Community Conversations

Interested in digging deeper and learning more about the complex issues at the intersection of poverty, violence, and inequality? Join We Raise Foundation as we regularly host topical, interactive conversations on these issues via Facebook Live. We’ll hear from practitioners, researchers, and experts in the field, who will share their personal and professional experiences creating solutions to these issues in their communities.

Our first Community Conversation was held on June 13, 2018 and featured Ms. Onie Riley, Lawndale Christian Legal Center, Chicago, Ill., and Dr. Heath Carter, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind., who discussed the complex topic of mass incarceration.

Onie and Heath shared history, stories, and information about an innovative new approach to address this brokenness through the lens of the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago.



Ms. Onie Riley

Onie Riley joined Lawndale Christian Legal Center (LCLC) in January 2016 as the Diversion Program Case Manager and moved into the position of Restorative Justice Hub Coordinator in April 2018. As the coordinator, Riley supports the North Lawndale Community Restorative Justice Hub in collaborating together and providing services for the Restorative Justice Community Court in North Lawndale. Prior to her work at LCLC, Riley spent over 10 years working with young people as a youth worker, mentor, and case manager. Her most recent role as the Director of Operations for the Illinois African American Family Commission allowed her to understand that providing access to resources and opportunities to communities is one way to challenge and ultimately decrease the violence in today’s society. Riley received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Ill., and her master’s degree from Spertus College, Chicago, Ill.

Dr. Heath Carter

Dr. Heath Carter is an associate professor of history at Valparaiso University, where he teaches and writes about the intersection of religion and public life in the modern United States. He is the author or editor of four books. He is currently working on a new book entitled On Earth as it is in Heaven: Social Christians and the Fight to End American Inequality (under contract with Oxford University Press). Heath is also very involved in the Valparaiso community. He is the chair of the City of Valparaiso’s Advisory Human Relations Council, and serves on the board of both Project Neighbors and the Northwest Indiana African American Alliance.


This conversation was facilitated by Joanne Otte, Director of Programs, We Raise Foundation.

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