Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today named seven individuals to the County’s Violence Prevention, Intervention, and Reduction Advisory Committee.
The advisory committee is tasked with studying and making recommendations regarding a gun court in Cook County, and advising the President’s Justice Advisory Council on how to appropriate $2 million in anti-violence funds, including efforts to crack down on straw purchases. It was created in the FY 2013 Budget.
“The individuals on this board come from diverse background but share a common goal, which is to reduce the violence that is plaguing our communities,” President Preckwinkle said. “Whether it’s providing needed resources to community groups working on the front lines, recommending an effective and evidence-based approach to gun court in Cook County or deterring straw purchasers, I am confident that this group will work to bring about meaningful change.”
The appointees to the Violence Prevention, Intervention and Reduction Advisory Committee are:
· Aurie Pennick, Executive Director of the Field Foundation
· Thomas Weitzel, Chief of the Riverside Police Department
· Esther Franco-Payne, Program Director for Metropolis Strategies
· David Rosa, Administrator at St. Leonard’s Ministries
· Commissioner John Fritchey
· Commissioner Edward Reyes
· Commissioner Deborah Sims
Aurie Pennick, Executive Director of the Field Foundation
As Executive Director of the Field Foundation, Aurie Pennick has been instrumental over the last four years in awarding more than $1.5 million dollars to programs aimed at addressing violence. From 1992 to 2002, Pennick was the CEO of the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities, a fair housing organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pennick is an attorney with extensive experience in both the public and non-profit sectors.
Chief Thomas Weitzel, Chief of the Riverside Police Department
Chief Weitzel has served in the Riverside Police Department since 1984. Throughout his career in Riverside, he has served as the Crime Prevention Coordinator, Internal Affairs Supervisor, Major Crime Assistance Team (MCAT) member, evidence technician, and field training officer. Chief Weitzel holds a Master’s Degree in criminal social justice from Lewis University and is a graduate of the Illinois Law Enforcement Executive Institute’s Executive Management Program.
Esther Franco-Payne, Program Director for Metropolis Strategies
Esther Franco-Payne has more than a decade of experience in violence prevention. As the Program Director for the Justice and Violence Initiative at Metropolis Strategies, she leads policy development and implementation on criminal justice issues focused on childhood exposure to trauma and violence, juvenile justice, diversion and alternatives to incarceration and re-entry. She has previously worked for the Illinois Center for Violence Prevention and the Circuit Court of Cook County Family Violence Coordinating Council. Franco-Payne has a Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago in clinical social work.
David Rosa, Administrator at St. Leonard’s Ministries
David Rosa is a living testament to the power of community groups and their impact on the lives of countless individuals. He was incarcerated for 25 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and was released in 1999. David was released to St. Leonard’s House, a transitional re-entry program, which he successfully completed and was then asked to join the staff on a part-time basis. From that position, Rosa rose through the ranks and he is now the Administrator for St. Andrew’s Court, the supportive housing department of St. Leonard’s. He has sat on the National Reentry Resource Committee and the Mayoral Policy Caucus on Prisoner Reentry where he spoke to the importance of providing housing for formally incarcerated individuals.
Commissioner John Fritchey (D-12th)
Commissioner Fritchey has served on the Cook County Board since 2010 and has been a life-long advocate for violence prevention and reduction. Prior to that, he served in the Illinois House of Representatives for 14 years where he was Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and Consumer Protection Committee. Commissioner Fritchey is a former Illinois Assistant Attorney General.
Commissioner Edwin Reyes (D-8th)
Commissioner Reyes has served on the Cook County Board since 2009. He began his law enforcement career with the Illinois State Police in 1990. He has worked as a Community Violence Prevention Officer (CVPO), a Drug Abuse Education (DARE) instructor and co-developed the Gang Avoidance Initiative Network (GAIN) program in J. Sterling Morton High School District in the towns of Berwyn and Cicero. In 2006, Commissioner Reyes was selected to be on the state’s Executive Protective Unit and assigned to the Governor’s security detail. He is a board member of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission.
Commissioner Deborah Sims (D-5th)
Commissioner Sims has served on the County Board since 1994. Prior to her elected service, Commissioner Sims worked for the City of Chicago Department of Human Services as a youth intervention worker and youth service coordinator where she dedicated her time to teenagers on the south side of Chicago. She is currently a member of Salem Baptist Church in Chicago and a past President of the National Associations of Black County Officials.