiastic about the potential for the Fellows’ stories to reach a broad audience.

[quote]“Visiting this city can feel like you're in different countries as you go from neighborhood to neighborhood. Some areas are safe and some aren't and you can live in this city and have fully different experiences.” -- Jimmie Briggs[/quote]

He added that a narrative encompassing all the Peace Fellows’ diverse experiences would be inspirational. "If there is no narrative out there, it didn't happen," Jimmie cautioned.

Program Coordinator Burrell Poe said that when he was interviewing Fellows, one of their most common requests was to meet others doing similar work. Now that the program is up and running, he was proud to have facilitated the Fellows’ early contacts and that they are now working closely together.

“They are really loving it,” Burrell said of the Fellows’ collaborations.

DePaul University’s Lisa Dush, who is conducting an evaluation of the fellowship, said her challenge was to adapt available metrics to accurately measure results. While data is available to indicate the Fellows’ progress through the curriculum, she wants to make sure she documents the true picture of their experience.

John Zeigler discussed changing the prevailing narrative of the city’s communities, and change the focus of philanthropies, who tend to make grants to programs which generate quick results, rather than long-term investments.

John asked, “How do you challenge or disrupt that narrative?”

[quote]“Chicago is a city of neighborhoods but it is also a city priding themselves on growing organizers.” -- John Ziegler, DePaul University[/quote]

In that vein, John was pleased the curriculum had fostered meaningful and productive connections among the Peace Fellows.

“The Chicago Peace Fellows build trust and social capital with each other,” he said. “Social capital is a process, and the Chicago Peace Fellows invests in the process.”

Raymond Richard of Brothers Standing Together spoke about the responsibilities of community leaders, including non-profit executives, to work in concert and demonstrate dignity to younger generations. Philanthropies will have to be involved through determined strategies, he continued.

“These kids are fighting the same fight and they don't even know it,” Brother Ray said.

[quote]“If we're going to break down a barrier, we have to lead by example. We don't want the children to know how much we know. We want them to know how much we care." -- Raymond Richard, Brothers Standing Together[/quote]

Reflecting on a Momentous 2017

The Goldin Institute’s Board of Advisors had a busy year fundraising, donating their own time, and contributing other resources toward our mission.  Month by month, Goldin’s Board represented us at international conferences, collaborated with our partners around the world, and established funding streams that will be essential to expanding our efforts in the near future.

Founder and Board Chair Diane Goldin was positively peripatetic, visiting Haiti this April along with Executive Director Travis Rejman to get updates from our partners at KOFAVIV and the Bureau of Avocats Internationaux as well as to learn about the initiatives of the Jakmel Ekspresyon community arts center and the expansive work of Father Joseph Philippe in the rural Fondwa region. Diane and Travis were awed by the way these groups cobble together scant resources to create schools, social services and housing, and battle against gender-based violence, all in a context of dire poverty and shattered infrastructure.

Diane Goldin visits colleagues from Fonkoze in Central Haiti.


In May, Diane and Travis led a delegation to Panama City, Panama, for the #EndChildViolence global forum. This was the fifth global forum hosted by our partners at Arigatou International and the Global Network of Religions for Children, and proved an excellent opportunity for Goldin’s staff from Uganda, Columbia and the United States to interact with each other as well as with other grassroots activists from around the world.

Diane Goldin and Global Associates Lissette Roa (Colombia) and Dorcas Kiplagat (Kenya) meet Ms. Lorena Castillo, the First Lady of Panama.


Under the leadership of Board Member Mimi Frankel, co-founder of the Frankel Family Foundation and longtime champion of refugees, the Goldin Institute co-hosted Chicago’s World Refugee Day commemoration in June. Organized in partnership with local groups and the City of Chicago, the World Refugee Day events offered participants a chance to hear testimony from refugees about their experiences, connect with social services, share interactive educational experiences, eat food from refugees’ countries of origin, and otherwise celebrate the added diversity refugees bring to Chicago and the nation.

World Refugee Day celebration in Chicago


Also during the summer, Advisory Board Member Akif Irfan launched a fundraising drive with his family and friends to support the work of Global Associate Dr. Susana Anayatin and her team in the war-torn Philippine island of Mindanao. A former intern at the Goldin Institute who is now a vice president at Goldman Sachs financial firm, Akif has raised $5,085, with an ultimate goal of $12,500, an amount sufficient to pay for water pumps at 10 new schools that will serve thousands more children. In partnership with a broad coalition that includes both the Philippine and the Moro Liberation Army, a former rebel group, Susana and her organization have provided water pumps to more than 113 schools, serving over 40,000 students in a region where more than 70 percent of the population face obstacles to accessing safe water.

