About the Opportunity

We are searching for a full-time Project Assistant to assist with the efficient day-to-day operation of the firm, manage the President’s calendar, and support the administrative needs of client-based projects. This position reports directly to the President, Project Director, and Project Manager.

Click here to view the full position description, essential qualifications, and application instructions.

How to Apply

To apply, please email a cover letter and resume to inquiry@mortengroup.com. No phone calls please. For best consideration, please submit application materials by Tuesday, October 20, 2020.

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Article written by NBC correspondent Derrick Clifton

The Trump administration announced two moves last week that target diversity training at federal agencies and public school lessons about American slavery. Experts in civil rights history and diversity consulting say the actions serve as an appeal to President Donald Trump’s base, while further stoking racial divisions that have been called into focus by recent protests.

The Office of Management and Budget issued a directive prohibiting departments from using federal funds to administer diversity training for executive branch staff that incorporates teachings about critical race theory and white privilege. Trump himself also threatened to cut off funding from schools that teach The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project, a Pulitzer Prize-winning effort released last year to coincide with the anniversary of slaves being brought to the Virginia colony 400 years ago.

In the executive memo issued by OMB, department director Russell Vought claimed that diversity trainings “run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our Nation has stood since its inception” and also “engender division and resentment within the Federal workforce.” He specifically cited elements of some training sessions that highlight how white people benefit from racism and may contribute to racial discrimination.

Mary Morten, president of the national consulting firm Morten Group, said federal agencies may become ineffective in serving the public without giving employees the benefit of training that incorporates lessons about diversity, inclusion and equity (or DEI).

“If government agencies are prohibited from doing DEI training, they’re missing an opportunity to build a unified workforce, to include groups of people who are underrepresented … and to bring these voices forward to effectuate real change.” said Morten, whose firm conducts training sessions with government offices, nonprofits and companies. “If people aren’t able to do it at the highest level of government, there will be a trickle-down effect. It means government policies from the federal level won’t be inclusive.”

Morten said her firm conducts a needs assessment before making recommendations on the types of sessions or training they offer to an organization. Then the organization drafts a long-term action plan based on its training to bolster inclusion.

“People realize this is an opportunity to make a difference,” Morten said, adding that the work of inclusion is an ongoing process. “Race is still the primary indicator of someone’s success in this country, and it’s important that we uplift race in our discussions of equity. Some organizations get concerned that centering race means we won’t include other areas of oppression. If we don’t address race, we won’t have equity in these other areas either. There’s no way around it.”

‘Divisive, un-American propaganda’

While diversity training is primarily informed by academic fields such as sociology, history and ethnic studies, the source material draws heavily from critical race theory, a legal framework that emerged from the work of scholars like Derrick Bell, who was the first tenured Black professor at Harvard Law School. Critical race theory posits that race is socially constructed, and that it is not exceptional but an ordinary and routine occurrence. It also examines how white supremacy and racial discrimination are written into and maintained by the law.

“Critical race theory is important because it’s in the family of critical thinking, which means you must look at something with an eye towards identifying flaws, truths and opening up different ways of thinking,” said Erika George, a professor of law at the University of Utah. George added that critical race theory may highlight ways in which laws and public policies may not explicitly name race as part of its language, but that the measures can still bear racial implications. “It’s about getting us to a place of understanding where we are by understanding where we’ve come from, and why it is that things are the way they are.”

In Vought’s executive memo, both the terms “diversity training” and “critical race theory” were offset in quotation marks in some instances, an apparent signifier that the teachings are considered inferior or illegitimate.

“The President has directed me to ensure that Federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions,” Vought wrote. He continued, “The divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the federal government.”

The phrasing Vought used echoes government actions from decades past that criminalized or scrutinized elements of academic study, political thought and activism purportedly carried out in the service of communism and treason. The scare tactic, otherwise known as McCarthyism after Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s notorious efforts, was used to target elements of the emerging civil rights movement and bears historical implications for present day, said Theodore Foster, an assistant professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who focuses on African-American history, civil rights memory and Black studies.

“If we think about what is being labeled propaganda, it’s a diversion. It’s a spectacle that’s familiar for this administration, but it’s also part of conservative rhetoric,” Foster said. “‘PC culture’ is a conservative phrase that’s become common in our political language [and] diminishes the demands of critical race theory and Black studies in their call for recognition of anti-Blackness in society.”

Through her work at an international human rights organization, George said governments that were headed toward authoritarian rule often openly harassed and policed academics.

