Suburban Mosaic: ECC hires new equity, diversity and inclusion director

Anthony Ramos will join Elgin Community College as its new executive director of equity, diversity and inclusion starting July 6.

The college board recently approved hiring Ramos for a $126,000 annual salary.

Ramos, 42, of Darien, said equity work has to be strategic, intentional and focused on "the student experience and success."

This pandemic school year has created increased awareness about the inequities within the college education system, especially for minority students, Ramos said.

"How do we create spaces that do value diversity ... how do we adequately prepare students to navigate the complexity of our institutional environments," Ramos said. "Part of that navigation also is learning how to do college for different communities and populations."

Ramos previously worked with the student success team at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, reviewing the college's student placement, orientation and advising practices. He was involved in the creation of Oakton's Persistence Project - an initiative to keep students from dropping out.

He now is interim dean of the arts communication and hospitality division at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn. He also helped create courses and modules on equity, diversity and inclusion for COD's adjunct faculty training institute.

Ramos is completing his doctor of education degree in educational leadership from the University of the Cumberlands.

Hispanic leaders

Gabe Lara, dean of Student Life for the College of Lake County in Grayslake, has been chosen as a 2021 Fellow of the National Community College Hispanic Council Leadership Development Program.

The program is designed to develop a pool of highly qualified Latino professionals whose goal is becoming a community college president. The council's primary purpose is preparing strong Hispanic leaders.

As a first-generation Latino college student, Lara never saw any Hispanics in administrative roles. He hopes to normalize the idea that someone like him can be a dean, vice president or president of a college.

"My goal is to not only center Latinx student voices in the decisions we make as administrators, but to include them to be part of that change," Lara said.

Lara joined CLC last July during the pandemic. The fellowship gives him a chance to further develop his leadership skills, he said.

"I know there is no one-size-fits-all solution to better serve students of all generations, but the key is to include diverse methods, modalities and techniques in order to address an integrated way of moving forward," Lara said.

Black men's commission

Several state legislators joined Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin Saturday to launch the Illinois Commission on the Social Status of Black Males.

Illinois House Resolution 13 creates the commission to study the social conditions of Black males, create evidence-based and measurable policy and systemic changes, develop strategies to help remedy severe adversities, support forums to promote statewide achievements, and make sustainable recommendations to improve the life expectancy and quality of life of Black males statewide.

State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford, the legislation's chief sponsor, and Irvin, chief commissioner, gave an overview of the commission's mission, key priorities, and plans for local and statewide forums focusing on Black males this summer.

The commission will add high school and college members beginning this summer.

Social justice

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago is offering $1,000 grants to help Chicago-area mosques implement social justice service projects in their communities as part of a challenge.

The deadline to register for the second annual Social Justice Challenge is June 30. To participate, mosques can upload a 30-second video and receive $1,000 each to start implementing their ideas. Collaborations among mosques and with interfaith or intrafaith groups are encouraged.

Each grant-funded project will be entered to win a $5,000 grand prize. The challenge winner will be selected Aug. 8 by community members voting.

Last year, 31 mosques participated in the challenge developing service projects addressing social injustices, including economic disparity, food insecurity, racial and religious discrimination, education and climate change.

The 2020 winner, American Muslim Community Organization in Lake in the Hills, was awarded $5,000 to support its community service project, "Sowing Seeds of Friendship and Peace." The mosque planted a raised-bed community vegetable garden in partnership with two churches and distributed the produce grown there to families in need through the Crystal Lake Food Pantry and the Rohingya Center.

For more information, visit

Student trustee lauded

Elgin Community College graduate Taylor Vitacco of Bartlett recently received the 2021 Gigi Campbell Student Trustee Excellence Award from the Illinois Community College Trustees Association.

Vitacco served as a student trustee on the ECC board. She also was active in the Black Student Achievers and Exchange Peer Mentoring Program. She was honored for her dedication toward helping foster an environment in which students feel accepted and heard, especially during the pandemic.

Vitacco graduated in May with an associate of arts degree and plans to become a custody evaluator for the social services system, acting as the go-to individual for children within the system.

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