Facing Forward

2022 Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week Panel

October 24, 2021 | 2.5 min read


Join us for a virtual panel during national Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week! With a focus on challenges faced by new and expectant parents, panelists will discuss how homelessness, housing instability and food insecurity, and national issues like formula shortages and increased inflation are affecting our community. Read more about our expert panelists below!
Register at the link below to learn about how we are working together to holistically address these concerns and how you can help families and children in Chicago meet their needs, build stability, and thrive.

About Our Panelists:

Crystal L. Ellison, Early Childhood Advocate - Facing Forward to End Homelessness

Crystal L. Ellison serves as Early Childhood Advocate on Facing Forward's Family Empowerment Team. Her work supports children ages 0-5 and their parents through connections to doula services, developmental assessments, ongoing communication, and referrals to community partners and resources. Her other professional accomplishments include training in residential care, residential management, trauma-informed care, Parents as Teachers frameworks, and certification as an ASQ trainer and screener.

In her spare time, Crystal serves as Outreach & Event Coordinator for her church spearheading special events that create a positive impact in the community.


Nancy Heil, M.D., Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Nancy Heil, M.D., FAAP, is a board certified, general pediatrician who practiced general pediatrics for thirty-seven years until retiring in 2018. She volunteers with the Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) and is Co-Chair of their housing project, First Steps: Improving Child Health and Housing. She is also on the leadership team of the Collaborative on Child Homelessness- Illinois. Additional housing related activity includes representing ICAAP at Chicago Homelessness & Health Response Group for Equity (CHHRGE), serving on the CHHRGE Advocacy Committee, and helping to form the Interfaith Roundtable on Homelessness which supports the Bring Chicago Home campaign.


Claudia Rodriguez - Director of Public Benefits Outreach at the Greater Chicago Food Depository

Claudia leads the organization’s benefits outreach work in Cook County, which includes building strategic partnerships, managing the team that connects neighbors to public benefits, and identifying new opportunities to increase awareness of critical benefits like SNAP and Medicaid. Prior to joining the Food Depository, Claudia worked at a non-profit providing support services to individuals with mental illness.

In her spare time, Claudia enjoys volunteering at organizations that promote and defend the rights and needs of children.


Moderator: Michelle Relerford, Evening Co-Anchor - NBC 5 Chicago

Michelle Relerford is the weekend evening co-anchor for NBC 5 News. She returned home to Chicago as a reporter and fill-in anchor in September of 2011 after reporting in South Bend, Indiana and Cleveland, Ohio. Born and raised in Chicago and with a degree from the University of Connecticut, she has been nominated for two local Emmys. In 2016, she was promoted to weekend evening anchor. Michelle enjoys giving back to the community and family time.