Comer Education Campus is anchored by Gary Comer Youth Center, Gary Comer Middle School, and Gary Comer College Prep.

2020 Virtual Career Day

Dare to Rise

Our 2020 Career Day has gone virtual!

Career Day Gccp 021017 9184

Even though things may look a bit different this year, we are thrilled to be able to continue our tradition of hosting career day. A virtual event expands the opportunity to engage professionals from a variety of fields and from all over the country. We are pleased to feature careers in engineering, science, coding and technology, media and journalism, social activism and art. 300 youth who are currently enrolled in the Summer Employment Program will attend sessions with their selected panelists via Zoom. Due to the nature of the virtual event, the event is by invitation only. 


For more event information, please contact Michele Lacy, Development Associate via email or call 773.358.4075.

Event Details

  • Thursday, July 30, 2020
  • 2:00 – 5:00 PM

2020 Panelists

Arts & Architecture

Donald Barge Owner  D.B. Photography

My background prior to 1989 was all related to sales and service, in the insurance and automotive industry's. In 1989 I entered into the world of photography, while distributing photography products for the America 3D Camera Corporation. I have been performing photography & video services for the last 31 years.

Faheem Majeed Artist & Co-founder The Floating Museum

Faheem Majeed is an artist and resident of the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago. Majeed often looks to the material makeup of his neighborhood and surrounding areas as an entry point into larger questions around civic-mindedness, community activism, and institutional critique. As part of his studio practice, he transforms materials, breathing new life into these often overlooked and devalued materials. Majeed was selected as the inaugural artist in residence for University of Chicago’s Arts in Public Life Initiative in 2012, MANA Contemporary Chicago in 2014, Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in 2015. He is the recent recipient of the Joyce Foundation Award and the Leaders for a New Chicago Award and has a joint exhibition between both the South Side Community Art Center and the Hyde Park Art Center opening next year.

Jeremiah Olayinka Ojo Art Business Advisor Ilèkùn Wa

Jeremiah is the Founder & Lead Art Business Advisor of Ilèkùn Wa (Our doors), an art business advisory firm, facilitating & cultivating opportunities for visual artists of African descent to create, sustain and thrive. Over the last decade, Jeremiah has become a sought after arts and culture management consultant, working internationally in artist professional development, gallery management, and art fair operations. His collaborative work with minority emerging contemporary artists, art institutions, corporations, and collectors has carved a pathway of connectivity for creative professionals throughout the African Diaspora. Having worked with a number of black-owned, fine art galleries throughout the African Diaspora, Jeremiah has forged an alliance of art galleries in North America, Europe, and Africa working jointly to economically advance the artistic and cultural production of their communities. In addition to working with independent artists and galleries as a consultant, Jeremiah has worked with the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal as a Project Manager for the Cultural Affairs Office for which he co-curated 11 YALI Creatives from eight African countries in a group exhibition, titled Elsewhen, at the 2016 Dak’ART Biennale. He is also a 2018 Graduate Research Fellow at the National Council of Arts & Culture in Nigeria. Jeremiah holds a Bachelors in Public Policy from the Andrew Young School of Policy at Georgia State University and a Masters in Art Business from Sotheby's Institute of Art in New York. He currently serves on the board of both Black Art Futures Fund & the Black Artist Coalition.

Tim Rhoze Artistic Director/Actor/Playwright/Producer  Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre

Tim Rhoze has been the Producing Artistic Director of the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre since 2010. FJT is a professional, theatre company located in and supported by the City of Evanston. During his tenure, he has produced and directed over thirty productions He wrote and directed the world premieres of Why Not Me? A Sammy Davis Jr. Story, Maya’s Last Poem, and Black Ballerina. Tim has performed in over 30 productions at the Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens, Northlight Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and performed in Steppenwolf’s Airline Highway on Broadway with The Manhattan Theatre Club. You have heard his voice on numerous regional and national voice-over campaigns, and you have seen his work in episodic television including numerous guest starring & recurring appearances on The Practice, Becker, Friends, Grey’s Anatomy, Redline, Chicago PD, and Comedy Central’s Southside among others. He has developed an array of outreach theatre programs including: the Design-Technical & Theatre Management Program for teens, Senior Drama Clubs, Intergenerational Theatre, and the Evanston Township High School Black Theatre Club FIRE.

