NILES - Cheryle Jackson, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, is daring people to dream big.
She's daring people, despite record unemployment and home foreclosure numbers and the health care crisis, to have the courage and conviction to develop those bold ideas into a game plan that meets those challenges now facing U.S. citizens.
''We have no other choice,'' she told those attending the 79th annual Greater Warren-Youngstown Urban League dinner Thursday evening at McMenamy's Banquet Center.
There's huge potential to rebuild from the economic crisis muddling America, and tax increases or less spending won't solve the problems, she said. It's time be innovative, embrace new technology, and by investing in research, green jobs, small business and women - a move that just makes ''good economic sense.''
After all, she said, ''we're not living in the June Cleaver days anymore,'' making reference to women being the largest consumer group, more often being the single head of households, primary breadwinners and largest group affected by home foreclosure.
Jackson, Illinois U.S. Senate candidate for the seat vacated by Barack Obama, was the featured speaker of the annual dinner.
She told of her idea when taking control of the Chicago Urban League in 2006 to move away from social services, which she acknowledged were a good safety net, toward getting minorities involved in economic development and economic empowerment.
''At the end of the day, social services will not manage you our of the problem, only manage you into the problem,'' Jackson said of the move, tinkering with a 90-year-old organization and being a woman, that ruffled some feathers.
''It was a lot of change at once, but I knew in my heart, it was the right decision,'' she said.
It's time, Jackson said, to focus on job creation and connecting people with those jobs.