2019 Leadership Institute Cohort


Azalea-Acuna-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgAzalea Acuña
Program Coordinator, La Casa Norte

Azalea Acuña is the Palante Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Re-Housing Program Coordinator at La Casa Norte, a non-profit located on the West side of Chicago serving youth and families confronting homelessness. Azalea is an alumnus of the Loyola School of Social Work, graduating in 2012 with her Bachelor of Social Work degree. Azalea began her career at La Casa Norte in 2013 as a case manager in their Permanent Supportive Housing program. She practiced direct service for three and a half years before being promoted to her current role. Azalea is a graduate of the Inaugural Cohort of the Latino Policy Forum’s Multicultural Leadership Academy in 2017. Azalea is excited about La Casa Norte’s new community service & wellness center opening in January 2019 in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. Along with an FQHC and community pantry, this facility will be inclusive of Pierce House, an extension of La Casa Norte’s Permanent Supportive Housing program, with an additional 25 units dedicated to chronically homeless youth and families in the city of Chicago. Azalea’s interest and passion lies in developing and enhancing programming for homeless youth and families that operates under an Inclusive, Housing First, Harm Reduction model”.

Chris-Bresky-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgChris Bresky
Programs Manager, Adler Planetarium

Chris Bresky is a trained artist and educator who currently works at the Adler Planetarium finding creative ways for the public to engage with science. He is interested in using story and narrative to inspire exploration. He has been awarded the Jon Lipsky Award for Excellence in Playwriting for his immersive theatre work about Gemini 4 and the life and death challenges of space exploration. Chris is also the author and illustrator of the shark holiday mash-up,"The 12 Days of a Great White Christmas." Currently, Chris is partnering with Chicago teens and scientists to embark on the first student-driven underwater meteorite hunt : "The Aquarius

Laura-Campbell-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgLaura Campbell, LCSW
Program Manager, Coaching - LIFT-Chicago

Laura Campbell is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has 10 years of experience working with children and families through research, evaluation, volunteering and direct service. She currently works at the Program Manager, Coaching at LIFT-Chicago, a national non-profit that works one-on-one with parents on their career, financial, and education goals to break the cycle of poverty. Laura's role is to provide management, support, training and direction to LIFT-Chicago staff with special attention to member service quality and local intern management, training and service delivery. Prior to LIFT, Laura worked as the School Social Worker at Legacy Charter School in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood on the west side. She provided elementary-aged children with individual and small-group counseling services and crisis intervention. Prior to graduate school, she focused on early childhood research and evaluation as a Senior Research Assistant at Child Trends in the Washington, D.C. area. Laura holds a Masters of Social Work from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and African-American Studies from the University of Virginia. In her free time, Laura enjoys spending time with her husband and adorable beagle, cooking delicious meals, exploring new restaurants across Chicago, running, going to concerts, and playing board games.

Erica-Eckhardt-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgErica Eckhardt
Development Associate, Public Allies Chicago

Erica Eckhardt has always had a passion for working with youth and organizations that understand and invest in their assets and talents. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago and went right into working in the nonprofit sector, in direct service with youth in several different positions. As the demands for money and resources became apparent, she was often tasked with working to secure extra supplies, money, and talent in order to ensure that the programs she was working with were successful. Like all non-profit jobs, she also wore many hats including marketing and data reporting. Over the course of a few years, it became apparent that working on the development side and helping to tell the unique stories of the program participants was the place she was meant to be. In 2012, she transitioned to a full time development position at a youth serving community organization and gained invaluable experience from her coworkers and larger organization.

Stacy-Gilmer-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgStacy Gilmer
Organizational Development Specialist, Planned Parenthood of Illinois

Stacy Gilmer is the Organizational Development Specialist at Planned Parenthood of Illinois. Her focus includes leadership development, employee engagement, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. She joined the organization in 2015 as a training coordinator. Prior to working with PPIL, Stacy was a youth sexual health educator at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health. She graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from Saint Louis University in 2010. Stacy currently lives in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago with her husband David and toddler son Jonah.

Lisa-Kim-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgLisa See Kim
Director of Marketing and Communications, Mikva Challenge

Lisa See Kim is a professional creative and all around do-gooder. Currently as the Director of Marketing and Communications at Mikva Challenge, she develops and implements a high impact communications plan for a youth civic engagement nonprofit. She has spearheaded a rebranding and messaging strategy; created new systems for communications workflows; and deployed a high-yield social media strategy. She is passionate about using creative storytelling to support mission-driven organizations. Throughout her career as a designer, educator, and program director she uses the intersections of art, media-making, learning, and technology to promote equity and empower communities to tell their own stories. Prior to her work at Mikva Challenge, she has worked with The Field Museumg, MIT Media Lab, and YWCA of New York. Lisa earned her M.Ed. in Technology, Innovation, and Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education and her B.A. in Visual Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Stephanie-Mena-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgStephanie Mena, CWDP
Career Coach, National Able Network, Inc.

