Dr. Evisha Ford is the Founding Executive Director of iCan Dream Center, a therapeutic school in Illinois, that serves the needs of neurodiverse learners and their families. She began her career serving inner-city homeless youth in Chicago by providing therapeutic intervention and linkages to community resources. She worked with various community agencies to build their capacity to support the needs of vulnerable youth via training, resource development, and program evaluation.
Dr. Ford was recruited by Chicago Public Schools launching her path in education. She is a former Assistant Superintendent, Director of Special Education, and Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership.
Dr. Ford is a sought-after thought leader and consultant in schools nationally and internationally. She specializes in trauma-compassionate leadership, program design, cultural and racial equity, developing continuums of service for diverse learners, and a variety of other topics relevant to effective school and nonprofit leadership. She is the author of Benches in the Bathroom: Leading a Physically, Emotionally, and Socially Safe School Culture.
Dr. Ford has a passion for marginalized youth which began at an early age. She earned a Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and completed her doctoral studies at Aurora University in Educational Leadership in 2010. Her research focus was students with disabilities, youth resiliency, and systemic injustice.
Additionally, Dr. Ford serves as President of the Board for the United Way Blue Island Robbins Neighborhood Network. In March 2018, Dr. Ford was awarded “Woman of the Year” by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. In July 2018, she was honored as one of the influential “100 Black Women in Chicago” for her educational contributions.
Dr. Ford was recognized by the Professional Women’s Network as a “Community Ignitor” In July 2019. In the Winter of 2019, she received the Paige Award for her impact within the special needs community. In July 2022, Dr. Ford received the “Dream Maker Award” from the Bronzeville Children’s Museum of Chicago.
To learn more about Dr. Ford’s work visit her website www.drevisha.com or follow her on LinkedIn at DrEvishaFord.
Meet Chef Jerome Brown
Chef Jerome Brown, also known as Chef Rome, is the Chef to the stars! With 35 years of professional cooking experience, he’s become the go-to chef for celebrities worldwide. You’ve seen him on the Food Network’s Extreme Chef, ESPN, IVillage live, Black Enterprise Magazine, IHeart Radio, and many publications.
Chef Rome has shared his passion for cuisine with a variety of A+ list celebrities, dignitaries, and elite professional athletes such as Colin Powell, Shaquille O’Neal, Lamman Rucker, Priscilla Presley, Star Jones, Nancy Kerrigan, Carl Gustaf (King of Sweden), Byron Cage, Mike Bibby, Cam Newton and more.
He has earned an international reputation for being trustworthy and results-driven. “Chef Rome allowed me, for the first time in my entire career, to lose weight while inactive” stated retired NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal.
Chef Rome has been a featured chef for Disney’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival. In 2016, he was ranked #8 in the world out of the top one thousand chefs in the seafood category of the World Food Championship.
His Southern roots are from North Carolina. His mother was the oldest girl out of twenty-three children. Everyone had to learn how to cook. His roots in the kitchen run deep. His father was a chef and his mother a dietician. Chef Rome truly knows his way around the kitchen. He travels around the world bringing his southern cuisine with a gourmet twist approach to soul food. Get your taste buds ready, unbuckle your belt, and hold on tight. Chef Rome is bringing the soul of the kitchen to your home now! Bon Appetit!
Spice and Spectrum, Recipes for Resilience by iCan Dream Center and Chef Jerome Brown
Spice and Spectrum, Recipes for Resilience is an illustration of the iCan Dream Center students’ passion. This is more than a cookbook – it is an expression of creativity. Many diverse students have internalized the messages that reinforce limitations, but our dreamers are encouraged to be boundless in the kitchen. This heart-warming book is separated into sections that include original entree recipes, dessert recipes, and activities to extend learning in the kitchen.
These pages are filled with sentiments that give a little taste of the iCan Dream Center’s family culture. This is your invitation to join us in a feast of celebrating growth, innovation, and the accomplishments of our learners.
Purchase your copy today:
The iCan Dream Center
As a non-profit organization, iCan Dream Center connects youth to holistic, innovative special education services. Responding to the urgent societal need to slow the school-to-prison pipeline in suburban Chicago, we are committed to making a positive contribution by fostering an education setting where neurodiverse youth have access to the skills, resources, and opportunities necessary to thrive beyond their labels.