The Chicago Caregivers Course

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             Attendance is in-person and virtual. Please click on the link above to register for this event. 

In partnership with the City Colleges of Chicago, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, the Gary Sinise Foundation, the University of Chicago’s Office for Military-Affiliated Communities, the Office of Civic Engagement, the UChicago Trauma Center, and the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice present a symposium for 'The Chicago Caregivers Course'


Gregory Gadson

U.S. Army Colonel (retired), and Board Member for the Gary Sinise Foundation

Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, a Chesapeake, Va., native; served our nation in the United States Army for more than 26 years.

Col. Gadson’s service culminated as the Garrison Commander of Fort Belvoir, where he oversaw the daily operations of the post, a strategic sustaining base where more than 50,000 military personnel and employees provide logistical, intelligence, medical and administrative support, and command and control for a mix of more than 140 commands and agencies for the Department of Defense.

A 25-year career Army officer, Col. Gadson’s life is a portrait of courage in the face of great adversity. In May 2007, as commander of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, Col. Gadson’s greatest challenge came in Iraq, where an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack cost him both legs above the knees and normal use of his right arm and hand. Despite this, Gadson remained on active duty in the Army and continued to inspire many with his message of courage, perseverance, determination and teamwork. Refusing to be defined by the proverbial “hail of bullets,” he has since drawn upon the lessons of Pride, Poise and Team, learned as a West Point linebacker, and applied them to his life, career and family.

Commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant of Field Artillery in 1989 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Greg served in every major conflict of the past two decades, including Operations Desert Shield/Storm in Kuwait; Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Greg served in various assignments throughout the world.  He dedicated himself to leading the Soldiers, civilian employees and family members in living the Army Values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.  Greg is a passionate advocate for wounded warriors, veterans and those with disabilities; sharing his experience and perspectives on several board of directors and advisory committees.

In 2007, Tom Coughlin, New York Giants head coach, asked Gadson to meet with the then-struggling team. Gadson talked to the players about service, teamwork, duty, perseverance and adversity. His message resonated and the New York Giants defeated the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.  Greg made his silver screen debut in 2012 as a lead actor in the blockbuster movie Battleship; where he portrayed a war-injured veteran that helped save the world from an alien invasion.  In 2015, he completed season one of The Inspectors, an educational television series on CBS. 

Greg continues a very energetic and dynamic lifestyle where he continues to serve his nation as an entrepreneur and managing partner of Patriot Strategies, LLC, a government services company.  He is also an accomplished photographer/artist and remains active in cycling, skiing, skydiving and scuba.

Greg’s military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit (2); Bronze Stars (3); Purple Heart; the Meritorious Service Medal (3) and the Army Commendation Medal (3). He is a graduate of Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and holds masters degrees in Information Systems from Webster University; and Policy Management from Georgetown University. He holds an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Webster University.

Nick Lavery

U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Two (CW2), Army Special Forces

Nick, born and raised in Massachusetts, is an active-duty member of The United States Army Special Forces. Commonly known as the Green Berets, the Special Forces perform critical missions including direct action, counterinsurgency, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, and unconventional warfare.

In 2013, while deployed to Afghanistan, he and his Detachment fell victim to an insider attack ultimately resulting in the loss of his leg. Following a year of surgeries and initial recovery including the use of a prosthetic at Walter Reed National Medical Military Center, he returned to his unit. Refusing a military medical retirement, Nick set his sights on returning to operational status.

In 2015, at the conclusion of a challenging, comprehensive assessment designed to evaluate Nick's abilities to operate, he returned to his Detachment and was subsequently deployed once again to Afghanistan conducting full spectrum combat operations. Nick is considered the first Special Forces operator to return to combat as an above-the-knee amputee.

Nick is currently serving as a Special Forces Warrant Officer and is widely recognized as an experienced subject matter expert in special operations, intelligence fusion, mission planning and complex problem solving across all operational continuums. He is also the first amputee in military history to complete the Special Forces Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification course, the Special Operations Combatives Program Instructor course, and the Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification course.

Nick's awards include the Silver Star, three Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars, Bronze Star with “V” for valor, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, two Army Commendation Medals, Army Achievement Medal, the OSS Society Peter Ortiz Award, the Bruce Price Leadership Award, and the Special Operations Command Excalibur Award.

Nick is a warrior, leader, speaker, author and most importantly a husband and father of two young boys.

Joel Hamernick

Interim Vice President, Office of Civic Engagement, University of Chicago

Joel Hamernick joined the University of Chicago in May 2022. As Interim Vice President for Civic Engagement and External Affairs, he is responsible for overseeing the Office of Civic Engagement (OCE), the Office of Federal Relations, the Office of Business Diversity, and Commercial Real Estate Operations. In this role, Hamernick builds civic engagement partnerships with academic and administrative units, works closely with South Side and civic partners, and identifies ways for the University to advance its civic and community engagement impact.

