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About

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Overview

Since 1916, the Chicago Urban League—through collaborative community, corporate and civic relationships—has helped people find jobs, secure affordable housing, enhance their educational experiences, and grow their businesses. We are passionate advocates for economic and racial equity for Black Chicagoans.

Read our Annual Reports

Our Strategies

Ensuring access to quality education that prepares individuals to become lifelong learners and to be competitive and successful in the global economy.

Preparing individuals for work at all levels in an ever-changing economy, developing engaged citizens, and building strong families.

Supporting community-based investment and growth through facilitating entrepreneurship, business development, and home and real estate ownership.

Advocating for policies and programs that ensure equal participation by African Americans in the economic and social mainstream.

 

 

Partners

The Chicago Urban League is grateful to all of our partners and sponsors who help us provide opportunities that make an impact in our community.

Executive Staff

Karen Freeman-Wilson
Karen Freeman-Wilson

President & CEO

Calmetta Coleman
Calmetta Coleman

Executive Vice President of External Affairs & Programs

Calmetta Coleman is Executive Vice President of External Affairs & Programs for the Chicago Urban League. She is responsible for the organization’s marketing, communications and brand strategy, as well as programming for the Housing & Financial Empowerment Center, Youth Services Center, and Workforce Development Center. As a member of the executive leadership team, she contributes to strategic planning, with the goal of advancing the organization’s position with all relevant constituents.  
 
Prior to joining the Chicago Urban League in October 2017, Calmetta served as Director of Communications for Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago, developing and executing communication strategies to increase awareness of the university's impact through civic engagement and serving as a spokeswoman on community and civic issues. 
 
Calmetta was also previously Senior Vice President, Director of Editorial Services and Corporate Media at Ketchum, a global public relations agency. In that role, she provided thought-leadership communication, broad editorial support, strategic media relations counsel and media training for Ketchum clients across a range of industries.  
 
Other previous roles include Vice President, Senior Communications Manager for JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Vice President, Media Relations Manager for Bank One. She began her career as a national business journalist, serving as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal from 1995 to 2002.

Erskine Faush
Erskine Faush

SVP, Chief Development & Innovation Officer

Erskine “Chuck” Faush is SVP | Chief Development & Innovation Officer. Chuck joined the team from Birmingham, Alabama, where he has for the past three years produced the state’s largest innovation and pitch competitions for seed and startup companies as well as THE YARD HBCU platform supporting infrastructure, inclusion and innovation investments, scholarships and grants. Previously, he served as President of Summit Media Entertainment from 2015 to 2018 and as Chief of Staff for the City of Birmingham from 2010 to 2015. His background includes various marketing and media leadership roles. He is also an ordained elder in the AME Zion Church and serves on several Birmingham boards.

He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including being recognized as an Urban League Leader in Civic Engagement and an NAACP Leader of the Year. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alabama Birmingham, holds professional certificates and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Miles College.

Stephanie Schmitz Bechteler, Ph.D.
Stephanie Schmitz Bechteler, Ph.D.

Vice President, Executive Director of the Research and Policy Center

Stephanie Schmitz Bechteler, Pd.D., is Vice President and Executive Director of the Research and Policy Center at the Chicago Urban League. In this role, Bechteler oversees all external research and advocacy activities for the League, and is responsible for aligning Chicago Urban League’s policy, advocacy and government affairs agenda with the vision, mission and strategic goals of the organization. She also oversees the League’s “Race and Equity Initiative,” designed to help the League engage in thoughtful, informed discussions on race, structural racism and racial equity for African Americans.

Bechteler has more than 15 years of experience in research and policy. Prior to joining the Chicago Urban League in 2013, she was the Associate Director of Research and Policy for the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University. During her time at Roosevelt University, she examined the role of Illinois drug policies in the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans and promoted public health approaches to reduce substance use and overdose deaths.

Bechteler received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration in 2006 and her Ph.D. in social work from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois in 2015. She is a current member of the American Evaluation Association, the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, and the Society for Social Work and Research.

