Thanksgiving is a time of introspection
--- to recall where we came from, to take stock of where we are, and to set course for what is to come. And to give thanks.
Looking back, we recall at Thanksgiving those who came to this new nation for freedom. For generations people have risked everything for freedom from political oppression, freedom to speak, freedom to worship without fear, and freedom to pursue opportunity. In the long arc from our nation's beginnings to the present, despite many changes, this guiding force remain the same.
Taking stock, challenging issues persist. Gun violence riddles neighborhoods. Progress against racism has been belied by a criminal justice system that perpetuates inequity, the quality of education and healthcare, and decades of disinvestment in neighborhoods only a few blocks from where we work and live.
Underneath this, the economy is growing in a way that confers substantial benefits to a small percentage of our population, and little to most. The middle class is shrinking, and rising into that class is, in Chicagoland and across the nation, the rare exception. Millions have lost a comfortable life and see no way of getting it back. We are divided increasingly into subgroups that have little or nothing to do with, understanding of, or trust in one another.
We see challenges, for sure, but we also feel a sense of hope. Together,
we are working across sectors and communities, between downtown and neighborhoods, often in difficult, messy collaborations, to create the positive change everyone wants to see. As partners, we are:
- Revamping Bond Court to help make our criminal justice system more fair and equitable
- Reinventing our community colleges so thousands can access better jobs
- Enabling Cook County to provide stable healthcare to more than 160,000 residents for the first time
- Identifying sectors that will create middle-class jobs
Collectively, we are moving important needles on some big, systemic challenges. These are the things we usually do, and we are deeply thankful for the opportunity to work with you on these critical issues.
Looking forward, our usual work is impacted by an additional challenge, a new and troubling trend: hatred and a lack of respect for differing views have been given voices that were previously unheard.
Many of our clients, partners, staff, neighbors, and friends are frightened by these voices, making our collaborations both more difficult and more important than ever.
Setting the course, we will continue to run towards, not from, the difficult challenges we see. This means letting everyone we work with know that we are committed to creating a more inclusive region, and to celebrating the diversity that makes Chicago special. And while we will continue to let our clients and partners speak for our work, we will not leave it to others to speak for us in matters of inclusion, equity, and justice. In those matters, we will stand up for the values that have guided us along that long arc of progress, since those who started this nation risked everything for the freedoms the new world promised.
Together, we will continue to do the work of our great city, but with a greater sense of purpose and urgency. For your industry, steadfastness, and collaboration in that work, we are grateful.
Wishing you a warm, peaceful holiday season,
Deborah L. DeHaas
Chief Executive Officer