Announcing Our 2022 Cohort: Leaders for a New Chicago 

Photo avery r. young

June 7, 2022
analía rodríguez
Field Foundation of Illinois
(773) 259-4826

A’Lexus Murphy
Rise Strategy Group
(817) 703-6419

10 Diverse Leaders Across the City to be Awarded for Exemplary Work Combatting Structural Racism, Discrimination and Disinvestment

CHICAGO – The Field Foundation, in partnership with The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, today announced the 2022 Leaders for a New Chicago cohort. The 10 leaders—whose work aligns with Field’s grantmaking areas of Art, Justice, and Media & Storytelling—exemplify the power of creativity, focus and sheer determination in serving the communities and spaces they occupy across Chicago. Since the program was launched in 2019, the MacArthur Foundation has committed a total of $4.2 million to support the award recipients, who represent areas directly impacted by the city’s history of structural racism, discrimination, and disinvestment.

Now in its fourth year, the Leaders for a New Chicago Awards are part of Field’s ongoing investment in racial justice visionaries and organizations addressing systemic issues in underserved communities. Each leader will receive a no-strings-attached award for $25,000, and their affiliated organizations each will receive an additional $25,000 general operating grant. The awards will recognize past accomplishments while shining a light on the leaders who will influence decision-making across Chicago.

A committee comprised of 2021 awardees, facilitated by Field and MacArthur staff members, oversaw the process of reviewing nominations and recommending award recipients. Their selection of the 2022 leaders includes artists, advocates, educators, organizers, social change agents and storytellers. Coming from different geographic backgrounds and income levels, the leaders represent a diversity of age, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, and sexual orientation.

“The common thread across this group of dynamic individuals is their ability to lead, inspire and empower their communities,” said Field Foundation Leadership Investment Program Officer analía rodríguez, who was a member of the inaugural 2019 cohort. “We look forward to bringing them together with support and resources to help advance their work and make this a city that works for everybody.”

MacArthur Senior Program Officer, Chicago Commitment, Geoffrey Banks said, “We are proud to recognize these visionary leaders for their individual and collective wisdom and expertise. This is an opportunity to elevate the voices of individuals who are leaders in their communities and fields and to provide them with ‘no strings attached’ support, enabling the leaders to choose how to spend the funds to pursue their professional and personal goals as they continue changing the landscape of our city.”

The awardees and their respective fields are:

Kevin Iega Jeff (he/him/his), co-founder of Deeply Rooted Dance Theater (DRDT) and creative/executive director of Deeply Rooted Productions.

Scheherazade Tillet (she/her/hers), co-founder and Executive Director of A Long Walk Home.

avery r. young (he/him/his), award-winning artist, composer, and producer, a teaching artist with Urban Gateways.

Emily Blum (she/her/hers), executive director of Disability Lead.

Antonio Gutierrez (they/them/theirs), strategic coordinator and co-founder of Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD).

Dixon Romeo (he/him/his), de facto leader of Not Me We.

Tanya Watkins (she/her/hers), executive director of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL).

Dr. Dorene P. Wiese (she/her/hers), chief executive officer of the American Indian Association of Illinois.

Trina Reynolds-Tyler (she/her/they/them), director of data for Invisible Institute.

Irene Romulo (she/her/hers), development and community engagement coordinator and co-founder of Cicero Independiente.

Field Foundation Leadership Investment Program Officer analía rodríguez will be available for interviews after 1:30 PM.


About the Field Foundation
Founded in 1940 by Marshall Field III, the Field Foundation is a private, independent foundation that has been dedicated to the promise of Chicago for more than 80 years. The Field Foundation aims its grantmaking toward the goal of Community Empowerment through Justice, Art, Media & Storytelling and Leadership Investment. With racial equity at the center of its giving, it directs dollars to critical organizations working to address systemic issues in Chicago and aims to directly benefit some of our city’s most divested communities. Learn more at

About the MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarcerationglobal climate change, and nuclear risk. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. MacArthur has invested nearly $1.5 billion in more than 1,600 organizations and individuals across the Chicago region—more than any other place in the world. The Foundation’s Chicago Commitment is focused on contributing to civic partnerships, investing in vital communities, advancing influential and diverse leaders, and cultivating creative expression and art. Learn more at