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National Thought Leader Forum
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2018 National Thought Leader 



Founder of the Common Ground Foundation

 Read Common's bio here  


2018 National Thought Leader Forum Sponsor:


2018 National Thought Leader Forum Host: 






Music legend Quincy Jones has called Common, Chicago United’s 2018 National Thought Leader in Inclusion, “a 360-degree human being.” He has indeed proven himself to be many-layered and complex.


From his beginnings as Lonnie Rashid Lynn in Chicago’s Calumet Heights neighborhood, to his emergence as an entertainment industry powerhouse, he has lent his talents to projects that address the issues of race, economics, and social injustice head on.


His storytelling and social consciousness have done much to elevate hip-hop from a subculture to a leading force of popular culture, breaking down color, social and cultural walls, influencing what we watch and listen to, what we wear, how we look, and how we communicate.


He has become a voice for the people of Chicago and in urban communities throughout our country where violence and lack of opportunity remain critical challenges.


His art lends humanity to those often marginalized by society, and his message brings a unifying sense of hope, pride and purpose for us all.


Gloria Castillo



President and CEO

Chicago United

2018 National Thought Leader Forum, May 1, 2018 








Each year, Chicago United selects a National Thought Leader in Inclusion; an individual who has become a unique voice for diversity, equity and inclusion in Chicago or nationally. Past transformative speakers have included Vernā Myers, Dr. Scott Page, Frans Johansson, Dr. Mahzarin Banaji, Dr. Martin N. Davidson and Dr. Derald Sue.


In 2018, Chicago United welcomed a new National Thought Leader; Oscar, Grammy and Emmy-winning artist Common. The event was sponsored by PwC and hosted by Mesirow Financial.  

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