For the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful about Oak Park living into its reputation and promise as an equitable, community-oriented village. What is getting me through the times we are in is an image of a transformed Village of Oak Park board table. Front and center in that image is Juanta Griffin, who embodies the welcoming energy and values of the best of Oak Park.

My wife and I moved here for the reputation of Oak Park as diverse and inclusive. What I’ve learned is that while our community may have better diversity than much of Chicagoland, it is not measuring up in terms of equity. When I started going to VOP board meetings in recent years, I realized that not only were we not progressing, but we were backsliding. Juanta offers an opportunity to turn that around.

She is the warm, engaging, dedicated leader I’ve seen again and again, bringing community-building events to life. As a volunteer or participant in these events, I have nothing but positive experiences with her. With a Master in Education, she carefully crafts events to build education, broaden understanding, and strengthen ties among community members. She collaborates effectively, thinks outside the box and adapts to changing conditions seamlessly. She keeps both the big picture and the important details in view while forming decisions. Juanta approaches everything with a solutions mindset. This is the type of leader I would like to see at the VOP board table.

Our village manager form of governance with a full-time hired village manager, guided by a part-time elected Village Board of Trustees, requires the skills that Juanta Griffin is already generously sharing with Oak Park. This model also relies on the perspectives brought to the board table by trustees. As a Black woman who grew up in Oak Park, is a renter, is disabled and raising four children here, she brings much needed representation to our board.

Please join me in working to elect Juanta Griffin so Oak Park can correct course and become a leading example.

Susanne Fairfax, Oak Park

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