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Four Chicagoans Making a Difference


August 23, 2019

Here at the Obama Foundation, we’re guided by President Obama’s belief that when ordinary people get involved, get engaged and come together, things change for the better. Today, we’d like to introduce you to four women who embody that belief and are empowering young people across Chicagoland to expand their horizons, explore new opportunities, and work together to build the world they want to see.

We learned about these inspiring leaders from our neighbors in Chicago, so if you know someone in the city who is making a difference in their community, you can tell us about them here Opens in a new tab ! We’re all ears.

First up is community leader Candice Washington. Inspired by the works of the late Toni Morrison her mom would read to her growing up, Candice founded Brown Books & Paintbrushes to educate children on black culture through art, literacy, and cultural programming.

Answering Toni Morrison’s question “What can I do where I am?”, Devshi Mehrotra recently graduated from the University of Chicago and devotes her time to CompileHer, a student-led organization that teaches girls of color the basics of computer science and the myriad of ways it can help them in any career path they pursue.

A quick bike ride away at the Experimental Station, Connie Spreen runs Blackstone Bicycle Works—a community bike shop and hands-on education and vocational training program for young people ages eight to twenty.

And for everyone out there who doesn’t wear a helmet when they ride a bike, Dr. Lamenta “Sweetie” Conway and her team at the I Am Abel Foundation are training the next generation of Chicago’s physicians. Her program exposes young people from underrepresented backgrounds to careers in medicine.

Though they work in different fields and approach their work in unique ways, Candice, Devshi, Connie, and Dr. Conway share a common hope to positively impact Chicago for generations to come by showing young people across the city that their potential is limitless.

If you know someone in Chicagoland who is making a difference in their community, tell us more about them here Opens in a new tab .