Dr. Rachel FergusonCollege of Business assistant dean and director of CUC’s Free Enterprise Center (FEC)—recently participated in The American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) panel discussion, FREE Forum: Chicago. AEI’s FREE Forums are the central pillar in their effort to cultivate “a deeper understanding of how families, faith communities, educational institutions and entrepreneurial cultures weave together a moral fabric that shapes children.”

The short documentary “FREE(d) by Faith” and keynote address by Ian V. Rowe, author of Agency: The Four Point Plan (F.R.E.E.) for ALL Children to Overcome the Victimhood Narrative and Discover Their Pathway to Power were powerful and inspiring. Acting as moderator, Ferguson engaged panelists in a discussion about their experiences with neighborhood stabilization through reimagined philanthropic efforts. She was joined by Cliff Barber, partner at Chicago Rises, Pastor Corey B. Brooks, founder and CEO of Project H.O.O.D.; Susan E. Mangels, senior vice president of AC Fitzgerald; Lucas Rouggly, executive director and founder of LOVEtheLOU; Ian Rowe, senior fellow at AEI and Bishop Dr. Reginald Saffo, senior pastor of United Faith MB Church.

Dr. Rachel Ferguson (left) and Pastor Corey Brooks speak as part of the panel discussion regarding neighborhood stabilization.


“My own pastor talks a lot about how we live in a microwave society—push the button and it’s done. But in reality, it takes 8-10 years to stabilize a block, and that’s with a lot of love and dedication and commitment,” Ferguson shared while connecting poverty alleviation with neighborhood stabilization.

“We can spend the next 40 years allocating money and resources and not stabilize anything, if we invest in the wrong approach. It’s really worth thinking through how we’re investing, who we’re investing in and what’s truly transformational,” she added. “You want to invest in the people that are on the ground—they’re going to be hyper-local, they’re going to be personally present, they’re going to be invested long term.”

“I’m glad we’re having this opportunity for grassroots organizations to connect and work together,” said Pastor Brooks. “Individually they’re doing phenomenal work led by awesome, impactful leaders. Working together, I believe that we’re going to see some dramatic changes—lowering crime statistics … and the transformation of blocks.”

Established in 2020, Concordia-Chicago’s FEC intends to cultivate virtuous leaders who embrace the role of free enterprise in developing healthy communities. Ferguson notes that she hopes to accomplish that by celebrating constitutional tradition, educating students on the power of the market and specializing in helping nearby communities in need. For more information on the University’s FEC, visit CUChicago.edu/fec.