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The Change that Begins with Me: Raising Anti-Racism Awareness and Shifting Paradigms of Thought and Practice

March 12, 2021 @ 8:30 am - 12:30 pm


Virtual Conference

A collaboration between

Fox Valley United Way-Strong Prepared and Ready for Kindergarten (SPARK)

Addison Early Childhood Collaboration (AECC)

Elgin Partnership for Early Learning (EPEL)


Funded by the Grand Victoria Foundation


Friday, March 12, 2021

8:30am-12:30pm CST

Registration: bit.ly/changeconference


Who is invited: All thought partners from early care and education, family and community support, medicine and health, city and county services, government, oversight, and legislation policymakers, business owners and every sector of society that touches the lives of children and families.

Why is this important: We are on the precipice of significant societal change like no other time in recent history. Now is the time for us to come together and work to help move our communities toward a tomorrow where our best work is devoid of systemic barriers and all families can flourish to the fullest. Our tomorrow is our children!

What will I gain: Accurate knowledge and information about systemic racism as a barrier to the success of our children and families. A chance to commit to a collective, continued conversation that leads to change by integrating anti-racist practices through our work, free of inequities and barriers to success for families in our communities

Session Facilitators


Opening Keynote: Dr. Mariana Glusman, M.D.

Dr. Mariana Glusman has dedicated her career to decreasing health and educational disparities among low income children. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and an attending pediatrician at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Uptown clinic where, for the past 22 years, she has cared for a diverse, multilingual, medically complex, underserved patient population. She is the current president of the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Mariana is nationally recognized for her work as the Medical Director of Reach Out and Read (ROR), a program that partners with pediatricians to promote early literacy development. She is the author of I Love You Like Sunshine: How Everyday Play and Bedtime Stories Grow Love Connections and Brainpower, and she is currently co-authoring a new book, Give your Child a Promising Start! The JOY of Everyday Early Learning (Birth to Age Five).


Session 1: Siemone Smith, MA LPC

Siemone Smith has worked in the Infant Mental Health field for over 10 years, with a focus on Trauma Informed practices. She has worked in Chicago’s Englewood area providing trauma focused therapy and support services to families throughout the community and families involved with child protective services. Siemone currently works for Erikson Institute’s Fussy Baby Network, providing supportive services to families who have concerns with their infants or toddlers. Additionally, she offers her time and expertise as a Child-Parent Psychotherapy clinician.




Session 2: Crystal Elliott-O’Connor MAT ECE, M.DIV FCC

Crystal Elliott-O’Connor has been in the field of early childhood education for more than 30 years. Having served on a variety of levels including classroom teacher and Center Director, Crystal now offers her experience and expertise as the Principal Consultant and Trainer for her start-up practice, Get Back 2 Basics! Early Childhood Training and Professional Development. Additionally, Crystal serves in an Adjunct capacity at the community college and university levels. She is co-authoring a new book with Dr. Glusman, Give your Child a Promising Start! The JOY of Everyday Early Learning (Birth to Age Five).





March 12, 2021
8:30 am - 12:30 pm

Registrations are closed for this event