Meet the outstanding nonprofit professionals that make up YNPN Chicago's 2020 Leadership Institute Cohort

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Senior Director of Coaching Development & Support

Rachel Bennett (she/her) is an educator, coach, and learner at heart. Rachel works as Senior Director of Coaching Development and Support at OneGoal, in her seventh year on staff since leading the program as a teacher at Perspectives Charter Schools in Chicago and seeing her 25 students through their transition after high school into college and beyond. She enjoys the aspects of her work that allow her to support and coach staff across OneGoal’s six regions to live into their strengths and have the impact they hope to have alongside the communities they are part of. Rachel is passionate about learning, connecting with others and building inclusive environments, and examining her own experience with oppression and liberation in her identity as a white woman in education.

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Assistant Manager of Youth Food Programs
Greater Chicago Food Depository

Dominique Gardner manages two federal food programs at the largest Food Bank in Cook County, the Greater Chicago Food Depository. In her most current role, she serves as project manager and trainer ensuring that youth (in high need communities) in Cook County have access to healthy nutritious meals during out of school time hours. Dominique brings over 10 years of experience in youth development including previous work at the world famous Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Dominique holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Theatre from Olivet Nazarene University and a Master’s degree in Communication and Training from Governors State University.  She is a certified MBTI practitioner, certified youth professional with the Chicago Area Project and serves as a pro Bono Youth Development Consultant in her spare time. Other areas of expertise include program design, facilitation training, and team building.

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Manager, Event Design & Operations
KIPP Foundation

Ashley currently works for the KIPP Foundation where she plans and executes professional development events for school leaders, school counselors, school operations managers, and teachers. Before she joined the KIPP Foundation, she worked with Chicago Public School seniors through a college access non-profit called Genesys Works. At Genesys Works, she created curriculum and taught college success courses to better prepare her students for life after high school. Prior to that, Ashley did similar work as a Life Coach at Instituto Health Science Career Academy, an independent charter school in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. Ashley started her career at the original campus of the Noble Network in Chicago working in the special education department. She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Carroll University in Waukesha WI, and a Masters of Social Work from Loyola University- Chicago where she specialized in school social work and adolescent substance abuse. She is passionate about school culture and post-secondary planning. Ashley also volunteers for a Chicago based non-profit (Out Our Front Door) dedicated to immersing both youth and adults in local nature and history through biking.

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Manager of Placement and Alumni Relations
Golden Apple Foundation

Jasmine Jones is the Manager of Placement and Alumni Relations for the Golden Apple Foundation. She supports the management of K-12 partnerships to ensure Golden Apple Scholars and their schools-of-need have the best provisions to maximize student success. She also actively engages the larger Golden Apple community to ensure undergraduate Scholars attain sufficient school placements and to increase and sustain alumni engagement in the work of the foundation. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Clinical Psychology and a minor in Sociology from St. Xavier University (’11), she served with AmeriCorps’ City Year Chicago which sparked an interest in equitable education. Shortly after she went on to work for nonprofits dedicated to promoting holistic learning experiences, family engagement programs, and parent leadership training.

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Senior Manager of Corporate & Foundation Relations
Girls on the Run

Alice Kovacik is the Senior Manager of Corporate & Foundation Relations at Girls on the Run-Chicago, a nonprofit positive youth development program for girls, where she oversees the organization’s corporate and foundation partnerships. This year, Girls on the Run-Chicago will empower more than 10,000 girls with the skills they need to live healthy, confident lives. Outside of her work at Girls on the Run-Chicago, Alice has supported community engagement efforts for two citywide projects with Illinois Humanities and served as the Josephine Baskin Minow Fellow for Achievement in American History at the Chicago History Museum. She is passionately curious about the intersections of arts and culture, community-based organizations, and storytelling. Alice holds a B.A. in Art History from St. Olaf College and an M.A. in Museum & Exhibition Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Director, Social Service Center
Chicago Lights