Prior to joining the University, Joel served as executive director at Sunshine Gospel Ministries in Woodlawn for more than 20 years, developing programming to advance youth outreach and enrichment, promote service learning, and reduce violence. In that role, he also founded Sunshine Enterprises, which has supported more than 1,000 neighborhood entrepreneurs on Chicago’s South and West sides since its inception in 2012.

Hamernick’s undergraduate studies were in Bible and Theology at Moody Bible Institute and graduate work was in Organizational Leadership at Cairn University.

Juan Salgado

Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago

Chancellor Juan Salgado has focused his career on improving education and economic opportunities for residents in low-income communities.

From 2001 to 2017, he served as CEO of Instituto del Progreso Latino, where he worked to empower residents of Chicago's Southwest Side through education, citizenship, and skill-building programs that led to sustainable employment and economic stability.

As Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago, he oversees Chicago's community college system, serving nearly 70,000 students across seven colleges, 75 percent of whom are Black and Latinx students.

Under his leadership, City Colleges of Chicago has seen an increase in student graduation rates to the highest level on record, an unprecedented systems-level partnership with the Chicago Public Schools, the launch of Fresh Start, a first-ever debt forgiveness program, the completion of new two major state of the art facilities, a re-energizing of fundraising for student supports, and campus specific plans focused on equity in student outcomes, among other efforts.

Chancellor Salgado is a community college graduate himself, earning an associate degree from Moraine Valley Community College, prior to earning a Bachelor's degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, and a Master's degree in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Chancellor Salgado has been nationally recognized for his work, including as a 2015 MacArthur Fellow. Among his civic commitments, he serves as a board member of the Obama Foundation.

Darryl Williams

Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management, City Colleges of Chicago

Dr. Darryl A. Williams is a results-oriented, human-centered higher education leader with extensive experience across multiple institution types and structures.  

He currently serves as the Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management for the City Colleges of Chicago. The City Colleges of Chicago has more than 4,000 faculty and staff serving 70,000 students annually district-wide. As Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management, he has increased new student enrollment, advocated for marginalized communities, established external partnerships, expanded services for Veterans, and collaborated with faculty and staff to optimize student-impacting operations. His strategies yield enhanced student experiences and improve student outcomes.

As an inclusive leader with a student-centered focus, he builds community with students, faculty, staff, and key stakeholders to foster a collaborative environment that upholds shared governance and a shared vision that produces enduring, equitable change.

Dr. Darryl A. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Elmhurst College and a Bachelor of Science degree in telecommunications management from DeVry University, a master’s degree in business administration from Keller Graduate School of Management, a doctoral degree in organizational leadership from Argosy University.

Steve Schwab

CEO, Elizabeth Dole Foundation

Steve Schwab is a national leader and voice for the nation’s millions of military and veteran caregivers, and their families. He has closely advised senior leaders in every sector, addressed audiences across the country, and testified before Congress about the challenges faced by America’s military families while advocating for legislative and regulatory solutions to support them. 

As CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Steve spearheads the country’s preeminent organization empowering, supporting, and honoring military and veteran caregivers. He has grown the Foundation’s programs, staff, development, and partnerships over the past eight years, managed the launch of the Hidden Heroes campaign, established the Hidden Heroes Cities program, and successfully championed the expansion of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to caregivers of every war era. In 2021, Steve oversaw the launch of the Hidden Helpers Coalition, bringing together the White House and over 60 public and private organizations with the intent of supporting children in military and veteran caregiving families. In 2022, the Foundation expanded its no-cost national respite program and launched a new critical financial assistance program for caregivers. Since 2018, Steve has led the Foundation’s successful signature fundraising event, Heroes and History Makers, raising tens of millions of dollars for the organization’s mission. 

Last year, Steve was nominated by United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dennis McDonough to serve on the Veterans' Family, Caregiver, and Survivor Federal Advisory Committee. 

Steve is also an Executive Producer of both Sky Blossom and Hidden Wounds, two Academy Award qualifying films that provide a raw, uplifting window into 24.5 million children and millennials stepping forward as frontline heroes caring for a family member or veteran at home. 

Steve serves on the Board of Prisoner Visitation and Support which offers people incarcerated in federal prison regular, face-to-face contact with the world outside to help them cope with prison life and prepare for a successful re-entry into society. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of PsychArmor, the nation’s premier non-profit for providing free education and support for all Americans to engage effectively with the military community. Currently, Steve is also chairing the 50th Anniversary Committee for Whitman-Walker Health, whose mission is to offer affirming community-based health and wellness services to all with a special expertise in LGBTQ and HIV care. Previously, Steve was head of external affairs for the National Cathedral, overseeing fundraising, marketing, and communications. 

Steve came to the Washington, DC area after serving in three senior leadership roles in his hometown of Rochester, NY. He was Vice President for Development at the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra after serving as Deputy Chief of Staff to Rochester, NY Mayor Robert J. Duffy and just prior as head of corporate development and relations for Rochester Institute of Technology. Steve started his career in New York City where he first worked in politics and then served subsequently as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Development for the New York City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce.