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2024 Civic Engagement, Community Service, and Community Organizing (CECSCO) Honorees

Ren Encinas Heading link

Ren Encinas

Ren Encinas is a queer Filipino community organizer based in Chicago. They are deeply committed to internationalist abolitionist organizing to dismantle militarism domestically & globally, while building life-affirming institutions and networks of care. For the past 11 years, they have organized towards collective liberation with various movements including labor, land, migrant, and climate justice, anti-imperialism, abolition and demilitarization. As a GWS student, Ren organized with Anakbayan and Abolition at UIC to defund policing and militarism on-campus and reinvest in life-giving resources for students. Off-campus, Ren has organized to remove US troops and bases from their homeland, and to pass the Philippine Human Rights Act to end all US military aid towards the Philippine police and military. Now, as Dissenters Co-Director of Organizing, Ren has the honor of helping grow and nourish a transformative, joyful, and leaderful anti-militarist youth movement by supporting 25+ Dissenters chapters across Turtle Island in launching and winning local direct action campaigns to reclaim power and resources away from the war industry. Dissenters has not only crafted a vision that is global, intersectional, anti-capitalistic, collaborative, and effective in speaking back to the military-industrial complex, all visions that GWS shares, but they have done so with care, centering trans and queer voices and movements. In the recent war on Gaza, Dissenters has been leading national efforts to highlight the U.S.’s complicity in Israel’s “war” and has been one of the organizations with the most effective platforms and programs to visualize this complicity. And Ren has been at the center of all of this work. Despite how busy they are, they remain incredibly generous, always making time to come back to campus and speak with students if asked to do so. Ren exemplifies the spirit and praxis of CECSCO.

Mary Scott-Boria Heading link

Mary Scott-Boria

Mary Scott-Boria is a lifelong resident of Chicago, arriving to Chicago from Battle Creek, Michigan, at age 15 where she was immediately immersed in the Chicago Freedom Movement as a young activist. Upon graduating from high school, she joined the Black Panther Party, where she worked in the children’s breakfast program and sold newspapers. During her time as an undergraduate student at UIC, Mary’s interest in and commitment to women’s issues deepened, and she became involved in efforts to end the forced sterilization of Puerto Rican women. That commitment informed her graduate studies at UIC, where Mary earned her master’s degree in Social Work. Mary has over 50 years of experience and knowledge of Chicago’s communities, having worked as a professional social worker and human services administrator in several non-profit organizations. Her work and interests have been in women and youth issues and in community organizing and politics. She organized community rape crisis centers and served as the first executive director of the Chicago Sexual Assault Services Network. Mary also served as director of Youth Services Project, an executive committee member of the Cook County Democratic Women, and director of the Urban Studies Program of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. Her leadership in the Anti-Racism Institute of Clergy and Laity Concerned led her to seminary, where she completed her Master of Divinity degree from the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. She served on the training team of the Christian Peacemakers Teams and was active with the Mikva Challenge Foundation, Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM), and the Chicago Freedom School. Her unwavering commitment to intersectional feminist work crosses academic fields and community spaces, including crafting communities throughout the city. The way she centers relationships and care throughout her life makes Mary a beloved and trusted teacher, activist, mentor, mother, grandmother, community member, and friend. Her work continues to transform our city.

Diana Solis Heading link

Diana Solis

Diana Solís is a Mexican-born photographer, multidisciplinary artist, and educator whose work practice includes painting, illustration, public murals and installation. She is inspired by Mexican and Chicano culture, memory, cautionary tales, oral and personal histories, queer identities, and narratives. Her work examines notions of place, identity, and belonging. As a documentary photographer, Solís has created a vast and ongoing visual archive of LGBTQ+, Latinx, and feminist communities and movements from Chicago to Mexico City. In 2022 parts of this work titled “Diana Solís: Intimacies in Resistance” were presented by Ariel Goldberg in their lecture and essay “Lucid knowledge: The Currency of the Photographic Image,” Triennial of Photography Hamburg (DE).; Recent exhibitions include “Images on which to build, 1970s – 1990s”, FotoFocus Biennial (Cincinnati); “Diana Solís: Encuentros Photographs of Chicago Poetry Communities, 1978 – 1994, Poetry Foundation (Chicago). She is also the lead artist of the Pilsen Latina Legacies monument project. Solís’ latest photographic work-in-progress using portraiture and documentary genres, centers on the broadening definitions of kinship and extended family through the lives of close friends and members of her community. Central to Solís’ practice is a commitment to being a teaching artist and her desire to share and collaborate with the people around her. Solís’ social practice of education work began in the 1970s when working with Chicago Pilsen’s iconic Casa Aztlan and Mujeres Latinas en Acción. In the years since she has taught students of diverse backgrounds and ages in community organizations, public schools, museums and special residency programs. During the COVID pandemic, Solis’ photography practice found new life in the empty streets of Pilsen. Solís developed her newest photo essay, Luz: Seeing the Space Between Us. It was published as a limited edition artist book by Flatlands Press in November 2022.