in Joliet 2023

monday, June 19, 2023 from 12-4pm 

Emeritus Speakers

Dorletta Payton

About the moderator.

Dorletta is an experienced Education Administrator with a demonstrated history of working in the education and not-for-profit industries. Dorletta is skilled in Management Non-Profit Organizations, Coaching, Teen Programming, Admissions Counseling, and Public Speaking. Strong business development professional with an MBA focus in Finance and Marketing from the University of Chicago and a B.A. from Stanford University.


With more than two decades as a strategic and results-driven leader, Dorletta Flucas Payton has helped both for-profit and non-profit organizations achieve proven results in the areas of leadership, goal setting and managing teams. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago.

Dorletta is known for her excellent leadership, management, and communication skills along with her dedication to fostering a working environment that encourages individual development, collaboration and optimal team performance.

As the Director of College and Career Readiness for the Valley View School District, she leads district initiatives to create a post-secondary education/ college and career readiness culture to support the district’s goal of every student graduating from high school ready with a plan to complete the education and training needed for them to be successful in their chosen career. She is the district administrator for school counselors, facilitates the district’s College and Career Readiness Steering Committee, leads the K-12 college and career readiness program, and coordinates professional development for school counselors.

As chairperson of the DuPage County Afro-Academic Cultural, Technological, Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) program (an academic enrichment program for African American high school and middle school students), she has led the program to the top in the nation by partnering with organizations, corporations and community to prepare students for competition in the areas of STEM Research, Humanities, Business, Performing Arts and Visual Arts.

Dorletta’s past experience includes top corporations that include Procter and Gamble, Chase Bank and National City Bank (now PNC Bank). She has also consulted and collaborated with the National PTA and Kettering Foundation.

Dorletta’s work has been recognized by various organizations including the DuPage County NAACP, that twice awarded her with the President’s Award; the Bolingbrook Chamber of Commerce, Bolingbrook Rotary and Kiwanis clubs and local churches.

Dorletta is a former entrepreneur, who started Clearview To College Admissions Consulting to help students and their families prepare for and achieve admission to the best-fit college/university of their choice.

Dorletta is fluent in Spanish, having lived in Spain for over three years, she worked and volunteered in the Hispanic community in the Chicago area.

Dr. James Mitchem

Hollie Petit

Donald Basilio


Dr. Levar Ammons

CEO Greg Peerbolte

Superintendent of Schools Rachel Kinder

Dr. Carter Larry

Judge Sherri Hale

About the panelist.

Twelfth Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Sherri L. Hale as an associate judge of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit in 2021. Judge Hale formerly worked for the Will County Public Defender’s Office. She initially wanted to work as a Child Psychologist until she saw social work and juvenile attorneys had more of an impact on helping youth. This fact triggered her decision to study law. Judge Hale was previously appointed by the Illinois State Supreme Court to serve on the committee for character and fitness to evaluate the moral character and mental acuity of applicants to practice law.

Judge Hale is a founding member of the Black Bar Association of Will County and formerly served as its President. She is also a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Will County Women’s Bar Association and the Will County Bar Association. She also served as a legal resource and charter member of the Chicago Metropolitan Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

Judge Hale is an HBCU grad who received her undergraduate degree in 1997 from Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. She completed her master’s degree in 2000 from Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio and her Juris Doctor in 2006 from North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina.
Judge Hale juggles the role of President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Chi Sigma Omega Graduate Chapter in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Among her numerous volunteer responsibilities Judge Hale stresses, the importance of helping young people understand the value of attending an HBCU. One powerful lesson, learned as an undergraduate has shaped the
direction of her life. Judge Hale was taught the price for the privilege of getting a college education was to be paid forward to future generations. As such, the AKA’s celebrate the impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (known as HBCU’s) in September – encouraging members to showcase the contributions of these institutions to sustain student interest and enrollment.

Dennis Anderson

About the panelist.

Dennis Anderson is vice president of news operations for Shaw Media and editor of the Northwest Herald. He also serves as president of the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors. He has been recognized at the national level for his community engagement work. Dennis was previously editor of the Journal Star in Peoria and GateHouse Illinois editor. He also worked in news organizations in New York, Connecticut and Kansas. His newspapers have won state and national awards from The Associated Press Media Editors and Editor & Publisher Magazine, including 10 Newspapers That Do It Right. He and his wife, Julie, live in Crystal Lake. 

Dr. Michael Ellison

About the panelist.

Dr. Michael Ellison has been a successful administrator in higher education for several decades focusing on university admissions/recruitment, academic advising, retention, student affairs and teaching.  He spent 25+ years at Chicago State University (CSU) where he excelled in a number of positions to include: Admissions Counselor/Recruiter, Director of Pre-Medical Education Programs, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Admissions for the College of Pharmacy and Instructor.  He was recruited to serve as the Associate Dean for Admissions and Assistant Professor for the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University.  After serving in this capacity for six years Dr. Ellison was asked to return to CSU to assume the role of Interim Vice President of Enrollment Management by then university Interim President Dr. Rachel W. Lindsey. 

