The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

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Village of Oak Park to Host Women in Leadership Symposium

March 12, 2024In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Village of Oak Park and its Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will host its first-ever Oak Park Women in Leadership Symposium on Saturday, March 23 from 10 a.m. until noon at the Park District of Oak Park Community Recreation Center (229 Madison St.).

The event brings together a distinguished panel of community leaders to celebrate diverse voices and provide inspiring insights to attendees and one another. Speakers for the event include Dr. Susan Buchanan, representing women in healthcare; Cheryl Potts, representing women in community mental health; Lucia Robinson, representing women in law; Village President Vicki Scaman, representing women in government; and Dr. Ushma Shah, representing women in education. The discussion will be moderated by local organizer Sydney Jackson. Biographies for each panelist can be found below in alphabetical order.

Admission to the symposium is free, however space is limited. Interested attendees are kindly asked to click here or register at Doors open for the event at the CRC at 9:30 a.m. with the program slated to begin at 10 a.m.

For more information about the Oak Park Women in Leadership Symposium, please call 708.358.5787 or e-mail

Dr. Susan Buchanan

Susan Buchanan, M.D., M.P.H, was elected to the Village Board in April 2019 and re-elected in April 2023. Prior to her election, she served as a volunteer on the Village of Oak Park Board of Health. A medical doctor whose career began in family practice, she later became interested in public policy and pivoted to preventive medicine and public health. Susan has spent the last 15 years helping vulnerable workers by improving health and safety on the job, and has become an expert on the health effects of environmental pollutants. Board certified in both family and preventive medicine, she has directed the University of Illinois Chicago’s residency training program in occupational and environmental medicine.  Currently, she is an attending physician and clinical associate professor of occupational and environmental health sciences with UIC’s Health and Hospital System and School of Public Health. She also is the director of the Great Lakes Center for Children’s Environmental Health and a recent past member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee.

Cheryl Potts

Cheryl Potts was appointed the new Executive Director of the Community Mental Health Board of Oak Park Township (CMHB). A long-time resident of Oak Park, Cheryl brings a wealth of experience to her new position. Prior to joining CMHB, she worked at The Kennedy Forum Illinois, advocating for mental health and substance use disorder care accessibility and discrimination elimination. With over 20 years of experience in human services, Cheryl's career began in HIV care and housing for vulnerable populations. She has dedicated herself professionally and personally to championing the rights of individuals with substance use disorders, mental health conditions, homelessness, and HIV/AIDS. Cheryl holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from DePaul University and a Masters of Business Administration from North Park University. Her expertise and dedication ensure that Oak Park residents struggling with mental illness, substance abuse, or developmental disabilities receive the support and care they deserve.

Lucia Robinson

Lucia Robinson was elected Village Trustee in April 2021. A long-time Oak Park resident, Lucia attended Ascension Elementary School and Oak Park and River Forest High School. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and earned a law degree from DePaul University College of Law. While a law student, she served under-privileged communities through the DePaul Legal Clinic and the Women’s Clemency Project. As an attorney, she continues her commitment to marginalized individuals through volunteer work at her church and offering legal advice on a pro-bono basis. Lucia is an attorney with more than 20 years’ experience in the financial industry, with focus on government regulation and creating and implementing ethics and compliance protocols. Since moving with her family to northeast Oak Park in 2007, she has served as a Hatch Elementary School parent volunteer and supported OPRF High School art initiatives, including the Spoken Word Poetry program.

Vicki Scaman

Vicki Scaman was elected Village President in April 2021 after serving as the elected Village Clerk for four years. Prior to running for office in her community, she held a position with the Oak Park Township facilitating a grant through the Illinois Department of Human Services for positive youth development, served as Chair of the Liquor Control Review Board, and co-chair of the Law Review Committee for the Village of Oak Park.  As Village President, Vicki excels at building cross-community and intergovernmental partnerships to secure resources and advance Oak Park’s racial and environmentally just goals for a more affordable, equitable and sustainable future.  Vicki is a founding Mayor and member of the executive leadership team for Cross Community Climate Collaborative (C4).

Dr. Ushma Shah

Dr. Ushma Shah has served as the superintendent of Oak Park Elementary School District 97 since July 2022. With more than three decades of experience in public education, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Oak Park community, as well as a strong commitment to racial justice, equity, leadership development and academic achievement. Prior to joining District 97, Dr. Shah held cabinet-level positions in the state’s two largest school systems, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and School District U-46 in Elgin. She began her career as a teacher in CPS and went on to serve as a principal, principal supervisor, independent consultant, adjunct professor, and curriculum designer. Dr. Shah holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and educational studies from Knox College, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Illinois in Chicago, and a doctorate degree from Harvard University's Urban Superintendents Program. Born in India, Ushma’s family immigrated to the Austin community in Chicago in the 1970s. While Illinois has been her primary home, she has also lived in San Francisco, Cambridge, Tokyo, and—most recently—in Oak Park with her partner of 30-plus years. Ushma also has two adult children who positively challenge her thinking and actions as a leader. 

Sydney Jackson, moderator
Sydney Jackson is a local organizer from Oak Park. After studying Anthropology, Comparative Race, and Ethnic Studies, they began working at several nonprofits in the Greater West Side, including Race Conscious Dialogues, Kinfolk CoLab & Kuumba Lynx. Sydney is invested in civic engagement, climate change advocacy and antiracism work as important forms of community engagement. 

About Oak Park
The Village of Oak Park, located just nine miles west of downtown Chicago, offers a distinctive urban/suburban lifestyle in a thriving, multi-cultural community. Well-known for progressive values, tree-lined streets and bustling business districts, Oak Park serves as an ideal place to live, work and play. As a longstanding community of choice, the Village benefits from convenient access to local and regional transit, high-quality public schools, and arts and cultural attractions, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio and his acclaimed Unity Temple, which was recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.