Sharon Samuels Architect & Designer  Solquest Design Unlimited

I am a Chicago based Designer, Art Director and Architect. To date, I have worked in a variety of roles as a member of the Art Department on several projects. For Season Three of the Showtime series “The Chi” I served as Assistant Art Director. “London’s Mitchells Christmas”, my first feature film as Production Designer, was included in the 2019 Pan African Film Festival. Other projects include the feature film “Widows” and the Amazon original series “Patriot”. Prior to working in film, I founded SolQuest Design Unlimited (2008), a full-service architecture and design firm with an emphasis on branding, high quality design and sustainability. One of my most successful projects, The “Bronzeville Bike Box” was published in both Crains Chicago Business (June 2014) and New City (April 2014) as an example of design leading changes in the community it serves. This project was later expanded to become “Boxville”, a retail development for emerging entrepreneurs. The short film “Inside the Box” which I served as producer was a finalist in the 2017 “I Look Up” Film Challenge sponsored by the American Institute of Architects.


Maurice Collier Corporate Packaging Buyer Bel Brands USA

I am a Corporate Packaging Buyer for Bel Brands USA. I have been with Bel Brands for almost 2 years and I have enjoyed using my skills to contribute to the exciting CSR and packaging projects being rolled out regularly at Bel. I am originally from Cleveland, OH. I graduated from Miami (OH) University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with two minors in Supply Chain Management and General Management. I took an entry-level Operations Supervisor role in Columbus, OH with Exel Logistics directly after graduation in 2014. During my time there I was able to develop skills in team building and operations management. In 2015, I was able to make a career move into packaging with a lateral move to Chicago, IL working as a Co-Pack Supervisor. In 2017, I was promoted to a Materials Planner I and worked on developing packaging solutions and managing inventory for companies like Mondelez, Duracell and Phillips Lighting. I currently live in Chicago with my girlfriend and Persian cat named Pepper. As a former D1 athlete I still enjoy working out, completing my first marathon in 2016 and my first sprint duathlon in 2019.

LaDonna Hudson Director of Human Resource Operations University of Illinois at Chicago

My career began 40+ years ago while attending Butler University and working as a summer intern in the personnel department of RCA Records in Indianapolis, IN. After graduating, I relocated and worked at Boston University Hospital and Medical Campus for five years. Another move to Columbus, OH presented an opportunity to set up the HR function for an international restaurant franchise operation at the corporate office for Damon's the Place for Ribs. I have since held several progressively responsible HR positions in private industry and county government before landing my current position at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I am responsible for HR development, planning and operations for a workforce of 1300 union, professional and skilled trade employees that provide essential services to the students, faculty and staff on the campus. My am most proud of designing and custom building my home; and other interests include multi-cultural cooking, floral design, and traveling to warm climates.

Ghian Foreman President & CEO  Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative

Foreman is the CEO of the Emerald South Economic Development Collaborative; the group that works to develop and support South Side communities through a focus on commercial-corridor expansion, sustainable housing, and workforce development. Prior to joining Emerald South, he was the Executive Director of Greater Southwest Development Corporation (GSDC), a CDC focused on the improvement of the Southwest Side of Chicago.Foreman was the Managing Partner of Maktub Development, a real estate development firm focused on inner city development. In this capacity, Ghian was responsible for $30 million in investments and development in traditionally under-served urban markets throughout the United States. Ghian also previously served as VP of Strategic Acquisitions at HSBC where he oversaw over $3 billion in acquisitions.Foreman sits on several boards including serving as President of the Chicago Police Board and member of the Rebuild Foundation. He earned his BS from Florida A&M University, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He lives in Kenwood with his wife Traci and daughter Jade.

Chris Llorence Development Manager, Packaging Bel Brands USA

Career wise I have been with Bel for 4 years and working in STEM in Packaging Development for 13 years. By the time I was in middle school I knew that I wanted to do something in Engineering because I've always been fascinated by how things work. Since I was a kid I was the type of person that could put something together as long as I could see it taken apart. It has led me to being able to visualize the "finished product" in design long before having a physical prototype. Developing solutions to challenging mechanical or operational issues is a passion. Personally, I've been married to my lovely wife Shawntay for nearly 5 years. We have a daughter on the way in late August and she is our first child. In addition to work I live my life through 3 F's, Faith, Family, and Fitness. The majority of my time is spent serving one of those three things.

