Wednesday, February 1, 2012

POWER PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Three Who's Changing the Game

There are so many wonderful and inspiring individuals in communities everywhere who continue to do great work in their preferred field, and if we just look long enough through the forest and negative chatter coming from our television sets, newspapers and radio stations, we'll find people who stand tall amongst the trees.

There are three, but of course are many, many more; but today we'll highlight three who has over the last week shown why they deserve to be saluted and profiled. Phyllis Lockett, Steve Bardo and Brandon Johnson, all are emerging leaders in their area or expertise changing their field of play.

Thousands of families filed into Soldier Field this past Saturday at an expo aimed at showcasing enrollment options of charter schools. More than 100 new and existing elementary and high schools, including charter schools, set up tables during the event, which was sponsored by the education advocacy group New Schools for Chicago. Phyllis Lockett, president and CEO for New Schools for Chicago, said parents understand they have a choice in where their kids attend school, particularly because of the recent surge of charter schools in the city. "This event serves as a resource for parents who want to make the best decision about their child's education," Phyllis said.

According to recent CPS data, there are 95 charter and contract schools serving more than 48,000 students. The Illinois State Board of Education reports that more than 19,000 students are on waiting lists for Chicago's charter schools.

Stephen Bardo has taken his role as color commentator for ESPN's college basketball schedule and his knowledge of college hoops very seriously. Bardo is a breath of fresh air delivering play by play on the ins and outs of the fundamentals of basketball.

During his standout career at the University of Illinois, 6'5" Bardo scored 909 points and compiled 495 assists. He was part of the Flyin' Illini team that qualified for the 1989 NCAA men's basketball tournament Final Four along with teammates Nick Anderson, Kendall Gill, Lowell Hamilton, Kenny Battle and Marcus Liberty.

Bardo was selected in the 1990 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks and played briefly with the San Antonio Spurs during the 1991–92 NBA season. He also appeared for the Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons. After retiring in 2000 - he played in France, Spain and Japan - Bardo later became a sports reporter for CBS 2 Chicago and color analyst for the Illini Sports Network. Additionally, he worked as a motivational speaker, and authored the book How To Make The League Without Picking Up The Rock.

Brandon Johnson has been supporting the community for years and over the last few years, he has performed as leader and executive director of Washington Park Consortium. Created in 2007, the Washington Park Consortium is a community corporation working to grow a better quality of life in the Washington Park neighborhood on the near south side of Chicago. The Consortium focuses on fresh opportunities to find ongoing solutions rooted in the community.

A vibrant neighborhood that shares its name with the beautiful public space to the east, Washington Park will offer cultural opportunities, housing for all income levels, and a safe environment. And Brandon is the leader at the forefront directing the goals of this powerful organization, which has enormous support from most of Chicago and the state's elected officials.

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