CHICAGO, IL—Julissa Cruz, Senior Director of Community-Based Advocacy at the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, has been selected for the 2023-2024 cohort of the Erikson Institute’s Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows Program.

The program, which runs from October 2023 to July 2024, brings 18 diverse and experienced early childhood leaders together to develop policy recommendations, drive systems change, and strengthen early education advocacy in Illinois.

Per an announcement from the Erikson Institute, fellows will “develop a policy memo on a current issue that can be used post-program on the floors of the state capitol, boardrooms, public hearings, and more,” concluding the 10-month program with “a policy pitch event where fellows can pitch their recommendations in two minutes to a room full of policy experts and decision-makers.”

As Senior Director of Community-Based Advocacy, Cruz champions key advocacy priorities on behalf of the Carole Robertson Center, often mobilizing staff and families around city and state policies affecting equity in the early childhood education and youth development sectors. Through her participation in this year’s Erikson’s Barbara Bowman Leadership Program cohort, Cruz will strengthen her own capacity as a changemaker while making vital connections with peers from a diverse group of early education providers.

“It is an honor to join, learn from, and be in community with the strong group of advocacy champions that comprise Erikson’s 2023-2024 Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows,” said Cruz. “The program’s laser focus on making high-quality care more equitable and accessible for Illinois’s children and families aligns directly with the Carole Robertson Center’s mission to educate, enrich, and empower. I’m looking forward to advancing social justice alongside fellow leaders in early education.”

The Carole Robertson Center for Learning is a community-based organization with a mission to educate, enrich, and empower children and families. As a trusted neighborhood anchor, the Center reaches 2,500 children and youth in 27 communities across Chicago, with flagship sites in Little Village, North Lawndale, and Albany Park. To help build a just and equitable society, the Center serves as a beacon of best practices, innovation, and impact in early childhood and youth development.

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Since 1976, the Carole Robertson Center for Learning has been dedicated to educating, enriching, and empowering children and families through comprehensive child and family development programs.