“When ideas are under assault, that’s usually dangerous ground that you’re treading on,” George said, adding that she and her colleagues were concerned “with the academics because it was a free thinking space that needed protection for other groups to be protected.”

The 1619 Project in public schools

Trump’s skepticism about ideas and teachings on race extends to The 1619 Project, which has gained popularity among educators seeking to supplement their lessons about slavery with the project’s meditations on how the slave trade influenced American democracy and has continued to carry implications for the civil rights of Black people. The work recently came under fire from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

In an interview with The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Cotton discussed his proposed bill to block funding from public schools that teach The 1619 Project, and described slavery as a “necessary evil” upon which the union was built.

“The 1619 Project is left-wing propaganda. It’s revisionist history at its worst,” Cotton told The Democrat-Gazette. “Curriculum is a matter for local decisions and if local left-wing school boards want to fill their children’s heads with anti-American rot, that’s their regrettable choice. But they ought not to benefit from federal tax dollars to teach America’s children to hate America.”

Foster said that while there are valid debates about the presentation of The 1619 Project, teaching the Times’ work could benefit students who might otherwise receive watered-down lessons from textbooks about the trans-Atlantic slave trade or the Middle Passage.

“To call it un-American is to take conversations about power dynamics and relations off the table,” Foster said. “There’s a lot of criminalization of diversity going on here, [which] goes hand in hand with a criminalization of Black protest and the Black Lives Matter movement, which has demanded an ongoing recognition of anti-Blackness. In this moment, close to the election, it caters to an us-versus-them narrative that’s about the spectacle and not the substance.”

The apparent disconnect from Trump and his allies on diversity training and The 1619 Project may also signal an investment in maintaining any existing misinformation on the nature of race and racism. George noted that Derrick Bell’s approach to critical race theory suggested that there will be no progress unless there’s an “interest convergence” between white people in power and racially marginalized people.

“Critical race theory doesn’t even say that [white] people are inherently racist or evil. … It does say that people can be complicit in racist action,” George said. “I do think this is a play to the fear of displacement from what has been a relatively privileged perch in American society.”

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About Jane Addams Senior Caucus

Jane Addams Senior Caucus (JASC) is a multiracial, grassroots organization led by conscious seniors in the Chicago metropolitan area. It crosses neighborhood, racial, religious and socio-economic lines to find common ground upon which to act on its values. Through leadership development, organizing and popular education, JASC uses the power of its collective voice to work for economic, social, and racial justice for all seniors and our communities.

About Jane Addams Seniors in Action

Jane Addams Seniors in Action (JASIA) is incorporated in Illinois as a 501 (c)(4) nonprofit organization. Its mission is to unite the power of seniors and their allies in an active grassroots organization, which works to build racial, social, and economic justice. Its activities include community organizing, coalition building, issue campaigns, referenda efforts, educating voters, direct lobbying, and candidate electoral endorsements.

About the Opportunity

JASC and JASIA is seeking a highly-qualified, visionary candidate who can both lead and accompany the organization into its next phase. The Executive Director gives direction and leadership to fulfill the organization’s missions and provides guidance to staff. The ideal candidate is an exceptional listener, someone who will work in close collaboration with the staff, both Boards, and the organization’s members. JASC and JASIA are committed to social, racial, and economic justice and seek a director willing to join in building collective power for long-term structural change.

Click here to view the full position description, essential qualifications, and application instructions.

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Morten Group is pleased to present our first ever READI Symposium on November 10, 2020!

Registration for the READI Symposium is now open!

To register for the event, please visit bit.ly/MG_READI.

All ticket proceeds will go toward Affinity Community Services and IC Stars, two of Chicago’s most vital organizations.

You can find out more about our programming, guest speakers, and beneficiaries below – check back soon for more information!

For questions about accessibility or to request accommodations please contact Vince Pagán at vince@mortengroup.com or (407) 547-0802.


Session 1: Centering Diversity, Racial Equity, and Inclusion (DREI) at Your Organization: A Process Discussion to Get You READI

What does being READI mean? Defining ways to understand and expand access within DREI work is critical from a cultural, economic, physical, and technological lens (as well as others). DREI is not “achieved” at any given moment, but working to center it can make it the cultural mainstay for your organization. Where do you begin? What happens if you get stuck or hit a bump in the road?

In this session, we hear from several colleagues who will share how they are centering DREI in their organizations and discuss Morten Group’s customized process to center DREI and address your questions about building a culture of equity. Come prepared to share your thoughts as the definitions of true access continue to expand.


