YNPN CHICAGO EXECUTIVE BOARD
The YNPN Chicago Executive Board is an all-volunteer working and governing board consisting of young nonprofit professionals.
JULIANN KRUPA (SHE/HERS)
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.
DERRICK D. BRASWELL (HE/HIM)
Program Officer for School Support | Chicago Debates
Derrick is elated to serve as the Vice Chair. 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!
BRIDGET DRURY (SHE/HER)
Associate Director of Scholar Supports | Chicago Scholars
Bridget is the Associate Director of Scholar Supports & Wellness 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.
JAIME SHARP (SHE/THEY)
Communications & Publications Manager | Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA)
Jaime is a Black queer nonprofit leader, social impact strategist, and arts & culture innovator inspired by the question, how might we diversify leadership to challenge structural exclusion? They currently serve as Communications & Publications Manager for Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA), a national association for arts and culture funders. Jaime is also the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the mission-driven vocal ensemble, Hear Us, Hear Them.
An active member of the community, Jaime also serves on the African American Network Advisory Board for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Young Professionals Board for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. They have participated in over a dozen professional development and fellowship programs nationwide.
Most importantly; she is a lego enthusiast, diehard Roxanne Gay book club follower, lively artisan market shopper, and cat parent. www.jaime-sharp.com
HANNA JIN (SHE/HERS)
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.
GERALD POLANCO (HE/HIM)
Co-Executive Director & Director of Programs | Chicago Community Bond Fund
Gerald Polanco is originally from The Bronx, but grew up in Grand Rapids, MI. He has had the joy of calling Chicago home for the past decade. Gerald a queer Latino advocate for and alongside low-income communities of color. His childhood experiences and his mother’s spirit of service inspired him to dedicate his professional life towards working for the betterment and empowerment of marginalized communities.
After graduating from Loyola University Chicago School of Law with a Juris Doctor, Gerald worked in various legal nonprofits representing, educating, and advocating for people. Currently, he is the Director of Programs and incoming Co-Executive Director at the Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF), where he manages the Revolving Fund team. They support individuals whose communities cannot afford to pay the bonds themselves and who have been impacted by structural violence.
Gerald is a member of the Advisory Council for the Office of New Americans, which advocates and advises the City on policies directed towards creating a more welcoming city for immigrants. He is also an attorney volunteer for the Hana Center’s Legal Clinic.
MARISSA DE LA CERDA (SHE/HERS)
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.
MARISSA HIGGS (SHE/HERS)
Senior Marketing Strategist | Indigo Slate, A Zensar Company
Marissa is a Senior Marketing Strategist at Indigo Slate, an agency that evolves brands and transforms businesses by designing, curating, and growing digital products and services. Previously, Marissa served as the 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 websites 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.
ALEX GREENWALD (SHE/HERS)
Director of Communications and Marketing | Chicago Scholars
Alex Greenwald is the Director of Communications and Marketing at Chicago Scholars. She’s a proud first-generation college graduate and an alumna of Kenyon College and the University of Chicago Divinity School. She will take any opportunity to advocate for the value of liberal arts degrees (she really does use that religious studies BA every day).
Before coming to Chicago Scholars, Alex worked for Gamaliel Network, the Fundamentals department at UChicago, and ABC7 Chicago. Her writing has appeared in Christian Century, National Catholic Reporter, several suburban newspapers, among other publications.
Alex lives in Hyde Park with her husband, Chris, and their cats, Critter and Goose. When she’s not working, Alex is usually working on a creative writing project, attempting to learn to quilt, or wandering around in the public library.
MAYA MEADE (SHE/HERS)
Community Engagement Coordinator | Esperanza Community Services
Maya Meade recently moved to Chicago after graduating from Ohio University with a B.S. in journalism and a minor in political science. She currently serves as the Community Engagement Coordinator for Esperanza Community Services, a nonprofit in West Town which serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Maya is responsible for Esperanza social media content, newsletter, blog posts, volunteers, events and donor management. She is a passionate and driven advocate who is excited to be involved with the nonprofit sector in Chicago. Maya also serves on the Membership and Governance Committee for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Associate Board. In her free time, she enjoys long walks in new neighborhoods, making collages out of magazines and reading books.
LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE CHAIR
JASMINE JONES (SHE/HER)
Manager of Placement & Alumni Relations | Golden Apple
Since 2019, Jasmine Jones has served as the Manager of Placement and Alumni Relations for the Golden Apple Foundation. She supports the management of 38 K-12 districts and schools to ensure first-year Scholars secure their best-fit placement. She’s utilized her relationships, communications strategies, and data management to achieve a 99% placement rating and nearly $500K in revenue. As a liaison to the Alumni Relations Council, she also co-creates opportunities for novice and experienced educators through engagement initiatives and professional development supported by partners like National Louis University.
