In conjunction with UNTITLED AND YET TO BE DETERMINED, 41.8949° N, 87.7654° W (AUSTIN), join us for a panel discussion with artist Sasha Phyars-Burgess; Austin resident and community activist, Zerlina Smith; and Chief Operations Officer of Heartland Housing, Rob Breymaier. They will discuss Austin and its future, and how the Chicago community at large can gain information and share responsibility in the reinvestment and revitalization of the Austin Community.
Zerlina Smith is a homeowner and longtime resident of the South Austin community in the city of Chicago. A single mother of a 9-year-old, Ms. Smith wears many hats in the community. She relates to the importance and struggle for strong public schools and has been active in the fight for quality education through parent organizing, former Chairman of Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy LSC, Parent leader of Action Now, Former Board member of Raise your Hand, Board member and Treasurer of the West Garfield Community Stakeholders Federal Coalition, Former Chairman of the Head Start Policy Committee for CPS and DCFS, Former Secretary of Columbus Park advisory committee, Chair of the West side Democracy for America Accountability Chapter and Former Alderman Candidate for the 29th Ward 2015 race in Chicago IL. Zerlina Smith is the founder of Increase the Harvest Inc., 501(c)(3), Former Community Outreach for State Representative La Shawn Ford 8th District, Former IL State Coordinator for the Jill Stein Presidential campaign, presently working as a Case Manager at the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago.
Born into a family of activists in the ABLA homes, her grandmother, Cora Smith, was an organizer who fought against education segregation and for housing rights for African-Americans. Ms. Smith has continued the family tradition of fighting for the rights of ordinary working people. She believes that all children deserve a quality education, which means all schools in Chicago must be fully funded and have adequate resources. She has been active in the fight against school closings and charter expansions.
Rob Breymaier, Chief Operating Officer of Heartland Housing, has worked on fair housing policy for over 20 years. As the Executive Director of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, he led the nation’s most successful effort to promote integration and the affirmative furthering of fair housing in the private housing market. Through the efforts of the Housing Center, Oak Park has established and sustained a racially integrated community that has produced multiple benefits for residents.
In his former role as the President of the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, Mr. Breymaier oversaw the production of the Fair Housing and Equity Assessment for the Chicago region. This document has been cited repeatedly as a model document on identifying strategies to promote regional racial equity. Mr. Breymaier collaborates on many national and regional efforts to promote integration, fair housing, and community development. He speaks regularly about the value of integration and equal opportunity for conferences and forums. He has a Master’s degree in Geography and Planning from the University of Toledo.