YNPN CHICAGO EXECUTIVE BOARD

The YNPN Chicago Executive Board is an all-volunteer working and governing board, consisting of 19 young nonprofit professionals.

 

EXECUTIVE CHAIRS

MIRIAM KAMYA (SHE/HERS)
BOARD CHAIR

Director of Development | Charter School Growth Fund

Miriam serves as the Director of Development at the Charter School Growth Fund. In her role she builds and manages relationships with CSGF’s investors and helps share the stories of leaders, networks, and students. Prior to joining CSGF, Miriam served as the Director of Philanthropy and Eternal Affairs at Saga Education. Saga uses an evidence-based, personalized tutoring model designed to support underserved students in math across New York City, Chicago, and Washington D.C. Miriam  expanded Saga’s district partnerships and led fundraising initiatives.
Miriam got her start in education by serving as an Urban Education Fellow at the University of Chicago, a role where she provided direct instruction to Chicago Public School students. In her spare time, Miriam also serves as Co-Chair of Northwestern’s Master’s in Public Policy and Administration Alumni Board, and is a member of Chicago Women in Philanthropy’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Committee. Miriam has a BA in Political Science from North Carolina State University and an MPPA from Northwestern University.

JULISSA CRUZ (SHE/HERS)
VICE CHAIR

Senior Consultant | Fiscal Management Associates, LLC

As a consultant with FMA, Julissa has the pleasure of working with a diverse portfolio of nonprofit organizations and helps them strengthen their financial management and operational infrastructure and better position them to fulfill their mission-critical strategies. She began her career at the City Colleges of Chicago - blending her curiosity, data expertise, and diligent drive for continuous improvement to improve processes, inform strategy, and achieve organizational goals.

Julissa holds a Master’s degree in Sociology with a specialization in applied demography from Bowling Green State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with minors in Latin American Studies and Anthropology from Loyola University. She was born and raised on the far southeast side of Chicago. She travels as often as she can, enjoys chatting with others about what makes them smile, and daydreams about writing for fun.

 

EXTERNAL RELATIONS/SECRETARY

BRIANA SCHLESINGER (SHE/HERS)

Assistant Director of Research | UIC Center for Literacy

Briana is the Assistant Director of Research at the UIC Center for Literacy, a public service and research center that works to improve literacy education, policy, and research at the local, state, and national levels. In this role, Briana works to develop, implement, and disseminate the findings of the Center's research initiatives.

Prior to her work at UIC, Briana moved from her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona to pursue her Master's in Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. As a student, she was introduced to the Chicago nonprofit community while completing her fieldwork with Broadway Youth Center and CCS Fundraising. Outside of work, Briana enjoys reading, traveling, and sharing photos of her rescue dog, Murphy.

 

FINANCE CO-CHAIRS

BECCA KAPLAN (SHE/HERS)

Member Grants Manager | Feeding America

Becca is a Member Grants Manager at Feeding America. In her role, Becca manages a portfolio of grant opportunities to Feeding America food banks and focuses on leveraging grants data to support organizational strategy. Prior to Feeding America, Becca worked in nonprofit consulting and for Center for Independent Futures, a nonprofit in Evanston, IL that supports individuals with disabilities to live independently.


Becca received her MSW from Washington University in St. Louis and her BS in Psychology from University of Michigan. Outside of work, Becca enjoys volunteering at Lakeview Pantry, divvying (with a helmet!) around the city, and cooking lots of veggies from her farm share.

RACHEL SAX (SHE/HERS)

Impact Measurement Manager | YWCA Evanston/North Shore

Rachel is the Impact Measurement Manager at YWCA Evanston/North Shore, a social justice organization that works to eliminate racism and empower women and girls. In her role, she leads the agency's program evaluation, data management, and continuous quality improvement efforts. Prior to working at YWCA Evanston/North Shore, Rachel worked as a research project coordinator at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, a behavioral therapist for children with autism spectrum disorders, and a special education teacher in Chicago Public Schools.

Rachel received her B.A. in psychology from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD and her M.A. in teaching from National-Louis University in Chicago. She also holds a certificate in nonprofit management from Northwestern University. In her spare time, Rachel loves to hang out with her rescue pup Winnie, tend to her many plant babies, and dabble in home improvement projects. 

