By Grace Kuikman
Beverly/Morgan Park resident Audrey Peeples joined the Beverly Area Planning Association Board of Directors in September, bringing to the table extensive experience in board membership and not-for-profit experience as well as a deeply rooted commitment to diversity and empowerment.
Peeples started her career as a trust officer at a bank, then served as executive director of the Girl Scouts of Chicago and later as CEO of the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, where focused her skill and experience on her work, where the mission is to Eliminate Racism and Empower Women.
Peeples’ board service is extensive and parallels her passion for social justice and inclusion. For ten years she served on the board of the Chicago Community Trust, and currently she serves on the Little Company of Mary Foundation board and is board vice chair for the Turnstone Development Corp., a not-for-profit organization that builds housing for seniors and people with moderate income in Illinois and Florida.
Past board service includes ten years on the board of the Chicago Foundation for Women, and eight years on the board of the Adler School of Professional Psychology (now Adler University), as well as a previous term on the BAPA board.
Now retired, she calls herself a community volunteer, but it’s evident she has a purpose that will help guide BAPA and our community.
In addition to the skills in board management and finances (she has an MBA from Northwestern) that she brings to the BAPA Board, she said, “I bring a desire for diversity and inclusion.”
When Peeples and her late husband, Anthony, moved into Beverly/Morgan Park 45 years ago, the community was in its early days of integration and for some people, there was a fear of change, and people of color frequently did not feel welcome.
Today many of the young couples who choose to buy homes in Beverly/Morgan Park have been raised in the neighborhood or have another strong connection.
“I am impressed to see young people moving back to Beverly,” she said, adding that so many of the young people seek out Beverly/Morgan Park because of the diversity.
But, this can be a hard neighborhood to break into, she noted. “We need to find ways to welcome newcomers and help them fit into the fabric of the community.” Reaching out to newcomers who don’t come to the community with family ties is something Peeples would like to see BAPA revive. “I’d like to see Beverly being the community of the future and not the community of the past,” she said.
Peeples would like to see BAPA work on initiatives that foster inclusion, such as bringing together students from the public and Catholic schools for activities and providing people with opportunities to break down stereotypes. She appreciates the diversity of the Beverly Area Arts Alliance and Southwest Chicago Diversity Collaborative.
Peeples sees these organizations as signs of positive growth, and she sees BAPA as a viable partner in our community. “That’s why I want to be a part of it,” she said.
Peeples grew up in Chicago’s Bronzeville, Woodlawn, Chatham and Prairie Shores neighborhoods, and moved to Beverly/Morgan Park in 1971. Her children Michael and Jennifer, now live on the North Side.