Akif Irfan's fundraising efforts have provided safe drinking water to over 1,000 students in Mindanao this year.


In September, Board Member Nathan Shapiro and his wife, Randy, were recognized by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) at a special gathering with Aviv Ezra, Consul General of Israel to the Midwest. The FIDF Central Region recognized Nate and Randy for the vital role they played in rescuing Ethiopian Jewry, especially during the decade Nate served as President of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews (AAEJ). Under his leadership from 1983-1993, the AAEJ provided relief, rescue and advocacy on behalf of the threatened Ethiopian Jewish community in Ethiopia and Sudan, leading to the successful immigration of the Ethiopian community to Israel through Operation Solomon in 1991.

Nathan Shapiro receives award in honor of his work with the American Association for Ethiopian Jews.


Dr. Aziz Asphahani, an engineer, educator and entrepreneur with more than a decade of involvement with the Goldin Institute, received a prestigious appointment to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering this year. Dr. Asphahani, CEO of QuesTek Innovations, is internationally recognized for his work in the advancement of materials, reliability, alloy development and corrosion control. One product resulting from his award winning patents was used in the restoration and preservation of the Statue of Liberty during its repair in the 1980s.

UCLA Professor and Board Member Gaye Theresa Johnson came to Chicago in November for a discussion of a new book she co-edited, “The Futures of Black Radicalism.” Some 40 activists, journalists, scholars, students and others attended the event and participated in a lively conversation around the themes raised in the book, which reflects on the seminal work of scholar-activist Cedric Robinson, who helped define the black radical tradition and the concept of “racial capitalism.”

(Right to Left) Goldin Institute Board member Dr. Gaye Johnson and her co-author Alex Lubin engage in the discussion moderated by the Institute's Community Learning and Collaboration Coordinator, Jimmie Briggs.


Finally, Board Member Tom Hinshaw marked a milestone in his involvement with YOLRED, our Uganda-based partner organization that is designed and run by former ex-child-combatants. Tom provides financial and moral support to YOLRED’s music therapy program, one of a menu of services that directly address issues affecting ex-combatants, and this month, that program and others held a mass gathering and celebration for several hundred young people. It was a joyous event that demonstrated unequivocally how returnees contribute positively to their communities.

Music Therapy Student preforms as part of the talent showcase for children of former combatants.


[quote]“The Goldin Institute - because of philosophy - can be effective, getting grassroots people involved in these issues. I just think you have to be engaged and to me, life would be much more shallow if you aren’t.”[/quote]

- Tom Hinshaw, Board of Advisors

A roofing contractor in Columbus, Indiana, Tom’s involvement with Goldin attended dates back to 2004, when he attended Institute’s event in Manresa, Spain. Tom became interested in YOLRED after helping facilitate discussions regarding the reintegration of child soldiers in Cartagena, Colombia in 2007.
“If you’re going to be responsible, be engaged, and if you’re going to be engaged, be effective,” Tom explained in a recent interview.

Celebrating World Refugee Day

Under the leadership of Board member Mimi Frankel, the Goldin Institute was pleased to help host the Chicago celebration of World Refugee Day on Sunday, June 18th.  We were proud to join partners like the Chicago World Refugee Committee, ArtWorks Chicago and the Chicago Departmennt of Cultural Affiars (DCASE) in hosting the event at the Chicago Cultural Center.

The days events offered participants a chance to:

 - Center Refugee voices and experiences in the city of Chicago,

- Connect social service organizations to the general population,

- Provide interactive educational experiences to all Chicago residents and visitors,

- Engage in cultural food sharing as a way of building community; and

- Provide a space to celebrate the diversity of cultures in the city.

Mimi Frankel, co-founder of the Frankel Family Foundation and Board member of the Goldin Institute, has long been a champion for refuggees worldwide.  Mimi helped lead the organizing efforts for World Refugee day as an effort to honor and affirm the rich diversity of the Chicago community, comprised of displaced populations from around the world affected by conflict, natural disaster, and economic oppression. Formally created as a global memorialization and recognition of refugees in December 2000, by the United Nations General Assembly, the significance of World Refugee Day has tragically grown, as the condition of refugees become more precarious given increasingly stringent policies for their admission and resettlement throughout Europe and North America.

