House speaker Welch will join Joliet MLK event

Welch among panelists on ‘Cultivating Action Through Collective Impact’

Reps. Emanuel "Chris" Welch of Hillside, who is now House speaker, and Kelly Cassidy of Chicago speak in 2019 at a rally for the Reproductive Health Act. (Capitol News Illinois file photo)

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch will join the African American Business Association in Joliet for its MLK Brunch and Celebration on Jan. 14.

Welch will be one of four panelists in a discussion on “Cultivating Action Through Collective Impact” at the AABA event being held in honor of Martin Luther Kind Day this month.

The event, which is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 176 hall at 1100 NE Frontage Road, will include awards to five local individuals for actions they’ve taken to have an impact on the community.

“We’re going to be awarding five individuals that represents collective impact in the area of community action,” said AABA board President Christopher Parker.

Tickets for the event are $25. VIP seating tickets are $40.

Others in the panel discussion are: Yolanda Farmer, executive vice president at Joliet Junior College; Will County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Cornelius; and Lorraine Guerrero Neumayer, a social worker for the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office. The panel will be moderated by author Ernest Crim III.

Welch and Crim also will be recipients of the ABBA awards presented that day. Others are Warren Dorris Jr., pastor of the Prayer Tower Church of God in Christ in Joliet and bishop with the Church of God in Christ; Debra Upshaw, executive director of the Joliet chapter of the National Hookup of Black Women; and Nicole Lurry, who has been active in police reform efforts in Joliet.

AABA is a Joliet-based nonprofit that was affiliated with the Joliet Region Chamber of Business & Industry before becoming independent on Dec. 1. The organization has been in existence five years, but the MLK Day event will be its first public event as an independent nonprofit.

Proceeds from the event will go to the Michael Austin Clark Upward and Onward Certification Scholarship created in honor of the late president of the Joliet chapter of the NAACP and used to help develop local entrepreneurs.

Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite. For more information, contact AABA by phone at 770-707-0778 or by email at