Directors’ Showcase: Janet Alexander Davis, an “Evanston-made” Activist and Advocate

Janet Alexander Davis has been a loyal and active member of the Moran Center Board of Directors for nearly 10 years. Janet first met Judge Moran when he was serving on the Evanston City Council. She recalls that he was, “a staunch supporter of rights for youth, showing mercy and real justice.” A few years later, Janet was then introduced to the Moran Center (then named the Evanston Community Defender). Janet had seen first-hand the impact of incarceration on our community and immediately recognized the critical lifeline that the Moran Center could provide to youth by helping them stay in school and out of prison. “The Moran Center is crucial in helping troubled youth get the services they need to disrupt the school to prison pathway so many young people travel. My respect for the staff at the Moran Center is immense. These are not their children, but you wouldn’t know the difference seeing their level of engagement and the lengths to which they will go to help a client.”

Janet is truly “Evanston-made” and as much as the Moran Center is fortunate to have Janet on our board, the entire Evanston community is fortunate to have Janet as an engaged citizen. Janet describes Evanston as a vibrant city with an abundance of social services available and she encourages others to get involved and make a difference. “I believe service is at the core of my spirit and with that, a desire to work with others, accomplishing our work for the good of all. This path has led me to engage myself in myriad ways, always reaching for a higher level of engagement, service and personal growth… My time in Evanston has always been interwoven in activism, from childhood, and as I matured into adulthood, I did not slow down, did not sit down, but rather invested myself more fully into doing the right things in support of others.”

As a child of the 60’s, fighting for civil rights in our public schools, Janet continued and expanded her activism and built a strong network with many other Evanston activists. She became an advocate for youth and a mover and shaker for better education for children, especially those affected by poverty. Below are some of the various roles that Janet has had in making a difference for Evanston.

  • Citizens Greener Evanston – Environmental Justice Committee Member
  • Evanston Human Relations Commission — Board of Directors
  • Evanston United Neighbors — Board of Directors
  • Evanston Youth Initiative — Founding Member
  • Habitat for Humanity: The Evanston Project — Board of Directors
  • McGaw YMCA: Honoring the Emerson Street YMCA Committee
  • Shorefront Journal – Contributing Author
  • WEST – West Evanston Strategic Team — Founding Member, 5th Ward Newsletter Committee 
  • West End Area Block Club – Communications Management

Janet has also received several honors in recognition of her community activism:

  • West End Area Block Club, Hospitality Award 2008
  • Cook County 13th District Commission on Women’s Issues Awardee: Unsung Heroines 1996
  • Outstanding Citizen Award, 2016, Presented by the Yen Family’s Grand Re-Opening of the Evanston Holiday Inn

PizzaFest 2017

We are grateful to be a beneficiary of the Rotary Club of Evanston’s PizzaFest 2017. Join the Rotary Club of Evanston, and our fellow beneficiaries — Mudlark Theater and The Ridgeville Foundation at PizzaFest 2017! This annual all-you-can-eat pizza and pop extravaganza raises funds to support community projects and initiatives vital to the well-being of Evanston. 

All-you-can-eat pizza will be served at Gigio’s Pizza (1001 Davis | Evanston) from 4:30-8:30pm. Adult tickets are $20 and kids tickets are $12. Join us for this fun family-friendly event!

Purchase tickets in support of the Moran Center here.

Learn more about the event here. 


Ellie and Patrick Keenan-Devlin at PizzaFest 2016.

Ellie Keenan-Devlin at PizzaFest 2015.


Stand Against Racism


Join the Moran Center and the YWCA Evanston/North Shore as we take a stand against racism.  This has become a fun annual tradition for our community. We usually have a lively crowd gather at our busy corner. Grab your co-workers, friends, family and join us!

Friday, April 28, 2017
11:30am – 11:55am
at the corner of Ridge and Emerson


CDBG Funding Crisis – Postcard Campaign

The Moran Center is partnering with local gallery Stumble & Relish for a trunk show featuring local artists Ben Blount and Joanna Kramer. Ten percent of proceeds will be donated to the Moran Center. 

In conjunction with this show, we are also launching a Postcard Campaign, encouraging the community to rally around the Community Development Block Grant Funding crisis that threatens to cut-off funding of critical services to low- and moderate-income individuals. Ben Blount has designed and produced postcards with a strong social justice theme and we suggest that you purchase his postcards for this campaign. Stumble and Relish will donate postcard postage stamps to support the effort.

Click here to read more and download a template that you can use to contact your local representatives.

Moran Center Board endorses District 65 Operating Referendum

By a unanimous vote last night, the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy’s Board of Directors voted to endorse Evanston/Skokie School District 65’s Operating Referendum. The Moran Center supports the Operating Referendum because quality, accessible schools require adequate funding. This is a vote to strengthen our community as a whole and preserve the opportunity to build a more equitable school system for all students.

As advocates for low-income children and their families, the Moran Center acknowledges the persistent inequities which exist within District 65; yet, despite such inequities, the Moran Center also recognizes that if the Operating Referendum fails, our clients — low-income children, many of whom have disabilities — would be the most at risk of being harmed by cuts to personnel and programs. The Moran Center therefore strongly encourages Evanston/Skokie residents to vote in favor of the Operating Referendum on April 4th to eliminate the need for significant reductions and maintain services. 