Johnni Rodgers Director of Marketing Bel Brands USA

Johnni Rodgers is a Director of Marketing at Bel Brands USA, responsible for the top and bottom line growth of the company’s Flagship brand, The Laughing Cow®; as well as Kaukauna®, Merkts®, and Prices® Brands . Over her 15 year career in the food industry across Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, Kraft Heinz, and Bel Brands; she’s led turnaround, acceleration, and innovation efforts across many well-known brands, including but not limited to Planters®, Kashi®, Eggo®, FruitLove®, Kraft® Macaroni and Cheese, and of course, The Laughing Cow®. Johnni received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and her MBA with concentrations in Finance, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Originally from San Diego, Johnni currently lives with her husband, Aaron, in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago.

Science & Technology

Kesha Burch Therapist & Core Faculty The Family Institute Northwestern

Kesha Burch is a mental health counselor and educator who is interested in helping individuals and families heal and reach their highest potential. Her research and clinical interests include understanding the relationship between culture and mental health. "I provide compassionate care that assists individuals, couples and families in finding their way despite oftentimes difficult circumstances. Therapy at its best offers us a new way to see our problems, and a new way of seeing ourselves; hopefully as a stronger and more competent person who is capable of meeting life's challenges. I seek to empower my clients to create change in their lives through clarification of values, understanding barriers and identifying resources to overcome emotional and relational difficulties."-Kesha Burch

Kourtni Marshall Software Engineer Google

A native of Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood, Kourtni's career path was far from typical. Yet, after 10+ years working for some of the most well known companies in the software & internet spaces, Kourtni still loves learning new things and solving interesting problems. Although his full work experience is comprised of several seemingly divergent fields such as Audio Engineering & Music Production, Construction Management, and Computer Science; Kourtni feels that they are all related by their reliance on creative thinking. One of his goals is to combine his music and computer science backgrounds to create new applications for musicians, teachers, and the game development community.

Shannon Valley Climate Scientist Georgia Institute of Technology

Shannon Valley is climate scientist with government and policy experience seeking opportunities to apply research-based strategies toward building a more sustainable world. Before completing her PhD, Shannon worked with NASA as a Legislative Affairs Specialist, the White House as a Policy Assistant and as a Field Organizer for President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. Last fall, Shannon participated in the Comer Climate Conference and answered questions about science from Comer youth. Read about talking to politicians about climate change and on her college experience.

Media & Journalism

Tracey Bell President & CEO The I.B.M. Company-Parent Company of 95.1 FM CHICAGO

My background is in Marketing and Brand Management. To be a successful Marketer of Products or Services begins with understanding what consumer needs are being met as well as those that are not.

Siafa Lewis Sportscaster NBC Chicago

Siafa Lewis joined the NBC 5 sports team in 2014 as weekend anchor and reporter. He has since been named lead sports anchor and additionally co-hosts Sports Sunday and Quest for the Cup. Prior to his move to NBC 5, Lewis worked for the NBC affiliate in New York. Lewis earned three Emmy nominations in NY for On-camera Talent. Before joining NBC, Lewis was a general assignment reporter at SNY, Sportsnet NY, part of the Comcast Sportsnet Group. In addition to serving as the NY Giants beat reporter, Lewis covered all 9 NYC area professional teams, professional boxing, Rutgers football, college basketball and more. Lewis was also co-host of SNY’s weekly magazine show, Mets Weekly. Siafa began his professional television career at the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia as the weekend traffic reporter. Lewis graduated with B.A. in Radio, Television and Film from Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ, a suburb of Philadelphia.

Tiffany Smith Journalist/Food & Travel Blogger The Love of Food & Travel

Tiffany D. Smith is a TV News journalist and Food and Travel blogger from Chicago, IL. She has spent the last 16 years working as a morning show producer and assignment editor on some of the largest local and national news stories for both WGN and recently Fox 32 News where’s she’s spent the last 14 years. Recently, she has launched The Love of Food & Travel LLC, a blog that has evolved into a business that exposes people to the world who may not otherwise get the opportunity. Her work has been featured in,, Thought Catalog and The Chicago Defender. She is currently a volunteer at Chicago Public Schools where she teaches underprivileged kids about travel and plans to one day take them on domestic and international trips. She received her Bachelors and Master degrees in Radio and Television Production and Journalism from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Tiffany Walden Co-founder The TRiiBE

