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Beverly J. Walker

It is often said that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone and that has always irked me. Appreciation, recognition, and gratitude are fundamental to our best existence.


Today, the final day of Women’s History Month, I present to you some lessons and an inspiring glimpse of Beverly Walker, well known as simply BJ. In this feature, I chose not to simply share her experience and education but looking deeper at her impact and continued work to make a difference in challenging and shaping systems that support families and better communities. 


The investments we make in our children is a top priority for our nation and BJ, having led multiple roles in human services, education, and policy reform in Illinois and Georgia, understands this all too well and knows what happens when we delay justice in securing a safe and improved future for our children. 


In this new age where navigating buzz words like social justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is up for interpretation on how to apply it to our unique work, Beverly J. Walker has been trailblazing and honing this craft for decades. But becoming “a BJ” - a change agent, is going to mean a few things if you too, will dedicate to an intentional leadership shift. Here are just a few lessons to learn from BJ that could be a start to your leadership’s growth:


  • Become comfortably bold with challenging the status quo of old systems, policies and procedures that keep things the same. This may be risky or make you unpopular; but this is the age for no-nonsense approaches to how we change our world, and facing the facts about what’s broken is step #1

  • Train your heart towards empathy by exposing yourself to the real plight being faced by everyday people and by those you wish to serve. BJ stays connected to her community and immerses herself in the issues that plague them. Proximity matters! The ability to show compassion is literally the heart of where true service begins as it is that element of human and emotional connection that fuels and drives action. 

  • Do not let your passion and motivation wane in the face of adversity. Your passion for a cause should become the impetus to drive you to act, connect, innovate, and stay the course until you affect change. So gird up and persevere to achieve your agenda in moving change and making impact. ​

As I further explored the life and lessons learned from BJ, I turned to a long-time acquaintance to share her story. Laurie Shoulter-Karrall, Executive Assistant at Chicago CRED, has known BJ for over a few decades years and says, “Having had the privilege to work with BJ Walker in a variety of roles, I can confirm that she is a tireless advocate with a proven ability to assess a problem, reflect on the numerous viewpoints and research, formulate potential solutions, test those theories with constituents and stakeholders, build consensus, and bring groups together to collaboratively implement change.” ShoulterKarall says, “BJ uses her voice to support those people who are on the ground addressing the BIG problems, especially those around child welfare reform and access to high-quality education.”

BJ’s agility embodies itself in her ability to dig deep to determine root causes, setting those as priority initiatives that we must confront to effectively address the problem. Her work goes beyond just equity and seeks avenues to remove the barriers that ofsets equity. When up against opposition, she has remained steadfast, flexible in circumventing barriers, yet, remaining resolute to the cause. BJ, you are truly valued in our community for the contributions you make and are a wisdom-filled inspiration that every new generation should glean from. We acknowledge your notable contributions and indeed, you are a Proud Woman that we all should know and celebrate!


To learn more about, or utilize the change management services offered by - In the Public Way, visit:

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