Sophia Lloyd, Tony Ruggerio and Phyllis Walden, a Communityworks volunteer.

Provided by Matt Baron

The second class of the Community Leadership Program celebrated with a reception for its participants on Friday, April 15, at Cucina Paradiso, 814 North Blvd. in Oak Park.

In addition to current students – comprised of a variety of existing and emerging business, civic and government leaders – those who convened included elected and administrative leaders from Oak Park and River Forest, business owners and key members of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation.

Offered by Dominican University’s Brennan School of Business over a nine-month period, the Community Leadership Program targets the professional and personal development of emerging and existing leaders in Oak Park and River Forest. The endeavor is part of Communityworks, a Community Foundation partnership with the community that emphasizes the success of all youth, environmental sustainability and community leadership development.

Program participants work with Brennan facilitators and dozens of experts in various venues to discuss and enhance their skills in areas including creative problem solving, developing and managing talent, negotiation and conflict resolution, project management and strategic planning.

The 15 members of the current class are Julie Farrell, Karen Faust, Caleb Fields, Carla Pierre Gini, Michael Lushniak, Julie Mann, Sarah Niederman, Melanie Nowicki, Tom Olis, David Parsons, Ellen Plourde, K.C. Poulos, Karin Schindel, Lauren Smith and Angie Spino.

In addition to building a network of contacts within the communities, the participants also form teams to work on developing projects that will benefit the communities. The OPRF Community Foundation is a charitable organization managing endowed funds to improve the lives of people in Oak Park-River Forest and other communities.

To learn more about Communityworks, visit

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Evan O'Brien

Evan O'Brien is the content manager of Soon after Evan was born in Chicago, his family moved to Oak Park for the same reason that attracts people to the "World's Largest Village" today: the...