After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Clinical Psychology and minor in Sociology from St. Xavier University, she served as a corps member with City Year Chicago to examine the state of urban education and its effects on academic success and social and emotional development. Propelled by the desire to provide equitable learning experiences to urban students, she went on to work for nonprofits like Youth Guidance and North Lawndale Reads, who provide holistic aftercare programs, family engagement opportunities, and parent leadership training to school communities on the north, south, and west sides of the city. Her current work is helping to address the teacher shortage and provide quality educators in schools that need them the most.
In her free time, she enjoys time with her daughter and husband, content creation, and hosting family and friends.
RACHEL WALERSTEIN (SHE/THEY)
Senior Learning & Talent Development Managers | AIDS Foundation Chicago
Rachel is a teacher, writer, and community builder from Central New York. They are passionate about empowering others to co-create the world in which they want to live and work. A teacher by training, Rachel received their Bachelor’s in Education from SUNY Oswego and their PhD in English from the University of Iowa before moving to Chicago. It was in their final teaching role at a for-profit high school here that Rachel realized their focus was no longer in the classroom, but on reimagining the infrastructure intended to support it. Now, they facilitate learning solutions that bring organizations together as a community to solve their most pressing problems and achieve their mission. When not serving as the Senior Learning and Talent Development Manager for AIDS Foundation Chicago, Rachel enjoys perfecting their sourdough, checking out the local music scene, and spending time at home with their partner, dog, and cat.
LEKISHA GUNN (SHE/HER)
Impact Manager | Girls on the Run Chicago
Lekisha Gunn is the current Impact Manager at Girls on the Run Chicago, where she focuses on community engagement, national coach training, and manages Chicago Public School sites primarily in the Southside and Westside Chicago. She was born in Bloomington, Illinois and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, where she began her career as an AmeriCorps volunteer. She graduated from The University of Alabama with a B.S. in Business Administration and a Master of Public Policy from Duke University.
She worked in the U.S. federal government at the Department of State as a member of the U.S. Foreign Service and also at the Illinois Supreme Court Access to Justice, where she created the first ever Community Trust Committee.
Lekisha also has served on the boards of Borderless Magazine, an independent immigration outlet, and most recently, the Junior League of Chicago. She recently completed the 2023 YNPN Leadership Institute. She is very interested in programming, fundraising, and DEI initiatives. In her free time, enjoys walking with her dog, Pep, running races, and supporting local bookstores.
SHANNON METTS COLLINS (SHE/HERS)
Candidate Concierge Lead | Careers in Nonprofits
Shannon Metts Collins has been involved in the nonprofit sector for over eight years. Her background is in arts and education, having mentored young artists, directed plays, and supported programs that provide opportunities for students to pursue careers in the arts.
Currently, Shannon works with job seekers in the nonprofit industry as the Candidate Concierge Lead at Careers in Nonprofits staffing firm. Here, Shannon provides support and insight to candidates of all backgrounds and interests to help them in their nonprofit job search. She creates programs and events for candidates, consults with industry experts about hiring trends, and collaborates with nonprofits all across the country to place folks in jobs they will love.
Shannon has her BFA in Acting from Missouri State University. She can often be found drinking coffee, spoiling her three cats, working in her garden, or playing DND with her husband and friends.
SIMONE MOORE (SHE/HERS)
National Community Risk Reduction Manager | American Red Cross
Simone Moore has garnered over 17 years of deep experience in community engagement, program management, and strategic planning. Currently holding the position of Community Reduction Manager at the American Red Cross National Team, she is dedicated to spearheading projects that create substantial impact. Parallelly, her tireless efforts in fostering connections with governments and non-profit organizations have championed meaningful changes in various communities. Her role extends beyond civilian spheres, evident from her 20-year commitment to the United States Army Reserve, where she excels in medical logistics and team collaboration. Outside her professional sphere, Simone cherishes her role as a devoted wife and the mother of a spirited three-year-old. Simone has a Master's of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science. She steps into her new role at YNPN with a rich history of service and a passionate drive to continue making significant contributions.
LJILJANA MILOJEVIC (SHE/HERS)
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!
CLAIRE ROEHRI (SHE/HERS)
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.
CREATING SPACE INITIATIVE CO-CHAIRS
SADAF AJANI (THEY/THEM)
Founder and Principal Consultant | Faenix Rising
Sadaf Ajani is a nonbinary and neurodivergent immigrant who speaks multiple Asian languages, enabling them to fluidly converse with a variety of stakeholders about community needs, project implementation, and measurable outcomes. They started volunteering as a young child, from local libraries to Girl and Boy Scouts, and they always knew they wanted to work in the nonprofit sector. Sadaf has held numerous positions in grantmaking, international development, fundraising, higher education, and social services. They are the founder and principal consultant at Faenix Rising, a company which transforms lived experience into tailored solutions for individuals and organizations around the world.
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 love storytelling in all its artforms, especially all things science fiction and fantasy.
KAYLA WHITE (SHE/HER)
Development Manager | UPchieve
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.