Session 2: Microaggressions: What Are They and What Can We Do About Them?

Microaggressions are subtle and often unconscious, unintentional manifestations of oppression expressed in comments and actions. Microaggressions harm the targets, the perpetrators, and relationships at work and home. In this READI session, we provide an opportunity for participants to build their skills at responding to microaggressions they experience in their lives, whether they are targets, witnesses, or responding to someone else’s experience after the fact.


Culminating Roundtable – READI, Set, Go: Turning Insight Into Action

Morten Group, LLC President Mary Morten will moderate this afternoon roundtable discussion that begins with remarks from Pamela Newkirk (author of Diversity, Inc.), and Sean Thomas-Breitfeld (co-Director of Building Movement Project, creators of the Race to Lead initiative). This conversation gives attendees a chance to hear from prominent visionary leaders about the challenges and rewards of READI-focused leadership.

Panelists will also respond to questions about the nuts and bolts of their experiences implementing READI at their respective organizations; the difficulties, surprises, and joys of transforming organizational cultures; and what ongoing access for all looks like in a post-COVID-19 world. Following the panel, participants will have the opportunity to ask their own questions as well.


Pamela Newkirk

Pamela Newkirk

Pamela Newkirk is an award-winning journalist and a professor of journalism at New York University who has written extensively about diversity in the news media and art world. She is the author of Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga, which won the NAACP Image Award, and Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media, which won the National Press Club Award for media criticism, as well as the editor of Letters from Black America. Her articles and reviews are regularly published in major media, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She lives in New York City.

In Diversity, Inc., Pamela shines a bright light on the diversity industry, asking the tough questions about what has been effective–and why progress has been so slow. She highlights the rare success stories, sharing valuable lessons about how other industries can match those gains. But as she argues, despite decades of handwringing, costly initiatives, and uncomfortable conversations, organizations have, apart from a few exceptions, fallen far short of their goals.


Sean Thomas-Breitfeld

Sean Thomas-Breitfeld is Co-Director of Building Movement Project, an organization whose mission is to develop research, tools, training materials and opportunities for partnership that bolster nonprofit organizations’ ability to support the voice and power of the people they serve.

Prior to joining the organization, Sean spent a decade working in various roles at the Center for Community Change, where he developed training programs for grassroots leaders, coordinated online and grassroots advocacy efforts, and lobbied on a range of issues, including immigration reform, transportation equity and anti-poverty programs.

Before joining the Center, Sean worked as a Policy Analyst at the National Council of La Raza, where he focused on employment and income security issues. Sean holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Multicultural Studies from St. Olaf College in Minnesota.


Michelle Morales

Michelle Morales is the President of the Woods Fund Chicago, the first foundation in the city that explicitly committed itself to centering racial equity in its work and grantmaking.  Prior to Woods Fund, she led the Chicago chapter of the Mikva Challenge, an organization that leads the civic field in training teachers and developing youth councils for civic institutions. Michelle’s background has been in the field of alternative education & positive youth development, as a teacher at an alternative high school in Chicago’s Humboldt Park community, and then as Associate Director at the Alternative Schools Network. From 1997-2012, Michelle participated in intensive community organizing in the Humboldt Park area.  Michelle is a fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and participated in the inaugural cohort of Cultivate.


Rahnee Patrick

Rahnee Patrick is Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Services at the Illinois Department of Human Services. Born in South Bend, Indiana and raised in the nearby town of North Liberty (population 800), her father is an Air Force veteran who met her mother, a native of Thailand, during the Viet Nam Conflict. She graduated in 1996 from Indiana University at South Bend, where she co-founded Students Together Active and Respected (STAAR), a group of students with disabilities. Shortly after graduating, she became involved in the independent living and disability rights movements, primarily through the direct action group ADAPT. In 2007, the Governor appointed her to the Illinois State Advisory Council on the Education of Children with Disabilities and later served as the Chair of the Illinois Statewide Rehabilitation Council, another gubernatorial appointment. She is also an award-winning writer. In 2008, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) awarded Rahnee the Paul Hearne Award, as an emerging national leader. Subsequently, she served for two years on AAPD’s board of directors.


