Steans Center > Egan Office > About the Egan Office > The Council of Elders
Traditionally, Elders are the wisdom-keepers selected by their peoples as caretakers of the sacred teachings, experiences, stories and practices of their cultures passed down generation after generation. The Egan Office recognizes the intellectual, scholarly and cultural contributions of some of Chicago’s Elders who have played an active role in politics, education, and in the environment. The Council of Elders works closely with Egan’s staff and students to share their collective wisdom and knowledge to reinforce the vision and mission statement of the Egan Office.
At the Egan Office we have the privilege of hearing from amazing voices throughout the Chicago community of changemakers and activists alike. One of the ways in which we hear this is through our program called Council of Elders. This year we have decided to take full advantage of these amazing figures and start up a program called Breakfast with an Elder. Breakfast with an Elder is a time where one of our Egan Office staff takes a member from our council out to breakfast and has a discussion with them about their career, accomplishments, thoughts, and general feelings about what we need to be doing today for change as assisted through their expertise.
Recently, one of our staff met with Carlos Heredia who has held many activist roles in his life as an organizer, educator, and writer. Carlos grew up between Chicago and Mexico City and started his activism and organizing through soccer as a teenager by finding how it creates community and acts as a form of cultural retention. He went on to be highly involved in student activism in his years in college, starting the Organization of Latino American Students or OLAS that pushed to create the curriculum for Latino Studies, created a magazine, and they worked in the community to create clubs in high schools and the community. He started teaching about Mexican-American culture for burgeoning Latino Studies programs across Chicago as a student because of the need for teachers and his passion for the material. He helped create Casa Aztlan and went on to both work in Little Village, Pilsen, and the Southwest side in general in different community organizations as well as teach at different universities across Chicago. Carlos has been deeply involved in activism, organizing, and education for the betterment of Latinx communities ever since his childhood. It was an honor to be able to have breakfast with him and find inspiration in the wisdom he offers from his expertise. We are happy to apply this wisdom to the work that we do at the Egan Office.
On January 26th, 2019 the Council of Elders partnered with National Lewis University's MPA program to host a political forum on gun violence and Chicago history in preparation for the 2019 mayoral election. The discussion was in circle formation which helped encourage intimate conversations with speakers, students, and community members. We were lucky to have Jonathan Peck, Tom Tresser, La'Shawn Littrice, and Deveda Francois speak on these topics and council member Prexy Nesbitt moderate. The was a great event, and we look forward to future partnerships such as this to have more deeply needed conversations to have a better informed and engaged community that sees the interconnections of history, politics, and social justice.