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Today, the Obama Foundation announced the creation of the Obama Foundation Inclusion Council. The mission of the new Council is to ensure that the ongoing work of the Foundation is informed by a diverse set of views and opinions and in line with the values of diversity and inclusion.

The Council will bring together a diverse group of Chicagoans who will play a key role in helping to guide and advise the Foundation's strategic goals and ensure a broad range of opinions and experiences are represented as the Foundation's work moves forward. The Foundation has appointed fourteen members and three co-chairs for a term of three years, renewable at the discretion of the Foundation.  These members are accomplished leaders reflecting a broad range of experience and backgrounds who have demonstrated a strong commitment to establishing a framework for diversity and inclusion in their institutions and communities.

The Council will provide detailed input, analysis and recommendations for developing, monitoring and executing diversity and inclusion initiatives and strategies. The Council will convene regularly to review Foundation initiatives and assess potential strategic partnerships. In addition, the Council will regularly communicate with the community, ensuring that it is held accountable to high standards and transparency in its recommendations and the progress towards fulfilling those recommendations.

"The Foundation is committed to maintaining an environment in which diversity and inclusion are valued and respected in all aspects of its operation, and the Inclusion Council will help us accomplish that goal. We are thrilled that these leaders from across Chicago have agreed to serve on our Inclusion Council and look forward to working with them," said Marty Nesbitt, chair of the Obama Foundation.

"I am honored to serve as co-chair along with Bill and Connie on the Inclusion Council.  As a life-long Chicagoan I understand the significance of having the Obama Library on the city's South Side and the importance of ensuring that the process of inclusion is permeated throughout the project and is representative of the spirit set forth by the Obamas,"  said Melody Spann Cooper, co-chair of the Inclusion Council.

"I am honored to serve as co-chair for the Obama Foundation Inclusion Council with my dear friends Melody and Bill. The work done by the Inclusion Council will provide support and engage the mission of the Obama Foundation to inspire young people and citizens across the world to take on our big challenges," said Connie Lindsey, co-chair of the Inclusion Council.

"Serving as co-chair of the Obama Foundation Inclusion Council is both an honor and great responsibility," said William A. Von Hoene Jr., co-chair of the Inclusion Council. "Solving tough social challenges requires diversity of thought and action. It requires us to inform, empower and connect with others to reach actionable solutions.  Experience demonstrates that a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion fuels success and drives better business and community outcomes."

The initial members of the Diversity and Inclusion Council are:

  • Melody Spann Cooper, Chairman, WVON Radio; Co-Chair

  • Connie Lindsey, Executive Vice President & Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Diversity & Inclusion, Northern Trust; Co-Chair

  • William A. Von Hoene, Jr., Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, Exelon; Co-Chair

  • Ken Bennett, Senior Advisor, Public Policy and Community Affairs, Choose Chicago

  • Marca Bristo, President & Chief Executive Officer, Access Living

  • Ellen-Blair Chube, Managing Director & Client Service Officer, William Blair

  • Jamie Citron, Development Chief of Staff, The Barack Obama Foundation

  • Evelyn Diaz, President, Heartland Alliance

  • Sidney Dillard, Partner & Head of Corporate Investment Banking, Loop Capital

  • Brett Hart, Executive Vice President, United Airlines

  • Perri Irmer, President, DuSable Museum

  • Weldon Latham, Principal, Jackson Lewis; Council Lead Attorney

  • Langdon Neal, Principal & Owner, Neal & Leroy, LLC

  • Nadia Quarles, Assistant Vice President for Business Development, University of Chicago

  • Laura Ricketts, Owner, Chicago Cubs

  • Eli Williamson, Co-Founder & President, Leave No Veteran Behind

  • Bernarda Wong, Founder & President, Chinese American Service League

In July, the Obama Foundation announced Jackson Park as the site of the future Obama Presidential Center. Jackson Park meets the Foundation's desire to include the South Side community as a full partner in the development and construction of the Foundation and Presidential Center. In June, the Obama Foundation announced that Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners and Interactive Design Architects will lead the design phase of the Obama Presidential Center.