By Taroue Brooks
Tell us about your new position.
I am the new Executive Director for the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation. The Foundation was established in 2002 and has given away close to $750,000.00 in scholarships to matriculating higher education students. The organization is the civic and philanthropic arm of the ILBC which was established in 1967, the ILBC is older than the CBC. I oversee the day to day operations of this organization. The mission of the ILBCF is to provide a forum for non-partisan educational research, public policy development, and analysis of various issues of social and economic importance for Illinois African-American communities, and to provide students throughout Illinois with scholarships and internship opportunities to advance their educational goals. Also, I interface with the ILBC members and the foundation board on a consistent basis to ensure that the future promulgation of the organization is embedded in synergy of goals and objectives. In tandem, there is also quite a bit of fundraising involved to ensure that we can be successful in our aforementioned mission.
What are three things do you plan to accomplish in your new role?
The 3 things I plan to accomplish in this new role, is what I like to call the VIP Plan. Visibility, Infrastructure, and a Programmatic Pipeline. And, why are these so important.? This is a very exciting role, during an extremely critical time in the history of America. Also with approximately just a little over 20 Black Caucus Foundations in the United States it is important that from the vantage point of the ILBCF that we increase our visibility, fortify our infrastructure, and strengthen our programmatic pipeline. This will allow us to come in alignment the communities we serve in an extremely strategic and sustainable way.
What motivates you?
This is an excellent question-Community and Integrity motivates me. The availability of love, unrelenting justice and generational miracles motivates me. Knowing that in this world you can generate endless possibilities. Perhaps that’s a weird answer-but I am about community-building limitless communities with integrity. This motivates me operating in integrity with the community in mind focused on expansive possibilities that will fuel generations. I think that is why this work excites me so much.
I am currently working on a passion project called the Integrity Accountability Contract, it is a collection of essays from world leaders discussing a moment in their lives where they have held themselves or someone else accountable in integrity-and what the impact was on chasing the trajectory of thought. My hope is that it will teach young people and others the importance of standing in integrity and how operating in “gentle character” can truly impact the world-community by community.
How challenging has your path been professionally as a black woman?
It certainly has not been ‘no crystal stair’ as Langston Hughes would say. As a black woman, I have been confronted with mysogynoir, flat out sexism, and so much more. I remember when I was going to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor #HAIL-that I was confronted with people saying that it was just because of Afirmative Action. Having men in professional spaces comment on my appearance and how it is so surprising that I have a level of intelligence. I have been told to give my ideas to someone else to present. I have been the only woman in the room, the only black woman in the room, and had to defend my stance every step of the way more than my peers. I have had to fight to be listened to, and in the beginning of my career imposter syndrome was so real. I questioned why I was at the table or if I was even suppose to be there. And so many people, limiting how should exist in those spaces. Until one day, I just told myself I am going to stop letting people dictate how I show up in a room or at a table. I will show up with my brilliance and confidence in the things I know and the things I don’t know. I won’t be afraid to state my opinion nor will I be afraid to ask questions to gain additional knowledge. There are no weaknesses, there is just space and opportunity for growth. Also, the biggest lesson is not to diminish yourself, your worth ethic, or your light just to feed someone else’s insecurities. So, I guess back to the question at hand the path has been quite challenging but in the same breath it has been rewarding, and I know for a fact that I would not be the professional black woman that I am today if it had not been for the journey.
Tell us about you upcoming golf event.
The ILBCF’s annual golf outing will be held August 24th, 2020. It is the primary way that we raise money for our scholarship program. It will be a fun-filled social distancing day of golf, food, and raising money to support young adults as they matriculate to places of higher education. Our sponsors and supporters ensure that this event and all our events are successful. This year in light of COVID, we are taking precautions such as mandatory mask wearing and hand sanitizer throughout the course to create a safer environment for our guests.
Share how people can support your scholarship program.
As aforementioned, people can support the ILBCF scholarship program through donations and corporate sponsorships. The donations are tax deductible as the Foundation is a 501c3. For more information on how to support the ILBCF, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
What does success look like to you?
Success for me looks like the ability to look in the mirror and be at peace with every choice I have made. Because the reality is success is not defined by the outside world it is defined by you. I know plenty of people who have the money, the mansion, the cars everything that a conventional society would define as success-but they have no peace. Success for me is the ability to stand in integrity knowing that I have contibuted to creating sustainable possibilities for myself and the communities that I serve.
Where do you see your career in the next five years?
Hopefully, in 5 years I will have finished law school-perhaps I will have even started working on my doctorate. My thought is I will still be influencing and impacting the community in positive ways. I believe my career will go where it is intended to, still at the forefront of radically helping people and advocating to change. Will that continue to be ib Illinois….maybe D.C.-who knows the sky’s the limit.
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Tiffany D. Hightower is a seasoned public servant with over a decade of impactful service. Currently, Tiffany is the Executive Director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation. Previously, Tiffany has served as a consultant/political strategist for a democratic gubernatorial candidate and numerous other political candidates. Tiffany was the immediate past Director of Operations for the Treasurer of the City of Chicago.
Tiffany is also the immediate past Executive Director for Developing Communities Project, Inc.–where President Barack Obama was the first Executive Director. As the Executive Director for DCP, Inc.- she oversaw transportation orientated development, environmental equities, economic empowerment, violence prevention, youth leadership, and mortgage/foreclosure advocacy. She has also served as a Deputy Director for Community Assistance Programs, focused on workforce development and corporate partnerships.
Tiffany serves as a board member for the Ideal Candidate, President of the Board of Social Change, and Commissioner (Secretary) for the 4th Medical District of Illinois in the Roseland neighborhood to name a few. She also was the 21st Central Region Director of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., having overseen the programmatic, service, and social efforts for 13 states in the Midwest and 4 countries. Prior to that office she was the International Communication and Public Relations Officer which included but was not limited to, media relations, drafting press releases, and speech writing.
She has also served on Danny Davis’ Homelessness prevention task force and hosted the Russ Meek Speaks Show on CAN-TV. Previous work experience has also included being the Advocacy Programs Manager and certified domestic violence professional for a domestic violence organization on the west side of Chicago and surrounding suburbs (including Berwyn, Melrose Park, Oak Park, and etc.) Her work led to her also being a participate in the 2014: Cultivate Women of Color Leadership Cycle funded by Chicago Foundation for Women, Crossroads Fund, Woods Fund, and Chicago Community Trust. She has also recently been named as a part of the 2018 IWIL Class.