Community Engagement Council

The CUE Community Engagement Council (CEC) provides advice on strategic opportunities for community engagement in Chicago and other cities and by helping CUE to equip students with the experiences and skills necessary to live out their callings in and to our urban world. The CEC is a diverse group of advisors whose vocations have drawn them into significant ongoing engagement with cities and urban life.

Reverend James L. Brooks

Harmony Community Church
Lawndale Christian Health Center

Rev. James L. Brooks serves as the Senior Pastor of Harmony Community Church and the Chief Ministry Officer at Lawndale Christian Health Center.

Rev. James L. Brooks is a summa cum laude graduate of Concordia University where he majored in Organizational Management. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Northern Theological Seminary where he was the first Dr. John Perkins Scholar graduate. Rev. Brooks completed his youth and theology certification at Princeton Theological Seminary and Clinical Pastoral Education unit at the University of Illinois Medical Center. To add to his wide array of empowering strategies and techniques, Rev. Brooks became a John Maxwell Certified Coach in 2014.

Rev. Brooks is grateful to be called to participate in God’s work of proclaiming liberty to the oppressed, giving hope to the hopeless and encouraging the faithful. With thanksgiving he enthusiastically facilitates workshops in Leadership Development, Spiritual Resiliency, Margins, Boundaries, and Christian Community Development.

Dr. Charlie E. Dates

Progressive Baptist Church
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Moody Bible Institute 

Pastor Charlie serves as the Senior Pastor of Progressive Baptist Church. In addition to his pastoral duties, Pastor Charlie is an affiliate professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Moody Bible Institute. Dr. Dates also serves on the Community Advisory Board for the Chicago Fire Department. He is a contributor to the 2014 book, Letters To a Birmingham Jail.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication and Rhetoric at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and both a Master of Divinity Degree and PhD at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. In 2002, Rev. Charlie served as an apprentice to Pastor K. Edward Copeland and started his formal, practical training at the New Zion Baptist Church of Rockford, Illinois. In 2006, he began serving as the primary preaching assistant to the Rev. James Meeks, Director of Church Operations and Pastor of Adult Ministries at the Salem Baptist Church of Chicago.

He successfully defended his dissertation for the Ph.D. in Historical Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His original research focuses on the burden of black preaching in late 20th Century Chicago. 

Pastor Charlie is married to Kirstie Dates and is the proud father of their children Charlie Edward Dates II and Claire Elisabeth Dates.

David Doig ‘87

Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives

David Doig is a seasoned professional in community development, real estate, finance, and government. With over 20 years of experience, Doig is President of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI). CNI is a not-for-profit community development corporation focused on mixed-use real estate developments on Chicago's Far South Side and is a Community Development Entity investing New Market Tax Credits in high impact neighborhood projects.

Prior to leading CNI, Doig worked in a variety of capacities within Mayor Daley’s administration, most recently as General Superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District. In over twenty years of living and working in the city of Chicago, David Doig has become an expert on how cities and neighborhoods work. From real estate development to government finance, Doig has provided leadership and expertise at all levels.

Doig graduated from Wheaton College and received a master’s degree in social science, with an emphasis on urban policy, from the University of Chicago. He and his wife Tami live in the Chicago South Loop neighborhood. 

Freddy Flores

thyssenkrupp Elevator

Freddy has over 24 years of experience in the Elevator Service Industry in P&L, sales, operations and management. Today, Freddy serves as Business Development Manager of thyssenkrupp Elevator. He enjoys helping others and giving back to the community. He is the Chair of the University of Illinois Children’s Hospital advisory board, a member of San Miguel School board, as well as a member of the Sanai Hospital community advisory board.

Freddy chose to join the CUE's CEC board because of its mission and vision “that we need to equip students with experiences and skills necessary to live out their callings in and to our urban world.” He believes that education is power and an opening to a whole new world.

He received his MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. He enjoys playing golf and working out. Freddy lives with his family in the north side of Chicago and actively serves at Chicago Tabernacle.

Charity Fort '12

Mayer Brown

Charity Fort is a Banking & Finance associate in Mayer Brown's Chicago office.

Walter Hansen '68

Author, Theologian
Professor Emeritus, Fuller Theological Seminary

Walter also serves on the Board of Directors, Habitat for Humanity Chicago.

Randy Heinig '93

NexTier

Randy Heing ’93 is a Managing Director and General Counsel at the NexTier Companies in Chicago, a consulting firm focused on reducing risk and improving performance for institutional investment managers.  Prior to NexTier, he held legal and compliance positions with Hewitt EnnisKnupp and worked at several law firms in the Loop.  His daily commute takes him on the Green Line through Austin, Garfield Park and ultimately to the Loop, and it makes him wonder how one city can best serve the needs of so many diverse constituencies while still bringing justice to those who most need it.

