Another improvement to a longstanding community program is the intentional expansion of members in the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation’s Leadership Lab.

This has long been a worthy effort. Invite representatives of businesses, nonprofits, government bodies, mainly in the early trajectory of their public careers, and have them work jointly to build a problem-solving approach to a local issue. Among its virtues has been to create a network of younger leaders in Oak Park and River Forest.

Now though, and reflecting a broader shift at the foundation, the fall 2021 cohort of lab participants comes from a wider geography and bring with them a wider experience of complex issues we share. We see names we know and, happily, many we don’t know from Austin, Maywood, Berwyn, and Forest Park, in addition to River Forest and Oak Park.

The bubble we’ve luxuriated in for so long as Oak Park and River Forest residents has always been a fantasy. We are members of a wider, more wonderful, more complicated community than we have acknowledged and acted within. 

On several fronts we see powerful bonds beginning to grow across fake and fearful borders that have limited us more than ever protecting us. Having the Leadership Lab reflect that truth is an important step. 

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