What Hanover Park learned from equity town halls

Hanover Park village leaders are developing action items to deliver services more equitably after a series of virtual town halls that wrapped up last week.

Residents' feedback has helped prioritize areas in need of improvement, such as more transparency for the process of filing police misconduct complaints, strengthening police training in de-escalation techniques, implicit bias training for all village employees, and recruiting, hiring and retaining more minorities.

"The biggest take-away is that we need to have more community engagement," village Trustee Sharmin Shahjahan said.

Another goal is hiring more social workers who also are multilingual. The village's police department has one social worker for more than 37,700 residents - two-thirds are people of color and one-third are immigrants. Latinos make up nearly 40%, Asians 15% and Blacks 6% of the population.

"Equity and inclusion" need to be part of every decision as the village revises its strategic goals next year, Shahjahan said.

Voting equity

Cook County voters will be able to access election ballots in 12 languages in November, including Arabic, Gujarati, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and Urdu.

That's in addition to Korean and Tagalog, which were included in March, and English, Spanish, Chinese and Hindi making Cook County among the top jurisdictions nationwide for ballot language access.

The Cook County Board of Commissioners adopted the Voting Opportunity and Translation Equity ordinance in October 2019 mandating fully translated ballots and voting materials to be made available for suburban Cook County residents with limited English proficiency.

During a recent public hearing, commissioners reviewed what is being done to mitigate pandemic-related voting challenges disproportionately affecting Black communities, including accessibility of polling places.

"Now, more than ever, it is critical that we all pay close attention to our elections - not just the results, but how they are run, secured, and made accessible to every corner of our communities," said Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton of Glenview, who represents the 14th District.

To download mail ballot applications in these languages, visit the clerk's website at

Immigrant relief

Liza Gutierrez

Hanover Park residents seeking information about immigrant rights and immigration relief opportunities can attend an educational virtual town hall at 6 p.m. Monday on the TRUST Act.

Hanover Park Police Chief Mike Menough and representatives of the nonprofit North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic, an Access to Justice network partner, will answer questions about the legislation. Access to Justice helps unregistered immigrants find legal assistance with immigration issues.

"We want to help them understand that our police department is here for them," Hanover Park Trustee Liza Gutierrez said. "We want to ensure that residents are aware and engaging in our Area Response Team meetings; that they are speaking up and asking questions. We don't want immigration issues to ever be a barrier to anyone who needs to seek the help of our police department."

The Zoom event will be broadcast live on Facebook. To register, visit Submit questions beforehand by emailing Gutierrez at

Climate, voting justice

The League of Women Voters of Arlington Heights is hosting a webinar on "Climate Justice, Climate Change and Your Vote," 7 to 8:15 p.m. Tuesday.

The program, part of the league's Anger to Action series, will focus on climate change's disproportionate effects on minorities and Indigenous people.

"Racism and bias will not only hurt our communities, it will hurt our planet," said Liz LaPlante, environmental issues chair for the league, which also serves Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights and Wheeling. "Our league is dedicated to addressing both issues."

Guest speakers include Seth Moore, a national expert on climate change affecting the Great Lakes and Indigenous people. Youth climate activists Mary Catherine Hanafee-LaPlante, a Prospect High School senior who founded the Speak Up, Green Up nonprofit working to eliminate pesticides/herbicides from the Northwest suburbs, and Tonyisha Harris of Chicago, Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition administrator for the Illinois Environmental Council, will talk about their experiences with climate and environmental injustice.

Register at or

Racism talk

Young adult author Jason Reynolds will discuss his latest books during a livestream event Tuesday as part of Glenbard High School District 87's Parent Series. Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

Acclaimed Black author Jason Reynolds, the 2020-21 Library of Congress National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, will discuss his latest books at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a livestreamed talk as part of Glenbard High School District 87's Parent Series.

"Long Way Down" addresses gun violence involving a teenage boy envisioning revenge over the death of his brother, and "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You" is a nonfiction New York Times bestseller exploring racism and anti-racism, co-authored with Ibram X. Kendi.

Reynolds is an NAACP Image Award winner and recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. Information is at

Judson diversity liaison

Shanel Poole

Shanel Poole joins Judson University in Elgin as a doctoral graduate assistant of inclusion and diversity and liaison to the Black Student Union.

With 15 years of experience in public speaking and event planning, Poole developed a trauma-informed curriculum and is founder and executive director of Guidance Life-Skills and Mentoring, which has helped more than 350 girls.

Poole was expelled from Indianapolis Public Schools at age 12 and became homeless by 18. She graduated in 2010 from Indiana State University and later interned with the Indianapolis mayor's office, organizing the Indiana Black Expo/City of Indianapolis Crime Prevention Roundtable and the ex-offender re-entry job fair.

She has received several awards, including Indiana's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Freedom Award, the Indiana Commission for Women Torchbearer Award, and the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana Courage Award.

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