Driving Change: ICC’s Leadership in Racial Justice and Equity Rewarded Nationally

October 9, 2020

Illinois Central College (ICC) is proud to announce it is the national winner of the 2020 Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Charles Kennedy Equity Award. The award was announced during the Annual ACCT Association Awards presentation on Thursday, October 8, in conjunction with the 51st Annual ACCT Leadership Congress.

“We are humbled to be recognized at the national level for our efforts and commitment to equity for our students, our employees and our community.”

ICC President, Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey

“We will continue to demonstrate leadership on racial justice issues and implement policies and initiatives to enhance diversity and inclusion and provide equitable outcomes for all. We sincerely appreciate the leadership of Dr. Rita Ali and all of our community partners; this award represents their commitment, as well,” said Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey, ICC President.

The national award recognizes exemplary commitment by a governing board and president of an ACCT member two-year postsecondary institution board to achieve equity in the college’s education programs and services, and in the administration and delivery of those programs and services. The award honors the late Charles Kennedy, a trustee of Joliet Junior College in Illinois, who was a founder of the ACCT Minority Affairs Assembly, which became the ACCT Diversity Committee.

“Identifying and recognizing outstanding community college leaders is a highlight of our year,” said ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown. “The 2020 awardees are among the most dedicated we’ve seen, reflecting our colleges’ tireless commitment to helping students succeed. Congratulations to all of this year’s awards recipients.”

ICC Board of Trustees Chair Carl Cannon said, “We are honored to receive this award. ICC has incorporated a number of initiatives which include community and employee roundtables on racial disparities in college practices and policies; leadership and implementation of a new Workforce Equity Initiative targeting African Americans and other minorities and individuals living in disproportionately impacted areas; and structural changes to better support diversity throughout the institution.”

In 2019, ICC was selected from a pool of 312 nation-wide applicants as one of 19 colleges to receive funding from the Lumina Fund for Racial Justice and Equity. The grant was used to engage the college and community, study problems and prepare recommendations for creating a more equitable learning environment. In 2017, ICC was selected by Commonwealth Edison to implement a solar job training program to train low-income individuals as solar installers. Ex-offenders and the chronically under-employed groups receive priority.

“Community colleges are uniquely committed to open-access, high-quality higher education for all Americans, as well as a vital pipeline to the jobs that support communities and keep our country going strong,” said 2019-2020 ACCT Chair and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Trustee Dawn Erlandson.

The ACCT is the nonprofit educational organization governing board, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees of community, technical and junior colleges in the United States and beyond. Their purpose is to strengthen the capacity of community, technical and junior colleges and to foster the realization of their missions through effective board leadership at local, state and national levels. ICC was previously awarded the 2020 ACCT Central Region Equity Award in September.