2016 Leadership Institute Mentors

LI Mentors 1



Pon AngaraPon Angara

Pon is Principal of Barkada Creative, a branding and design studio, and Director of Barkada Circle, a team of artists coaching nonprofits on how to tell more compelling stories about their mission. Part artist and part engineer, Pon brings diverse perspectives together to show leaders how bold ideas can change perceptions within their organizations sparking meaningful transformation.

As partner to nonprofits, Pon is passionate about helping create their distinct brand using his depth of real-world experience in communication design, event marketing and storytelling. He has delivered keynotes and workshops on storytelling for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Illinois Community College Resource Development, Illinois Farm Bureau, Loyola University Museum of Art, and National Louis University.

Pon’s academic study brought him a unique understanding for applying the principles of science, business and the arts in innovative problem solving. Pon graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a B.S. Engineering Management, B.F.A. Industrial Design and B.F.A. Communication Design.

ABrown_Headshot_ppAndreason Brown

Andreason Brown serves as CFO with Forefront (formerly Donors Forum) where he oversees the finance and administration functions, including accounting, human resources, IT infrastructure, and facilities. Andreason provides strategic direction for the ongoing financial and operational sustainability of Forefront and ensures best practices in finance, management and governance.  

His extensive work in the nonprofit sector encompasses a broad spectrum of organizations including membership, social service, architecture/design, and performing arts. Previously, he most recently served as Vice President and Assistant Treasurer for the Executive Service Corps of Chicago and Operations Director at the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference, a council of municipal governments.

Andreason is deeply committed to the sector and currently serves on the boards and committees of several organizations including TASC, African American Legacy Fund at The Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Dance Crash, the FORUM, and LINKS. He earned a Bachelor of Economics degree at Central Michigan University and a Master of Nonprofit Management degree at DePaul University.

Chan 2015 head shotKathy Chan

Kathy Chan is the Director of Policy for Cook County Health & Hospitals System where she provides leadership on policy activities and initiatives for one of the largest public hospital systems in the nation.

Previously, Kathy was the Associate Director and Director of Policy and Advocacy for EverThrive Illinois (formerly the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition), where she worked for over ten years. From 2002-2006, Kathy staffed EverThrive Illinois’ Covering Kids and Families Project. Her efforts there helped Illinois gain recognition as a national leader in outreach and enrollment.

Kathy also worked at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, where she assisted with strategic enrollment efforts and the implementation of All Kids. She is an appointed member and elected Chair of the Illinois Medicaid Advisory Committee and serves on the boards of the Midwest Access Project and Delta Dental Foundation of Illinois. Kathy formerly served on the boards of Chicago Volunteer Doulas, IFLOSS, and YNPN Chicago.

Kathy was recognized for her policy work with an award from Health and Medicine Policy Research Group in 2012. Kathy graduated with a B.A. in English from Northwestern University and began her career as an organizer with Green Corps.

Joy-DeckerJoy Decker

As the Executive Director of Esperanza Community Services, Joy Decker is committed to serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to help improve their quality of life. Joy joined Esperanza in 2014 and has over 22 years working in social service organizations that serve people with disabilities.

Prior to Esperanza, Joy worked at Orchard Village where she held various roles including case manager, residential director, senior director of programs, and president and CEO. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Drake University and a M.A. in Nonprofit Administration with distinction from North Park University. Joy continues to stay connected with North Park and serves on the Axelson Symposium planning committee and the Alford-Axelson Award committee. She is a seasoned strategic executive with proven experience and demonstrated results in program development, community outreach, and strategic change.

Greg DiDomenico 2Greg Didomenico

Greg is President and CEO at Community Memorial Foundation (CMF). Greg joined the CMF team as Vice President in January 2009 after serving as Executive Director for a number of years at local nonprofits, the Rich Port YMCA (now the Greater La Grange YMCA) and Hinsdale Center for the Arts. Greg’s resume also includes management positions at Little City Foundation and leadership roles in Pennsylvania, where he coordinated community mental health services and directed down-sizing efforts for state institutions in Montgomery County.

Greg serves on a number of community boards and advisory committees, including the Illinois Gift of Adoption Board, Illinois Arts Alliance Board, the Illinois Attorney General’s Charitable Advisory Council and a Past Board President of the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In 2012, the Young Nonprofit Professional Network of Chicago honored Greg as its inaugural Nonprofit Mentor of the Year.

Marissa FilippoMarissa Filippo

Marissa has 12 years of experience with associations and nonprofit organizations in Chicago. She currently serves as the Executive and Strategic Projects Manager at the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and its affiliate, the DALE Foundation. Prior to DANB, Marissa was the Nonprofit Programs Manager at Donors Forum. From 2010 – 2013, she was a member of the volunteer executive board at the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) of Chicago. While on the board at YNPN, Marissa helped raise the average number of programs per year from 18 to 33, increased the annual budget from $10,000 to $30,000 and serve close to 4,000 young nonprofit professional members in the Chicago area.

Marissa earned a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Humanities from Arizona State University. She is focused on a career working for organizations that are mission-driven, and believes it is important that nonprofits and associations exist for people to organize around and within, find common values, give those values a voice and then amplify that voice for the greater good.

Adrienne Hiegel

Adrienne is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Health & Disability Advocates, a position she has held since 2014. Prior to that, she was an independent consultant to nonprofits, including acting as one of HDA’s consultants during its 2013-2014 transition.  

She spent over 12 years working for the City of Chicago in various senior policy and operational positions, including Deputy Chief of Staff for the Office of the Mayor, First Deputy Commissioner with the Department of Consumer Services, and Deputy Chief Performance Officer with Chicago Public Schools. She spent three years as an associate in the Chicago Office of Mayer, Brown, litigating corporate class-action lawsuits, and four years as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago litigating issues specific to affirmative action, constitutional rights, fair housing, and race discrimination. She holds a B.A. from Brown University, and an M.A. in English Literature and a J.D. from Columbia University.

Mae Hong 2Mae Hong

Mae is the Vice President of the Midwest regional office of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA). In this role she is responsible for building RPA’s presence in serving individual donors, families, foundations and corporations throughout the Midwest. Prior to entering the nonprofit sector, Mae worked in the publishing industry for several years following her graduation from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her 15 years of experience in nonprofit and philanthropy include serving as the Program Director at the Field Foundation of Illinois, where she oversaw grant making and internal operations. Her funding expertise includes children, youth and families; poverty alleviation; women and girls’ issues; and advocacy. She has also been actively involved in RPA’s leadership on the issue of diversity in philanthropy.

Mae actively participates in local and national philanthropic associations and networks, serving in leadership roles on boards and committees, engaging in public speaking opportunities, and facilitating planning and execution of philanthropic initiatives. She is a past chair of the board of Chicago Foundation for Women. Her current board service includes Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and the Illinois Humanities Council. Mae completed her graduate degree in social service administration at The University of Chicago.

KimShotKim Hunt

Kim is the Executive Director of the Pride Action Tank, a results-driven group that addresses challenges facing individuals and groups within LGBTQ communities through a collaborative process of inquiry, advocacy, and action. She is an advocate, urban design geek, and lifelong learner.

During her 30 year career Kim has focused on strengthening communities. Kim is the former executive director of Affinity Community Services, a 20 year old Chicago social justice organization that works with and for Black LGBTQ communities and queer youth. Prior to Affinity she owned a community development and management consulting firm. She has taught mini-courses at the University of Chicago, is co-host of OUTSpoken! LGBTQ Storytelling, and serves on several boards and advisory councils.

Jerry Pinney PicJerry Pinney

For the last twenty-five years Jerry has been President of his own consulting firm, Jerry Pinney and Associates. He is a facilitator for peer advisory groups with The Alternative Board and is a Certified One Page Planning Consultant.

Beyond that Jerry has over three decades of experience in the food industry, and possesses a unique perspective of customer service and marketing. Jerry has proven expertise in planning and business development. His food industry career started at Jewel Food Stores and developed with a long career with IGA, with their retailers, wholesalers and ten years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition Jerry has served as Vice President of Membership for the National Grocers Association, Senior Vice President of Procurement for Shurfine International and Executive Manager of The Zenon Hansen Foundation.

Jerry has also served on a number of nonprofit boards including the Volunteer Center of Northwest Suburban Chicago. He is currently a Project Manager for the Executive Service Corps (ESC) of Chicago. Jerry’s ESC assignments have included coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning projects.

DanyaPicDanya Rosen

Danya has nearly a decade of experience in nonprofit management across both the direct service and advocacy sectors. She joined Peer Health Exchange (PHE) in 2010. As the Chicago Executive Director, Danya is primarily responsible for the development, management, growth, and evaluation of the PHE Chicago program, raising funds, managing and growing the Chicago Board of Overseers, and providing fiscal and organizational oversight for PHE Chicago. Danya previously served as PHE’s Senior Director of Development in San Francisco, CA.

Prior to joining PHE, Danya spent five years at Peace Action West (PAW) as the Deputy Outreach Director, where she was responsible for overseeing California-based programming. While at PAW, she lobbied for disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation with the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s DC Days, and managed the GOTV efforts for the 2006 CA-11 race through PAW’s political action committee. Danya graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Sociology. She is a member of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs’ JCore, the Chicago Foundation for Women’s LBTQ Giving Council, and the Chicago Department of Public Health’s Adolescent Health Access Committee.

Liz ShamwaysLiz Samways

Liz has spent the last 12 years working within the education sector throughout the city of Chicago. Currently, she serves as the Director of Talent Strategy at Teach For America Chicago-Northwest Indiana where she is charged with developing and driving the strategy to fully staff the region and the Chicago Summer Training institute as well as designing and executing strategy related to region-wide talent planning practices and initiatives.

A native of the suburbs of Chicago, Liz began her career as a 2003 Teach For America corps member where she taught elementary school on the Southside of the city. Upon leaving the classroom, Liz spent the next decade of her career in a variety of nonprofits working towards education equity – from after school programs to a national network of charter schools. This is Liz’s second time on Teach For America staff and she is excited to be a part of the next phase of the organization as they move to celebrate their 25th year.

Patrick SheahanDr. Patrick Sheahan

Patrick has deep and wide expertise at the intersection of businesses, government and nonprofit organizations; advising Fortune 500 CEOs; starting a small business as a sophomore in college; leading highly respected nonprofit organizations; and currently, providing consultation on organizational change and program development to nonprofits and businesses.

Highlights of Patrick’s career include his positions as Managing Director and Americans Head of Community Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility for UBS, as the Public Affairs Director for Sara Lee Corporation, as the founding board chairman for Center on Halsted, and as the current board chair of Woods Fund Chicago. The common thread and strengths that he has exhibited from these roles is the ability to inspire positive change, to support and develop colleagues, and to accomplish ambitious initiatives.

Patrick received his Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Illinois at Chicago; his M.S. in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Kentucky, Lexington; and his B.A. from Asbury College in Kentucky. He has taught courses in nonprofit management and fundraising at Northwestern University’s School of Continuing Studies and Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies.

Susan SiejaSusan Sieja

Susan attended St. Norbert College in DePere, WI, where she earned a B.A. in International Business and Spanish. After graduation, Susan held positions with the Embassy of Argentina in Chicago, United Airlines and later worked in a family business. In 1997, Susan began her career in the nonprofit sector, as a Regional Representative for ALSAC / St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the Chicago Regional Office. Her responsibilities were special event fundraising and volunteer development throughout the Midwest. She quickly moved into management roles, managing teams of special event fundraisers in several offices throughout Illinois and Minnesota that met multi-million dollar yearly budgets.

In 2008, Susan was promoted to Senior Regional Director of Field Operations, working with regional special event field staff, managing regional offices throughout the United States and driving national fundraising programs. In 2011, Susan accepted a position within the ALSAC/St. Jude Gift Planning Department, as a Regional Director on the Bequest Team. In this role, Susan and her team focus on the stewardship of donors who have included St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in their estate plans or hold other planned gifts with the organization. Susan currently manages a team of Philanthropic Advisors located throughout the United States and is a strategic leader on the second largest Bequest program in the country.

Sharmila ThakkarSharmila Thakkar, MPH, MPA

Sharmila has been working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector for nearly 20 years. As Executive Director of the Siragusa Foundation she guides the board’s funding decisions, engages the next generations in their leadership development, and provides strategic direction on grantmaking and other grantee outreach and community partnership initiatives.

She co-chairs the National Center for Family Philanthropy’s Non-Family Peer Network and participates as a mentor in Exponent Philanthropy’s Next Gen Training Program. Sharmila also serves on the boards of Allowance for Good, the South Asian Philanthropy Project and the Women’s Funding Network. She also serves as a troop leader and Advisory Council member for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. She recently concluded her 6-year term on the board of the Chicago Foundation for Women, where she chaired the Asian American Giving Council and the board programs/grantmaking committee.

Sharmila holds a MPA from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, a MPH from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and a B.A. in International Relations from Brown University.