 

DEVELOPMENT CO-CHAIRS

JACLYN CARMICHAEL (SHE/HERS)

STEM Program Manager | Lake View High School

Jaclyn is the STEM Program Manager at Chicago Public School’s Lake View High School, where she is working to increase student engagement opportunities, build project-based learning curriculums, and develop a robust makerspace. Previously, she was the Program Director for Project Exploration, a non-profit educational organization in Chicago that provides out-of-school time STEM programming for youth and teens, where she took charge of building partnerships, strengthening her team through trainings, and initiating new programming to reach students in new subjects. She has also worked in the formal education space as a high school Biology/Environmental Science teacher at Chicago’s Perspectives Charter Schools. Jaclyn received her B.S. in Biological Sciences and Teacher’s Certification from Eastern Illinois University and is currently studying at the Illinois Institute of Technology - Stuart School of Business in the Master of Public Administration program. 

When Jaclyn isn’t working, she loves hanging with her poodle-terrier pup, Eli, sharing a craft beer with friends, or going to see a superhero movie. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lilcarm17

MARISA CASTILLO (SHE/HERS)

Development Associate | National Immigrant Justice Center

Marisa is the Development Associate at the National Immigrant Justice Center. In her role, Marisa manages the donor acknowledgement process, co-leads the Junior Leadership Board and supports the grants application process. Marisa is especially focused on expanding the Junior Leadership Board to include professionals from diverse backgrounds. Prior to working for the National Immigrant Justice Center, Marisa worked for Bottom Line providing free college advising to first generation college students from low-income backgrounds. 

Marisa received her Bachelor’s from DePaul University in Women and Gender studies and Latin American and Latinx studies. Outside of work, Marisa enjoys spending time with her dog Nala, running, and reading the newest mystery book!

 

AT LARGE CHAIR - WEBSITE & DIGITAL SYSTEMS

JILLIAN MADDEN (SHE/HERS)

Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations | Lutheran Social Services of Illinois

Jillian Madden is the Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations at Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, where she fundraises for a variety of programs throughout the state, including mental health services, children’s services, and programs that help formerly incarcerated individuals. Prior to moving to Chicago, she spent five years in Atlanta, where she worked as the Development Director at Midtown Assistance Center, a local nonprofit providing homelessness prevention services, and United Way of Greater Atlanta. She also sat on the board of YNPN Atlanta as the Professional Development Chair. Jillian started her career in nonprofit as part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in 2013 after graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in Communications and English.

Jillian serves as the Membership Chair for the Associate Board at Open Books, a nonprofit that promotes literacy in Chicago. She is also a member of the Junior League of Chicago. In her free time, she loves to read and try new restaurants and coffee shops.

 

COMMUNICATIONS CO-CHAIRS

EVAN WILLIAMSON (HE/HIS)

Researcher | American Planning Association
Masters Candidate | UIC College of Urban Planning & Plublic Affairs

Evan is a masters candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. He specializes in environmental planning, with an emphasis on urban water use and renewable energy cultivation in urban areas. He also currently works on the research team of the American Planning Association. Previously, Evan has held roles in education advocacy with the University of Illinois Alumni Association, Advance CTE, and the Ounce of Prevention Fund. He began his career on Capitol Hill working as a press assistant in the House of Representatives.
Evan is a native of Champaign-Urbana, IL, and a proud alumnus of the University of Illinois with a B.A. in Political Science. In his spare time, Evan can be found playing soccer; walking his oversize Beagle, Watson; and experimenting in the kitchen to varying degrees of success.

JEROME' HOLSTON (HE/HIS)

Director | LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois

Jerome’ Holston is the Director of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois (LGBTCC) which serves as the premiere voice for nearly 50,000 LGBTQ+ business owners across Illinois. As Director, Jerome' is responsible for leveraging corporate, nonprofit, and government partnerships to advocate on behalf of nearly 300 member businesses to provide them with access to networking, professional development, marketing, and advocacy. While at the LGBTCC, Jerome’ has been chiefly responsible for developing new programs and activities including the LGBTQ+ Biz Boot Camp, Chicago’s sole business cohort program for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.  Additionally, Jerome’ led the LGBTCC advocacy efforts in 2020 to require the City of Chicago to study its engagement with LGBTQ+ owned businesses, setting the pathway for expanded opportunities for LGBTQ+ businesses to be recognized in the city’s supplier diversity program.  


