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The Chicago Urban League Tackles Closing the Skills and Opportunity Gap in the African American Community

For Immediate Release
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Ingredion Incorporated CEO Ilene S. Gordon to deliver keynote address at annual SUMMIT Lun

CHICAGO (April 14, 2014)–The 2014 Chicago Urban League SUMMIT Luncheon, themed Fearless Collaboration: Where Preparation Meets Opportunity, will highlight strategies that bring the public, private and non-profit sectors together in collective efforts to bolster the number of African Americans who are prepared for and connected to existing and emerging careers in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and related fields. The event will take place on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Ilene S. Gordon, Chairman, President and CEO of Ingredion Incorporated, will deliver the luncheon’s keynote address and discuss how rallying together, through public, private, and not-for-profit sector partnerships, can challenge the status quo and ensure that the gaps in skills, access and achievement are closed and eventually eliminated. In addition, the Chicago Urban League will also applaud the work of local innovators who are blazing successful pathways for themselves and for those that will follow them.

“Preparing people with the skills needed to be connected to existing and emerging opportunities can be an overwhelming task, and though there has been improvement in certain sectors, there are still major skill gaps in the African American community,” said Andrea L. Zopp, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.  “There remains an urgent need to increase the number of African Americans who are not only prepared for STEM careers, but who also have access to ample opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. Addressing these ongoing challenges requires a universal recognition that bold, fearless leadership and collaboration is needed across sectors.”

Receiving special recognition as innovators for their dynamic work in the areas of education and healthcare will be: Joy Bivins, curator at the Chicago History Museum, who is behind diverse exhibits including Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America and Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.  Bivins ensures African Americans’ contribution to the city’s history is preserved and recognized.  Elizabeth Dozier, principal of Fenger Academy High School, who helped develop an instructional strategy and framework to change failing schools.


Fenger, once one of Chicago’s worst-performing schools, has seen a decrease in dropouts and misconduct and an increase in freshmen on track to graduate under her leadership; and Dr. Melissa Gilliam, professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Pediatrics at the University of Chicago. Her Game Changer Chicago Design Lab at the University of Chicago helps youth hone their critical thinking skills and adopt a value system around health and social justice issues to guide them as they transition into adulthood.

The Chicago Urban League will also recognize: Emile Cambry, Jr., who,in 2012, founded BLUE1647, a business incubator that supports all forms of entrepreneurship from filmmakers and artist to engineers.; Jimmy Odom, founder and CEO of WeDeliver who leveraged a logistics-driven career, customer-service training and culinary skills to create an online-based delivery service that uses crowdsourcing to provide same-day delivery to high-end retailers; and Torrey Barrett, director of the K.L.E.O. movement which is dedicated to strengthening families and providing youth a safe haven.

Lead sponsors for the event include: Boeing, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Chicago; Grosvenor Capital Management, L.P.; ITW, and Southwest Airlines. For more information about Summit 2014 call 773-258-5800 or visit

About the Chicago Urban League
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.