LGBT-policy organization Equality Illinois is expanding to the state's capital and Chicago's western suburbs. The organization has announced that it will open two satellite offices in Springfield and in DuPage County.
Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov said the new locations mark a major growth for the organization's presence beyond Chicago where its current office is located.
"The movement for equal and fair treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, by necessity, must be a statewide struggle," said Cherkasov, in a press statement. "The experiences and voices of residents outside of Chicago need to be heard and shared with their local and state officials."
Cherkasov said that Equality Illinois staff has traveled often to both Sangamon and DuPage counties, but that the new offices will allow the organization to be more present in its efforts outside the city. Those efforts will include educating and empowering communities around pre-existing LGBT protections in Illinois, said Cherkasov.
"By having offices in southern Illinois and western Illinois, we'll be able to do that work more regularly and more of it," he said.
Cherkasov said the offices will focus on field organizingengaging with faith institutions, promoting LGBT-friendly workplace practices in local businesses and motivating allies. Equality Illinois already has two lobbyists based in Springfield, Cherkasov noted.
The locations could be open as soon as mid-October. Cherkasov said properties for both offices are still under negotiation and have yet to be announced.
Each office will be staffed with at least one full-time field organizer, while volunteers will likely staff reception and phones.
According to Cherkasov, the two offices have been in the works for at least nine months and had been discussed within the organization for two years.
Cherkasov declined to state how much money was budgeted for the new offices but said that expansion was made possible by a growth of funds within the organization, a turnaround from recent years when the struggling economy hit nonprofits.