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CHICAGO- The Community Renewal Society announced today the thirty-five honorees of the 35 Under 35 Leadership Award in the Chicago Metropolitan region. The Award will be presented at a reception highlighting the honorees' contributions to the community on May 16, 2009, at DePaul's Egan Urban Center, 1 E. Jackson Blvd. Jonathan Fanton, president of The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation will be the keynote speaker.

The thirty-five leaders come from diverse backgrounds and demonstrate a commitment to eliminating race and class barriers. The honorees were selected for their creativity, for their ability to build bridges and work across racial, ethnic and economic divides.

"In continuing a tradition of celebrating leadership in the community, we value these dynamic young people," said Rev. Calvin S. Morris, Ph.D., Community Renewal Society's executive director. "These honorees share a common goal for positive change. We look forward to their imprint in the social landscape here in Chicago."
The 2009 recipients of Community Renewal Society's 35 Under 35 Leadership Awards are:

  • Kulsum Ameji, Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago
  • Jenny Arwade, Albany Park Neighborhood Council
  • Juana Ballestros, Greater Humboldt Park Community of Wellness
  • Adriana Cardona, Big Picture High School/Chicago Public Schools
  • David Benjamin Cassel, Alliance of Local Service Organization
  • Keidra Chaney, DePaul University
  • James Dower and Daniel Isherwood, Urban Initiatives, Inc.
  • Dr. Chandra Gill, Jacob Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies
  • Alicia Gonzalez, Chicago Run
  • Joseph Hollendoner, Broadway Youth Center-Howard Brown Health Center
  • Eric Johnson, Golden Apple Foundation
  • Amanda Rose Klonsky, Free Write Jail Arts
  • Lakita Little, Frazier Preparatory Academy
  • Phylicia Lyons, School Choice Illinois
  • Demetrio Maguigad, CIRCA (Center for Immigrant Resources and Community Arts)-Pintig
  • Sharmili Majmudar, Rape Victim Advocates
  • Sheila Maloney, Chicago Committee for Minorities in Large Law Firms
  • Justin Massa,
  • Todd McMeen, Green Street Project
  • Mark Meinster, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, UE 
  • Clayton A. Muhammad, Boys II Men-East Aurora Schools
  • Jeff Nelson, Urban Students Empowered
  • Hyeri Maria Park, Korean American Community Service
  • Amisha Patel, Grassroots Collaborative
  • Ziomara Perez, Nettlehorst Elementary Chicago Public School
  • Kate Robertson, Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Ministries, Mayu Alpaca, Chicago Fair Trade
  • Eric Rodriguez, Latino Union of Chicago
  • Angela Jean Rogensues, The Dreamcatcher Foundation
  • Sarwat Rumi, Mango Tribe
  • Amber Smock, Access Living
  • Sara Spoonheim, Faith in Place
  • Sean Tenner, Susan G. Komen for the Cure-Sudanese Community Center
  • Monica Torres-Linares, Legal Assistance Foundation of Greater Chicago
  • Amy Totsch, PACT (Public Action for Change Today)
  • Jaime Zaplatosch, Openlands Project

Nominations were reviewed by a 10-person selection committee of corporate and nonprofit professionals who exemplify the leadership recognized with these awards. Several factors were considered when judging the nominees work: 

    • The commitment to eliminating race and class barriers
An innovative approach
  • Impactful documented results in the community
Initially conceived as a way to honor The Chicago Reporter's 35th anniversary, the 35 under 35 Leadership Awards are a natural extension of the leadership development work Community Renewal has carried out over the last 127 years. For decades, the organization has mentored and trained both individuals and organizations, many of whom have gone on to make a significant impact on the communities they serve.
For more information, tickets and registration visit:

Community Renewal Society empowers people to build just communities by working to eradicate racism and poverty. It does so by informing, organizing, training, and encouraging individuals and communities in sustained and strategic efforts to engender systemic change and bring forth a vision of a just community where race and class no longer limit each person's full participation in all aspects of society. For more information, please see our website at

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