Past Event

Our Community – how it’s changed, how it’s changing

How do public schools change alongside the neighborhoods they serve?

In this free interactive program, we’ll talk about how demographic shifts impact both the content and quality of public education – asking if all students in schools with diverse student bodies are receiving the same quality of education.

Join Alejandro Portes (Princeton University), Karla Jimenez (Parent Leadership Institute; U-46) and Corey Dixon (Illinois Department of Human Services), Yvonne Mundorf, and Karen Merchant for a conversation on the impact of demographic change on U-46.

After a short talk from Dr. Portes, participants will break out into small groups to get a chance to talk about how their experiences in Elgin resonate with others’ across the state and country. Then we’ll end the evening by coming back together for a closing assembly – moderated by Kerry Lester of the Daily Herald – and a performance by a Barlett High School student group.

About the Participants

Alejandro Portes is a premier sociologist who has shaped the study of immigration and urbanization for 30 years. He is former chair of the department of sociology at Princeton University as well as founder of Princeton’s Center for Migration and Development. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and in 1999 served as President of the American Sociological Association. A Cuban exile himself, Portes has spent his career tracking the lives of different immigrant nationalities in the United States. He has authored and edited thirty-five books and 250 articles on a range of policy issues, including immigrant assimilation, Latin American politics, and United States/Cuba relations. His current research asks how the children adapt to the U.S. and what ties they maintain with their homelands.

Karla Jimenez is the Coordinator of Family and Community Engagement for school district U-46, a position she has held since 2004. Among other responsibilities, she coordinates the African-American and Hispanic Parent Leadership Institutes for the school district. Karla earned a master of public administration from DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management and serves as a board member for the United Way of Elgin as well as EHN, the Elgin Hispanic Network.

Corey Dixon is a human services caseworker for the Illinois Department of Human Services, a position he has held since 2014. He is a graduate of Grambling State University and has served as a planning and zoning commissioner for the City of Elgin. A graduate of the Chamber’s Elgin Area Leadership Academy and U-46’s Parent Leadership Institute, Corey is currently a candidate for the Elgin City Council.

Yvonne Mundorf is a Bartlett parent and the president of the Bartlett High School Parent Organization. She is also treasurer of the school’s Fine Arts Booster Club, working to support and promote fine-arts programs in the school.

Karen Merchant is the vice president of the Bartlett High School Parent Organization. Karen does global programming and Sr. project management for Anthem, Inc. She has been a member of the U-46 Citizen’s Advisory Council since 2008 and Asian Council Advisory member for IL Secretary of State. She also serves on the charity committee for Aga Khan Foundation USA.

More about Continuing Ed.

Continuing Ed. is a yearlong, statewide series working with parents, schools, and communities across the state – in Chicago, Decatur, Elgin, and Jackson County to move the conversation about public education back to parents. All Elgin events will be moderated by Kerry Lester of the Daily Herald. For the complete schedule and more information, see

If you require a sign interpreter or any other arrangements to fully participate in this program, please contact at least 72 hours in advance of the event. For more information, please call (312) 422-5580.