Jennie Marie Durán

Meet our board: Jennie Marie Durán

FB_IMG_1431827502675When Jennie Durán arrives in a community, it doesn’t long for her to become actively involved. With twin daughters at Barkstall Elementary, supporting public education is a natural fit. “I am the first of seven to attend college and then law school. Education is the reason I am a lawyer and is the crux of how a child’s future will be determined.”

Jennie’s educational journey was inspired many years ago by her Head Start teacher in Flagstaff Arizona, Katherine Hickman. According to Jennie, Mrs. Hickman or Mama Hickman as she was known in the Flagstaff community, created a bridge of cultural, socioeconomic and other differences.  Her home was a community hub where African-American, Latino and Native American children gathered, and Jennie was one of those children. Jennie spent time with Mama Hickman both in and out of the classroom and she credits the former Head Start founder with igniting her passion for education and social justice.

Mama Hickman passed away in April, but her spirit will energize Jennie as she brings a fresh perspective to the CU Schools Foundation Board—one that is focused on diversity in a global society. The world is changing, and Jennie believes our students need expertise in the area of difference in order to make progress. “It is important that as a community we develop programs that focus on diversity in terms of race, gender, socioeconomic status and other forms of diversity.”

Jennie Marie Durán serves as Assistant Director in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Access at the University of Illinois. She holds a juris doctorate from SUNY Buffalo Law School and has focused her career on equal employment opportunity (EEO). Before coming to the C-U area, she taught Chicano Studies at Northern Arizona University and was an integral member of the University’s Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity. She also practiced tribal law in Arizona, and has worked with individuals on Skid Row and on worker’s rights issues with migrant farm workers.