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Karen Chavers Honored as 2019 Unsung Heroine

Thursday, March 14, 2019
Special to

The late Karen Chavers of Evanston was honored as the 2019 Unsung Heroine from the 13th Cook County Board District. Chavers was honored by the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues for her commitment to solving fair housing issues and community preservation.  Karen Chavers was a devoted community activist and served as a mentor to many. 

Chavers led the Evanston Neighborhood Conference and its teen empowerment program for nearly 20 years.  She was a founding board member of the Evanston-based Shorefront Legacy Center, which collects, preserves and educates people about Black history on Chicago’s North Shore.  Dino Robinson of the Shorefront Legacy Center says, “Karen Chavers taught me the value in understanding community and how communities interconnect with each other.”

She served as board president of Open Communities, an organization that promotes housing, economic and social justice in north suburban Chicago, and then helped organize North Suburban Housing Partners, a housing coalition of two dozen organizations working to put a face on housing issues on the North Shore.  She was a board member of Turnstone Development, a not-for-profit that creates and preserves affordable housing opportunities for low-income families and seniors on the North Shore, and treasurer of the Housing Authority of Cook County.  Gail Schechter, a fellow community activist, said, “An organizer is always behind the scenes, bringing forth the leadership of others.” That sentiment certainly describes Karen Chavers.

Chavers served as Commissioner Suffredin’s District Director from 2003 until her death in 2018.

Chavers was honored along with 17 other women - one from each of the 17 county districts and one from Cook County at large – during Women's History Month. Unsung Heroine honorees were selected based on their contributions to their communities, families and professional endeavors that are vital, but seldom recognized. They are drawn from the community they serve.

The 22nd Annual Unsung Heroine Awards Breakfast was held on March 7, 2019 in the Chicago Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall. The award was presented by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.  Karen’s aunt, Merri Dee, accepted the award on Karen’s behalf.  Merri Dee served as emcee of the Unsung Heroine Breakfast for many years.

Click here to download a photo.  2019 Unsung Heroine Award honoring the late Karen Chavers (L to R: Larry Suffredin, Merri Dee (Honoree’s aunt) and Toya Campbell (Honoree's cousin) holding a photo of the late Karen Chavers, Peggy Montes (Women's Commission Chair), and President Toni Preckwinkle.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin represents the 13th County Board District, which includes areas of Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Kenilworth, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northbrook, Skokie, Wilmette, Winnetka and Chicago's 49th and 50th Wards.

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