Prior to this role, Jerome’ worked as a fundraising consultant on capital campaigns that raised nearly $500 million, and as an Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of Governor Pat Quinn. Jerome’ received an MPA from the University of Illinois at Springfield, and BA in Communications from Alabama State University.  Jerome’ is a freelance writer, business owner, and has a passion for all things nonprofit. 

AIDA KAJS (SHE/HERS)

STEM Scholar Coach | Schuler Scholar Program

As a STEM Coach with the Schuler Scholar Program, Aida provides academic coaching and enrichment to high-achieving, first-generation college-bound youth from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds. She is based at Waukegan High School, and specializes in math and science support. Prior to working at Schuler, Aida worked in the programs department of the Witte Museum in San Antonio, delivering educational programs related to natural history. She holds a BS in Biology with a concentration in Ecology and Evolution from Trinity University. She also holds a Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) credential from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.


Outside of work, she loves to read (you can follow her book Instagram @sharedlibrary) and travel as much as she can. She was awarded a lifetime membership in Alpha Phi Omega in 2017, and has been a Girl Scout since she was 7. Most Sundays, you can find her singing in the worship band at Urban Village Church in Edgewater.

SAMANTHA (SAMMY) SUH (SHE/HERS)

Special Projects Manager | Urban Initiatives

Sammy Suh is a Special Projects Manager at Urban Initiatives. UI is a nonprofit that uses the power of sport and play to empower Chicago's youth to achieve academic success, develop social-emotional skills, and build social capital. In her role, she helps develop and create processes for new projects, manages UI's Advisory Board, and works within the Development and Partnerships department. Prior to nonprofit, Sammy taught 2nd grade in Chicago Public Schools, a dream she had ever since attending CPS throughout her elementary and high school career. 


Sammy grew up in Chicago and was excited to return to the city after receiving her BA in Elementary Education at the University of Michigan. She enjoys drinking coffee, listening to podcasts about race and culture, and cooking up food that she enjoys posting to her Instagram. 

 

LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE CHAIR

STACY GILMER (SHE/HERS)

Most recently Stacy was the Organizational Development Specialist at Planned Parenthood of Illinois where she specialized in the connection between employee engagement and patient experience. Prior to PPIL, Stacy was a youth sexual health educator with the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health.
Stacy was a member of the 2019 YNPN Chicago Leadership Institute cohort. She received a B.A. from Saint Louis University in Political Science and is a trained full spectrum doula. Stacy is a mom to two kids under 4. Recently she started an Anti-Racist Parenting group in her community. In her downtime, she enjoys yoga, the New York Times crossword puzzle, and reality TV.

 

PROGRAMMING CO-CHAIRS

LOUISE SHARROW (SHE/HERS)

Senior Manager, Multifamily Program | Elevate Energy

Louise Sharrow is the Senior Manager, Multifamily Program at Elevate Energy. In this role she implements a program delivering energy efficiency services and incentives to income-eligible multifamily properties throughout northern Illinois. She leads and supports program design, data management, reporting and forecasting, monitoring, production, and management. Previously, she worked on expanding this program model throughout the Midwest with implementation and policy partners;  providing project management, operational support, start-up tools, process development, and policy and data research.

Louise received her BA in Environmental Studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN and her MPA from the School for Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. She is originally from Cincinnati, making Illinois the fourth Midwestern state she calls home. Outside work she enjoys reading, concerts, and traveling to places she can hike or eat amazing desserts.

CHIDIMA OKORIE (SHE/HERS)

Program Manager, LifeSet Pilot Program | Department of Children and Family Services

As the Program Manager for the LifeSet Pilot Program at Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Chidima oversees the implementation of the LifeSet Program Model, a program that focuses on preparing young adults who are aging out of the Illinois foster care system for adulthood. She develops policies and procedures that promote the successful  integration of the LifeSet model into DCFS' current programming for young adults while adhering to model fidelity. Chidima collaborates with partner organizations to ensure successful implementation and successful program outcomes for young people.