Stephanie Mena is a Career Coach with over 7 years of experience in direct client services and crisis intervention at National Able Network. She has worked with diverse populations of various socioeconomic backgrounds and brings over 10 years of experience in the Social Service Industry. Stephanie excels in the development of employment for all job seekers by helping them make informed decisions about their career development and providing tools that they can use – resume, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles – to reach their goals. Her approach is to first meet with a client to create an Individualized Employment Plan with a solution-oriented approach to identify steps to achieve their career goals. Further, Stephanie also helps clients identify any potential barriers to employment and a plan to tackle them. She is most passionate about seeing clients succeed, thrive, and leave with a new sense of hope for their future! Stephanie obtained her Bachelors of Arts, with a major in Psychology, from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She recently obtained a Certified Workforce Development (CWDP) certification from the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals for her expertise in core areas of Career Coaching. When not working, Stephanie enjoys traveling, playing softball, and checking out museums.

EM-Miller-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgE.M. Miller
Director of Teacher Support, Chicago, ONEGOAL

E.M. Miller (they/them) is an educator and innovator working in college access and success. After graduating from the College of Wooster in 2007, they began their nonprofit career serving as an Americorps volunteer City Year Seattle/King County. Since then, they have worked in the nonprofit and public sectors-- as a community technology center coordinator, CPS teacher, college counselor, and, most recently, as a Director of Teacher Support with OneGoal Chicago. At OneGoal, E.M. coaches teachers from across the city as they support first-year college students. They are excited to grow and develop with others in the YNPN Leadership Institute.

Payal-Patel-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgPayal Patel
Public Relations Manager, Navy Pier Inc. 

Payal Patel is an international award-winning and multilingual communications professional with more than a decade of experience. With a knack for writing and storytelling, Payal originally set out for a career in sports broadcasting upon graduating from Marquette University. Following a brief stint as a sports reporter for Milwaukee's ABC-TV affiliate, she returned to her hometown of Chicago to transition to a career in public relations. Currently at Navy Pier, Payal manages media relations and serves as the primary spokesperson for the top destination in the Midwest, which welcomes more than 9 million guests each year. She played a pivotal role in developing and executing the PR strategy for Navy Pier’s centennial celebration, which included a robust lineup of special events and programming and Pier-wide redevelopment efforts to enhance the iconic landmark as it entered its second century.

Presently, Payal sits on the local boards for Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) and Women In Sports and Events (WISE), and is a member of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Chicago Leadership Alliance (CLA), an exclusive network of distinguished leaders in Chicago. As part of her philanthropic involvement, she volunteers regularly at Feed My Starving Children and serves as an ambassador and charter member of Room to Read - Chicago Chapter. In her spare time, Payal enjoys reading, working on her cookbook (benefiting Room to Read), practicing yoga and meditation, watching soccer and spending time with family and friends. Payal currently resides in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago with her goldendoodle, Leo – named after her favorite soccer player, Lionel Messi.

Corey-Richardson-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgCorey Richardson
Director of Placement & Alumni Relations, Golden Apple Foundation

Corey Richardson is Director of Placement & Alumni Relations of the Golden Apple Foundation, which honors, develops and trains teachers in Illinois. The program has impacted nearly 3,000 teachers and 70,000 students throughout the state. Richardson focuses on improving the career services, K-12 partnerships and alumni engagement for the entire program. Before joining the foundation, he served as a regional admission counselor for Western Illinois University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of St. Francis (’09) and a master’s in Leadership Studies in Higher Education from North Central College (’12). Richardson volunteers in the community as the Chairman of One Million Degree Associates Board and is a national member of American Enterprise Institute Leadership Network.

Jocelyn-Rizzo-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgJocelyn Rizzo
Care Manager Team Lead, Erie Family Health Center

Jocelyn Rizzo is from Joliet, Illinois and earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and French at Iowa State University. Following her studies she volunteered until she landed her first job at Catholic Charities. She then lived abroad for two years honing her French speaking skills while teaching English at various levels. Her experience at a transitional housing shelter, O'hare international airport and managed care reflect her interest in living with intention, in different cultures and in human rights, such as quality of life.

With over ten years in the field, she is committed to leadership and strives to lead by example. She learns the most from her patients and her team through the exchanging of ideas and collaboration. She stays motivated to do her best to meet her patients' health needs, keeping in mind that they are the heart of the program. Jocelyn is always looking for ways to improve and take on new adventures including this new one with YNPN!

