Illinois Commission on Poverty Elimination and Economic Security Minutes - 12/02/20

Commission on Poverty Elimination and Economic Security

December 2, 2020; 9:30 AM

WebEx Video Conference


Commission Members in Attendance:

Amy Susan Brown, Co-Chair, representative of an anti-poverty organization focusing on rural poverty; Juan Manuel Calderón, representative of an organization that advocates for immigrants; Honorable Joy V. Cunningham, Member of the Judiciary; Angela Curran, representative of an organization that advocates for health care access, affordability, and availability; Pam Davidson, representative of county governments in this State; Evelyn Diaz, Co-Chair, representative of an anti-poverty organization focusing on urban and suburban poverty; Senator Dale Fowler, Member of the General Assembly; Jennifer Groce, representative of an organization that advocates for economic security for women; Kenneth D. Grunke, representative of an organization that advocates for older adults; Representative Jeff Keicher, Member of the General Assembly; Andy Kulczycki, representative of an organization that advocates for persons with mental illness; Colonel Dave Leckrone, rpresentative of an organization that advocates for military veterans; Senator Kimberly A. Lightford, Member of the General Assembly; Al Llorens, representative of school districts in this State; Daniel Lurie, Representative of municipal corporation governments in this State; Kate Maehr, representative of a statewide anti-hunger organization; Beth Menz, representative of a labor organization that represents primarily low and middle-income wage earners; Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer, representative of an organization that advocates for individuals with disabilities; Channyn Lynne Parker, individual who has experienced deep poverty; Representative Lamont J. Robinson, Jr., Member of the General Assembly; Lisa Stanley, representative of an organization that advocates for individuals who are homeless; Audra Wilson, representative of an organization that advocates for children and youth

Administrators in Attendance:

Grace B. Hou, Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services; Dana Kelly, Senior Public Service Administrator, Illinois Department of Human Services


Carmelo Barbaro, Executive Director, University of Chicago Poverty Labs; Dr. Brenda M. Dixon, Research and Evaluation Officer, Illinois State Board of Education; George Putnam, Director of Labor Market Information, Illinois Department of Employment Security; Governor JB Pritzker; Misuzu Schexnider, Senior Portfolio Manager, University of Chicago Poverty Labs

The meeting was called to order by administrator Dana Kelly at 9:33 AM. Kelly welcomed all attendees and discussed general housekeeping items before introducing Co-Chairs Evelyn Diaz and Amy Susan Brown.

Introductions/Opening Remarks:

Co-Chair Evelyn Diaz welcomed the Commission members and guests stating the Commission would focus on the Governor's vision of ending multi-generational and deep poverty in Illinois. Co-Chair Diaz introduced Co-Chair Amy Susan Brown to welcome the Commission.

Co-Chair Amy Susan Brown welcomed the Commission members and guests, outlining the desired outcomes of the meeting:

  • Launch commission with an understanding of the State's commitment to goals
  • Educate members about Commission duties and future activities
  • Educate members regarding the state of intergenerational poverty in Illinois
  • Brainstorm initial Commission recommendations and tactics; provide direction to for formulation of Commission Strategic Plan

Co-Chair Brown introduced Governor JB Pritzker to address the Commission.

Governor JB Pritzker welcomed the Commission members and guests and brought focus on the importance of this body and its goal - to end systems that perpetuate intergenerational cycles of poverty in the State of Illinois. Governor Pritzker thanked the Commission for their work to ensure that no one is left out of the response his administration is working through. Governor Pritzker noted everything done to mitigate the COVID crisis only goes so far - the true battle is against the economic inequity and injustice that has existed for much longer than COVID-19. Before the pandemic began, 1.6 million Illinoisans lived in poverty, with 739,000 living in extreme poverty. Governor Pritzker reviewed the goals of the Commission outlined in the Intergenerational Poverty Act, (i) reducing deep poverty in Illinois by 50% in six years; (ii) eliminating child poverty in Illinois within 11 years; (iii) eliminating all poverty in Illinois within 15 years; stating although these are ambitious, these challenges are monumental and cannot be addressed using the typical approach to public policy and investment, the Commission will need to "think big." Governor Pritzker closed by asking the Commission members for three things:

  • Educate policy makers and leaders in the State about the root causes of intergenerational poverty and its social and economic cost
  • Innovate strategies that bring vitality to communities and help individuals accumulate assets and resources that can provide economic security for generations to come.
  • Help Illinois build an equitable and inclusive safety net that will ensure economic opportunity for all residents.

