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Reform: Restoration, Revitalization, and Representation
Webinar:  ThursdayJune 17, 5:30pm

The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation (ILBCF) and the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) have partnered to create a focused Speaker Series to educate the citizens of Illinois on critical societal issues resulting from social determinant factors directly impacting historically marginalized populations.  The series will embody principles of equity, diversity and inclusion, and promote social change with a concentration on the reform pillars of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. This Speaker Series is the first of its kind and every champion of a pillar will be featured, including the current Joint Chair of ILBC Rep. Sonya M. Harper.

The first session will provide historical context for the policy pillars, demonstrate their connections to one another, tie past practices to present-day outcomes, and address why these pillars are central to the creation of a more equal and just society.  The audience will hear from expert panelists on the historical context and research supporting the reform and on the policy shift and impact intended.   



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Sen. Lightford 

Kimberly A. Lightford is the first Black woman to serve as Illinois’ Senate Majority Leader. She has dedicated her 22-year legislative career to championing her passion: education and youth development. As the former Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Lightford passed notable education reform legislation that has since been recognized as a national model for equitable and effective education policy. Leader Lightford is also committed to improving the quality of life for working-class families. She was the lead sponsor of Illinois’ Equal Pay Act, fought to reform the Payday Loan industry, and is responsible for raising the minimum wage in Illinois three times, including a 2019 measure that gradually increases it to $15 per hour. While serving as chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, she passed significant legislation to dismantle systemic racism in education, criminal justice, and the economy. She also led the effort in crafting the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ four-pillar agenda to create a more equitable Illinois. A lifelong resident of her district, Leader Lightford was born in Chicago and raised in Maywood. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public communications from Western Illinois University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Saunders photo 

Dr. Tiffani Saunders is a lecturer of Sociology/Anthropology and African American Studies at University of Illinois Springfield. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in sociology from Bowie State University (B.S.) and Indiana University (M.A.; Ph.D.). She specializes in race and ethnicity, family, mental health, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Tiffani is an avid volunteer and public sociologist, actively engaged in the dissemination and application of sociological knowledge in non-academic contexts.  She is committed to making the world around her more equal, more just, and more accessible. Both her teaching and her community outreach work toward that goal.

Dr. Ty Dooley 

Dr. Ty Dooley is an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois Springfield. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Arkansas, a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Memphis, and he received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Central Arkansas.  Dr. Dooley’s research areas include:  social justice, critical race, social equity and community development.


Dr. Dalitso Sulamoyo is CEO of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission. The agency’s services range from transportation planning, police training, community services, workforce development, economic and community development to early childhood education for income eligible families. Dr. Dalitso graduated from Illinois College (Magna Cum Laude) with a BA in Political Science and International Relations. Dr. Dalitso received a Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Labor Relations and two master’s degrees in political studies and Public Administration from the University of Illinois at Springfield.  He holds a Ph.D. in Organization Development from Benedictine University. Dalitso serves on numerous local, state, and regional boards.  


Tiffany D. Hightower serves as the Executive Director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation and was former Director of Operations for Chicago City Treasurer where she directed the planning, development, implementation, and administration of initiatives pertaining to human resources and operations.  Ms. Hightower earned a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership, with a concentration on Non-Profit Management and Integrated Business Leadership Theories, from Dominican University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Paul Williams 

Mr. Paul Williams is a graduate of the De Paul School of Law, licensed to practice in Illinois. He worked as a legislative intern and staff assistant for numerous legislators, including but not limited to then Senate President Cecil Partee and State Representative Harold Washington before he ascended to Congress and Mayor. In addition, he served on the staff of the Illinois Energy Resources Commission.  Presently Mr. Williams practices privately from his firm, P.L. Williams & Associates, which concentrates in areas of Governmental Relations, Real Estate and Probate and serves as Joint Chairman of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation.

Chancellor Whitney 

Dr. Karen Whitney is the interim Chancellor for the University of Illinois Springfield.  Chancellor Whitney is a nationally recognized higher education executive with almost 40 years of experience in higher education and is currently working with higher education executives, boards, and leaders through advising, consulting, and facilitating to achieve individual and institutional success.  Dr. Whitney purposely works on a variety of projects across higher education that involve research, writing, and lecturing on topics related to successful higher education organizations and leadership. Chancellor Whitney holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education from University of Texas, a M.A. in Public Administration, and a B.A. in Psychology, University of Houston. 




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