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Beacon Announces Mary Wheeler as Vice-President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Shelter

Dylan Novacek August 7, 2020

Three years ago, Beacon made a public and intentional commitment to become a more racially equitable organization. We began to invest time and money to grow in this capacity. Through this growth came a new position: Vice-President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Shelter.

We’re pleased to announce that Mary Wheeler will fill this position and help advance our vision that all people have a home. Read her reflection:


“The Beacon story is all about equity. And we’re going to spend more time on that as we do the hardest work for those with the greatest need.

This work is very personal to me. I am African American, my parents were heavily involved in the civil rights movement. They were mavericks willing to be ‘first’. In the 60’s, my parents moved from Maywood, Illinois, an all-black suburb to the all white segregated suburb of Oak Park, Illinois. It would become a learning time focused on my families’ efforts to live and prosper in an environment where we not wanted, welcomed, nor respected.

It wasn’t until my years in college and working in my field that I began to more fully understand how our racist classist system creates and sustains our countries health and income disparities for Black, brown and indigenous people. It was then I realized how these disparities impact our mindset.

My skill set is in organization, systems development, and equity. Over the years I have had the fortune to work and consult with many organizations in the community and neighborhood development, healthcare, public housing, and education.

Working with folks of different social, cultural, and racial perspectives has helped me in efforts to led system change and organization transformation. My new role will help our organization on our shared learning so we can best address the needs of our community. Everything we do at Beacon is in the spirit of bringing everyone to the table so they too can have a voice.

At Beacon, we have been on our intentional race equity journey for three years working with Beth Zemsky, and we have learned a great deal. My first action in this position will be to assess where we are and, based upon what we learn, create a path for Beacon’s continued race equity journey.

This is my passion. If we commit to moving forward together, imperfections and all, we can hold each other up to understand, learn, and celebrate our growth. I look forward to working for our shared Beacon mission with you all. Thank you!”


For inquires and to learn more, contact Mary Wheeler at mwheeler@beaconinterfaith.org.