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The YNPN Chicago Executive Board is an all-volunteer working and governing board, consisting of 20 young nonprofit professionals.

Meet the Board: About Us



Director of Community Partnerships | Chicago Furniture Bank

Amena serves as the Director of Community Partnerships at the Chicago Furniture Bank (CFB), which provides dignity, stability, and comfort to Chicagoans that face poverty by allowing clients to handpick an entire home's worth of furniture for free. In her role, she manages relationships with more than 450 referring partner organizations by streamlining procedures and strategizing with partners to increase the accessibility of the CFB's services throughout Chicagoland. As a native Chicagoan, she is passionate about helping some of the most marginalized comunity members access critical resources and believes that stability is crucial to desired long-term outcomes. 

Before 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 addition, she enjoys cooking, reading, and exploring new places in her free time. She received her B.A. in Sociology & Latin American Studies from Hope College.



Academic Program Manager | The School for Field Studies

Juliann is an environmental educator and program manager. She currently works at The School for Field Studies, a research and undergraduate study abroad organization dedicated to developing the next generation of environmental leaders. Previously, she worked at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Shedd Aquarium, and the Chicago Children’s Museum, honing her expertise in project and program management, experiential learning, and science communication. Juliann holds a Master’s in Science Education from DePaul University and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Science from the College of William and Mary.

A certified diver for over 20 years, Juliann gets in the water whenever she can! Her love of the water comes from time spent exploring creeks and ponds in her hometown in Northeastern Ohio, studying sustainable fisheries in the Caribbean, kayaking with whales in the Sea of Cortez, mucking for clams in the Chesapeake Bay, and riding the 151 to work early in the morning, watching the sunrise over Lake Michigan. When she’s not in the water, she loves playing board games, urban gardening, and talking about nonprofit management with anyone who will listen.

Meet the Board: Meet the Team


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Manager of Scholar Supports | Chicago Scholars

Bridget is the Manager of Scholar Supports at Chicago Scholars, a non-profit that provides support to first generation college students as they transition into college, persist through college, and begin their careers. She oversees wellness and transfer engagement for the College Success team, and also manages the organization’s student emergency fund. Bridget earned her Bachelor of Arts from Governors State University in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and her Master of Leadership Studies from North Central College. She also serves on the North Central College alumni board on their membership committee. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, reading, and spending time with her two dogs.

Meet the Board: Meet the Team




Development Coordinator | NorthShore University HealthSystem

Hanna is the Development Coordinator at NorthShore University HealthSystem. As a member of the NorthShore Foundation team, she helps raise critical philanthropic funds for programs and research that continue to transform the field of healthcare. In her role, she supports the annual and major gifts program by providing data-driven fundraising support on prospect identification, qualification, cultivation, and stewardship and assisting with the production of annual giving appeals. Prior to joining NorthShore, Hanna was the Development Operations Coordinator at Connections for the Homeless. 

Hanna received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in History and Psychology with a concentration in Organizational Psychology. In her free time, she enjoys eating good food and binge-watching shows and movies.

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Lender | IFF

Jocelyn Velazquez is a lender at IFF, a community development financial institution (CDFI). IFF is a Midwest-based lender, real estate consultant, and developer that supports nonprofits undergoing community facility projects. In her role, she is responsible for deal origination and underwriting activities across Northwest Indiana and Illinois. Prior to IFF, Jocelyn worked as an investment banking analyst for Aon Corporation’s investment solutions team.

Jocelyn received her B.A. in Economics and Business from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, IL. Jocelyn is deeply passionate about supporting individuals and organizations investing in communities of color to advance racial equity. She currently serves as Board Treasurer for Star Farm Chicago, an urban nonprofit farm and landscaping service organization located in Back of the Yards. In her spare time, Jocelyn enjoys spending time with her little brothers, exercising, listening to podcasts, and reading self help books.

Meet the Board: Meet the Team




Director of Development | Chicago Debates

Marissa Barnes is the Director of Development at Chicago Debates, an organization that is bridging the educational opportunity gap for Chicago Public School students by providing an after school program that shows them the power of debate. In her role, she is responsible for creating fundraising strategies and working with internal and external stakeholders to raise funds to help move Chicago Debates’ mission forward.  Marissa has spent the majority of her career working in fundraising, events and development in the nonprofit sector, working for organizations such as Christopher House, the Alzheimer’s Association and Girl Scouts of Central Illinois. 

Marissa received her MS in Recreation, Sport and Tourism at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her BS in Recreation and Park Administration from Illinois State University. Outside of work, Marissa enjoys reading in the park, watching reality tv, and traveling across the country to see her favorite musicians. 

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Delivery Manager | Provisio Partners

As a Delivery Manager with Provisio Partners, Hillary supports nonprofits across the country with strengthening their program operations and data management. She works with nonprofits of all sizes across sectors to articulate operational challenges and implement technology solutions. Prior to Provisio Partners, Hillary worked with BDO FMA as a nonprofit financial management consultant. Prior to her move to nonprofit consulting, she spent most of her career in program management and operations working with international development and aid organizations, including Action Against Hunger, United Nations Development Programme, and FilmAid International. Hillary started her career in the social sector as a Peace Corps Volunteer where she worked in the Philippines for two years.

