Posts Tagged ‘#membermondays’

Origins: London, Florida, Texas, DC, Chicago

Mamta posing for Oprah’s magazine

This month’s #MemberMonday will continue the theme of highlighting health professionals with this profile on Mamta Swaroop, MD FACS. Mamta is not a resident of Englewood, but through her career as a medical doctor and trauma surgeon, she has become part of the story of not only Englewood, but also Chicago. RAGE facilitates bringing her community based program and academic undertakings into practice and allowed her to contribute her international perspective to our Greater Englewood community.

Mamta was born in London, England and was raised in Houston, Texas. Attending Alief Hastings High School, Mamta spent her youth playing basketball on the street, skateboarding and doing community theater; she participated in speech and debate; and adds, “ I also had this weird thing about taking care of the animals in the neighborhood”, which reflects her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. Only during her 11th-grade year did her goal of being a doctor change, when her English teacher inspired her to think about teaching, but she pursued her medical education immediately after graduating HS and starting college at Texas A&M.

Mamta during a highlight of her work from ABC News

With her sights set on becoming a doctor, she majored in microbiology at Texas A & M; went to Mcgovern Medical School at UT Houston to become an infectious disease doctor; and started a 3 state journey to become a trauma surgeon. Mamta went to Washington D.C. for her general surgical training at the Washington Hospital Center, then transferred to the University of South Florida to complete this training. She did a year of fellowship at Northwestern University that all trauma surgeons must complete. Why Northwestern? “I came to Chicago to follow a boy”, Mamta laughs while adding, “ I think God works in very interesting ways because 11 years later I am still there”. Mamta and the boy broke up 3 months before she moved, but it wasn’t a mistake to come to the Windy City.

Career: The Need For First Responders

Mamta arrived in Chicago in 2009 not knowing a soul and hating cold weather. The director of Northwestern’s program still jokes to the new fellows, “you can always wear your NorthFace like Mamta”, as she essentially wore her coat all the time during our infamous winters. During her fellowship, the surgeons developed a partnership that grew into a community with the hospital responders and that community grew with the partnership with the now-defunct Ceasefire (the work now being done by Acclivus. This partnership led her to her first community meeting in Englewood.

Mamta teaching her course. ABC News

Mamta’s introduction to Englewood through Ceasefire also introduced her to the violence intervention strategy that was introduced in PBS’s The Interruptors. This was a program that was part of the national initiative called Cure Violence, and Mamta was fortunate enough to not only witness the implementation of this nationally recognized program but she also was in the opening scene of PBS’s special, even if it was only for a few seconds. Though she was new to Chicago and Englewood, Mamta’s orientation with the community through the relationship of hospital responders, violence interruptors, and trauma surgeons showed her that she had to become more involved to make Chicago a better place. Mamta says, “I get really offended when people say things about Chicago because it’s not like they are doing anything about it, so when people are trying to do something to me that’s amazing”. The fellowship was the call to action that has kept her in Chicago for over 11 years.

Mamta has made sure to do as much as she can with her perspective and experience as a trauma surgeon. She is the co-chair of the Women in Medicine Summit where they work to find solutions to gender inequity in the medical fields. She is the founder of the Sadanah Firm, which “aims to build access to health care and education in low resource settings by funding and promoting grassroots organizations”. She is the director of Northwestern’s Center for Global Surgery and Northwestern’s Trauma and Surgical Initiatives (www.ntsi.global), which both aim to break through barriers for equitable health care. She was even featured in O Magazine’s 2018 Health Heroes for her Chicago Southside Trauma First Responder course (Trauma Responders Unify to Empower, or TRUE), an honor that wouldn’t have been possible without building strong community partnerships.

Englewood, RAGE, and Life

Image from Northwestern’s Institute of Global Health

It was in 2017 that Mamta was fortunate enough to have an intern name Jeremiah who introduced her to RAGE. He attended a So Fresh Saturday (last of the year is the 31st!) and through Michelle Rashad connected Mamta with our association. Mamta said, “ I probably sounded psychotic the first time I talked to people”, she reminisced adding “I’m not insane, I’m just really excited because if I can do anything, if I can connect bridges and make someone see something, because of my title, I’m gonna do it”. When asked why she joined  she states, “I may not live in Englewood, but I care for the patients and the people who live in Englewood”, even adding, “ to me it’s really important because how are you going to care for a community if you don’t even know the community”.