Dr. Ellison also has experience with creating a student-centered admissions environment from scratch.  He has developed everything needed to successfully recruit, admit and matriculate students for both a medical school (Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine) and a pharmacy school (Chicago State University College of Pharmacy).  He also has experience with accreditation efforts and student retention.  

He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Education and his Master of Science in Occupational Education degrees from Chicago State University.  He went on to earn his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois graduating in the top of his class.  

Helping students to succeed with academic excellence is Dr. Ellison’s passion.  Throughout his career he has aided many students, particularly those from minority and disadvantaged backgrounds with gaining access to higher education.  He is most proud of the educational successes and professional accomplishments made by the students he served throughout his career.  Many of these individuals still maintain a relationship with him.

Dr. Ellison has been actively involved with several professional organizations/associations such as the National Association of Medical Minority Educators, Inc. (NAMME), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP) and others, to advance his work with educational equity for minority and disadvantaged students.  He continues to serve on numerous committees and working groups that address diversity, inclusion and equity in higher education, specifically admissions. 

Dr. Ellison lives in Illinois and is passionate about continuing to support student enrollment and recruitment efforts.  He currently serves as the Associate Dean for Admissions for Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University in North Chicago, Illinois.


Toni Greathouse

About the moderator.

Concept Artist/Writer, history enthusiast and Telly nominated producer of the 1999 documentary, “Soul of a People.” Filmed on location at DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago History Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago to showcase snippets of the Black experience circa 1450-1900. 

Greathouse self-describes as an “Entrepreneurial Evangelist” who channels God gifts at the grassroots of community. Her company (Custom Community Creations, LLC) was awarded Best Small Business of 2015 by the Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce.

Toni’s mission is spelled out in the letters of her first name. The words they form motivate her to… Take On Neighborhood Interaction by Trying Out Novel Ideas.  

In 1996, Toni stepped out on faith to start-up. She celebrated 26 years in as a Self-Employed Artist on February 1, 2022. That same day, the Joliet Herald published the first of a series of opinion pieces on a passion project to launch the first annual Juneteenth in downtown Joliet. The objective is to incrementally increase connectivity in an atmosphere infused with history and nostalgia. 

Pivoting on Purpose, Toni is rebranding herself as a “Social-Entrepreneur” merging strategy and design to develop intersections where diverse people engage to break down racial barriers then bridge them by building empathy and understanding… a solution to fill gaps. 

Juneteenth in Joliet was developed to spark civic/civil conversations emphasizing progress and improvement. The ask is – to do – what you can… with what you have… where you are to navigate the minefield of hidden racial bias. The take-away empowers all to think before responding. This stance introduces a creative solution to facilitate the uncomfortable process of racial healing.

Toni’s career emerged from familial exposure. She is third-generation college educated on the maternal side and a fourth-generation entrepreneur on the paternal side. A 1986 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Toni followed in her mother footsteps to the Carbondale campus. It was the same path previously trodden by her grandfather who attended when the school was a Teacher’s College. While on campus Toni met her husband (1982) in a union that produced their daughter a 2014, alumni. While on campus their daughter distinguished herself pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. undergraduate Delta Beta Chapter, 30 years after Toni (1983). She was elected SIU-C student body president her junior year and campus homecoming queen senior year. Brittany parlayed a degree in Finance into a position with Accenture in London, England. 

Post emancipation, Toni’s great-great grandfather (a silversmith) left the planation to sell his in rural Pennsylvania. His daughter owned a beauty shop and “Dew Drop Inn” club that hosting “Chitlin’ Circuit” entertainers. Her son (Toni’s father) took entrepreneurship one step further. Throughout the 1980’s his baseball board game was sold in Sears and Kmart stores. He mentored Toni from start-up (1996) to his death in 2017. Their crowning achievement was becoming a Walmart Supplier where her adult coloring books (featuring his passion for Classic Cars) across on Route 66 were sold in retail stores nationwide.

Diane M. Harris

About the panelist.
Diane M. Harris owns the downtown Joliet boutique, “It Is Amazing.” She staunchly supports the mission and goals of small business and believes in giving back to community. She serves as a Joliet Junior College Trustee in addition to holding board seats on as a Trustee for the Joliet Public Library, Joliet City Center Partnership and Cathedral Area Preservation Association. She is additionally a member of Joliet Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and African American Chamber of Will County. She faithfully attends Mt. Olive Baptist Church and is active in many business and professional organizations such as National Notary Association, Zonta Joliet and National Hook Up of Black Women.