Jackie has over 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, with a focus on supporting adults affected by poverty and/or homelessness. She currently serves as Director of the Chicago Lights Social Service Center. She oversees daily operations and strategic planning for the Center, while supporting staff and interns who connect with 1,800 adults to encourage self-development, deep connections, and brighter futures through food and clothing services, case management, and enrichment programming. She also serves on the Chicago Lights Advocacy Team, providing colleagues with education and advocacy opportunities that affect their collective participants. Jackie received her Master of Nonprofit Management (2012) and B.A. in Political Science (2009) from DePaul University, making her a proud “Double Demon.” She’s always had a passion for community service and social justice, participating in several service immersion trips, and as a post-graduate volunteer with Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, where she served as a case manager for women and children residing in an emergency shelter. Jackie is a member of the Programming Committee for Chicago Women in Philanthropy, and enjoys facilitating programming for female-identified professionals, discussing topics such as diversity, equity, and inclusion; social enterprise development; and board engagement. In her free time, Jackie enjoys checking out local coffee shops with friends, flaunting her love of Star Wars, and spoiling her pit mix, Rebel (named after Star Wars Rebel Alliance).

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Program Specialist
After School Matters

Claire Meyers works as a Program Specialist at After School Matters, a youth development organization that provides Chicago teens opportunities to explore and develop their talents, while gaining critical skills for college and beyond. With a background in theatre, Claire's work has centered on access and opportunity often through the lens of the arts. Prior to After School Matters, Claire worked at Urban Gateways as the Performance Programs Associate, coordinating diverse arts experiences in everything from school gymnasiums to parks to downtown theaters. During her time at Urban Gateways, Claire helped plan a city-wide Teen Arts Leadership Summit in connection with Year of Chicago Youth. From 2015-2018, Claire was an ensemble member with Cor Theatre, helping to fundraise and develop administrative processes to support the storefront theatre company. Outside of work, Claire can be found traveling, biking, and exploring all the places and events that makes Chicago such an incredible place to live and work. She is thrilled to be part of the YNPN Leadership Institute and looks forward to learning and growing alongside the other cohort members.



Learning & Impact Analyst
Night Ministry

Damian Nelson is a capacity builder with seven years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Damian serves as the Learning & Impact Analyst for The Night Ministry, a citywide nonprofit that provides housing, healthcare, and human connection to those struggling with homelessness. He is responsible for managing efforts related to learning and evaluation across the agency. Prior, Damian managed a food pantry and community health program for three years on the Northside of Chicago. Damian holds a Master’s in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University and a Bachelor’s in Social Relations and Policy from James Madison College, the public affairs College within Michigan State University.

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Manager, Mentor Community
iMentor Chicago

Incessantly committed to creatively connecting communities to the tools and resources they need to succeed professionally and personally, Kashema is an emerging professional with over five years of experience in volunteer management and spearheading programs and events. Currently, as iMentor Chicago’s inaugural Manager of Mentor Community, Kashema co-leads the region’s mentor engagement strategy by realizing opportunities to foster meaningful mentor connections, and opportunities for mentors to recruit, fundraise, and learn more about education equity. In her spare time, Kashema can be found volunteering at her local church and attending concerts of independent R&B artists.

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Senior Director of Development and Communications
Erie Neighborhood House

Cheryl Philip serves as Senior Director of Development and Communications at Erie Neighborhood House. In her role, she invites external and internal audiences to celebrate, educate, and invest in the programming of the oldest operating settlement house in Chicago. She previously worked as a major gift officer with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, managed governmental relationships with Upbring, and worked as mid-level and major gift officer with Lutheran World Relief. Cheryl serves on the Lutheran World Federation Council and is a mentor with the TEAM program at Erie Neighborhood House. Cheryl received her BA in Sociology/Anthropology and Race and Ethnic Studies from St. Olaf College. She calls the United States, Canada, and India home.

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Program Development Specialist
Lions Club International

Erica Roche is a Program Development Specialist at Lions Clubs International, where she develops humanitarian programs and manages other initiatives for a membership base of 1.4 million members in over 200 countries. Previously, she ran her own 501c3 nonprofit benefiting refugee youth. With experience in nonprofit project and program development and nonprofit fundraising, she is excited to explore her career mapping and strengthening her leadership skills through the 2020 YNPN Leadership Institute.

