Civic Awareness Series with Cantigny

Cantigny LWV Wheaton Civics Awareness Series

The League of Women Voters of Wheaton and Cantigny Park have been presenting a Civics Awareness program since 2017. We’ve had over 700 attendees at our programs that covered a variety of topics such as Campaign Finance, ERA, Fake News, Immigration, and issues before the Supreme Court. They’ve been held at the Cantigny Park Visitors Center and the McCormick mansion. Videos are available for some of the presentations. 


  • What it is like being a Freshman Congressman. Sean Casten of the Sixth District will discuss experiences as anew congressman and issues before the Congress.


  • March Primary Elections and Issues Facing Illinois. Kerry Lester, a Chicago-based author and award-winning journalist, discussed the major issues facing our state, providing guidance on how to evaluate candidate positions before casting your ballot on March 6.
  • Is the ERA dead? Does Gender Still Matter in Politics? Michelle Fadeley, president of the Illinois state chapter of the National Organization for Women, spoke about the status and future of the Equal Rights Amendment in Illinois.
  • Impact of Environmental Policy on Our Community. Dale Bryson, who worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for 34 years, discussed the growing importance and impact of environmental issues now facing voters.
  • Major Issues before the Supreme Court. Professor Steve Schwinn presented the current issues before the Supreme Court and the implications. Schwinn is a frequent commenter on issues related to constitutional law and human rights. He is a co-founder and co-editor of the Constitutional Law Prof Blog and an occasional contributor to other blogs and publications. Watch the video.
  • The Opioid Crisis and DuPage County. Mila Tsagalis and Chris R. Hoff of the DuPage County Heroin Task Force presented information on how the Opioid Crisis has affected our communities. Watch the video.
  • Immigration: Untangling the Facts, History and Economics.Celina Villanueva, New Americans Democracy Project and Youth Engagement Manager, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. 
  • Challenges Facing Education in the 21st Century.Paul Vallas, former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, discussed the issue of education. Watch the video. (for technical reasons, the first part of the presentation is missing.)
  • Climate Change is Real. Tom Skilling, Meterologist WGN TV. Watch the video.
  • The Importance and Implications of the Upcoming November Election. Dr. Phillip Hardy, Political Science Department Chair, Illinois Benedictine University. Video?
  • Citizens Correcting Corruption. Donna Limper, Leadership Team, Represent Us DuPage County. View the Presentation (for Facebook users) and a pdf file of the Presentation (for non-Facebook users).


  • Fighting Against Fake News: The Case for News Literacy. Peter Adams, News Literacy Project’s senior vice president for educational programs, explored the ways that news literacy can help reestablish trust while also helping consumers know what to believe. Watch the video
  • Elections and the System.Melissa Mouritsen, assistant professor of Political Science at College of DuPage, prepared the audience with the tools to run and win a local election and outlined the challenges to modern campaigns for offices such as school board and library districts. Watch the video.
  • Money in Politics: How Much Is Too Much? Sarah Brune, the executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, discussed practical tools for keeping up with the fast-paced world of political money in Illinois. Watch the video.


Fighting Against Fake News: The Case for News Literacy


Today's information landscape is the largest and most complex in human history, with more pitfalls and opportunities for consumers than ever before. This session explored these challenges and opportunities by focusing on the proliferation and evolution of various forms of misinformation, and the tools available to combat it. It also underscored some key questions related to the current state of public trust in the news media, and highlighted some of the ways that news literacy can help reestablish trust while also helping consumers know what to believe.


Peter Adams is the News Literacy Project's senior vice president for educational programs and is based in Chicago. Peter began his career in education as a classroom teacher in the New York City schools. He has also taught in the Chicago public schools and at Roosevelt University and Chicago City Colleges' Wilbur Wright campus. In addition, he has worked with the New York City Teaching Fellows Program, with After School Matters and as an independent education consultant.

 He is a graduate of Indiana University, where he majored in English and African-American studies and co-founded an independent monthly student newspaper, and has a master's degree in the humanities from the University of Chicago.


Elections and the System


Why do candidates for local offices go unopposed or unfilled? Asst. Professor of Political Science at College of DuPage Melissa Mouritsen prepared the audience with the tools to run and win a local election. She outlined the challenges to modern campaigns for offices such as school board and library district and detailed several area elections. She referred to the book Winning Elections, A Handbook in Modern Participatory Politics by Dick Simpson.

Melissa discussed these three questions at the event:

  • Has gerrymandering and redistricting affected potential candidates for office?
  • Is the current political climate encouraging or discouraging people to run for office?
  • Are possible candidates dissuaded by modern campaign techniques that discuss personality rather than policy?


Melissa Mouritsen is an assistant professor of Political Science at College of DuPage. Previously she taught for four years as an adjunct and visiting professor of political science at Dominican University. She is a former alderman's assistant and building and zoning consultant. She is the co-editor of Twenty-First Century Chicago, and recently co-authored the chapter "The Election of Rahm Emanuel" in Local Politics and Mayoral Elections in the 21st Century: The Keys to City Hall (Routledge). She has also authored many reports on corruption and the Chicago City Council.

Money in Politics


The cost of Illinois elections is officially on the rise. With a significant number of House and Senate races above $4 million last year, and the Gubernatorial election topping $100 million already, there's never been a more important time to talk about money in politics in our state. Through tools like, you can learn about who is giving this money, who is receiving it, and how campaign cash really works. This conversation included practical tools for keeping up with the fast-paced world of political money in Illinois, and an extended audience question and answer period so that you can prepare yourself for what's to come in 2018.


Sarah Brune is the Executive Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a nonpartisan 501(c)3 nonprofit organization advocating government transparency, ethics, and accountability in Illinois. Sarah joined the ICPR team in 2015 as the Deputy Director after serving as the Associate Director for the Uptown Chamber of Commerce on Chicago's north side, where she worked on community organizing and economic development. During her time with ICPR, Sarah has been integral in passing campaign finance reform legislation, hosting civic engagement events for voters, and running ICPR's Illinois Sunshine database. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Communication from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois.

ICPR is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization serving the voters of Illinois. ICPR's mission is to initiate reforms and promote public participation in government, address the role of money in politics, and encourage integrity, accountability, and transparency in government. ICPR advocates this mission through the use of educational forums, legislative reforms, and technology projects making government data available to the public.