Originally from Cincinnati, Hillary received a BA in Cultural Studies from McGill University in Montreal and a Masters of Public Administration and Policy from New York University. In her free time, Hillary loves biking on the lake shore path, long walks with good podcasts, and doing lots of improv. She also loves traveling, reading, and, above all, her cat Lola.

Meet the Board: Meet the Team




Marketing Manager | Chicago Public Library Foundation

Marissa is the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s Marketing Manager. Born and raised in Chicago, she’s passionate about using storytelling to empower communities. As a member of the Marketing team, she helps tell the Library Foundation’s story across digital, print, and social platforms, building awareness of the Foundation’s work and the transformative impact of the Library. Before joining the Foundation, Marissa was the Marketing Assistant at KDM Engineering, the Communications Assistant at DePaul University College of Law, managing all social media platforms and writing external communications including press releases, program brochures and more. She was also a freelance arts and culture journalist, writing about film, television, art, literature, and social justice issues. Her work can be found in the Chicago Reader and The A.V. Club.

Marissa has a B.A. in Journalism and Media and Cinema Studies, and an M.A. in Communication and Media from DePaul University. Outside of work, you'll likely find her reading a book, listening to Bad Bunny, binging the latest Hulu original, or visiting her grandparents. 

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Senior Marketing Specialist | Indigo Slate

Marissa is theSenior Marketing Specialist at Indigo Slate. She was the former Communications Manager at All Chicago Making Homelessness History, a nonprofit that unites community and resources to provide solutions that ensure and sustain the stability of home. In this role, she was responsible for the planning, coordination, and implementation of marketing campaigns, the design of digital and traditional media, and the management of website and social media. Prior to joining All Chicago, Marissa managed communications and annual fund efforts at Connections for the Homeless in Evanston. With a background in design and journalism, she is passionate about crafting useful and informative materials necessary for moving missions forward.

Marissa received a bachelor’s degree in English Writing and Italian from DePauw University. In her spare time, she is an avid reader with a love for Queer novels, poetry, and storytelling. She also enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending far too much time watching television shows/movies. 



Communications Specialist | Loyola University Chicago

Emily is a Communications Specialist at Loyola University Chicago. Previously, she worked managing communications at GirlForward, a small nonprofit serving girls in high school who identify as refugees and immigrants. In her current role, Emily works to advance communications with the University’s internal audiences, coordinate campaigns, and collaborate with other departments.

Emily is originally from Kentucky and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a B.A. in Advocacy and Social Change. She lives in Edgewater in Chicago and you can find her scoping out new specialty coffee shops and looking for the best pastries in town. Otherwise, she is usually spending time outside, baking, watching a movie, and/or listening to podcasts!

Meet the Board: Meet the Team


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Director of Program Operations | Lumity

Cynthia Saucedo is a Chicago native and a proud first-generation immigrant. As a product of Chicago Public Schools, she has made it her goal and mission to give back to the school system and communities that helped mold her into the person she is today. She has worked in education within Chicago and Chicagoland area schools as an educator and program manager for over six years. She understands the challenges that many schools face and is truly invested in being a valuable resource to educators and students. In her current role, she serves as the Director of Program Operations at Lumity which supports Chicagoland’s most under-resourced schools and communities that helps prepare students and young adults for STEM careers and essential life skills. She believes that young people can all own their success, we just need to empower them on their journey and show them the way. Outside of her day to day at Lumity, Cynthia likes to indulge her creative soul by painting, renovating her home and traveling to unique cities with her husband. She is looking forward to serving on the YNPN Board as the Leadership Institute Chair!

Meet the Board: Meet the Team




Grants Officer | The Rotary Foundation

Sadaf Ajani was born in Karachi, Pakistan but has called Chicago home for 20 years. They speak multiple Asian languages, enabling them to fluidly converse with multiple stakeholders about community needs, project planning, and measurable social outcomes as a Grants Officer for The Rotary Foundation. Sadaf has been volunteering since a child, from local libraries to Girl and Boy Scouts, and always knew they wanted to work in the nonprofit space. Previous positions include fundraising, higher education, social services, and interpretation for immigrants.

Sadaf loves learning new things and is a fan of random trivia tidbits. They attended DePaul University for their Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Master’s degree in International Public Service. They are an avid reader and love storytelling in all its artforms, especially all things science fiction and fantasy. 



Philanthropy Program Manager | Kemper

Becca works as the Philanthropy Program Manager at Kemper, where she coordinates the Kemper Scholars Program, works with nonprofit partners to facilitate corporate sponsorships and employee volunteer opportunities, and supports the employee donation match and volunteer programs. Prior to joining Kemper, she worked as the Education and Scholarships Manager at the Arizona Community Foundation, where she oversaw the scholarship application process and awarding of over $4.8 million dollars annually. 