Mamta’s favorite moments have been seeing Commander Johnson interact with the community at different meetings. She points out, “the entire community was there… his engagement says so much”. She also looks forward to collaborating with the different task-forces adding, “ If anyone wants to set up a course with NTSI for the Trauma first responder they can go to the website”. Mamta looks forward to collaborating with Public Safety and Health & Wellness with her course or organizational support.

Mamta is an advocate for international healthcare equity. When asked about her passion she starts a speech that could only be done by a regular lecturer. Mamta says, “the constitution of the world health organization says the highest obtainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being, the right to health includes access to timely, acceptable, and affordable healthcare of appropriate quality. The dominant burden of health problems tends to be endured by vulnerable and marginalized groups in our society”. RAGE looks forward to collaborating with Dr. Swaroop and empowering the community to deal with healthcare barriers. Our association has members from all over with unique experiences and backgrounds and we are grateful to have Mamta as a part of RAGE!

THANK YOU, DR SWAROOP, FOR YOUR DEDICATION TO RAGE!!!


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Origins: Background and Education

Lauren – Senior Fitness

Lauren Providence’s business motto is, “If your body isn’t becoming to you, you should be coming to us”. The leader of RXercises© and Fort Providence Senior Boot Camp, she is a certified personal trainer, life coach, and paraprofessional certified diabetes educator through the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Her favorite R.A.G.E. moment was at So Fresh Family Fitness Night at Ogden Park- March Madness Edition, where she was able to serve the 50+ community . This Member Monday we will see how Lauren brings resources and opportunities to Englewood.

Lauren was born and raised in Queens, New York, and Philadelphia before making Chicago her home. She graduated from the city’s number one STEM, Stuyvesant High School and continued her college education at the Wharton School of Business, at the University of Pennsylvania” where she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Finance and Bachelor of Arts in Marketing. Her early entry to Wall Street, and the opportunities afforded to her by Travis Bell, the owner of Daniels & Bell Inc, the only Black investment firm with a seat on the New York Stock Exchange for decades.

Career: Finance and Health

 She became the first black female to own and control an investment banking and securities brokerage firm in this country, and also was the first minority firm to complete an initial public offering (IPO) of stock for a company.  Lauren clarifies,” with the support of politicians, like Harold Washington and many other black mayors and dignitaries nationwide she had the support to maintain her position as 51% owner of a municipal bond firm named, Gibbons Hester Providence Inc”. Lauren provided individuals of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to explore investment banking and securities brokerage. The opportunities were granted to 30 individuals from Chicago’s south and west sides to broaden the horizons for their community

Over the following years,  Lauren felt there was an issue of awareness of healthcare resources and utilization. Lauren calls this “disparities in healthcare”. As someone who has dealt with COPD, Lauren believes you should “love yourself as who you are but rather than dwell on the negatives, delve into the possibilities”! She practices that model through her health coaching services throughout the community.

Lauren with a group of seniors in her fitness program

She founded Fort Providence Fitness and Rxecercises©  as ways to offer seniors and individuals suffering from a gamut of over 65 pathologies. Those diseases include diabetes and all of its comorbidities like hypertension, neuropathy, heart disease, obesity and more. Scientific evidence suggests that exercise and food are medicine. Upon that premise, she gave individuals an outlet for personalized exercise at several local senior residential housing facilities that included Englewood’s Tolton Manor, as well as Brendan and Hayes Manors.

 In a health partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority, she positively impacted the health of scores of seniors. As an advocate of the President’s Council on Sports Fitness and Nutrition, many senior participants received commendations signed by Barack Obama.  Lauren believes you should “love yourself as who you are but rather than dwell on the negatives, delve into the possibilities!” She practices that model through her health coaching services throughout the community.

Lauren impacts the community in multiple ways with her partnership with Catholic Charities and Chicago Housing Authority. Lauren was able to provide a program to deal with health through exercise and participation with the TopBoxFood.com, a food distribution program servicing the Englewood community, she offered her menu planning services and revenues generated through her efforts helped to support her senior fitness programs. Through Rxercises© she partnered with local organizations to offer a Fall Prevention Program with Georgia Doty Comprehensive Health. Her organizations offered programs on balance and other health and fitness issues related to diabetic neuropathy for those over 55.