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Foundation Relationship Manager
Bunker Labs

Devin Sizer is the Foundation Relationship Manager at Bunker Labs, a national nonprofit that empowers the military community to start and grow businesses. She joined Bunker Labs shortly after its founding, working as part of the team that grew the organization to more than 30 cities over five years, and helped to develop many of the organization's key funding relationships, to establish and support the national board of directors, and to create many of the organization's evaluation, development and operating strategies. As the Foundation Relationship Manager, Devin leads Bunker Labs' work in cultivating and maintaining more than $3 million in annual grant funding for local chapters and national initiatives supporting military-connected entrepreneurs. Prior to joining the Bunker, she worked for the Military Academy High School network at Chicago Public Schools. Devin loves using her detail-orientation and paperwork-y superpowers to support the work of great organizations and people through grant writing, finance and operations management, and nonprofit strategy. In addition to her work with military-connected organizations, she is passionate about supporting historical education and reproductive justice. She was proud to serve for four years as a member of the board of directors for the Chicago Abortion Fund, where she led an annual fundraising event and served on the Finance committee and as Board Secretary. Devin is an alumna of the Northwestern University Public Interest Program, where she has remained involved as a mentor and advisor, and she has also participated in the Association of Fundraising Professionals Young Professionals mentorship cohort in 2017-2018. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2012 with a degree in history and Spanish and earned an MA in American History from Queen’s University Belfast in 2015.

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Director of Digital Strategy, League of Conservation Voters

Brooke Still is the Director of Digital Strategy at the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). She works remotely in Chicago, but is often on the road back to DC or wherever the exciting work of fighting climate change takes her. Brooke joined LCV in 2014 and left in 2016 to work for Hillary For America in Michigan. After HFA, she went to Feeding America before returning back to LCV to assume the Digital Director role. Brooke grew up in the Chicago suburbs and lives in West Town with her fiance and their cat, Oliver. In her spare time she loves vegan cooking, reading, hot yoga, and enjoying all Chicago has to offer.

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Success Team Manager
Bottom Line

Gregorio Venegas is a Chicago native and is currently a Success Team Manager at Bottom Line, a non-profit organization that supports low-income, first generation college students Get In, Graduate, and Go Far. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Beloit College, with a minor in Political Science. While his passion for education began during his childhood growing up in Humboldt Park on Chicago’s West Side, his professional passion for college access and success began in earnest with an internship at the University of Chicago’s Network for College Success. Visiting and working directly with high school students from across Chicago led him to support high school students by joining Bottom Line as an Access Counselor in the Summer of 2015. Bottom Line’s commitment to support students throughout their senior year of high school, as well as up to six years for undergraduate study, with a focus on financial affordability allowed him to build upon his strong capacity to form lasting relationships with students. Growing in his capacities for data management and analysis allowed him to support Bottom Line to become a leader in Chicago’s Access and Success space. After three years of supporting high school students, he transitioned into the role of Success Advisor in 2018, supporting college students at multiple campuses in Illinois and within a year accepted the manager position. With particular passions in DE&I, supporting DACA and undocumented students, and the academic middle – Gregorio is excited to continue to support students, their families and communities to combat systematic oppression through a holistic model.

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Regional Manager

Sophia is a Licensed Social Worker and the Midwest Regional Manager of Kiva, a nonprofit that crowd-funds micro-loans to serve the financially excluded. In her role at Kiva, Sophia provides support in setting up, maintaining, and building off of local partnerships around the US with like-minded organizations who want to bring financial inclusion to their communities. Sophia is also the chairwoman of the board of directors for Everybody Dance Now! (EDN!), a nonprofit organization that provides free dance classes to underserved youth. Previously, she was the Founding Executive Director of the Chicago chapter of EDN!, becoming the fastest growing chapter in the organization's history. Sophia graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Master's in Social Work at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. She is an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow at the University of Cambridge, an Accenture Innovate for Good Finalist, a recipient of DePaul University's James R. Doyle Outstanding Leadership Award and the Women of Spirit and Action award. Through each of her ventures, Sophia works to dismantle the systems that disenfranchise communities.