Steering Committee

Work to Date

The Steering Committee is responsible for governing the process and progress of the Peoria City/ County Joint Commission on Racial Justice and Equity. Commencing our work in late summer 2021, we were immediately met with challenges: 

  • We faced starting an organization from the ground up. Our members had little history working with one another and the Commission had no staff and no established practices or policies. Moreover, our members were volunteers with jobs and families requiring their primary attention.
  • We had no work plan to guide us. While we had a mission, goals, and a vision, we were given no specific design to achieve our work. That gave us freedom, but it also required time to develop a process that would allow for collective achievement by a diverse group of sub-committees.
  • We were dealing with the most intractable social problem facing our country — how to address centuries of racism which impacted every aspect of our society and continues to be a flashpoint between many of our citizens.
  • We were starting in the midst of the most severe pandemic in national history. This created novel challenges to meeting in person in order to carry out our work. 

At the same time, there were circumstances which assisted us:

  • A national discussion on racism which was occurring after a series of horrific and highly profiled killings of Black Americans.
  • The experience of other cities and counties which made progress in this area that we could draw upon for our work.
  • The growth of national organizations which can act as resources for best practices.
  • Our city, county and community that were willing to embrace change.

As we began our work, other communities we interviewed uniformly told us two things: (1) Be patient and keep the faith. Organizing this work takes time, and there will be ups and downs as progress is made; and (2) Be data-driven. Anecdotal evidence is critical and helps drive plan development, but in the end, solid data is the best measure of success.

Charts with examples of racial disparities in Peoria County

Work Plan and Next Steps

  • Identification by each sub-committee of key indicators in their subject area that establishes the baseline of racial disparity in our community.
  • Development of strategic plans and processes that will improve racial justice and equity.
  • Creation of implementation processes for the strategic plans.
  • Monitoring implementation and modifying as required.

Steering Committee Members:

  • Timothy Bertschy (Co-Chair)
  • Mary Peterson (Co-Chair)
  • Angela Bolden
  • Charles Brown
  • Mary Chapai
  • Robert Dunigan
  • Raeann Garza Whitby
  • Angela Green
  • Joshua Gunn
  • Julia Issa-Ghantous
  • Jim Johnson
  • Micah Lavender
  • Chuck Mitchell
  • Mike Murphy
  • Rasheedah Na'Allah
  • Pam Orear
  • Abrain Robinson
  • Jonathan Wright
  • Bradley Wright-Hulett
  • Angela Young
  • Ex-Officio members: Patrick Urich, Scott Sorrel
  • City Liason: Andre Allen
  • County Liason: Brandy Bryant