Englewood, Life, and RAGE

Lauren became a R.A.G.E. member in 2017 after attending a few community meetings. Lauren’s new hobby is buying property and she states that watching Aysha Butler “impressed” her and “promulgated” her to buy her first property in Englewood. Lauren has a wealth of information on Englewood’s healthcare resources, so the Quality of Life Plan’s Health and Wellness Taskforce was a natural fit for this health professional. Regarding one of the recent programs, Englewood health navigators, Lauren states that her interests were sparked since she is “looking to partner with someone in the community that battles disparities in health within communities of color”. Lauren believes R.A.G.E. is important for Englewood because of its leadership that “attracts people and stays relevant”.

Lauren’s favorite R.A.G.E. moment was hosting her senior fitness class at So Fresh Family Fitness Night. It was her first event in a community space that was open to the public and she was really impressed by the turnout. She plans on offering that to the community again, but she was also inspired to launch more community events like an upcoming event for National Diabetes Day. She also wants to utilize her Englewood property to either make a veteran housing center or housing for “mothers on the come-up”. 

 She uses different coaching protocols for issues, financial or physical, and has plans of creating support for under-resourced communities, like veterans and mothers. Lauren lives near a group of girls who are part of a dance team she has seen at multiple events. Recently Lauren mustered up the motivation to run out and say, “I love this!”, when they were practicing their routine. She is now sponsoring Englewood’s Golden Elite Dance Group at this season’s Bud Billiken parade. She encourages the community to support them and other groups with a positive impact here. 

This Fall, RXercises© will be launching WateRworxxX, an alkaline/ CBD infused hydrating beverage; she’s seeking mixed-use, retail and residential space to house the endeavor and provide employment and housing under the Opportunity Zone constraints. When speaking of National Diabetes Day, where she will be facilitating an event, and Englewood, she said, “65% of the area is obese and obesity causes heart disease”.She will also be launching a pre-diabetes prevention program, this November, that is fully backed by the Center For Disease Control; she hopes to be a CDC recognized facilitator within 2020.  RAGE is excited to have Lauren as a member and hope her message and work reaches more residents in Englewood!

Thank You, Ms Providence, For Your Dedication To R.A.G.E.!!!


Origins: Background and Education

Picture from Deskgram.net

Born at Cook County Hospital and raised near Ogden Park, Sunni Ali Powell promotes “positivity and professionalism” in the Englewood community by using his platform as a licensed barber-teacher. With the grand opening of his new location on the horizon, Sunni has plans to impact the future narrative of Englewood.

Sunni graduated from De Lasalle Institute in 1988 and spent a combined five years studying film and television at Southern Illinois Carbondale University and Columbia College. Sunni is in the Director’s Guild of America while being the electrician for “international Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, . He worked on A/V equipment while studying and even won “Best Film” while attending Columbia This led to him working on the set of many pop culture favorites like the television shows E.R., CSI, Chicago Hope and the movies Hoodlum, Ali, Malibu’s Most Wanted, The Johnson Family Vacation, and Contagion. Powell felt Chicago was in a “good film mode” which led him to work in Chicago for 5 years, yet his work continued in Atlanta and Los Angeles. It was his time in LA that turned him into the union barber of today.

Career: Road to Barbering

From Sunni Ali Powell’s Twitter

For three years Sunni was in a relationship with Kim Kimble, Beyonce’s Hairstylist. He sold her hair products and was graced with the opportunity to travel the world “all because I was Beyonce’s hairstylist boyfriend”. Traveling all over the world not only blessed him with an international perspective but familiarized him with the hair game, as he helped manage her shop in West Hollywood. Always a pioneer with hair, claiming to be “one of the first dudes in Chicago who had dreadlocks”, he took his wisdom of the hair-game to Englewood to become the premier professional barber

Powell’s Barbershop tagline is “ the heart of Englewood”. With Sunni’s goal “to sustain, push forward, and propagate barbering” he wants to regain the barbers status as a respectable career. Believing barbers can promote “peace and positivity or violence and disease”.Hosting community resource events, supplying free books to the community, offering free hair cuts to kids, partnering with organizations in the shop, among many other things. At the new location Powell’s will be offering offering a barber college for students and granting the opportunity for “barbers to become owners after 3 years”. This partnership will create the opportunity for the collective of entrepreneurs to “be the example and the conduit to do it all again”.

Englewood, Life, and R.A.G.E.

