Blake Wood
Publish Date

The University of Illinois Springfield and the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation (ILBCF) Speaker Series will discuss “Tackling Criminal Justice Reform and Police Accountability” during a Zoom virtual event from 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 26.

The second session in the speaker series will focus on Pillar I of the Caucus’s policy pillars, which is criminal justice reform and violence and police accountability (101st General Assembly HB 3653). Co-chairs and champions of this pillar, Sen. Elgie Sims (D-Chicago); Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) and Rep. Justin Slaughter (D-Chicago) will be part of a fireside chat on the topic moderated by Tiffany Hightower, executive director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation. The lawmakers will discuss the legislative intent and desired outcomes of Pillar I, along with the political landscape and ongoing policy implementation focus.

Prior to the fireside chat, two esteemed speakers will provide historical background and an overview of the topic. Those panelists include Keyria Rodgers, director of Criminal Justice Program at Millikin University (who is also earning her doctorate in public administration at UIS), and Thomas Trice, associate professor of business in the School of Business and Technology at William Woods University. The panelists will discuss tangible examples based on their real world experiences.

The event will end with a roundtable discussion featuring Rodgers; Mitchell Davis III, chief of the Hazel Crest Police Department; Lauren Kaeseberg, legal director at the Illinois Innocence Project; and Chris Bitner, assistant professor in the School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration at Western Illinois University. The discussion will be moderated by Todd Belcore, co-founder and executive director of Social Change. The panelists will then take questions from the audience.

The goal of this series is to educate the citizens of Illinois on critical societal issues resulting from social determinant factors impacting historically marginalized populations. 

Registration for the Zoom webinar is required. Register at to receive the Zoom link.

The first-of-its-kind speaker series embodies principles of equity, diversity and inclusion and promotes social change with a concentration on the reform pillars of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.

For more information, contact Blake Wood, UIS assistant director of public relations, at 217-206-8404 or

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