Jean Cleland Receives Unsung Heroine Award
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Special to suffredin.org
Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and Cook County Commission on Women's Issues member Trina Janes announced that Wilmette resident Jean R. Cleland received the 2005 Unsung Heroine Award from the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues.
Cleland, representing Cook County's 13th District, was honored along with sixteen other women - one from each of the 17 county districts - during Women's History Month at a March 29 breakfast at the Chicago Cultural Center. Merri Dee of WGN-TV was emcee of the event.
Unsung Heroine honorees were selected based on their contributions to their communities, families and professional endeavors that are vital, but seldom recognized. They are drawn from the community they serve.
Jean Cleland has been championing issues of affordable housing and social justice since the 1950's. In 1965, she founded the North Shore Summer Project that picketed real estate offices that discriminated against customers based on race, religion or ethnic background. She was responsible for bringing Martin Luther King to the Village Green in Wilmette that summer to deliver a speech on anti-discrimination issues to an audience of over 10,000.
In 1972, Cleland became a founding board member of the Interfaith Housing Council of the Northern Suburbs. She continued her involvement with that organization until her recent retirement from the board. She also served as chair of the Wilmette Housing Commission and, in that capacity, led the Wilmette community in overcoming opposition to the creation of three low-income senior buildings. She recently was a founder and active member of Mixed Use for Mallinckrodt, an ad hoc citizen's group formed to ensure affordable housing would be created.
"For nearly five decades, our community has benefited from the tireless work of Jean Cleland. She is an indefatigable advocate for affordable housing and social justice," commented Commissioner Suffredin. "Jean is a true heroine and we are better off because of her dedication."
Commissioner Larry Suffredin represents the 13th County Board District, which includes areas of Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Kenilworth, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northbrook, Skokie, Wilmette, Winnetka and Chicago's 49th and 50th Wards.