Sunni was friends with Rashanah Baldwin when he found out about R.A.G.E . Baldwin worked with Aysha Butler and Sonya Harper on CAN TV so she invited Sunni to a R.A.G.E. meeting at Teamwork Englewood for local entrepreneurs. After the meeting he started to partner with community organizations through the association for his community events . Sunni adds, “if it wasn’t for R.A.G.E I wouldn’t be here”.

In 2016 there was a shooting at Powell’s Barber and Englewood came together. R.A.G.E. held a meet and greet fitting the tactics of the Public Safety Task-Force; gave Powell’s $1000 with Mr. Leak stating, ‘a lot of people got shot at my business and I almost closed down, but people came to me and helped me so I’m going to help you”; Sunni even partnered with R.A.G.E to use his donation for a big back-to-school event with Leak and Sons’funding. Through a networking event he even met Deon Lucas, an architect, who introduced Sunni to the retail thrive zone grant and is part of EG Woode.

Being a long time R.A.G.E. member, Sunni’s favorite moments were the various meetings held by the association. He said, “something great was happening”, at the meetings since it was the “ the barometer of the neighborhood”. He is part of the Jobs and Economic Development Taskforce where he love to promote the job fairs and thinks So Fresh Saturdays (R.A.G.E. summer park festival) are “off the chain. His favorite R.A.G.E moment was standing on the stage at Lindblom Math and Science Academy with Michelle Rashad, Alderman Lopez, The Police Commander, himself, and “all the cats”. 

Picture from Alysha’s Facebook

Sunni’s significant other is Alysha Monique who he met at Whole Foods Englewood’s 5 after 5 event, which was curated by Erik Jones’ Blue Sapphire experience. Sunni describes her as, “ a jazz musician with a college degree who can sit at the piano and play about 500 songs”. She will be the booking agent at the new EG Woode location for music talent and will be hosting an event at Kusanya Cafe on July 31st called, “Chocolat Noir”.

Sunni has a 16 year old son named Hannibal Langston Powell. Sunni named him after a general and a poet, based on the Carthage general and most photographed man of the 19th century. He attends Walter Payton College Prep and is the only child.

Sunni looks at the culture of his field and states,”my passion is to inspire others to do great things with this platform outside of cutting hair”. One way is by utilizing his guild, Chicago Barbers Alliance, and having a “Westside vs Southside” competition. He also works with Urban Prep’s program with the intention of allow the students of the junior college barbering program to get their 1500 hours to be able to have their barber’s license. His passion for changing barber’s perspective of their profession involves having the presence in the community to be a mentor.

Thank You Mr Powell For Your Dedication To R.A.G.E.!!!!

Samuel L Jackson at Powell’s Barbershop for the filming of Chiraq

This Week’s Member Monday is On Maria Pike and her path to R.A.G.E.

Maria holding a picture of her son Ricky, who was a victim of gun violence

Maria Pike’s journey to becoming a R.A.G.E. member is a hero’s journey. Personal tragedy has propelled her into the midst of the battle for the spirit of Chicago, as well as securing a brighter future for the youth. Belonging to multiple organizations, Maria’s life mission is to create change  on a structural and community level that will enact sensible policy shifts that will make all of Chicago great.

Born in Peru, in a family of seven, her father worked hard to send all of her siblings to private school. During this time she developed a love for language, speaking Spanish, English, and studying German in her youth. After high school she studied hotel management that led her on an international journey to Brazil, England, and Spain; during her travels she learnt French, Portuguese, and Italian. Working for the 5-Star Sheraton International Hotels, she was transferred to a location Rio De Janeiro; in London she continued her studies for three years; she also spent two years in Barcelona where she was a hair model. She finished her collegiate studies in the US, attending Durham College and UNC in North Carolina and Roosevelt University in Chicago, though she only earned an associates with a plethora of advanced language credits.Through a series of fortunate events, her general manager from Brazil had an opportunity for her to work at a hotel in Evanston. She was in her 20’s when she came to Illinois.

Initially living and working in Evanston, Maria landed a job at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and moved to Rogers Park. Following her time there she moved to Lakeview where she lived for 27 years, before moving to Pilsen where she lives now. On these events leading her to becoming a Chicagoan she states,” it was odd because you wouldn’t imagine that this person (her GM) was from our continent. He opened four hotels in Latin America and he ends up moving to the states to the middle of the country, to a place called Evanston”. Maria adds, “ it’s one of those odd things that happen in your life and you are like, ‘oh, is this planned’”?!