Governor Prizker thanked the Commission and guests, before reintroducing Co-Chairs Brown and Diaz.

Co-Chair Brown thanked Governor Pritzker for joining and addressing the Commission, before introducing the following five elected officials to provide remarks to the Committee.

  • Senator Kimberly A. Lightford
  • Senator Dale Fowler
  • Representative Lamont J. Robinson, Jr.
  • Representative Jeff Keicher
  • Honorable Joy V. Cunningham

Co-Chair Diaz led the Commission through a brief introduction activity and took roll call. Please note, Angela Curran and Lisa Stanley experienced audio issues and although audio representation was not recorded, both were present during the meeting.

Administrator Kelly opened the floor for public comment at 10:11 AM; none received. Kelly noted that if any would like to make a public comment, they can email and it will be included in the record.

Poverty Commission - Who We Are, Why We Are Here

Administrator Kelly introduced Secretary Grace B. Hou, Illinois Department of Human Services to walk through a brief presentation; see attached: "CPEES Presentation 12.2.20."

The Commission discussed virtual public hearings in lieu of in person due to COVID-19 along with the importance of technical support, accessibility options, and creating safe spaces for people to share. Further, the Commission will garner feedback from constituents with lived experiences outside of public hearings as well.

Data Presentation - The State of Intergenerational Poverty in Illinois

Secretary Hou introduced Carmelo Barbaro, University of Chicago Poverty Labs, Dr. Brenda M. Dixon, Illinois State Board of Education, and George Putnam, Illinois Department of Employment Security to present data in relation to the state of integrational poverty in Illinois.

Carmelo Barbaro presented the attached "UChicago IL Poverty_Commission Meeting" to the Commission.

Dr. Brenda M. Dixon and George Putnam presented the attached "ISBE-IDES Presentation."

The Commission discussed the data presented, noting that only considering education is a binary approach to considering intergenerational poverty and that apprenticeship and trade

schools should also be included in this analysis. ISBE/IDES will confirm that this data is included in the analysis.

Chair Diaz thanked UChicago Poverty Labs, Illinois State Board of Education, and Illinois Department of Employment Security for their presentations.

Close and Next Steps

Chair Diaz closed the meeting by discussing the work for the Commission during the next year. The following recommendations can serve as the starting point for the strategic plan:

  • Embrace an Equity Lens and Confront Systemic Racism and Institutional Discrimination
  • Address Economic Exclusion and Ensure Poverty Reduction Strategies are Accessible and Equitable
  • Build Infrastructure to Measure the Impact of Discriminatory Institutions, Track the Success of Poverty Interventions, and Identify Promising New Strategies
  • Engage in Collaborative Solutions Across Public and Private Sectors

Chair Diaz asked all members of the Commission to review the 2020 Interim Report issued by the Interagency Working Group on Poverty and Economic Security, specifically pages 32 - 35, to see tactics outlined to achieve the goals outlined above; Commission members should consider if these tactics are inclusive and follow up if there are additional recommendations that should be considered.

Chair Diaz introduced next steps to the Commission, asking members to send additional feedback and/or resources as soon as possible, invite staff who are interested in Staff Level Poverty Policy Working Group as soon as possible, participate in a one-on-one discussion to inform strategy, and participate in the upcoming public hearings. Commission members should email with any feedback, questions, and/or staff members who are interested in joining a working group.

Chair Diaz informed the Commission the next meeting will be held in May 2021; members will receive information regarding required trainings in the coming weeks.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:57 AM.