Marine-Tempels-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgMarine Tempels
Development Director, ArtReach Chicago

Marine Tempels is the Development Director for ArtReach Chicago, a nonprofit that empowers and connects people through the practice of visual arts. She is responsible for cultivating relationships with the funding community, individual donors, and event liaisons to support the organization’s mission-driven programming. ArtReach believes that distinct job functions are strengthened with a holistic, integrated approach to the work that ensures connectivity. Therefore, Marine also works to improve program operations and structures, envision new programs, evaluate existing programs, and contribute to the vision of the organization. Aside from ArtReach, Marine is a practicing visual artist dedicated to making the art world more inclusive. Marine exhibits throughout Chicago and was a recent finalist of the Luminarts Cultural Foundation's Fellowship Competition. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Indiana University in 2012. Previously, Marine has worked with several organizations that help empower individuals through the arts including Stone Belt, a center for individuals with disabilities and the Recovery Engagement Center where she created artwork with individuals suffering from addictions. You can view Marine's artwork at www.marinetempels.com.

Chris-Tena-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgChris-Michael Tena
Chicago Program Coordinator, Student Conservation Association

Chris-Michael Tena is an environmentalist person of color, youth advocate, and supporter of open access to healthy recreation opportunities for all people. He is also a passionate activist for the Inclusion and Representation of people of color and LGBTQ-identified folks in outdoor spaces.

Chris-Michael serves as the Chicago Program Coordinator at the Student Conservation Association. The Student Conservation Association (SCA), a national leader in youth service and stewardship, engages young adults in hands-on service learning programs across the United States with a goal of developing the next generation of conservation stewards and leaders. In Chris-Michael's role as Program Coordinator, he oversees training and management of 125+ seasonal employees each year and serves as a project management lead for conservation-focused programming in the Chicago and Northwest Indiana region.

Prior to joining SCA, Chris-Michael worked with numerous other youth development and conservation agencies including the California Conservation Corps, Farmworker Institute of Education and Leadership Development (FIELD), and the Lake County Youth Build. He has served as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) as well as helped preserve some of the country's iconic trails as a seasonal Backcountry Trailcrew member in Yosemite National Park. In his off time, Chris-Michael volunteers with the Sierra Club Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO) program as an outing leader. He also enjoys cooking with friends, brewing beer, and napping in hammocks.

Chris-Michael earned his B.A. at the University of California, Santa Cruz in Sociology. He later received his Master of Public Affairs at Indiana University, Bloomington at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) where he studied Nonprofit Management and Social Entrepreneurship.

Edna-Togba-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgEdna M. Togba
Chief Development Officer, Chicago Sinfonietta

Edna M. Togba is the Chief Development Officer at Chicago Sinfonietta, the nation’s most diverse and innovative orchestra, where she manages fundraising efforts for the organization including grant writing, event planning, solicitations, and volunteer board oversight. She is passionate about cultivating the next generation of leaders while championing racial equality in the visual and performing arts. After receiving a B.A. from Wesleyan University (College of Letters), Edna held several positions in New York, including as a photography instructor. Later, in Paris, she worked as an English teacher and artist’s assistant. She then completed an M.A. in Art History at Northwestern University, focusing on Contemporary Black Art. Prior to joining Chicago Sinfonietta, Edna worked at The HistoryMakers in Chicago and Human Rights Watch in Los Angeles and San Francisco. She is delighted to be back in her hometown where she enjoys practicing photography, attending art exhibitions and performances, exploring the lake, and roller skating.

Shavonne-Worthy-YNPN-Chicago-150x150.jpgShavonne Worthy
Senior Program Manager, Girls on the Run–Chicago

Shavonne Worthy has over nine years of experience in the nonprofit sector, working in numerous capacities with youth, school administrators, community volunteers, and families. In her current position as the Senior Program Manager for Girls on the Run-Chicago (GOTRC), she is responsible for facilitating program development and outreach for nearly 11,000 girls annually and managing the recruitment efforts of over 2,500 volunteers. In her five years with GOTRC, she has played a key part in increasing access to programming in under-resourced communities throughout the Chicagoland area. Prior to her role at GOTRC, she was the Family Literacy Coordinator for Albany Park Community Center, where she ran a program designed to support recent immigrants in their transition by providing English classes and child education. As a first-generation college graduate, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has dedicated time to helping prepare grant proposals for the founder of The Gray Matter Experience, a non-profit that helps teens build businesses to impact underrepresented communities. More recently, she completed the Chicago Marathon as a charity athlete.