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Partners In The News



Chicagoan Larry Brown is president of Ottawa Auto Spa Car Wash in Ottawa, IL, and the General Manager of 3A Automotive in Highland, IN.  He previously enjoyed an extensive
career as a new car dealer, starting in 1985, and has received numerous industry awards. Mr. Brown started at Ford Motor Company as a temporary employee in 1969 and rose through the ranks. He is the former president of Ottawa Ford-Lincoln Mercury and Kia of Ottawa; Landmark Ford of Niles, IL; and Star Toyota, Merrillville, IN.  Brown has served in leadership positions in multiple national automobile dealer associations and community organizations. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.



Chicago native Lolita Bonaparte is the owner and operator of Lolo's Gourmet Cookies, a gourmet bakery which specializes in CBD-infused edibles.  Inspired by personal injuries throughout her military career, Ms. Bonaparte explored cannabis edibles as an optional path for pain relief and anxiety.  This interest deepened when her mother was diagnosed with throat and lung cancer. Looking for a way to help alleviate her mother’s pain, Bonaparte created what is now her signature butter cookie - allowing her to give her mother a remedy she enjoyed. The cookies markedly improved her mother's mood and levels of discomfort and pain.  Lolo's Gourmet Cookies company was born from this compassionate care.

Ms. Bonaparte has perfected her craft and recipes over the last 10 years, bringing a consistent product, made from the finest natural ingredients, to market for those who want delicious alternatives to smoking and vaping.  She is the second minority and first woman in the cultivated cannabis industry in Illinois.  Her first store is located in Park Forest, Illinois.




A lifelong Chicagoan, Catherine Haskins is the co-owner/operator of Express Auto in Chicago's Washington Park neighborhood, and has 15 years of experience working for major life and health insurance companies.  Ms. Haskins keeps service at the heart of all she does. An active community organizer with a life mission of ensuring that her community receives the resources needed to thrive, Haskins founded The Underground, a nonprofit organization for disadvantaged youth in the Washington Park area, providing meals, grief counseling, clothes, and job readiness.  It is one of Haskins' many community initiatives. She’s served on numerous education councils and community boards.  A tireless leader, Ms. Haskins is also the Director of Special Events & Fundraising for TEACHING WHILE BLACK, a documentary which tells the stories of African American educators in the Chicago Public School system.



Chicagoan Frederick D. Spencer is a principal of Imagine Development Group, a minority-owned and certified boutique real estate development firm. Mr. Spencer brings over 20 years of real estate, entrepreneur, finance, and strategy experience to every business endeavor. As a real estate developer and investor, he has extensive commercial real estate experience with large retailers. Additionally, he spent the majority of his career in finance for companies such as Best Buy, Sleep Number, LaSalle Bank ABN Amro, and Ameriprise Financial.  A successful entrepreneur, Spencer has started, built, sold, and operated over 9 companies, including his current company, AYO Foods, which he co-founded with his wife, Perteet Spencer. 



Chico Tillmon is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs and a violence prevention expert who serves on the leadership team of the Peace Consortium, the collaborative that runs Fund Peace. The former Executive Director of the YMCA of Metro Chicago's Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) programs, he is a leading national consultant and training and technical assistance (TTA) provider on violence prevention, reentry, and non-profit organization. After serving 16 years in prison under mandatory minimums, Dr. Tillmon came home to positively impact his community. He was recognized for his work by President Biden in 2021. A military veteran, Dr. Tillmon holds a PhD in Criminology, Law and Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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