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WREP is a collaboration between Chicago community-based workforce development organizations, University of Chicago Medicine's Urban Health Initiative and the University of Chicago made possible through a grant provided by AT&T. 

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About the Project


This project was conceived in the fall of 2019 and initiated in January 2020, just before COVID-19 began spreading across the globe and changing everything about how we live and work. The widespread traumatic effects of COVID-19 mean that now, more than ever before, workforce development and job readiness professionals must be prepared to attend to the ways that psychological and emotional trauma can affect people's abilities to focus on education and training opportunities, muster the self-motivation needed to search for and gain employment, and engage in the self-regulation needed to maintain employment.


Team Members

Wakara Terry

WREP Project Manager 

Wakara was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. She has nearly a decade of experience in Human Resources at the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Medical Center, holding roles in talent acquisition, labor relations, compliance, and HR technology. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Oberlin College, a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and a Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law. ​

Micere Keels

WREP Faculty Fellow

Micere is Associate Professor, Dept. of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on understanding how sociodemographic characteristics (race-ethnicity and poverty, in particular) structure the supports and challenges that individuals experience. She is particularly invested in developing systems-change interventions. She is the founding director of the Trauma Responsive Educational Practices Project, which is a research-translation and research-practice-partnership that aims to connect the brain and behavior research on developmental trauma with the realities of school and classroom management.

James Williams

WREP Administrative Fellow

James is the Executive Director of the Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Department in the Urban Health Initiative at UChicago Medicine.  Currently, he leads the implementation of an enterprise-wide Equity Strategy designed to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization.  A lifelong South Side resident, James earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from DePaul University with a focus on Designing and Implementing Leadership Strategies That Advance Equity in Organizational Settings. 

​Joel Jackson

WREP Administrative Fellow

Joel is the UChicago Medicine Assistant Director of Inclusion and Training for the Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Department of the Urban Health Initiative.  He coordinates the hospital’s cultural competence training strategy and is the lead facilitator of the UChicago Medicine Cultural Competence Course.  Joel is also helping to coordinate the hospital’s Resilience Based Care training strategy which will include a focus on compassion fatigue resilience and a focus on trauma-informed care.  He is the 2020 Staff Diversity Leadership Award recipient for the University of Chicago.  In addition, Joel serves as a subject matter expert for several programs at the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination.  Through Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation of Greater Chicago, Joel serves as a Racial Healing Practitioner.  In this role, Joel co-facilitates Racial Healing Circles across Chicagoland, helping to provide space for healing, connection, and reaffirming humanity in all of us.

Davu Keels

WREP Project Assistant

Davu is an undergraduate at Case Western University studying to earn his Bachelor's Degree in Business Management with a concentration in organizational leadership hoping to use that to succeed in the field of HR and Organizational Development. He was born in Elgin, IL, and currently resides in Cleveland, OH where he attends school. 

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