The Wednesday Journal sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Journal’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.
Name: Colleen Burns
Previous Political Experience: Elected delegate in the 3rd Congressional district to the Democratic National Convention, 2008 and 2016; elected to the Oak Park Public Library Board of Trustees, 2019
Previous/Current Community Involvement: Girl Scout troop leader, 2019-2020; member, 2019-2020, and acting chair, 2020-2022, of the Disability Access Commission; board member of the Beye School PTO, 2022-2023; trustee of the Oak Park Public Library, 2019-present
Occupation: Attorney specializing in public benefits
Education: B.A., Fordham University; J.D., Loyola University Chicago School of Law
1. Why are you running for the Oak Park District 97 school board?
We know that schools are more than centers of learning—they are the center of our community. I’m proud of our schools and at the same time I’m invested in making them the best they can be for all students and families.
2. What experience and perspectives would you bring to the position and how would they be valuable as an elected official?
I am an attorney by trade and have dedicated my career to public service, specializing in public benefit programs. Currently, I lead the work of the IL Commission to End Hunger, working to ensure equitable delivery and access to federal nutrition programs like SNAP, WIC, and school meals. This work requires collaboration with internal and external partners to build coalitions capable of systems change. I have spent my career tackling complex policy issues and successfully implementing solutions.
3. What do you believe are some of the greatest challenges facing the district?
I think many people feel they do not have enough information about how our schools and school board operate. I’m interested in helping to work towards greater transparency in communications. I also think we need to continue to think and talk about the mental health crisis our youth are facing and ways the district can support.