By the end of last year, over 65 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes and communities, either to other countries or within their own. It was an increase of 300,000 people from 2015, considered to be relative progress by authorities in the refugee settlement and assistance fields. Despite the fears of Western nations, the three countries taking in the highest number of refugees, globally, are Turkey, Lebanon and Pakistan. Uganda is expected to crack that list due to fighting and humanitarian conditions in neighboring South Sudan.

Download the full report of World Refugee Day Chicago 2017.

March 2015 Newsletter

It's been a long winter, but we finally see hints of spring as the light changes ever so slightly. And each day we see more than a hint of our work making a difference in the communities we partner with.

Watch a brief video overview of this newsletter: 

New Community Leaders Taking Root

Participants in one of the Gulu ESPERE Workshops.

GULU, UGANDA – In January and February, two new workshops were conducted in Uganda, using the ESPERE Methodology first developed by our colleagues in Colombia. These workshops catered to the specific needs of the local participants and served teachers, former abductees, young mothers, street children and those directly impacted by regional conflict. A full report with photos chronicling the unique partners, setting and community members in Gulu can be found within the full story here.

With program co-creator Lissette Mateus Roa overseeing the work, and Global Associate Denis Okello coordinating on the ground from Uganda, ESPERE is in a great place to continue its growth in this region and Denis reports that there are two upcoming workshops which will "draw on the human spirt, connect those looking to build a better future and prove that ESPERE's cornerstone concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation rise above the legacy of hate."


[quote]Each successful attendee of the Workshops will carry forward the accomplishments and lessons learned from their participation to benefit their communities at large. We have several more Workshops already underway."[/quote]

- Denis Okello, Goldin Institute Uganda


Concern Worldwide Honors Mimi Frankel

GI Advisory Board member Mimi Frankel (far right).

CHICAGO, USA – We had the honor of seeing our long-time Advisory Board member, Mimi Frankel, accept a Humanitarian award from Concern Worldwide. Mimi's outstanding accomplishments reflecting justice, compassion and generosity in her work and daily life were officially recognized at a Chicago event attended by several hundred supporters to social causes around the world. For us, it was a confirmation of what we have long known about Mimi: she is a woman who will bring all her energy and devotion to raising awareness for the issues she believes in, especially ones which allow women to lead in solutions to benefit their communities.

Brave Leadership for Peace

Dr. Anayatin coordinates relief efforts in Mindanao.

MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES – We can't say enough about the ongoing work of our Global Associate in the Philippines, Dr. Susana Anayatin. Despite recent increases in violence in Mindanao, she continues the struggle for peace in Mindanao and Susana leads by example in her daily life as a teacher, environmentalist and organizer for the peace movement.

Already several times this year Susana has reported on the personal impact of the conflict and loss of lives to colleagues and friends, but this only makes her redouble her efforts to the cause of peace. While the story begins to get the attention it deserves from the established press here in the west, we have known how important it is to tell the story from Susana's perspective - and we will continue to do this while supporting the important work making a difference in Mindanao.

Promoting Gender Equality at the UN

Colleague Michael Di Maria (far right) at the UN gender equality conference

NEW YORK, USA – Recently, our newest Advisory Board Member, Akif Irfan was in attendance at a United Nations event exploring the issue of gender equity amongst young people in developing countries. Akif skillfully connected our ongoing work in places like Haiti with the conference's themes, while building relationships with colleagues interested in the same leadership initiatives, like Michael Di Maria of the Lions Clubs International Foundation.

Haitian-American Connections

Elsie Hernandez - Founder and CEO of the Haitian American Museum of Chicago

CHICAGO, USA – We continue to find inspirational leaders in our own backyard and last month we were excited to interview Elsie Hernandez - the founder and CEO of the Haitian American Museum of Chicago (HAMOC). Elsie put her dream of building a museum on hold for over ten years while raising a family, but her determination and vision have paid off with the launch of the Haitian American Museum in Chicago. An entire community now has a voice and the city at large has a new museum that helps all Chicagoans understand and celebrate Haitian art and culture. Elsie is just the type of local leader with an international reach that we love to partner with and feature for others to learn from.

Next Newsletter

Watch our next newsletter for an exciting progress update from our partners around the world. Can't wait until the next newsletter? Get your Goldin Institute fix by jumping onto our Facebook Page for the latest news as it happens.

Srilatha Lakkaraju - Newletter Coordinator