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MADE IN ILLINOIS: You may call her Tenacious Lee


DePaul senior Ella Lee leaves no doubts in watchdog reporting

For Illinois Press Association

CHICAGO – On Feb. 11, The DePaulia published a story summing up the university provost’s refusal to change a clause in the faculty handbook that’s drawn cries of systemic racism, and wrongful discrimination lawsuits.

The DePaul University student newspaper’s adviser, Marla Krause had utmost confidence the report would be comprehensive and fact-checked six ways from Sunday, given that the byline belonged to Ella Lee.

For the past few years, Krause has watched her managing editor exhaustively research every piece she’s written, while developing reliable sources and giving all sides ample opportunity to say their piece.

“She just loves to dig and dig, and she understands that the story’s not ready when it’s not ready,” Krause said. “She understands you don’t just talk to the lawyer representing the plaintiff. Even though you might feel some sympathy toward the plaintiff, you have to get both sides of the story.”

The DePaulia has been reporting on lawsuits filed against the university over the past couple of years. The clause's vague language states “a pattern of extreme intimidation and aggression towards other members of the university committee” can be grounds for faculty dismissal or other repercussions.

Two Black, female DePaul professors, requested the clause be changed in February 2019, and in April 2020, the university's Faculty Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution to change the language, but Provost Salma Ghanem shot it down.

When the administration put out a statement calling for unity and a self-examination of biases after the murder of George Floyd, then was given the opportunity to change the clause but refused, Lee knew it was time to connect all the dots.

“That to me, that statement and what they refused to do is a perfect juxtaposition of what all of our reporting was leading up to,” said Lee, a 22-year-old senior. “All of these narratives are telling the exact same story that we’ve written five or six times with different names. This is the type of thing I think you can’t say enough. It’s so clearly affecting a lot of people, and it’s being ignored. Anything I can do to bring attention to that lack of care for that issue is something I really want to do.”

Proud as Lee was to publish the story, she can’t help but feel concerned when she shines the light on the university’s administration.

“I felt very proud, but I’m always a little bit nervous when it’s a story that has potential to make waves,” she said. “There are things I need from the university. Like when I need to apply for aid for the spring semester, are they going to deny me?”

Now, if anyone were to question the accuracy of the story, she’d have no concerns.

A half-year fact-checking for the USA Today will do that.

Baptism by bile

Shortly after being promoted to managing editor of The DePaulia, Lee began a six-month internship at USA Today in June 2020.

She was part of a team that spent its days tracking social media channels. When a claim started being replicated at a high rate, team members got on the phone and didn’t put it down until they determined, without a doubt, whether those claims were true.

Those flags you see on Facebook stating a claim is missing context, partly false, or completely false? She and her teammates planted those. And conspiracy theorists were none too happy.

“I was working there during the thick of vaccine misinformation and election misinformation,” Lee said. “I think prior to my internship at USA Today, I would have been more nervous about people’s reactions to pieces that stir things up. After having faced some of the abuse that I faced from my fact-checks at USA Today, it doesn’t really feel like anything.”

But the scope of their fact-checks was much broader. For instance, when an image of Black doctors working on a Ku Klux Klan member went viral, she made two phone calls and reached a photographer who said it was an advertisement.

“This is something that was going out to millions of people every day,” she said. “People don’t grasp the amount of a grasp misinformation has on a very large part of our country. It isn’t just right-wing and left-wing. It’s startling, the amount of misinformation that percolates online.”

Doing fact-checks, vetting sources and generally reading horizontally adds more steps, albeit vital ones, to the reporting process.

“This shined a light on how much harder journalism is than a lot of people are treating it,” Lee said. “There’s no room in a fact-check. If you have any amount of thinking that you could possibly do wrong, it can’t go in your reporting.”

Her campaign kickoff

When Lee saw journalists being attacked leading up to and during the 2016 presidential election, she didn’t just sympathize. She wanted to join the team and help it rally.

“You can’t ignore that, seeing journalists being attacked and not understanding why,” Lee said. “That lit a little bit of a fire under me.”

She joined her high school newspaper before serving as a staff writer and arts and life editor at The DePaulia.

Lee said she got hooked on news, and fast.

“It’s a little bit of a drug,” she said. “You can’t get away from it.”

Her parents, Kari and Matt Lee, are professional classical musicians. So watching them persevere as the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated their livelihoods has prepared her for the gig economy.

“Having two classical trumpet players as parents has prepared me,” Lee said. “I don’t want to quit journalism just because I can’t get a job.”

That comes as a relief for Krause, who dropped the name of celebrated journalist Maggie Haberman when asked what sort of professional Lee could be.