Chidima is a native of Nigeria and migrated to the U.S. at the age of 12. She obtained a B.A in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University and a B.A. in Psychology and Criminology from The Ohio State University. She has always been passionate about helping others discover their true potential and live more meaningful lives and has done so through her work directly or indirectly with program participants and continues to find other ways to help. Chidima is the host of a podcast, Chronicles of Black Parenting, where issues that plague black and brown families are discussed and stories are shared. She loves spending time with family, friends, and herself, traveling, and dancing. 

RACHEL RAY (SHE/HERS)

Director of Programs | Alpha Phi Foundation

Rachel is a community social worker specializing in people and program management. In her current role as Director of Programs, she is responsible for strengthening and managing Alpha Phi Foundation’s programs, all of which uplift women's lives through leadership development, scholarship, and women's cardiac research. With a commitment to authentic relationship-building, she has honed skills in volunteer management, grantmaking, and fundraising.


Rachel is also an active volunteer with Chicago Volunteer Doulas. She serves as a birth and postpartum doula providing birthing people in the Chicagoland area with free access to prenatal, labor, and postpartum physical and emotional support. Birth justice and racial equity are her passion points, so she is energized by being involved with nonprofits like CVD who are committed to eliminating healthcare disparities through advocacy, empowerment and support. 


She was drawn to the Midwest from her home state of Florida when she pursued her Masters in Social Work at the University of Michigan, after which she moved to join the thriving nonprofit community in Chicago. In her free time, she loves cooking up new recipes, cuddling with her sweet kitty, and eating her way around the world. 

AMENA WALLACE (SHE/HERS)

Human Resources Specialist: Equity & Administration | Saga Education

Amena is the Human Resources Specialist: Equity & Administration at Saga Education, an evidence-based, personalized tutoring model designed to support high school students in math, in order to put them on a path toward success and high school graduation. As an organization that serves majority low-income and BIPOC students, she is working to increase employee engagement around anti-racism, anti-bias training, and supports the design and implementation of all organizational-wide DEI initiatives. Prior to this role, Amena attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she studied Education Policy & Management and completed research focusing on curriculum implementation and restorative justice practices in public schools.


In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and exploring her native city of Chicago. She received her B.A. in Sociology & Latin American Studies from Hope College.

 

MEMBERSHIP CO-CHAIRS

SUZY LEE (SHE/HERS)

Director, Nonprofit Strategy and Engagement | Forefront

Suzy is the Director of Nonprofit Strategy and Engagement at Forefront. As part of the Engagement Team, Suzy’s focus areas include nonprofit membership, #ILGive for #GivingTuesday, and the Nonprofit CEO Roundtable.

Suzy is a member of the National Council of Nonprofits Membership Committee, volunteers with Chicago Women in Philanthropy, and the Hanover College Alumni Recruitment Team. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Hanover college, and a Master of Public Administration from DePaul University School of Public Service. When she’s not working or volunteering, you can find her in her garden, trying a new ice-cream recipe, or playing with her English bulldog.

RAHAT SAJWANI (SHE/HERS)

Risk Management Specialist | Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Rahat serves as a Risk Management Specialist in the Wholesale Credit Risk Center of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. In this capacity, Rahat conducts analytics-driven supervision of banks around wholesale lending for the Federal Reserve System to identify emerging risks and deliver on supervisory responsibilities under the Dodd-Frank Act. She is also a member of the Large Financial Institutions Examiner Commissioning Program (LFI ECP) by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors to lead Safety and Soundness examinations of state member banks. 


Prior to the Federal Reserve Bank, Rahat worked as a credit analyst at Synchrony Financial's two-year rotational business leadership program which afforded her the opportunity to live and work in Dayton, Ohio; Stamford, Connecticut; and Chicago, IL. Rahat received her BA in Political Science from Davidson College near Charlotte, NC. Outside of work, Rahat is passionate about mentorship and volunteer opportunities related to financial education and civic engagement, avidly following the Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls, and exploring different Chicago neighborhoods.

 
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