By the early 90’s she had to change her career to raise her two sons, as the 70 hours per week in the hotel left little quality time with her kids. She became a realtor and ran an antique store, utilizing her skill for restorative craftsmanship. As a realtor she specialized in restoring rundown homes and sale them for a profit, even acquiring two “bungalows” off of 64th and Maplewood, which made her familiar with Englewood. Craftsmanship isn’t the only restorative work she had a calling for, as the death of one of her son’s led her to restorative justice work.


Maria’s two sons.

Her eldest son, Ricky Pike, was murdered outside his new apartment in Logan Square during August of 2012. An aspiring restaurant owner, Ricky’s death was a catalyst for Maria to fight for the future of the children of Chicago; with Logan Square being considered a ‘safe’ community Maria knew that the fight against gun violence was a fight that impacted all communities. She became an advocate against gun violence, joining groups like Chicago Survivors, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, along with many others. This traumatic moment changed her life to, “want to find out why people killed without any remorse”.

Ricky’s death was in the midst of Chicago developing a new moniker…Chiraq. With a combination of hip hop, reactionary news, and Spike Lee’s artistic direction a constellation of forces wanted to brand the city as synonymous with a war zone. Spike Lee’s Chiraq came out three years after Ricky’s murder, but the stinge of it still impacted survivors of gun violence. For Maria this was, “total disrespect to survivor moms”, especially after St Sabina allowed and commended the usage of the title of his film, while bringing survivor moms to endorse the film. Maria felt that the survivor moms were being used as props, stating,” I was bursting with anger because the majority of survivors number in the thousands”, pointing out there were less than 80 in the group that Father Pfleger claimed to represent. This even led Maria to write the screenwriter, Kevin Willmott, demanding he change the name, though he claimed it not possible as the agreement was already complete. Maria felt the film was, “insulting a whole generation of children and they are the ones who need the most uplifting”.

Chiraq acted as a rallying call for those who wanted to change the narrative of how Chicago’s Englewood community was viewed. Award winning news anchor, Robin Robinson, wanted to interview moms who were against the premise and Maria was invited. President of R.A.G.E., Aysha Butler, was also invited to talk about what she thought about her community being called Chiraq. During this meeting, Aysha stated, “It really goes against the people who live there and have been here for generations, and who have children, and it labels them unfairly”. Maria agreed with that sentiment,  so she started talking to Aysha. Maria adds, “she said she had meetings, called R.A.G.E., and I started going to her meetings”.

Image may contain: 8 people, including Maria Pike, people smiling, people standing and outdoor
Maria and others with Mayor Lightfoot


Maria became a member of R.A.G.E due to how organized the meetings were, the amount of respect given to the members, and the fact they put the information in laymen’s terms. Maria spouts, “if a member attacks you (R.A.G.E.) they do not promote the sort of shutting down… they go in a very polite way. They say, ‘can we talk offline’, ‘can we talk about this after’; they never give mess a chance”. Maria believes this communication is respectful to the seniors in the community who she believes are the most loyal community members. She points to the work done on TIF’s, stating, “they took the time to go through a university to get compiled data to find out exactly how TIF is understood by the general public”. After close to five years of being a member of R.A.G.E., she uses it as her primary outlet for community work.

You can find Maria at most meetings taking an active role. She takes part in the Quality of Life Plan through many task forces, but most of her time is dedicated to Public Safety and Education work, where she advocates for trauma-informed care and integrating a curriculum with CPS that includes ethnic studies and SEL. She continues her fight against gun violence, as she is a fellow with Everytown for Gun Safety, while advocating for restorative practices like Quiet Time and peace circles. For example, in regards to quiet time, she states, ”Quiet Time is used in some suburban rich schools, but where it’s most needed is in under-served schools because of dysfunctional families and dysfunctional communities”. She’s been at every community event I’ve attended, when not representing us outside the community.

Outside of the amazing community work she takes part in, Maria loves to travel. Whenever she can, she enjoys going to the Carolina Coasts to go fishing. When she doesn’t have time she tries catching up on outdoor living shows. She also practices transcendental meditation, a silent practice.

THANK YOU, MARIA PIKE, FOR ALL YOU DO FOR ENGLEWOOD!!!!