Mavis Laing
Mavis Laing

Vice President, Executive Director of the IMPACT Leadership Development Program

Mavis Laing is Vice President and Executive Director of the IMPACT Leadership Development Program at the Chicago Urban League.  She is accountable for directing all phases of the program, including program design and implementation, as well as coordinating and overseeing the daily operations.



Laing previously served as the chief operating officer of the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, where she was responsible for managing more than 100 staff members supporting a wide range of operational functions. Her staff’s functions included management of 86,000 girl and 24,000 adult members who reported into seven local offices, cookie and retail product sales, and summer camp programs. 


Laing began her work in the nonprofit sector as Vice President of Volunteer Services for the Illinois Division of the American Cancer Society in Chicago.  She serves on the board of the Primo Center for Women and Children and the advisory council of the Latino Policy Forum and is also a member of the Chicago Chapter of The Links, Inc., and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Margaret Wooten
Margaret Wooten

Vice President, Housing and Financial Empowerment

Margaret Wooten manages the day-to-day operations of the Chicago Urban League's Housing and Financial Empowerment Center. She is responsible for providing a comprehensive array of housing counseling tools, which include foreclosure counseling, pre-foreclosure counseling, First-Time Homebuyers Educational Workshops, pre- and post-purchase counseling, as well as Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) counseling and Reverse Mortgage counseling for senior citizens.

Wooten is a certified housing counselor through the American Homeowner Education and Counseling Training Institute, (AHECTI) as well as the NeighborWorks Training Institute for HUD.

Prior to joining the Chicago Urban League, Wooten served as a social worker for the Department of Public Welfare’s General Assistance Program in East Orange, N.J., managing the day-to-day operations of Substance Abuse Cases, Nursing Homes Cases and Pre-Natal Cases.

She was also previously employed as a Paralegal for the law firm of Franklin and Crutcher in Chicago, where she was responsible for the landlord/tenant court call and the file review of buyers and sellers for real estate property transactions.

Wooten received her formal education from Chicago State University.

Auxiliaries

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Overview

In addition to our broad community of donors and collaborators, the Chicago Urban League is supported by three auxiliaries that help to expand our impact. These auxiliaries are intergenerational and promote activities in line with the League’s mission. They work to develop civic leaders within our network of supporters, and they provide thousands of volunteer service hours to the community.

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The Leaguers

The mission of The Leaguers of the Chicago Urban League—established in 1955 by Muriel Ibom—is to assist with Chicago Urban League’s fundraising efforts; perpetuate the Urban League’s policies and programs; increase awareness and community interest in the Urban League’s work; acquaint Chicagoans with the challenges that the League addresses; and solicit memberships and volunteers for Urban League activities. Join our efforts to empower communities and change lives by contacting Shapell Smith, president of The Leaguers, at snikko10@sbcglobal.net.

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Women's Board

The Women's Board was founded in 1966 by Dr. Arnita Young Boswell, the sister of Whitney M. Young, Jr., executive director of the National Urban League from 1961 until 1971. The auxiliary’s primary focus is to raise funds for scholarships in Whitney M. Young, Jr.’s name. The auxiliary is a group of philanthropic women who believe that “to whom much is given, much is required.” Women’s Board members play an active role in advancing the growth of the Chicago Urban League through direct service and fundraising.

“Our members believe that all things are possible when one is given support and the tools to succeed. By providing scholarships to students and supporting them along their educational journey, we are providing them the opportunity to gain the skills needed to be independent, critical thinkers, and productive citizens, says president, Jasmine E. Guy.”

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Metropolitan Board

The mission of the Metropolitan Board - founded in 1983 by John Rogers and James Compton - is to identify and develop the leadership potential of African American young professionals in Chicago. This award-winning group of young leaders provides service to the community and supports the mission of our organization. Join our efforts to engage the next generation of Chicago leaders by contacting membership@metroboard.org or www.metroboard.org.

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