Three years ago to the day that I lost my mom, the most devout Catholic I’ve ever known, I interviewed this week’s podcast guest, who just so happens to be the daughter of a nun. Life is full of surprises, but rarely any accidents.
Liz Dozier is the Founder & CEO of Chicago Beyond, an organization whose mission is to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to live a free and full life. Since its inception in 2016, Chicago Beyond has invested more than $40M in barriers to equity – from education, to youth safety, to health, wellness, and beyond.
Raised by her mother, a former nun, and a father who was incarcerated, Liz has long felt called to lead a life of service, to root for the underdog, to elevate those in need, and to shine a light into the darkness. Her career journey is a beautiful summation of all of these.
In 2009, Liz became the principal of Fenger High School, at the time known as one of the most violent and underperforming schools in the city of Chicago. Keenly aware of the correlation between these factors and the effects of traumatizing events outside of the classroom affecting these students, she quickly implemented many changes in the school that had dramatic and long-lasting positive effects on the school and its students’ lives.
Under Liz’s leadership, Fenger became the first Chicago school to institute CARE teams to surround youths in crisis, the entire staff became trained in de-escalation and trauma-responsive approaches, and the school implemented grief counseling and anger group therapy sessions.
The result? The school went from a 19% dropout rate to 2% and experienced double-digit increases in school attendance and graduation rate. Not only that, but Fenger became one of the district leaders in restorative justice, social-emotional learning, and academic interventions.
Liz is a beautiful example of how one person can make a massive difference in improving the lives of those around them. She inspires us to remember that we all have the power to stand up for individuals and communities who are marginalized, traumatized, struggling, and desperate for someone to shine a light into the darkness.
“I believe in people. Period. Full stop. I believe in the power of calling out inequities and calling in righteous and radical truth.” ~ Liz Dozier
Tune in and bear witness to the awe-inspiring radical truths that Liz shares with us on the Cracking Open Podcast today. I hope it inspires you to shine your own unique and special light out into the world.
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