“She has a tenaciousness,” Krause said. “She isn’t the kind of student journalist who says, ‘I’ve got my three sources. I’m done.' I could see her doing investigative reporting for major media. I could see her at the Washington Post or the New York Times someday. She has that kind of ability, and she’s not the only one of my students I’d say that about.”

But first, Lee and her team have unfinished business. They’ll soon publish a Title IX piece they’ve been building for the past couple of years. She said they’ve given administration ample opportunity to answer their questions, so the university’s leaders have to know the piece is coming.

“I can’t express enough how much we would love to sit down with them and get their responses, and this is one they’ll have to respond to,” she said. “We’ve been working on this since we were sophomores. We’ve been calling it our magnum opus.”

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Press Releases


Notification to Grassroots Organizations

Nov. 5, 2021
Media Contact: Velvet Mason
(630) 901-1310


DEKALB — This is to notify DeKalb County the Teen Reach plans to participate in the Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP).  CACFP is a federal program that provides monetary reimbursements to facilities so they can offer healthier meals and snacks to children.  We plan to offer CACFP beginning Nov. 18, 2021, from 2:30 - 6:00 p.m. in a supervised before and/or after-school program.  

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ABC of Illinois president honored as 2021 Outstanding Woman in Construction finalist

Nov. 4, 2021
Media Contact: Alice Martin, ABC Illinois
(217) 523-4692


SPRINGFIELD — Associated Builders and Contractors of Illinois today announced Chapter President Alicia Martin has been named as one of nine exceptional female construction leaders nationwide in Construction Business Owner’s Outstanding Women in Construction.

Finalists are selected based on their expertise, leadership, management and contributions made to their companies, specialties and communities, and they represent the most influential women working to build a better environment for all in construction.

“I am humbled to be honored among these extraordinary women in the construction industry,” said Alicia Martin, president of the ABC Illinois Chapter. “This type of recognition is not earned alone. Our members and staff have been instrumental in making ABC a leader in creating a more inclusive and welcoming industry for career-seekers, regardless of their backgrounds.”

Martin is dedicated to creating a more diverse and inclusive industry workforce. In 2017, Alicia recognized Illinois had a construction workforce shortage of more than 200,000 and launched the ABC–Illinois Community Builders Program, which focuses on creating diversity in the construction industry while working to fill the workforce shortage. Since its launch, the program has graduated close to 200 individuals in the electrical and carpentry trades. 

Martin has sat on the Illinois Workforce Investment Board Apprenticeship Committee, where she influenced state policies that highlight the need for a diverse and inclusive workforce. Martin also serves on the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee of ABC National, where she works with other chapter leaders to ensure that everyone has a chance to build a career in the construction industry. Locally, Martin and her team work to ensure that there are educational opportunities available in communities that are characterized by high rates of poverty, crime, recidivism, unemployment and environmental injustice by bringing the program to them.  

Prior to her more than ten years with ABC, Martin was a social worker, helping runaway youths and single mothers, as well as a juvenile probation officer and legislative aide. Learn more about Martin’s contributions to the industry in her Outstanding Women in Construction profile.

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(Left picture) Postmaster General Louis DeJoy (right) swears in Rebecca Kruckenberg (left) as Rockford’s new postmaster with her husband, Richard Stryker. (Right picture) Postmaster General Louis DeJoy addressing employees at the Rockford Post Office.(Credit: U.S. Postal Service)


In Rockford, Postmaster General DeJoy Assesses Holiday Preparations, Says Americans Should Feel Confident Sending Holiday Mail and Packages with Postal Service

Nov. 2, 2021
Media Contact: Tim Norman
312.983.8371 (Office) 


• As part of visit, DeJoy swears in 24-year Postal Service veteran as new Rockford Postmaster

• Holiday peak season preparations include investments in new high-speed package processing equipment, seasonal hiring drives and expanded facilities across the Upper Midwest, nationwide

ROCKFORD — As the U.S. Postal Service prepares for the 2021 holiday peak season, U.S. Postal Service Postmaster General and CEO Louis DeJoy met and heard from USPS employees at the Rockford Post Office on Friday. DeJoy has visited Postal Service facilities across the nation over recent weeks as the agency readies for another potentially historic period of mail and package deliveries. As part of his Midwest facility tour, DeJoy also met with Postal Service employees and toured USPS facilities in Madison and Milwaukee.

As part of his Rockford visit, Postmaster General DeJoy swore-in Rebecca A. Kruckenberg as the 34th Postmaster of Rockford. Kruckenberg has more than two decades of Postal Service experience, having worked her way from a Rural Carrier Associate up through various managerial positions in Wisconsin and Illinois. Kruckenberg is well regarded for her dedicated leadership, commitment to exceeding performance standards and passion for the Postal Service.

