November 20, 2020 Draft Minutes

Illinois 2020 Census Advisory Panel
November 20, 2020


Phone Number: 312-535-8110 Access Code: 802-409-251#

WebEx Link:


Panel Members on WebEx: State Representative Carol Ammons, Deborah Bennett, State Representative Elizabeth (Lisa) Hernandez, State Senator Kimberly Lightford, State Representative Theresa Mah, State Senator Dan McConchie, Maria Pesqueira, State Representative Ryan Spain, State Representative Andre Thapedi, State Senator Jil Tracy.

Panel Members Absent:  Former Representative Mike Fortner, State Senator Andy Manar, State Senator Iris Martinez.

Staff on WebEx: IDHS Secretary Grace Hou; Oswaldo Alvarez, IDHS; Marishonta Wilkerson, IDHS; IDHS General Counsel John Schomberg

Welcome and Introductions

Marishonta Wilkerson welcomed everyone and called the meeting to order at 9:33 A.M.

Public Participation

IDHS General Counsel John Schomberg announced there were no submissions for public participation ahead of the meeting.

Roll Call

John Schomberg called the roll.

Approval of Meeting Minutes

With the Panel having achieved a quorum, with Deborah Bennett, Maria Pesqueira, State Representative Andre Thapedi, and State Senator Jil Tracy joining the meeting after the initial roll call, the Panel took a break from the 2020 Census Grant Program Update, detailed below, to approve the October meeting minutes. Deborah Bennett moved to approve the October meeting minutes and Maria Pesqueira seconded. With a roll call vote, the October meeting minutes were unanimously approved. State Representative Spain appears to at least briefly have left the meeting prior to the vote.

2020 Census Grant Program Update

Oswaldo Alvarez, IDHS, stated that the 2020 Census had ended and the Census Office, would be collecting feedback and analyzing lessons learned to contribute to the next Census.

Mr. Alvarez presented an overview of the Census campaign, which included funding for Census activities from the State, the City of Chicago, and Cook County, an education and outreach strategy, which included funding 31 Regional Intermediaries (who in turn funded over 400 nonprofits and municipal governments), marketing, and community-based events. Other strategies included working with Illinois sister agencies. Collaboration also happened between the IDHS Census team and the City of Chicago, Cook County, the Secretary of State, and Forefront on statewide events.

Panel member State Representative Ammons joined the meeting.

Mr. Alvarez stated that Illinois finished seventh in the nation for Census self-response rates. Of the top ten most populous states, Illinois finished first. Chicago's 2020 self-response rate was lower than in 2010 but was higher than, similarly-sized cities like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Houston.

Ms. Wilkerson presented on the unanticipated challenges the Census team faced achieving a complete count. COVID-19 interfered with in-person activities and necessitated ingenuity and adaptation. Conflicting messages from the federal government on who should be counted contributed to the challenges. Lastly, contract and budget revisions resulting from the multiple deadline changes from the U.S. Census Bureau caused administrative burdens for grantees.

Ms. Wilkerson provided an update on closing out Census activities, which included reviewing final program reports, final fiscal reports, and archiving data and documents from the Census Office. The IDHS Census office is working with the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) on summarizing lessons learned.

Mr. Alvarez and Ms. Wilkerson elicited feedback from Census Panel members through a creative game of "Census Jeopardy."

Deborah Bennet shared that her memorable moment was when the Governor announced at Garfield Park in Chicago, that Illinois would invest $29 million in Census efforts. Ms. Bennet stated that coordination of efforts at all levels - public, private, county, city - was something she thought went well. She also stated one challenge was COVID-19, which presented multiple challenges along the way.

State Representative Hernandez stated that the collaboration and involvement of numerous communities was something that went well, and that in preparation for the next Census, language access and reaching people across multiple media platforms could continue to be improved.

State Representative Mah stated that COVID-19 provided the opportunity to be creative in how to count in hard-to-reach areas. She stated that there was a need for sub-grantees to coordinate better with one another, especially when sharing geographic locations or targeting similar populations.

State Representative Thapedi stated he thought we should not allow interest groups to be major players in how the State rolls out Census efforts. He also stated the need to use smaller groups to reach hard-to-count areas and that the Grants Accountability Act (GATA) initially prevented grassroots organizations from participating.

Ms. Wilkerson and Mr. Alvarez thanked everyone that contributed to the Census efforts.

Timeline Review

Grantee reports will be submitted to IDHS by November 30, 2020. The Census Office's final reports will be compiled by February 2021.

Future Meetings

The next and final meeting will be on December 18, 2020.


Secretary Hou thanked the Census Advisory Panel members and the IDHS Census team. The meeting was adjourned at 10:50 A.M.