Audra Wilson

Audra Wilson has been a champion for racial and economic justice for more than 20 years as a public interest lawyer and teacher, policy shaper, community mobilizer, and experienced executive manager who was recently appointed as Shiver Center on Poverty Law’s CEO. Throughout her career, Audra has focused on the voices and experiences of communities of color and communities most impacted by injustice. Audra began her legal career as a Welfare Advocacy Staff Attorney with the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, where she focused on welfare reform implementation and food security issues in Illinois. She was then tapped by then-state-Senator Barack Obama to serve as the Deputy Press and Policy Director on his U.S. Senate campaign and went on to serve as Director of Diversity Education and Outreach and Adjunct Professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and Deputy staff for US Congresswoman Robin Kelly.

Audra served as Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Illinois, and in October 2019 was appointed as Chair of Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues before joining Shriver Center on Poverty Law as their new CEO this past May.


ACS 25th Logo

Affinity Community Services

Affinity is a social justice organization that works with and on behalf of black LGBT communities, queer youth, and allies to identify emergent needs, create safe spaces, develop leaders, and bridge communities through collective analysis and action for social justice, freedom, and human rights. Affinity envisions a society where being your authentic self is not a liability and differences are fully embraced.

Affinity’s work centers on health and wellness, civic engagement, immigrant rights, and leadership development. Because their work has always been intersectional, building bridges across communities is a key component of everything they do.

Find out more about Affinity and the celebration of their 25th anniversary at www.affinity95.org.


i.c.stars works to activate a technology community of change agents to power social and economic freedom.

Building on their experiences in education and workforce development, the founders of i.c.stars developed a technology-based curriculum that combined project-based training with a broader perspective on community impact and “bigger than you” sense of accountability.

Since 1999, i.c.stars has been identifying, training, and jump-starting technology careers for low-income young adults who, although lacking access to education and employment, demonstrate extraordinary potential for success in the business world and for impact in their communities.

i.c. stars believes that when young adults focus their talent on both technology services and community impact, their success in both increases significantly.

Find out more about i.c.stars at www.icstars.org.

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Are you a new Executive Director or Chief Executive Officer?

Do you need to gain a firm foundation in managing a nonprofit?

Do you need to center equity and not include it as an afterthought?

This two-day session might be exactly what you’re looking for!


Join nonprofit experts Mary F. Morten and Laura McAlpine in a jam-packed interactive series of virtual sessions to leverage your skills and experience in your new role.


Session Dates
August 6-7, 2020
9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

$675 per participant




Payment is due via Zelle, check, or ACH payment to Morten Group, LLC no later than Friday, July 31, 2020.

Your spot at the Intensive will not be reserved until payment is received. For more information on payment logistics, please contact admin@mortengroup.com.

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Are you a new Executive Director or Chief Executive Officer?

Do you need to gain a firm foundation in managing a nonprofit?

Do you need to center equity in your organization and not include it as an afterthought?

This two-day session might be exactly what you’re looking for!


Join nonprofit experts Mary F. Morten and Laura McAlpine in a jam-packed interactive series of virtual sessions to leverage your skills and experience in your new role.


Thursday, August 6th, 2020

Session I: Governance
Session II: Board Development
Session III: Staff Supervision


Friday, August 7th, 2020

Session IV: Resource Development
Session V: Financial Management
Session VI: Self-care


Cost: $675.00

Payment accepted via ACH payment or by a check made out to:

Morten Group, LLC
5842 N. Washtenaw Ave.
Chicago, IL 60659


Registration deadline is July 22, so reserve your spot today!


Payment is due via check or ACH payment to Morten Group, LLC no later than Friday, July 31, 2020. Your spot at Bootcamp will not be reserved until the full $675.00 payment has been received. For more information on payment logistics, please contact admin@mortengroup.com.

If you have any questions about the sessions or content, please contact marym@mortengroup.com or laura@lmcalpine.com.

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June 1, 2020

Today, Morten Group denounces the sustained racist and state-sanctioned violence that has, in recent weeks, taken the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and, no doubt, many others whose names we do not know. Our hearts are with their families and communities at this time and we reaffirm our most stringent efforts toward exposing and ending the systems that continue to oppress and exert violence upon Black and brown people. The fact that these acts continue to occur amidst a global pandemic in which Black and brown people are being disproportionately impacted only adds to our collective heart-ache.

Today also marks the start of international celebrations of LGBTQ+ pride. We recognize that all oppressions are inextricably linked and we assert that the same systems that oppress Black and brown folks also sustain the inequities experienced by LGBTQ+ people. We know that, in particular, Black transgender women are at disproportionate risk of violence and we also mourn the recent murder of Nina Pop.

We know that these are not isolated incidents. Black and brown people continue to experience a grievous lack of safety, opportunity, and investment in this country. We know that these deaths, and the miscarriages of justice that seek to displace blame and fail to hold accountable those individuals and systems who are most responsible, are rooted in long histories of colonialism, capitalism, slavery, and sustained structural oppression.

