Dilara’s very first memories are of playing double-dutch on the playground, and her graduation from the Head Start preschool program for low-income children in Chicago. She is a product of Chicago Public Schools and a Catholic high school. These experiences have fueled Dilara’s ambition for equity, high quality, and accountability for all our residents – youth and adults, especially in vulnerable and developing communities.
Dilara has been an educator and community leader for over 20 years. She is a former teacher and education policy expert who uses her real world experience to help people of all backgrounds succeed. As an eighth grade teacher, she focused on race and pluralism issues in the United States. Over her career, Sayeed has worked with the Children’s Defense Fund to disrupt cradle-to-prison pipelines, has facilitated inclusion and equity programs, and has worked with school districts to increase parent and community engagement. At District 203, Dilara was mentored by master educators and activists. She learned what makes communities successful. Dilara is taking her public service to the next level as candidate for the 5th District to protect our American values of justice, equality, and pluralism.
Dilara’s strategic and operational experience will be valuable to the state. Most recently, as Chief Education Officer at the Golden Apple Foundation, she led strategy and execution to ensure the best educators are prepared to go into schools-of-need across Illinois. She is a tech entrepreneur and founder of vPeer, an online virtual mentoring platform that focuses on accessible and effective professional mentoring for all, especially women, professionals-of-color, and those from low-income communities.
Dilara attributes vision, work ethic, family, and God’s Grace in allowing her to overcome struggles, be a successful educator and businesswoman. She has a master’s degree from Northwestern and a doctorate from Harvard University. She teaches School Leadership at Northwestern and is a Fulbright Specialist in Education. She has been awarded accolades for her work and her leadership in the areas of community service, education, and advocacy. Dilara lives in Chicago’s South Loop with her husband. Together, they have raised three children who are now young adults.
Dr. Dilara Sayeed