The Community Engagement Team is a critical part of the Independent Monitoring Team and embodies our collaborative approach to this monitoring work. The Community Engagement Team is comprised of experienced Chicago community members, experts in police-community relations, lawyers, and academic scholars. These members work together to meaningfully engage Chicago’s communities and ensure their participation throughout the monitoring process. The Community Engagement Team will also work closely with the Monitor, Deputy Monitors, and Associate Monitors to assess the community component of compliance with the consent decree.
Elena Quintana, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, and the Executive Director of the Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice at Adler University in downtown Chicago. Dr. Quintana focuses on creating programs, research, and events that promote socially just solutions to public safety challenges. Dr. Quintana creates strategic partnerships with community members and community-based agencies, law enforcement, detention facility staff and inmates, universities, and governments. Her work focuses on violence prevention, reentry, therapeutic approaches to dealing with trauma and immigration, and methods to address racial equity. Dr. Quintana’s has unique experience working with both Cease Fire, (now known as Cure Violence) and with Chicago Police Department officers. Dr. Quintana resides in Chicago speaks Spanish fluently.
Joe Hoereth, PhD, is an urban planner who regularly engages with Chicago communities through his position as Director of the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (IPCE) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Dr. Hoereth creates opportunities for scholars, community members, students, and the government to participate in public discourse and educational programs addressing current policy issues and social trends. Dr. Hoereth has expertise in community development research and evaluation, having previously worked for university research centers, non-profit organizations, and private consulting firms. He has conducted research projects on urban housing and comprehensive community building and has also authored multiple reports and papers on housing, community economic development, community engagement, and urban planning. Dr. Hoereth, along with his colleagues at IPCE and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, will conduct community surveys and special studies throughout the project. Dr. Hoereth resides in Chicago’s south suburbs.
Sodiqa Williams, Esq, is a highly respected advocate who works to support the interests of the Chicago community. She serves as the Vice President of External Affairs and General Counsel at the Safer Foundation, an organization well-known as an experienced advocate and provider of workforce and support services exclusively for people with arrest and conviction records in the greater Chicago area.
With a keen understanding of governmental processes, Ms. Williams advocates nationally and locally to advance a progressive agenda for people with records, including promoting policies and practices that reduce recidivism, eliminating barriers to reentry, creating job opportunities, and educating employers about fair hiring practices. Before joining the Safer Foundation, Ms. Williams served as speechwriter and Senior Advisor to two American Bar Association presidents. She also worked at a public relations and government affairs firm and for 8th Ward Alderwoman Michelle Harris and then-Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, using her aptitude for grasping the intricacies of city and state politics. Ms. Williams is from a Chicago policing family, lending her a unique ability to understand the challenges communities and the police face in Chicago. She lives in Chicago’s south suburbs.
Stephen Rickman, MA, is an expert in police-community relations. He has worked for over 20 years in high-level positions in public safety and community support. Mr. Rickman is currently an Associate Monitor on the Independent Monitoring Team for the Albuquerque Police Department’s Court Approved Settlement Agreement and a former Director of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Weed and Seed Program. He is also a former Division Director for the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and a member of the Federal Government’s Senior Executive Service. Mr. Rickman served as the Technical Advisor to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Steve also has experience working in Chicago, having overseen several Chicago-area Weed and Seed sites. Finally, Steve’s parents and grandparents were Chicagoans, and he has spent time in the city throughout his life. As the Associate Monitor for Community Policing, Mr. Rickman is will work closely with the Community Engagement Team.