Vivian Johnson Rogowski

About the panelist.
Vivian Johnson Rogowski is a Los Angeles-based producer whose work spans narrative and documentary film and television. Her recent credits include Pepsi, Where’s My Jet!? which premiered on Netflix fall of 2022, and HBO’s Phoenix Rising which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2021. She also won Best Female Producer at the 2022 Toronto International Women’s Film Festival for her work on the narrative film Bienvenidos A Los Angeles. She’s produced captivating content for distributors such as HBO, Netflix, Hulu, and more. Vivian is deeply passionate about providing mentorship and guidance to women of color both behind and in front of the camera. And she believes that building strong and diverse teams while cultivating a positive work environment is the ultimate key to success.

Lisa Marsh

About the panelist.

Lisa is the proud Owner of MsPsGFree Inc., a Chicagoland Area Whole Foods Supplier of gluten free cookie bars & granola. Lisa is an experienced owner with a demonstrated history
of working in the food production industry.

Lisa has been gluten free since 2009. Her business emerged from the desire to break the cycle of early familial deaths from bad health habits. The business was formulated from the experience of working Farmers Markets combined with classes through the Sunshine Gospel Ministries.

Education & Skills:
Lisa received her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice Degree from Western Illinois University, which she parlayed into 27 years of Law Enforcement experience with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. For years, Lisa shared her “sweet gluten free treats” with incarcerated individuals. Those men planted the idea and offered constant encouragement to dip her toe into the pool of entrepreneurship. Lisa is additionally skilled in Microsoft Excel, Outlook, Customer Service, Data Entry, Sales, and Small Business building.

Sandra Moore

About the panelist.

Sandy is a serial entrepreneur who’s owned a string of businesses dating back to a boutique in the 1990’s. At the time she was a young mother, living in the State of Maine after her husband (who was her junior high sweetheart) had been transferred there. Born on the west side of Chicago and raised in Joliet (from age 9) the bulk of Sandy’s businesses have been operated locally. She currently operates two Joliet based brick-and-mortar fashion businesses. Sandy’s located at 28 & 30 West Clinton Street downtown and Candy Koture at 711 Jefferson Street. They both morphed from the store she kicked-off in Plainfield (Sandy’s Unique) in the early 2000’s.


Like most natural born entrepreneurs Sandy suffered from the dreaded imposter syndrome. The problem is what comes easily, doesn’t feel like work. When pressed about the year she officially started, Sandy references the 2003 opening of her first stand-alone restaurant Sandy’s Kitchen at 219 Maple Street. It was an offshoot of the food service business she planted at Deralds Flea Market on Cass Street. Many locals flocked to her spot where she hosted the infamous “Soul Food Sunday’s.”

In fact, Sandy just closed the kitchen at the end of 2021 due to overwhelm. Sandy had juggled food service and fashion for years. Today, Sandy focuses on the aspect of business she loves most… sewing. The artistry of creating something that’s one-of-a-kind is the allure. She inherited creative talent from her mother whose skill in ceramics looms large in her mind. Sandy who’s a double cancer survivor now dreams of mentoring the next generation. Never one to slow down, Sandy appreciates the fact that she’s arrived at a place in life where she’s able to consciously create the work she loves.

Andrea Jordan

About the panelist.

Andrea Jordan is a Managing Partner of the law firm, Jordan Steele & Associates, LLC and a Managing Director of the non profit law firm, JSA Legal Services. She has spent her career serving the public. Andrea earned her Bachelor’s from University of Notre Dame and her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago. She holds both an Illinois and California bar license. Andrea served as a Managing Attorney in Will County for almost a decade at a large non profit law firm prior to forming Jordan Steele & Associates and JSA legal services. Her other work includes practicing in California for several years in the public sector and working as an Assistant State’s Attorney in the beginning of her career. She is a U.S. Army veteran and adjunct professor of law.

In addition to working as an attorney, Andrea is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) professional who has committed herself to DEI education and outreach through consulting, presentations, and training. She is published in the Legal and DEI space, having written and co-authored articles on Implicit Bias Training, Race and Education, and DEI in healthcare spaces.

April Toliver-Wilkins

About the panelist.
April Toliver-Wilkins is a salon owner, international educator, professional cosmetologist, and makeup artist. She possesses an extensive background within the beauty industry that spans over 30 years. Mrs. Toliver-Wilkins’ career started long before her enrollment in Pivot Point’s Basic School of Cosmetology in 1982. At the age of 14, she was placed under the tutelage of her late grandmother, Alice Toliver. Alice was trained directly under Madam CJ Walker before getting her start in the beauty care industry.Alice Toliver was a pillar of her community in Chicago and the owner of Alice’s Beauty Salons for over four decades. Alice exposed young April to the many dimensions of running a successful business and extraordinary customer service. Alice also instilled that an increase in knowledge and skill is directly proportionate to steady growth. April eagerly absorbed the knowledge and expertise that was imparted by Alice Toliver. To express her gratitude and to ensure that the legacy of her mentor continues, April named her salon ALICE II SALONS. April embodies the meaning of “total beauty care service provider.She has an insatiable desire to learn and master innovative techniques for hair care, skin care and makeup application.

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