“It’s an honor to be in Rockford to meet our employees in-person and to personally swear-in Postmaster Kruckenberg,” said DeJoy. “I am energized by the conversations I have been having here in Rockford and across the country with our Postal Service employees who have been working all year long to prepare for the upcoming holiday season.”

“We started investing in our equipment, people and facilities for the holiday season earlier than ever and we are ready to deliver,” DeJoy added. “Our customers should feel confident sending their holiday mail and packages through the Postal Service this year.”

Since April, the Postal Service has installed 88 of 112 new package sorting machines across the nation including Chicago, Des Moines, Grand Rapids, Minneapolis and Milwaukee. These new machines, part of a 10-year, $40 billion planned investment established in the Postal Service’s Delivering for America plan, will accommodate higher package volumes expected this holiday season and help expedite sortation and delivery to their local destinations. Additionally, more than 50 package systems capable of sorting large packages are expected to be deployed prior to December. With this new equipment, the Postal Service can sort an additional 4.5 million packages each day.

The Postal Service is also investing heavily in its people and facilities to meet the anticipated delivery demands of the 2021 holiday peak season. This includes a national drive to hire an additional 40,000 seasonal employees and the leasing of an additional 7.5 million square feet across more than 40 multiyear annexes that will create more space, resolve bottlenecks and improve the flow of mail and packages to customers.

The Postal Service generally receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

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For U.S. Postal Service media resources, including broadcast-quality video and audio and photo stills, visit the USPS Newsroom. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Subscribe to the USPS YouTube channel, like us on Facebook and enjoy our Postal Posts blog. For more information about the Postal Service, visit usps.com and facts.usps.com. 



Chicagoland Catholic Sisters to host
'Meet Our Sisters Tour' virtual tour event during National Vocation Awareness Week

Sisters will promote diverse ministries by offering virtual panel presentations and tours of ministries to promote religious life

Oct. 27, 2021
Media Contact: Siobhan O'Neill Meluso


CHICAGO — Chicago-area members of Communicators for Women Religious (CWR) are raising awareness of and celebrating religious life during National Vocation Awareness Week, November 7-13, through a series of primarily virtual tour events called “Meet Our Sisters Tour.” The events are open to anyone who wants to learn more about the life, mission and ministries of Catholic Sisters living in and around the Chicagoland area.

The third annual “Meet Our Sisters Tour” event includes an in-person chance to befriend your fears in the way of St. Francis at a brand-new intentional living community near Hyde Park called The Fireplace; a virtual praying of the Rosary with the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas for immigrants at the Broadview Detention Center; a virtual interview with School Sisters of Notre Dame and lay partners-in-ministry serving Latino immigrants and refugee families; an in-person premier of the Congregation of St. Joseph’s film Sisterhood; a meet-and-greet with the younger sisters (under age 50) who participate in Giving Voice; a virtual tour of the Jubilee Farm operated by Dominican Sisters of Springfield; and many more lively events to show the world the grace-filled lives of women called to religious life. 

WHO: CWR Chicago-area members: Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, the Sisters of St. Casimir, Giving Voice, the Dominican Sisters of Springfield Illinois, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph, the Felician Sisters of North America, and the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago.
WHAT: For a complete listing of virtual events please visit Meet Our Sisters Tour website
WHEN: Throughout the week of Nov 7-13
WHERE: Register for the virtual events here

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: To schedule an interview with a Sister, please contact meetoursisterstour@gmail.com or Siobhan O'Neill Meluso smeluso@osbchicago.org

Learn more about Communicators for Women Religious here: https://c4wr.org/





Illinois Principals Association to host
education leaders conference in October

Oct. 18, 2021
Media Contact: Alison Maley, government & public relations director


SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Principals Association will host its 50th annual Education Leaders Fall Conference and Exhibition, “A Legacy of Leaders,” Oct. 24-26, 2021, in Peoria. The annual conference provides an opportunity for principals and other administrators to learn from leaders in the education field and participate in sessions to better serve their schools.

“I am excited about the opportunity to bring school leaders together to celebrate 50 years of IPA, said Dr. Marcus Belin, IPA president and principal of Huntley High School in Huntley. “As leaders, we must continue to grow our craft in school leadership. In a time in which we are living and leading schools, we need the support of each other now more than ever. This conference will be the most epic celebration in the 50 years of the association.”

The Educational Leaders conference will begin Sunday with a golf tournament at Weaver Ridge Golf Club. The IPA Board of Directors, IPA Congress, and Legislative, Diversity & Equity, and Membership Committees will meet Sunday afternoon. The first day concludes with a welcome reception at Venue Chisca in Peoria, sponsored by Association Member Benefits Advisors. The reception will honor IPA past presidents.

