Lake County@Work

Lake County@Work (2022-2023)

Lake County@Work was a year-exploration of labor and work within Lake County, Illinois through the lens of the humanities. Through a series of creative projects, we examined how “work” within our region is evolving and shifting, with the goal of creating a vision for what the future of work could be or should be. Projects focused on storytelling in order to highlight the diverse voices in our community and provide a platform for those who have been historically under- or unrepresented.

Find video and images from our 2023 panel and showcase events below.

Panel Discussion, Video Screening & Pop-Up
Art Display
Friday, April 28, 6 p.m.

How does our work shape how we see ourselves and the world? What is the role of the humanities in the workforce and how can we support, sustain, and strengthen a creative workforce? What should the future of work look like?

The Lake County@Work panel discussion featured local professionals engaged in labor policy, small business, and/or the arts. Panelists explored the connection between work and our identities and discussed ways that we can, as a society, create an inclusive, equitable work environment that supports both laborers and the local economy.

Meet the Panelists

Adam Carson is a social entrepreneur (a person who establishes an enterprise to solve social problems or affect social change) who transitioned out of the public health, healthcare, and community development finance space to focus on tangible solutions that communities can launch to address inequity. His first venture on this journey was to co-found Drip & Culture Co., a coffee shop in Waukegan, in January 2021. Its slogan reads: "Socially minded coffee with the vibes to match." The goal of Drip & Culture is to create a space to build community, sell high-quality coffee, and promote social and civic engagement in and around Waukegan. 

Nydia Gonzalez-Carson is a self-taught, multidisciplinary, freelance artist whose current artistic focus is ceramics and illustration and design. Her work is influenced by her life as a Mexican-American mother and wife, and daughter of entrepreneurial immigrants. Though Nydia is a licensed speech-language pathologist, she has spent much of her life as a second-generation grocer in the community that watched her grow. Currently she manages Supermercado Gonzalez in Waukegan with her husband, while curating the boutique and programming for Gathr Creative Studio. She is interested in finding ways to give back to her community through art, workshops, and thoughtful partnerships. She is the co-founder of Drip & Culture Co., located inside the grocery store.

Jennifer Harris is an accomplished business executive, entrepreneur, and nonprofit leader who has led a versatile career in talent acquisition, workforce development, strategy, and business development across various startups and global corporate environments. She is the founder and President of CR Search Inc, an Executive Search firm based in Gurnee, IL. Jennifer is a passionate advocate of the public workforce system and is the current Chair of the Board for the National Association of Workforce Boards and past Chair and current member of the Lake County Workforce Development Board.  Other nonprofit leadership roles include past Chairwoman of the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center Board of Directors and current Advisory Board Member for Northside Community Bank. 

Sasha Ongtengco is a project lead for the Illinois Creative Workforce Activation (ICWA) program through Arts Alliance Illinois, which was conceived to expand the employment opportunities and career paths open to the state’s creative workers while also addressing needs in key growth industries in Illinois. Sasha also serves as a workforce systems consultant, where she contributes to social enterprise, employer practice change initiatives and systems-level alignment and equity efforts in the Chicagoland workforce development system aimed at building and improving communities. She is the vice chair of the board of directors of Northwest Side Housing Center and on the board of directors of Project Lia, a social enterprise working to address the many socioeconomic barriers to successful reentry through an innovative and collaborative work environment.

Abeni Garner is a dedicated student at College of Lake County. In the fall, she plans to transfer to a four-year college to major in architecture. Abeni works as a Community Art Apprentice with the Community Engagement and Outreach workshops, demonstrating her commitment to using art as a tool for community engagement and social change. Abeni, a talented artist, takes many art classes and works in a variety of media, currently focusing on charcoal. Abeni was recently selected as one of five artists for the Emerging Artists exhibit honoring Black History Month at CLC this year. Abeni's future goal is to design and own a jazz bar or speakeasy, showcasing her passion for architecture and her love of music.

Lake County@Work Performance Showcase

James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts Studio Theatre, 7:30-9 p.m. 

Featured a live performance of a collaborative piece in conjunction with the Grayslake Performing Arts Collaborative incorporating music, dance, movement, spoken word, prose and poetry. Performance pieces were created by CLC faculty, CLC students, and community members.

Community Outreach & Engagement Art Exhibit Opening & Reception
Robert T. Wright Community Gallery of Art at CLC,
5-7:30 p.m.

Featured work from the Community Art and Engagement (EASE) workshops, which were part of an arts-integrated community outreach program through the Communication Arts, Humanities and Fine Arts Division. Art connected to the Lake County@Work project and work-inspired classroom projects were on display.