The Organization for Positive Action and Leadership (OPAL) works to achieve racial equity in Evanston through advocacy, voter education, civic engagement, and candidate development. OPAL:
·Engages and equips Evanston residents to actively participate in the decisions that affect their lives.
·Works to ensure that leadership reflects and prioritizes racial equity.
·Works to amplify the voices of Evanston residents who have been under-represented.
OPAL is led by committed volunteers.
WHO WE ARE
We are a grassroots movement of Evanston residents inspired to action in an effort to organize the community to work collectively toward the goal a city where each child, resident, and neighborhood are equally valued.
Let’s work together to make Evanston a more equitable community.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Roger Williams, President
Oliver Ruff, Vice President
Cicely Fleming, CEO
Alyce Barry, Secretary
President Roger Williams is a real estate professional with Mills Realty. While in the publishing industry, he managed business relationships with large distributors and propelled Moody Publishers sales to over $11 million as top sales person. From South Bend, Indiana, Roger has a Bachelor's degree in Sociology from Indiana University, and a Master's in Management and Marketing from Northwestern University. He is happily married and has two daughters who recently graduated from college. He is a committed Christian and plays lead guitar for his church's choir.
CEO Cicely Wilson Fleming was elected Alderwoman for Evanston's 9th Ward in 2017 by a wide margin and served as OPAL President for three years since its founding in 2014. She has a Bachelor's in Sociology from Shaw University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from DePaul University, with interests in policy, asset-based community development, voter engagement and mobilization, and racial equity in government. She has served also as PTA President, a member of the Mental Health Board, and volunteer at Connections. A native of Evanston, she and her husband Andrew have three children
Vice President Oliver A. Ruff is an educator who retired after serving for 36 years as a teacher, assistant principal, professional development consultant with Northeastern Illinois University, principal, and mentor for teachers and principals, and now serves as an educational consultant. He has a deep passion for helping students reach their educational aspirations. His B.A. in Education is from Baker University, his Master's in Education from National-Louis University, with postgraduate work at Chicago's Roosevelt University. His motto is, "High Expectations; No Exceptions; No Excuses."
Board Secretary Alyce Barry is a writer and facilitator. Originally from Glenview, she has a B.A. in Philosophy from Temple University and worked for 16 years as a technical writer. In 2001 she became certified as a Shadow Work Facilitator and Coach, leading workshops and trainings and seeing clients before retiring in 2015. She is the author of Practically Shameless (2008) which helps people feel less shame about themselves and, unknown to her at the time, reveals her white privilege. She began antiracism training in 2015 and joined the OPAL Board in June 2017 which she serves as Board Secretary.
Board Member Martha Burns is on Oakton Community College's Board of Trustees and a political consultant with KNI Communications. Her previous experience includes 15+ years in social services at Evanston's Community Economic Development Association (CEDA). As a single parent, she earned her degree from Loyola University Chicago and served as Orrington PTA President, PTA Council member and PTA Council President for two years, then as ETHS Board member for 12 years, serving two years each as President and Vice President. She believes education is crucial for success and continues to be a tenacious advocate for marginalized students and a champion of better education for all students
Board Member Tiffini Holmes is an ACE Certified Health Coach with over 14 years of combined coaching experience in the areas of life, career, and wellness, and owner of Total Transformation Wellness Coaching, LLC, since 2010. She worked previously as a Human Resources professional where she had the opportunity to coach entry level to C-suite executives in many different facets. Her passion is partnering with people to improve their lives. Born in Evanston, she holds a B.S. in Management from DePaul University and an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She joined the OPAL Board in June 2017 and serves as Events Chair and on Candidate Development.
Board Member Alex Morgan is Executive Director of the Progressive Turnout Project, a grassroots Political Action Committee for which he manages on-the-ground organizing efforts and served as National Field and Training Director. He has overseen grassroots efforts for presidential, congressional, state, and local campaigns. Alex received his B.A. in Political Science from Kalamazoo College and his M.A. in Urban Education from Cardinal Stritch University. His passion is for increasing civic engagement, having seen the positive impact that a vibrant community can have on all. He joined OPAL's Board in 2017 and serves as Press Secretary and in Candidate Development, Membership and Fundraising.
Board Member Tameka Jackson is also a native of Evanston and a proud alumna of Evanston public school system. Tameka believes that the function of education is to teach one to think critically, as a result she is deeply passionate abut ensuring that Evanston schools are doing just that. She holds a BA in Africana studies and a BS in Mathematics from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Tameka J.Jackson is a Senior Student Financial Accounting Assistant at Northwestern University's Student Finance office for the last 12 years. Tameka has worked in higher education for over 15 years. She is a Northwestern University Change Maker trained in intergroup dialogue. Tameka joined the board 2019 and will work to increase our presence at the City of Evanston.
Juneitha Shambee is an attorney who has been practicing law since 2012, in Evanston since 2014. A Chicago native, Juneitha has shown passion and dedication to the law since a young age. Her diverse firm, Shambee Law, provides legal representation in the areas of civil litigation, criminal defense, expungement, and family law. She believes in representing her clients with tenaciousness and has taken on challenges beyond what many attorneys her age would face. Juneitha received her B.A. from Chicago State University and her J.D. from Northern Illinois University College of Law. She is also licensed to practice in Florida and holds a federal license. She belongs to the Black Women Law Association and the First Amendment Lawyers Association and was named to the Top 40 Under 40 by the National Black Lawyers in 2017 and the National Criminal Defense Attorneys the same year. Juneitha lives in Evanston and is a District 65 parent. She brings important skills, perspectives and passion to the Board, and we're delighted to have her help in advancing OPAL's mission of a more equitable Evanston.