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Senator McConnaughay spotlights every day hero, Rise Jones, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Hamilton Wings

This week, Senator McConnaughay spotlights every day hero, Rise Jones, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Executive Director of Hamilton Wings, a nonprofit that addresses the needs of economically and socially challenged children through art enrichment.

Jones has helped build the organization since its very humble beginnings in 1996, operating out of the basement of the Gail Borden Public Library. Now, more than 20 years later, Hamilton Wings is a top after-school arts enrichment program and an impactful community partner for schools throughout Elgin and the surrounding areas.  

As Executive Director, Jones helps to create a comfortable environment for youths ages 6 to 17 to express themselves and develop their leadership skills through emotional learning activities. Jones has created diverse art programs and school curriculums to appeal to students, including theatrical training, literacy activities, art-focused mechanics and construction, and the ongoing SCORE series—where students write their own opera over a year and perform it at Hamilton Wings’ summer concert in July.

Jones also incorporates her personal mission of promoting positive self-esteem in young women through her annual program, “Girls in Motion.” The goal, Jones says, is to develop young women into leadership ambassadors at a young age. The program prompts the girls to find creative ways to use art and philanthropy to promote beauty in their community—and in the process, they often discover beautiful qualities within themselves.

“Arts and cultural activities provide multiple tools for children to engage, express, learn and lead,” said Jones. “Hamilton Wings makes art opportunities available to students who may not otherwise have access, and we help them explore how they can use their talents to contribute to their communities. One of my favorite accomplishments is when the young people continue to give back after the program is over, and even decide to pursue a career path that positively impacts the community.”

In addition to her involvement in the arts, Jones is a published evaluator and social scientist, and runs her own independent research consulting business, Evaluation Solutions, Inc. Jones’ research focus is evaluation for public health, ranging from cancer control outreach to focus groups on special topics and positive youth development.

One of Hamilton Wings’ initiatives, “Create, Innovate and Ignite,” mirrors Jones’ passion for melding the arts with tactical skills and problem-solving. In partnership with Elgin Community College and Gail Borden Public Library, area thought leaders and decision-makers come together to collaborate on innovative and technological solutions that will foster creativity in the community. Throughout the year, “Create, Innovate and Ignite” workshops feature influential speakers and performers in the arts, cross-cultural discussions and Elgin community development projects.

“The arts are vital to our children’s academic and emotional development, and every community needs leaders like Rise to protect and promote art enrichment and education,” said Senator McConnaughay. “She is not only an incredible role model to our young students, but she inspires everyone to discover their personal gifts and how they can use them to give back to the community.”

Senator McConnaughay is honored to recognize Rise Jones for her dedication to expanding art enrichment in the Elgin community and service to youth development. If you would like more information on her nonprofit, Hamilton Wings, please visit

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