The conference will include presentations from keynote speakers Gerry Brooks, Illinois State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala, and Luis Cruz. Small group sessions at the conference include timely topics such as: building teacher resilience, virtual program planning, family engagement, educational equity, and legislative and legal updates.

The first general session on Monday morning will feature Gerry Brooks, principal at an elementary school in Lexington, Kentucky. Brooks’ 500,000-plus following on social media has developed through humorous videos that focus on real-world educational experiences. An encouraging speaker, he desires to help administrators focus on how to lead all staff in a positive and constructive manner. Brooks will present his keynote, “Personal Climate and Culture - The Choice is Yours” Monday morning, followed by a breakout session entitled “Building Community Through Your Own Personal Actions.”

Speakers at the second general session on Monday afternoon include Dr. Carmen Ayala, Illinois state superintendent of schools, and Dr. Marcus Belin, IPA president. IPA Principal of the Year awards, the Reaching Out & Building Bridges Award, and the Mr. John Ourth & Dr. Fred W. Singleton Professional Development Scholarships will also be presented at this session.

Monday evening’s reception, “A Golden Gala,” will take place at the Marriott Pere Marquette ballroom and is sponsored by Clubs Choice Fundraising. The event will recognize the Illinois Principals Association’s 50th Anniversary.

Luis Cruz will begin the conference Tuesday morning with his presentation, “Embracing our Role as Transformational Leaders: Why in 2021 and Beyond Leadership in Schools Can No Longer Be a Solo Act,” followed by a breakout session on understanding faculty and staff. Cruz is a former principal of Baldwin Park High School, located east of Los Angeles, and has been a teacher and administrator at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Dr. Cruz regularly presents on methods from the best-selling book "Transforming School Culture" by Anthony Muhammad.

The conference will conclude on Tuesday with the popular IGNITE session. This innovative, fast-paced session provides a unique way to hear from dynamic speakers who will inspire fellow leaders. Presenters include the following Illinois school leaders:

* Jennifer Lindsay, superintendent, North Pekin Marquette Heights 102
* Tommy Colboth, principal, Washington Elementary School, Marion
* Sara Kash, assistant principal, Liberty School, Orland Park
* Joi Wills, principal, Fulton Jr. High School, O'Fallon
* Andy Stumpf, principal, Winchester Elementary School, Winchester
* Sonia Ruiz, principal, Lincoln Middle School, Berwyn
* Courtney Marks, assistant principal, Bloomington High School, Bloomington
* Jeff Prickett, principal, McHenry East High School, McHenry

For more information about the IPA or to register to attend, please visit www.ilprincipals.org.

The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization which serves over 6,100 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois and whose mission is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders.

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Associated Builders and Contractors of Illinois highlights diversity strategies during Construction Inclusion Week

Oct. 13, 2021
Media Contact: Alicia Martin, president of ABC Illinois


SPRINGFIELD — ABC Illinois today announced how its members are creating the right  conditions to embrace an inclusive and diverse workforce during Construction Inclusion Week, Oct. 18-22.   

In 2017, ABC Illinois established the Community Builders Program, which gives people from diverse backgrounds who face employment barriers the chance to learn a trade and begin a career in construction. The program upskills directly in the communities where participants live, taking a holistic approach to teaching a skill, providing career mentoring, and helping with job placement. By bringing free craft education to over 200 individuals who have faced barriers to employment, ABC Illinois is expanding the talent pipeline and rehabilitating disadvantaged communities, families, and career-seekers.  
“The diversity of ABC Illinois helps drive business growth and profitability, and the Community Builders Program is based on our belief that inclusivity, diversity and equity will change the way we fill construction jobs here in our state,” said Alicia Martin, President of ABC Illinois. “We are breaking down the barriers that hold some people back based on factors that have nothing to do with their abilities and desires. The merit shop philosophy aligns with the principles of inclusion, diversity and equity, ensuring every individual has a chance to succeed.”  
“Construction Inclusion Week is an invitation to every member of the 7.4 million-strong construction work forces to unite to advance inclusion, diversity and equity,” said ABC Director of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Tia Perry. “Achieving an inclusive, equitable and culturally competent workforce that is welcoming to all people is the essence of the merit shop philosophy. ABC Illinois is creating the conditions that appeal to an inclusive workforce.”  
ABC’s diversity outreach is led by the association’s Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee on which both Martin and Perry serve. The committee was established in 1999 as a key component of ABC’s value proposition to develop people, win work and deliver work safely, ethically, and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which they work. Visit diversity.abc.org to learn about ABC’s IDE strategy.
About Construction Inclusion Week: Construction Inclusion Week harnesses the collective power of the construction industry to build awareness regarding the need to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry. For more information, visit constructioninclusionweek.com.

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