Steering Committee

Work to Date

The Steering Committee is responsible for governing the process and progress of the Peoria City/ County Joint Commission on Racial Justice and Equity. Commencing our work in late summer 2021, we were immediately met with challenges: 

  • We faced starting an organization from the ground up. Our members had little history working with one another and the Commission had no staff and no established practices or policies. Moreover, our members were volunteers with jobs and families requiring their primary attention.
  • We had no work plan to guide us. While we had a mission, goals, and a vision, we were given no specific design to achieve our work. That gave us freedom, but it also required time to develop a process that would allow for collective achievement by a diverse group of sub-committees.
  • We were dealing with the most intractable social problem facing our country — how to address centuries of racism which impacted every aspect of our society and continues to be a flashpoint between many of our citizens.
  • We were starting in the midst of the most severe pandemic in national history. This created novel challenges to meeting in person in order to carry out our work. 

At the same time, there were circumstances which assisted us:

  • A national discussion on racism which was occurring after a series of horrific and highly profiled killings of Black Americans.
  • The experience of other cities and counties which made progress in this area that we could draw upon for our work.
  • The growth of national organizations which can act as resources for best practices.
  • Our city, county and community that were willing to embrace change.

As we began our work, other communities we interviewed uniformly told us two things: (1) Be patient and keep the faith. Organizing this work takes time, and there will be ups and downs as progress is made; and (2) Be data-driven. Anecdotal evidence is critical and helps drive plan development, but in the end, solid data is the best measure of success.

Steering Committee Members

updated November 17, 2023

  • Timothy Bertschy (Co-Chair)
  • Mary Peterson (Co-Chair)
  • Peter Avery
  • Angela Bolden
  • Mary Chapai
  • Robert Dunigan
  • Angela Green
  • Joshua Gunn
  • Julia Issa-Ghantous
  • Jim Johnson
  • Heather McMeekan
  • Chuck Mitchell
  • Mike Murphy
  • Rasheedah Na'Allah
  • Pam Orear
  • Tyrone (Anthony) Smith
  • Jonathan Wright
  • Angela Young
  • Ex-Officio members: Patrick Urich, Scott Sorrel
  • City Liason: Andre Allen
  • County Liason: Brandy Bryant

Work Plan and Next Steps

The Steering Committee of the Racial Justice and Equity Commission has established a four-step work plan:

Step One 
Create a baseline of racial disparity indicators in our community. Subcommittees were tasked with researching quantitative data demonstrating whether racial disparities exist within our community in the subject areas assigned to each subcommittee. This step has now been completed and is documented in the 2022 Annual Report of the Commission.  The results were only surprising in the magnitude of the racial disparities that were identified in the report.

Step Two
Develop strategic plans to address racial disparities.  Each subcommittee is presently tasked with developing strategic plans to address the racial disparities existing in the subject areas assigned to that subcommittee.  This work will also involve obtaining community input and investigating best practices of other communities involved in this work.  The deadline for completing this step is tentatively set for year-end 2023.  Development of additional or modified plans on an ongoing basis is likely with our experience.

Step Three
Implementation of strategic plans. This step involves the actualization of the strategic plans.  Assignment of responsibilities, use of evaluative metrics, and working with community allies will be part of this effort. This step will be completed post-2023.  

Step Four
Monitoring and modifying our work. Following up on implementation and performance metrics, updating our plans, continuing work with our community and allies, and evaluating the developing best practices in other communities make up this step.  

As with all plans, this plan is a work in progress and may be modified depending on our experiences.  Additionally, we do not anticipate that all subcommittees will work at the same speed or that they will always work independently of each other. 

Questions? Email the commission at

Charts with examples of racial disparities in Peoria County