We also know that people of good conscience are weary, are fearful, and are full of righteous anger, as well as a profoundly deep and abiding love for Black and brown lives. We support the need and right to protest. We denounce the racist narratives that seek to shift focus away from the root causes of this civil unrest. We condemn any prioritization of property over human life. We continue our resolve to be part of the many individuals and institutions working hard to end racism and all forms of oppression.

We know that there are many paths to liberation and we call upon you to look into your heart today and ask yourself what role you can play in undoing the internalized and institutionalized legacies of white supremacy, and in creating a world of racial justice and equity. Morten Group remains as committed as ever to partnering with organizations willing to do this necessary and life-saving work.

Please stay safe, stay vigilant, and take care of one another.

In solidarity,
Morten Group

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Conversations With… is a speaker series hosted by Chicago Community Trust President and CEO Helene Gayle that explores high-profile topics with some of today’s most strategic thinkers in the philanthropic, civic, business and policy sectors. From charitable giving trends to growing wealth disparities, these conversations provide a deeper understanding of the issues presented.

The Trust is pleased to host Evette Cardona, Mary Morten and Tracy Baim as part of their Conversations With… speaker series.

Other panelists include:

Evette Cardona, Vice President of Programs, Polk Bros. Foundation

Tracy Baim – Publisher, Chicago Reader

Event Details

Monday, June 22, 2020
10:00-11:00 a.m.

Zoom Meeting Details:

Join by Video Conference https://chicagocommunitytrust.zoom.us/j/8037776153

Join by Phone +13126266799,,8037776153#

To attend, please RSVP to ahernandez@cct.org by Friday, June 19.


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About the Organization

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago mobilizes communities to create equity and justice for people living with and vulnerable to HIV or chronic conditions. Our work is guided by the vision that people living with HIV or chronic conditions will thrive, and there will be no new HIV cases.

For over 33 years, AIDS Foundation of Chicago has brought together service providers and funders to develop systems that meet the needs of those living with HIV/AIDS and to maximize the use of scarce resources. AFC manages more than $17 million in local, state, and federal funds for an array of HIV-related services, provides expertise and leads high-quality delivery across the region, as well as housing and other services for people who are formerly homeless and living with chronic conditions.

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago is committed to diversity and ensuring an appropriate balance of skills and experience on our Board and committees. Our Board is comprised of people of different experiences, backgrounds, and opinions. We believe creating an inclusive and diverse culture improves the effectiveness of our Board and better reflects the diverse populations that we serve. We especially encourage people of color (i.e. Black, Latinx, Native American), those who identify as LGBTQ+, and individuals living with HIV to apply for a position on the Board.

About the Position

AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) is looking for individuals who can help them achieve their goals of equity and justice by serving on the Board of Directors.

AFC is particularly seeking board members with expertise in fundraising, strategic planning, social marketing and communications, finance and investments, human resources, and experience in the corporate sector. Previous board experience is helpful, but not necessary.

Click here to view the full description and application instructions.

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Mentioned on Gathering Ground LIVE
(click here to listen!)


Arts for Illinois

Arts Work Fund

Americans for the Arts

Chicago Artists Relief Fund

DCASE Funding Resource Listing 

Forefront Resource Listing

National Artist Relief Fund

Financial Assistance-specific

Arts Alliance Illinois – FAQ for Small Business Loan Programs

Arts for Illinois Relief Fund

Chicago Artists Relief Fund

Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative – State-by-state COVID-19 Support Efforts

Grantspace – Financial Resources to Help with COVID-19 Hardships

Illinois Humanities – COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants

National Council of Nonprofits – Loans Available for Nonprofits in the CARES Act

Other Resources

Bloomerang – COVID-19 Resources

The Bridgespan Group – COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits and Funders

The Bridgespan Group – Eight Steps for Managing Through Tough Times

Council on Foundations – COVID-19 Resource Hub

Department of Labor – COVID-19 and the American Workplace

National Council of Nonprofits – Self-insured Nonprofits and Unemployment Insurance

National Council of Nonprofits – Nonprofits and Coronavirus, COVID-19

Network for Good – COVID-19 Resources

Nonprofit Finance Fund – COVID-19: What Nonprofits Should Do Right Now

Nonprofit Quarterly – How Nonprofits Can Utilize the New Federal Laws Dealing with COVID-19

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