Upon passage of the referendum, the Moran Center stands ready to be a part of the process in developing innovative local policies to make certain that the property tax increase will not overly burden low-income families, who already struggle to meet basic needs. Relief from the property tax increase is a critical step in ensuring that Evanston is a just, welcoming, and inclusive community.


Video: Panel Discussion of “13TH” Documentary Screening

On Sunday, March 12, the Moran Center hosted a special screening of Ava DuVernay’s incredible documentary, “13TH.” Following the screening, Executive Director Patrick Keenan-Devlin facilitated a panel discussion. Below is a video of the discussion that followed featuring panelists: 

Melissa Blount, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist & Moran Center Advisory Council Member
Kate Masur, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Northwestern University’s Department of History
Ismalis Nuñez, MSW, District 65 Family & Community Engagement Coordinator/Social Worker
Morris (Dino) Robinson, Jr., Founder & Director, Shorefront Legacy Center

The screening was co-sponsored by Northwestern’s Center for African American History and Dance Center Evanston. Studio5 provided the screening facility and produced the discussion video.



Directors’ Showcase: Sarah Frudden and Jeff Bergman – Youth Justice Heroes

Jeff Bergman and Sarah Frudden are quiet heroes for youth Justice. Jeff has served on the Moran Center Board of Directors since 2013 and his wife Sarah has been a volunteer since 2015. Jeff is a business trial attorney at Mandell Menkes LLC and has had many successes in litigation, arbitration, and mediation. Sarah, also an attorney, supports the Moran Center by volunteering a couple of days a week. Both Jeff and Sarah are concerned with how the shifts in both the national and state-level government might trickle down and impact youth in our community.  Jeff states that: “In both 2015 and 2016, Illinois saw bipartisan support for new legislation that made the juvenile justice system more fair, and increased opportunities for rehabilitation. Now that there is a new administration in Washington that campaigned on a ‘law and order’ platform, we need to work to make sure that this positive momentum for reform at the state level does not stall out.” Sarah adds, “I see how hard the Moran Center’s staff works every day to support and protect Evanston’s youth. In this uncertain time, when so many of our kids are feeling threatened by their own government, it’s more important to me than ever to support the Moran Center’s work.”

You can follow Jeff on twitter @JeffRWLawyer. To follow Sarah, your best bet is to head to the lakefront – where you can find her out for a run most mornings. We are lucky to have both Jeff and Sarah on our team! 

4th-Grade VIP Program at Oakton Gets Creative

“Learn to focus on important things right now.”
VIP Student, Oakton Elementary School

This fall, the Moran Center partnered with Oakton Elementary School to bring the Voices, Ideas, and Perspectives Project (VIP) to fourth-grade students. VIP is an 8-session leadership course designed to build problem-solving skills through interactive lessons. Once a week, the students gather with their peers and Moran Center facilitators, Karen Evans and Kathy Tribble-Strong, to discuss topics such as:

  • Feelings and emotions
  • Leadership development
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving
  • Effective decision making
  • Conflict resolution
  • Healthy relationships
  • Mindfulness
  • Positive community participation

The Oakton VIP program collaborated with Noyes Cultural Center to direct students in a culminating art activity with students and artists Patti Vick and Monica Sageman. The VIP curriculum was seamlessly woven into art projects that the kids enjoyed and completed with much enthusiasm and pride. Oakton Principal Wayne Williams is a great champion of the program, making sure that all kids involved feel special and excited about participating. Principal Williams even announces the VIP Program over the PA and makes a point of stopping by to visit the VIP sessions. 

Recognizing the impact that the Moran Center is having in our community, the Open Studio Project has chosen the Moran Center to receive their Galleria 101 award this year. The award will be presented at a special event on April 20th at the Evanston Art Center. Proudly, Oakton VIP student art will be on display!

Immigration Workshop

Not surprising, the topic of immigration is currently weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of many families in our community. While the Moran Center does not practice immigration law, our holistic model recognizes that it is difficult to address educational rights and criminal justice rights when a family is struggling with immigration status & documentation.
On February 2, the Moran Center partnered with the Child Care Network of Evanston, Y.O.U., and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) to conduct a workshop for over 60 local social service providers who support immigrant and refugee families. ICIRR attorney Luis Huerta-Silva shared his expertise on navigating legal rights in the changing national climate. This is just one example of how the Moran Center works to create a tightly knit fabric of supports for our clients.

The immigration workshop was held at Y.O.U.’s beautiful new facilities. Below are additional photos.

Justice Challenge Kick-Off Event

On January 27, 2017, the Moran Center hosted an event at the Stone Terrace Bed & Breakfast to announce the Justice Challenge. We are thrilled to go public with the exciting news that the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) selected the Moran Center as the recipient of their Partners for the Future Challenge Grant. Through this grant, ECF will incentivize greater investment in the Moran Center by matching new or increased gifts of $5,000. The Moran Center will  use this transformative opportunity to “go deeper” in meeting critical, unmet needs within our community – dramatically increasing our impact. Learn more about the Justice Challenge and how you can join the “Justice League.”

View a photo gallery of the event, featuring the photography of Rich Foreman Photography.