Screen Shot 2018-08-26 at 2.59.08 PM.png


As America becomes increasingly diverse, we are also dangerously polarized—not just in our politics, but our everyday lives. The good news? We can change, if we’re willing to try.  Join us to explore our greatest challenge—how to live together in difference.

Beginning in 2019, we are inviting Barrington area community members and guest experts for a series of monthly talks designed to spark critical inquiry, awareness & growth. Topics include: The Art of Listening, Cultivating Curiosity, Understanding Privilege, Confronting Bias, Sharing Prosperity, and Practicing Courage.

This series is presented through a unique urban/suburban partnership between Barrington’s White House, a cultural center in the heart of downtown Barrington, and Urban Consulate, a national network of parlors for exchange. This program is made possible thanks to the generous support of Jessica Swoyer Green & The Duchossois Family.



Thirty-five miles northwest of Chicago, in the countryside villages of Barrington, residents recognize the need to reach beyond their own lived experiences to better understand diverse backgrounds & perspectives.

By the numbers, Barrington is fortunate. Beloved for its traditional charm, great schools and quality of life, it is not the most diverse place in America. But it is kind, generous and willing to learn.


After venturing off to other cities, two daughters of Barrington, Jessica Swoyer Green & Claire Nelson, found themselves struggling to talk about social issues back at home. So with the help of their families and advisors, they began hatching a series for learning & exchange—A Year of Courageous Conversations.




Located 35 miles northwest of Chicago, Barrington’s White House began with a vision to turn a historic home on Main Street into the heart of the town. Built in 1898 and renovated in 2017, the house now serves as a welcoming cultural center for meetings, classes, exhibits, concerts & celebrations. Originally the home of John and Julia Robertson Jr., today it is owned by the Village of Barrington and supported by the Friends of Barrington’s White House, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, for the benefit of the community.

UrbanConsulate_2 copy.jpg


Urban Consulate is a national network of parlors for civic exchange. A winner of the Knight Cities Challenge, the Consulate hosts conversations in Detroit, Philadelphia, New Orleans & other great American cities to bring people together and share ideas for better communities. Through parlor talks & dialogues on topics ranging from civic engagement to racial equity, the Consulate invites diverse guests to ask hard questions, share knowledge and build trust & understanding.




A few examples of the topics we look forward to exploring together—

The Art of Listening

Active listening with less judgment and more curiosity is a skill that takes training & practice! Journalists, therapists & clergy are taught this—how can more of us learn?

Cultivating Curiosity

We are born with wide eyes of wonder—but let's be honest, this can fade as we age. How do we keep that fervor for learning, questioning & understanding the changing world around us?

Questioning Certainty

"The whole problem with the world," said Bertrand Russell, "is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." How can we check our tendencies toward false confidence and confirmation bias?

Stretching Our Comfort Zones

How often am I a minority in a room? When was the last time I had a meaningful conversation with a stranger? We'll talk about ways to better understand different perspectives by seeking out opportunities for healthy discomfort.

Understanding Privilege

We often say we are “blessed” or “fortunate," but do we really know how much? (By the numbers, both nationally & globally.) Let's talk about how to use any advantage we may have for good.

Confronting Our Biases

We all have them—but often we don’t recognize them or are ashamed to admit. Sometimes all it takes is acknowledging they exist and investigating how they came to be.

Equitable Inclusion

The demographic maps are clear: we sort ourselves geographically based on race & class. Unfortunately, there is nothing worse for economic opportunity and mobility than concentrated wealth. How can we disrupt segregation for greater equity & inclusion?

Sharing Prosperity

As philanthropist Brooke Astor once said: "Money is like manure, it's not worth a thing unless it's spread around.” How can we best share our resources, connections & opportunities outside of our own personal networks?


What Do We Mean by “Difference”?

When you hear the word "difference," do you think first of political partisanship? That's certainly part of the story, but not the full picture of who we are as humans. For this series, we're interested in exploring the many identities we carry—origin, background, race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ideology & more—that inform our beliefs, attitudes, preferences (and yes, politics).



How can we get this year started off right? We are thrilled to welcome the nation’s preeminent voice for better conversations, Krista Tippett:


An Evening with Krista Tippett

Thursday, May 23, 2019, 6:30pm

Barrington High School

Free & open to the public




A Barrington native, Jessica has been an active member of the Chicagoland philanthropic community for the past decade. After participating in a SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) seminar, the experience led her to seek meaningful ways to mindfully expand inclusion & diversity within her sphere of influence. She serves on the board of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) to promote interfaith cooperation in higher education, and was a founding member of the Chicago leadership council of Upwardly Global to eliminate employment barriers for skilled immigrants & refugees. As Vice President of The Duchossois Family Foundation, she stewards investments in education & wellness. Jessica received her BFA in Dance from University of Illinois and MA in Arts Criticism from City University London.


A Barrington expat, Claire is the founder of the Urban Consulate, a network of parlors for urban exchange. A winner of the Knight Cities Challenge, the Consulate hosts conversations in Detroit, Philadelphia & New Orleans to bring people together and share ideas for more equitable & sustainable cities. Over the last two decades, she has led a number of projects to promote community engagement & revitalization, including Urban Innovation Exchange, Model D, On the Ground, Declare Detroit, Open City, Mind the Gap and Bureau of Urban Living. Claire studied architecture & urbanism at Smith College and Columbia University’s Shape of Two Cities: New York/Paris program, and was a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome.


Reverend Dr. Zina Jacque brought her ministry and talents to The Community Church of Barrington in February of 2007. She has served on the staffs of multicultural, urban and suburban churches, both large and small. Rev. Zina has done extensive work in the areas of education, counseling, and support programs, and has been involved with many civic and philanthropic endeavors, including serving on the boards of JourneyCare, the Samaritan Counseling Center of the Northwest Suburbs, and the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago. In addition to her Doctorate in Practical Theology and Masters of Divinity (Summa Cum Laude) from Boston University, she has a Masters of Education from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University.


Lauren brings an authentic perspective to community engagement & development. Through her consultancy Deep Dive Detroit, she conducts popular community conversations, workshops, dialogues & dinners on racial equity and ethical redevelopment for civic, philanthropic and institutional clients. A lead advisor to the Urban Consulate, Lauren serves on the City of Detroit Planning Commission and has been a fellow of Leadership Detroit, PlaceLab Chicago, and Harvard Business School’s Young American Leaders Program. An avid traveler, she has participated in several learning/exchange delegations with Aspen Institute, Civic Commons, 880 Cities & more. Lauren received her Masters in Community Development from University of Detroit Mercy.


The full program & registration will be announced in Spring 2019.

Interested in receiving updates?

made possible thanks to support from

The Duchoissois Family