The 8th Day Center for Justice held its annual Revel in the Revolution event this past weekend. This year’s theme, “give light and people will find the way,” came from civil rights activist Ella Baker.
The keynote speaker was Reverend Doctor Otis Moss III, the current Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ. He is also an accomplished author, speaker and activist. His speech for the event was truly enlightening and motivating. He told stories of those who came before us that helped pave the way for us, such as Vernon Johns and Martin Luther King, Jr. “There’s always somebody making a track to the river’s edge. We didn’t show up brand new like nobody’s ever done justice work before.” Among the other themes in his words, he said ministry needs to be about prophets and not profits. His powerful witness and engaging voice led to a standing ovation.
During this annual event, 8th Day Center for Justice also honors worthy recipients with the Mary Elsbernd, OSF Award. The award recognizes those who embody passion for inclusive love and justice, build relationships of nonviolence and cooperation, and use imagination to create new ways to bring systemic change.
This year The People’s Law Office (PLO) was the recipient of the 5th Annual Mary Elsbernd, OSF Award. The PLO has been fighting for civil rights for over 40 years, representing groups like the Black panthers, political prisoners, LGBTQ activists, members of the Palestinian community and many more. Most recently, the PLO won a Reparations Ordinance in Chicago for victims of police torture. The PLO also brought the audience to its feet, applauding the great work it does.
One of the coordinators for the event, Scott Donovan, is an IPS alumnus. He received his MA in Social Justice and Community Development (SJCD) in 2013. Originally from New Jersey, he decided to stay in Chicago after graduation since he was able to find work that aligned with his knowledge, interests and passions. “It felt like a natural extension of my career arc, both professionally and personally to stay here,” said Scott.
Scott began his role as the Development Coordinator for 8th Day this past January. He leads fundraising, grant writing and resource initiatives at the center.
“I had known about 8th day since Chris Eagan (another IPS alumnus) did his Magis internship program at 8th day… Then when I saw they had posted the development position, I thought that those specific skills were something I wanted to develop within myself, so I went for it and here I am.”
It seems that Scott has found a job that is never boring and allows him fulfill his passions and career goals.
“Each day is very different,” noted Scott. “I like the consensus model we operate on. Structurally we are a flat model, so we have no hierarchy, no supervisor or boss. We make decisions as a group which affords each of us a lot of independence and flexibility to pursue our passions and interests and see how those specific interests can support the center.”
The skills he learned at IPS have helped him succeed in his career by building a strong foundation to build upon.
“There were a few classes that I took at IPS that certainly guided me towards this specific development position. I took fundraising and grant writing, which I very much enjoyed and learned a lot there. The classes and professors that stood out most to me were the ones that got us on the street level,” Scott added. “[They] took the theory or the literature that we were reading and demonstrated to us those ideas in the real world.”
Scott went on to mention community organizing and development classes and former IPS professor Susan Rans “who was very instrumental in bringing forth the true mission of SJCD to [him], and from there [he] was able to find like values between 8th day and the values [students] learned at IPS.”
Looking back on his time at IPS, Scott recalls attending a research conference in San Diego where he and his classmates presented their research project that they had been working on all semester long.
“That was an incredible experience and a great opportunity to travel there,” commented Scott. “When I think of studying at IPS, I think of the times when I got out of the classroom and was able to visit different community centers and meet different folks out in the neighborhoods.”
Scott emphasized that he appreciated and took advantage of any and all opportunities to leave the classroom and learn from the city itself.
Scott definitely uses the various skills he learned at IPS at his new job, especially grant writing, but he also learned something else that is quite valuable:
“I think the overall mindset of open-mindedness, patience and trying to connect with another person as deeply as possible and glean from them what their true desires are for themselves, for their neighborhood, for their country… I try to keep that with me each day, both professionally and personally.”
Scott concluded with giving some advice for current and future IPS students:
“Just apply yourself. Make the most of your time there. Make the most of your colleagues and classmates,” said Scott. “Another high point of my time was being able to meet my classmates and hearing about the work they’re doing and be able to connect to that work through them. So I would say for folks at IPS now, just to call upon your classmates.”
From everyone at IPS, thank you 8th Day for all the work you do for social justice!