Monique Parsons, D202 board incumbent, talks equity and school safety


Seeger Gray/Daily Senior Staffer

Monique Parsons. Parsons is running for reelection to the Evanston Township High School District 202 Board of Education.

Mika Ellison, Assistant Audio Editor

For Monique Parsons, running for reelection to the Evanston Township High School District 202 Board of Education continues a lifelong mission. 

“It’s a natural part of who I am, who I’ve been in my adult life,” Parsons said. “I don’t just do this because I like being on a board or going on a campaign. It’s because I believe, truly, in leading our future.”

Parsons has been on the school board since 2015 and is running on a platform that prioritizes equity and the social and emotional well-being of ETHS students. 

Parsons, the current president and CEO of the McGaw YMCA and the parent of a former ETHS student, has been attending board meetings since before she was a member herself. 

In the past, she worked as club director of the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago as well as center director of the Ford Motor Company Family Service and Learning Center. 

She is planning several initiatives for her potential reelection, such as improving special education programs for students with disabilities and recruiting and retaining a diverse staff. 

“We have a very challenging community because we are diverse and deeply segregated,” Parsons said. “Because of that, I think it is important that there are voices at the table that represent the community.” 

One of her goals as a board member is to ensure the board listens to LGBTQ+ students’ input, she said.

SESP Prof. Nichole Pinkard (SESP Ph.D. ’98) works with the current D202 board as a part of the Northwestern-Evanston Education Research Alliance, which brings together both school districts in Evanston with University staff. 

“(Parsons) actually really listens, takes in what people are saying and speaks when she feels that her voice and what she has to say is different from what’s out there,” Pinkard, who volunteers on Parsons’ campaign, said. 

Parsons identified school safety as one of the challenges the district is facing right now. In the past year, ETHS has faced numerous incidents related to shooting threats and guns in the building.

She said her time working at the Minnesota Department of Corrections helped shape how she approaches safety. 

“I believe that if you are serving on behalf of students, you need to be concerned about them in their totality,” Parsons said. “You should know what’s happening in the communities that they live in because they bring that stress, they bring that burden with them when they come into the building.”

Jesse Chatz, director of communications for the Skokie-Morton Grove School District 69, has known Parsons for almost a decade. He described her as a “mentor and a guiding light.” 

Chatz, who is also a volunteer for Parsons’ campaign, described Parsons as truly connected to and passionate about the Evanston community. He said he has been inspired by the effort she puts into connecting with community members at events. 

“Talk to her because I promise you, she’ll be able to change your mind,” Chatz said. “Because at one point, she has been advocating for your child.”

Parsons also said she makes sure to reply to anyone who reaches out, even if it’s just to connect them with someone who might know more. 

Among her many roles, Parsons said she considers herself a convener, relationship builder and navigator. She said her mission as a Board of Education member comes back to students.

“I’m committed to doing the right thing for them,” Parsons said. “It’s about leading for the future.” 

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Twitter: @MikaEllison23