12th Annual Sweet Beginnings Tea

12th Annual Sweet Beginnings Tea February 17, 2017 at the Palmer Hotel


Panel of logos from our generous sponsors

Please join the North Lawndale Employment Network for an elegant afternoon tea at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel as we honor the partners and clients who help us to Create a Community that Works at our 12th Annual Sweet Beginnings Tea on Friday, February 17, 2017. For more information or to buy tickets, please click here.

Purchase tickets link

Join the North Lawndale Employment Network, Sweet Beginnings Tea Chair Alaina M. Anderson, event emcee Robin Robinson and our special guest, award-winning filmmaker Kristi Jacobson for a splendid afternoon of tea, beelove™ honey-infused drinks and delicacies, inspiring life stories, and an opportunity to meet our honorees and supporters.

We’ll celebrate Voice of the Voiceless Honoree Patty Greene, Southwest Airlines’ ‎Manager, Community Affairs & Grassroots, Creating a Community that Works Partner Honoree Kristin Dean and Foundation for Homan Square, and Client Honorees Calvin Dean, Deniece Rogers, and Jovan Sams.

This event will again be emceed by the inimitable Robin Robinson, Chicago broadcast news veteran.

We look forward to sharing a cup of tea, compelling stories, and as a special treat, the 2016 TEDWomen documentary about Sweet Beginnings, LLC and Brenda Palms Barber!

Voice of the Voiceless Award

The Voice of the Voiceless Award honors those who provide a “voice” for the marginalized. Awardees come from all walks of life, including the worlds of politics, business, professional sports, academia, and others where their work paves the way for lasting change.

Headshot of Patty Greene

The 2017 Voice of the Voiceless Award is presented to Southwest Airlines’ Manager, Community Affairs & Grassroots, Patty Greene. In her role at Southwest Airlines, Patty establishes and nurtures relationships with key nonprofit organizations that work to improve the lives of those residing in the communities Southwest serves including Chicago, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Michigan, Minneapolis, Portland, Maine and San Juan, Puerto Rico. With her honesty, generous heart, and compassion for the men and women we serve, Patty has worked since 2010 to improve the lives of North Lawndale residents by helping to build the capacity of the North Lawndale Employment Network. Through her service as chair of the Sweet Beginnings Tea Committee and her excellent counsel, Patty ensures NLEN builds mutually beneficial corporate partnerships. Southwest Airlines has also generously donated travel passes to NLEN, which has increased NLEN’s national participation in professional development and capacity-building opportunities for our staff and organization.


Creating a Community That Works Award

Kristin Dean headshot

Partner Honoree

The Creating a Community that Works Award is presented to those who exemplify NLEN core values and beliefs and improve the quality of life for North Lawndale residents. These stakeholders, alumni, and supporters truly bring NLEN’s vision and mission to life.

The transformation of the former Sears Tower into Nichols Tower is the jewel in the crown of Kristin Dean’s 27-year career spent revitalizing North Lawndale. Under Kristin’s leadership, the Foundation for Homan Square, in partnership with its Nichols Tower tenants, has become one of NLEN’s leading employer partners: To date, it has hired 22 alumni of NLEN’s flagship U-Turn Permitted program into transitional, temporary, and full-time jobs.

We honor the Foundation for Homan Square, Kristin Dean, and her team, for helping to transform the North Lawndale community by providing hope, opportunity, and second chances to its residents.

Client Honorees

Deniece Rogers headshot                 Calvin Dean headshot                Jovan Sams headshot 

Deniece Rogers is the definition of possibility. Completing U-Turn Permitted in 2008 with little in hand except ambition and a dream, Deniece did not let her past stop her. Having experienced illiteracy herself, she became inspired to teach others and at age 65 earned her Master of Arts in adult education from DePaul University. Today, Deniece uses her education and experience in the prison system as fuel for her social justice advocacy work. Deniece is currently pursuing a PhD at DePaul University.

Known for his determination, Calvin Dean understands that hope may be frail, but hard to kill. Upon release from prison, Calvin knew one thing for sure – he would not go back. Calvin came to U-Turn Permitted in 2011 with the resolve to find permanent employment and create a better life for his family. After graduating, Calvin was hired at Jakacki Bag & Barrel where he still works today. Calvin always graciously shares his wisdom with what are affectionately called “Calvin’s Quotes.” His most well-known quote: “Education is expensive, being dumb is unaffordable.”

Jovan Sams completed both the U-Turn Permitted job readiness and Moving Forward diesel mechanic training programs with the spirit of intention and ambition. As a father of eight, Jovan was determined to be a provider. He worked his way from receptionist at Nichols Tower to a CTA apprentice through CTA’s Second Chance program. Jovan’s next goal is to become a CTA diesel mechanic.


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