Tiffany Walden is a multimedia journalist with a strong passion for magazine writing and music. A Chicago native, Tiffany began her career as an intern under Adrienne Samuels-Gibbs at EBONY Magazine, where she interviewed celebrities and covered music festivals Lollapalooza and Pitchfork. Her career eventually landed her in Abilene, TX, where she won several in-house awards while covering city/county government and an honorable mention in the 2014 Texas APME team category in her first full-time reporter position. Tiffany was a news reporter at the Orlando Sentinel for two years before returning to Chicago to freelance and later cofound The TRiiBE 2017.

Politics & Social Activism

Demitrous Cook Chief of Police Evanston Police Department

Demitrous Cook is currently the Chief of Police for the City of Evanston, Illinois. Chief Cook retired as Deputy Chief of Investigations from the Evanston Police Department and became the Chief of Police in the Village of Glenwood, Illinois for eight years. Chief Cook returned to the City of Evanston as Police Chief in January of 2019. Chief Cook is currently in his fortieth year of police service. Chief Cook served as a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Narcotics Task force. He received his Master of Science Degree from Lewis University. He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command; Northwestern University’s Executive Leadership Course; The Senior Management Institute for Police at Harvard University and the FBI Midwest Executive Development Course. Chief Cook has served as Vice President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives Chicago Metropolitan Chapter. He also served as President of the South Suburban Emergency Response Team (SSERT), coordinating and managing SWAT operations for South Suburban Cook County. He is a past President of ECOM Dispatch Communications Operating Committee for South Suburban Cook County. He has active memberships with the Police Executive Research Forum; the International Assoc. of Chiefs of Police; The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police; Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.; Prince Hall Masons and the Altgeld Gardens Alumni Group. Chief Cook grew up on the south side of Chicago in the Altgeld Gardens Public Housing Complex, where he was mentored by his Mother, Frances Evans; Dr. Gloria Jackson-Bacon; Dr. Larry Hawkins, Judge Michael Stuttley and Coach Glen Johnson. Chief Cook is the proud father of five daughters and Step-Son Jarrett Wright. Chief Cook currently resides in Evanston, Illinois with his wife Lucia Cook and daughter Laila Cook.

Maia Ervin Chief of Staff JUV Consulting

At JUV, Maia mainly oversees social impact, human resources, and company culture. She uses her experience as a Queer Black womxn speaking out against systematic oppression and inequities to foster work policies and culture that minoritized folks can thrive in and be proud of. Living in Brooklyn, you can find Maia loving on her fur baby or recording the next episode for her podcast “Big Fish: Sink or Swim”. Her dream is to continue to provide platforms for young Black womxn to express themselves authentically without judgment. Fostering comfortable spaces where Black folks can express and create comfortably will always be top of the mind for Maia.

Yvette Moyo Entrepreneur Real Men Charities/South Side Drive Magazine & The Quarry

I am a serial entrepreneur, which means I manage multiple business operations. I have been self-employed for 32 years, which is almost half my life and I have worked for Black companies, including my own, for 42 years. I started selling the possibility of a community with business that worked for the good of the community when I was 23 years old. I kind of do the same today and am often called a community builder.

Shaina Zafar Chief People Officer JUV Consulting

Shaina is an American-Muslim from Long Island but city lover at heart. She is obsessed with solving problems with human-centered design, powered by Gen Z to build creative solutions. At JUV, she oversees social impact, partnership development, research with the Vine network, and company culture AKA ”vibes at JUV.” She is a first-generation, low-income college senior at the University of Pennsylvania. She is focusing her thesis on how to use digital art to create social awareness campaigns for women in the developing world. She is heavily involved with the AAPI and Muslim community, working with the Pan Asian American Community House and Turner Society for Social Impact. Off campus, she serves as the United State of Women Ambassador for Pennsylvania, advocating for diverse representation in politics. Previously, she has worked with the Born This Way Foundation, Microsoft, and Verizon Media’s BUILT BY GIRLS Program and founded Code for a Cause to encourage young girls to code social justice projects. She has been recognized as a Coca-Cola Scholar, StartingBloc Fellow, and was the youngest speaker at the United Nations and World Bank International Young Leaders Assembly.

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