Randy earned a B.A. in History and Philosophy from Wheaton, an M.A. in American History from the University of Notre Dame and a J.D. from Yale Law School, where his favorite class was Urban Legal History.  He helped to found Wheaton’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and has served twice as the Chair of the Harvey Fellows Advisory Board for the Mustard Seed Foundation.  Randy also currently serves as a senior advisor to New Moms in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. 

Rebekah King '12

Hope Works Community Development

Rebekah is the Executive Director of Hope Works Community Development located in the Woodlawn community on the Southside of Chicago.  Hope Works mission is to empower our neighbors to be active catalysts of and participants in a flourishing Southside of Chicago community. Through Hope Works, Rebekah is committed to creating opportunities for comprehensive growth in Chicago.

Rebekah received a B.A. in International Relations from Wheaton College in 2012.  After Wheaton, Rebekah developed and launched asset development programming for recently arrived refugees in the Chicagoland area. Rebekah has worked with program design and implementation locally, nationally, and internationally within a variety of cultural contexts. Originally from Missoula, Montana, Rebekah enjoys outdoor adventuring, travel, and exploring the intricacies of Chicago.

Charles Moffett '68

Charlie retired as a Managing Director of JPMorgan Chase after serving 38 years in Chicago, Atlanta, Singapore, and Hong Kong, where he managed different segments of JPMorgan's business in real estate, corporate finance and investment banking.  He serves on the board and executive committee of Daystar School, a 300-student private Christian elementary school located in Chicago's South Loop, and is active in real estate, private investments and Christian missions both in the U.S. and overseas.

The son of medical missionaries, Charlie grew up in Shanghai, Nanking, Seoul and Daegu, South Korea, and has spent the majority of his life in high-density urban environments.  He earned his B.S. in political Science at Wheaton and an MBA from the graduate school of business at Harvard University.  Charlie and his wife, Joanna Spradley Moffett '80, attend Willow Creek Church Chicago, have lived in Chicago's South Loop neighborhood for the past 26 years, and have a particular interest in promoting the growth of inner-city schools, churches and missions.

Michelle Francis Munroe ‘99

MyCare Chicago

Michelle Francis Munroe is an experienced senior communications executive, strategist and original thinker. She has broad experience spearheading major marketing and public relations campaigns and developing brands. Michelle also specializes in developing culturally appropriate and relevant communications for multi-ethnic audiences.

She is currently managing marketing communications for MyCare Chicago (An Accountable Care Entity that serves Chicago’s Medicaid / Medicaid eligible population). Michelle has held past leadership roles in prominent healthcare organizations and consulting firms.

Michelle graduated from Wheaton College and also completed graduate level studies in Australia in Language Arts and Sustainable Development. She is passionate about issues of social justice and the role of the Body of Christ in addressing these issues. She has lived and been involved in missions, relief and sustainable development work around the world. Michelle most recently completed advisory board roles with Wheaton College and the Children’s Hospital - University of Illinois Hospital and Health Systems.

Christy Barton Joyce ’10, MA ’14

A Better Chicago

Christy Barton Joyce is committed to the work of closing the achievement gap in Chicago. After Wheaton, Christy taught high school on the city’s South Side as a Teach For America corps member before joining the team at A Better Chicago in January 2013. A Better Chicago’s mission is to dramatically improve educational opportunities for low-income Chicagoans by funding and scaling the most effective schools and programs in the region. As the organization’s portfolio impact manager, Christy oversees A Better Chicago’s data evaluation and leads its sourcing efforts to identify high-potential candidates for its portfolio of grantees.

At Wheaton College, Christy earned a B.A. in Spanish, a certificate in Urban Studies, and an M.A. in Historical and Systematic Theology. She participated in Wheaton in Chicago as an undergraduate student and considers that experience to have been instrumental in shaping her personal direction and career trajectory. In recent years, Christy has enjoyed re-engaging with the program as a mentor.

Jacob Lesniewski ‘99

Dominican University

Jacob Lesniewski is an Assistant Professor at Dominican University’s Graduate School of Social Work. He earned his Ph.D. at The University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration. He has a number of years of experience in violence prevention, community organizing, labor organizing, international community development, and neighborhood development. His research interests include low-wage work, migration, urban politics and the labor movement. He has recently co-authored a juried chapter on neoliberalism and migrant organizing and a paper on cities and the grassroots regulation of the labor market. He is currently conducting community based participatory research with Enlace Chicago on adult education providers in an immigrant neighborhood in Chicago and a mixed method study on the economic and social welfare impact of wage theft in Chicago. He serves on the board of Austin Coming Together and gives leadership to Dominican University's efforts to build sustainable and appropriate partnerships with organizations and communities across Chicago's Greater Westside.

Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro

Latino Policy Forum

Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro, PhD, is the Associate Manager of Education Policy at the Latino Policy Forum.  The mission of the Latino Policy Forum is to build the power, influence, and leadership of the Latino community through collective action to transform public policies that ensure the well-being of the Latino community and society as a whole.  In her role on the education team, Rebecca works to advance policy supports and systemic change to bolster teacher preparation—both pre- and in-service—to meet the needs of the state’s diverse language learners. Her numerous speaking engagements, publications, and advocacy efforts provide thoughtful consideration about the interconnectedness of language, literacy and academic achievement.  She has authored a brief series on how Illinois might prepare all teachers to education English Learners along with ways to make teacher licensure exams (edTPA) more responsive to language and cultural diversity.  Rebecca also provides immigrant parent workshops to discuss how heightened academic standards might influence English Learners.  Rebecca is a state-appointed member of the Illinois Advisory Council on Bilingual Education.

Rebecca earned her PhD from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Her academic efforts were focused on the community organizing and bi-national political incorporation of Mexican immigrants in Chicago. Along with publishing a number of academic journal articles and book chapters, Rebecca’s dissertation was published as part of a book series, The New Americans, Recent Immigration and American Society, edited by Steven Gold and Ruben Rumbaut.

Prior to her studies at the University of Chicago, Rebecca was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to support qualitative research exploring the economic and political impact of a microcredit program on its participants at a community development agency located in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  Rebecca received her undergraduate degree in Social Work from Calvin College where she also participated in the Honduras study abroad program.

Arnold Sojourner 

Sunshine Gospel Ministries

Arnold serves as the Director of Work Life Program at Sunshine Gospel Ministries, located in Woodlawn on Chicago’s south side. Arnold has always been involved in youth mentoring through Christian camps, as well as a trainer for critical thinking and consultative selling during his corporate tenure. During his days in corporate America as a contract furniture sales executive, Arnold led sales teams and industry partners in the process of new business development. After the economic decline in 2009, Arnold felt called by God to return to his background in the grassroots of youth development and community discipleship. He came to Sunshine by way of CVPP (Criminal Violence Prevention Program), a state initiative to provide summer jobs and mentoring to teens in areas like Woodlawn. This year, Sojo (as he is called by the youth and staff) launched the Work Life program with Sunshine as a replacement for the CVPP due to a lack of state funding. The program supported the training and graduation of 20 teens at the conclusion of an eight-week program. Now, as a SGM staff member, Sojo is expanding Work Life to a year-round effort and works directly as a “Life Coach and Counselor” to the older youth who are either high school seniors or recent graduates within Woodlawn.

Andres Villatoro '11

Academic and Research Specialist 

Andres is a Research and Academic Specialist for the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He received his BA in Sociology from Wheaton College in 2011 and his MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago in 2016. He is also a Wheaton in Chicago Alum receiving his certificate in Urban Studies during his time at Wheaton.

Previously, Andres served three years as the multicultural and bilingual admissions counselor for Wheaton College. Tied to this has been his many years of involvement with the BRIDGE program at Wheaton aiming to increase college access to local first-generation and underrepresented student. Andres has specifically served in recruitment, admissions, and teaching roles for BRIDGE in addition to mentoring students, a passion he remains highly committed to.

Andres has also previously served research assistant roles with both the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Metropolitan Planning Council where he recently helped contribute to a report aimed at measuring the cost of segregation in the Chicago region. His past and future research interests lie in social mobility, class and racial inequality, education, and urban policy.

David Wu ‘86

Pui Tak Center

David Wu has served as Executive Director of the Pui Tak Center (PTC) for the past 21 years. This church-based community center in Chicago's Chinatown provides educational, family and community programs to Chinese immigrants. Over 300 Wheaton students have served at PTC through the Christian Service Council.

After receiving a BA from Wheaton College in 1986, David received a Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to working at PTC, he worked at an immigrant/refugee community-based organization on Chicago’s northside.

He has served on various government, civic and community committees including a Chinatown advocacy coalition, a local park advisory council, a United Way committee and state-wide adult education advisory council. He currently leads a community effort which is advocating for a new neighborhood high school. David lives with his family in Chinatown and actively serves at the Chinese Christian Union Church.