Becca holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Illinois State University and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Saint Xavier University. Outside of work, she enjoys hanging out with her dogs (Buster and Toby), going to lots of concerts, and spending time with family and friends. 

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Senior Director of Development | Paramount Arts Inc.

Ljiljana is the Senior Director of Development at Paramount Arts Centre Inc. which includes Paramount Theatre, Copley Theatre, Paramount School of the Arts, and RiverEdge Park—all located in Aurora, IL. She oversees annual giving, donor communications and other aspects of fundraising. Prior to her time at Paramount, Ljiljana worked as Director of Alumni Engagement and the Annual Fund at Elmhurst University.

Ljiljana received her bachelor’s degree from Elmhurst University in History. She also holds an MA in European History from Eastern Illinois University, as well as an MA in Public History-Museum Studies and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from UW-Milwaukee.

In her free time Ljiljana enjoys painting, reading, watching TV, traveling and spending time with her twin nieces!

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Development Coordinator | Chicago's Green City Market

Before joining Green City Market, Kayla was a member of the American Bar Association’s development team. She got her start as a development intern at the U.S. Soccer Federation. There, she learned the ins and outs of fundraising while thriving in her natural habitat — talking about soccer all day, every day. 

Kayla graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Comparative Cultures and Politics and Spanish. She studied abroad in Ecuador during her last semester, and if she wasn’t in class, you could find her exploring the beautiful nature surrounding Quito. 

Her earliest childhood memories involve watching her grandparents make canned peaches, pickles, and homemade jams from fresh fruit and vegetables purchased at the local farmers market. She’s excited to help advance Green City Market’s mission and learn more about local and sustainably-grown food found in the Chicago area. 

In her free time, Kayla enjoys playing soccer, planning movie-themed dinner parties, and scouring Instagram for the best new restaurants in the city.

Meet the Board: Meet the Team




Development Manager | Search, Inc.

Grace is the Development Manager at Search Inc., a non-profit empowering adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Chicagoland. She manages all areas of fundraising, communications, grant writing, and donor engagement in this role.  

Originally from the Chicago suburbs, she graduated from Drake University with a degree in Marketing and French. 

Outside of work, you can find Grace reading a good book, trying a new restaurant in town, and traveling as often as she can. She loves meeting new people and talking about their passions, so don’t hesitate to reach out to grab a cup of tea/coffee!

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Customer Marketing Specialist | Cara Collective

Claire is the Customer Marketing Specialist for Cara Collective, a workforce development organization breaking the cycle of poverty through the power and purpose of employment. As a key driver in the marketing strategy for Cara Collective’s three social enterprises, Claire is a passionate storyteller, writer, and designer. She is motivated and inspired by job seekers, employers, and community-based organizations paving the way for overlooked and untapped talent to finally be recognized, valued, and given opportunities to thrive.

Claire holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing Communications and Management: Social Entrepreneurship with a minor in Graphic Design from Creighton University. Originally from the northwest suburbs, she is loving her new city-living lifestyle and can be found laughing with friends over delicious meals, taking dance classes, and navigating her late 20s with the belief she’ll wake up as Jennifer Garner at the end of 13 Going on 30 and have everything figured out about adulthood.

Meet the Board: Meet the Team




Program Officer for School Support | Chicago Debates

Derrick is elated to service as the Co-Chair of the Creating Spaces Initiative. He brings a range of skills, experiences, and expertise with him as a pan-African, southern, lgbtqia+, logistics and operations professional. He is a Chicago transplant from Memphis, TN and he has been here since 2018. Derrick has a Bachelors in Philosophy and entered the workforce via Corporate America, UPS. Later pursuing his masters in Business Management and Leadership, he has been eager to achieve his long term goals of directing his own debate league and operating his own skating rink. His shift to the nonprofit sector happened during the pandemic in 2021, and he has been eager to apply his vast skills to further the improvement of his community while polishing his own leadership attributes. Recently serving in the education management arena, he has also been pursing a full spectrum doula certification as well. New to the Nonprofit Sector, he is excited to soak up as much knowledge and experience as possible during his service here! If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to reach out at any time!

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Manager of Institutional Giving | Erie Neighborhood House

Becca is the Manager of Institutional Giving at Erie Neighborhood House overseeing both public and private grants that support the agency. Becca is the point of contact for institutional funders and works to maintain and deepen the critical partnerships needed to support Erie House’s incredible programs. Prior to joining Erie Neighborhood House, Becca worked at Connections for the Homeless to help manage private grants and  institutional relationships. She has a passion for equity focused solutions, serving the community, and advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. As a woman of color born and raised in Chicago, Becca is thrilled to further the impact of YNPN’s Creating Space Initiative. 

Becca has a bachelor’s degree in both History and Religious Studies from Westminster College, and recently received an MA Grant Writing, Management and Evaluation Master’s program from Concordia University Chicago.

Meet the Board: Meet the Team
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