What It Takes To Lead: Founder & CEO Panel

Are you thinking about starting your own nonprofit? Have you always wanted to become a leader within your organization? Then join us on May 29 for our Founders & CEO Panel!

Program Details

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to start your own non-profit? Or what it takes to be a leader in a successful non-profit? Join us on May 29, for an intimate panel from three non-profit leaders on their journey to leadership. During this session, you will learn strategies and skills to run a successful nonprofit. As well as the challenges and struggles faced by leaders. You will have the opportunity to take a dive deep into the minds of leaders creating positive change within your own community. Be sure to bring thoughtful questions and your business cards. Learn more about our panelists below!

Speaker Information

Justin Cunningham, Co-Founder & Executive Director of SocialWorks

Justin Cunningham, age 26, serves as the co-founder and Executive Director of SocialWorks. As SocialWorks' Executive Director, Justin works diligently to produce branding strategies, content, and funding for SocialWorks' initiatives and events. SocialWorks aims to empower youth through the arts, education, and civic engagement. While Justin is away from the office, he enjoys being a neighbor in the South Shore community, cooking, music, and exploring Chicago.

Melissa Graham, Founding CEO of Purple Asparagus

Melissa Graham is the founding CEO and Head Spear of Purple Asparagus, an award-winning non-profit that educates children, families and the community about eating that’s good for the body and the planet. Through its Delicious Nutritious Adventures program taught at over thirty Chicagoland sites, Purple Asparagus teaches parents and children about healthful eating. From 2005-2010, Melissa was also the chef-owner of a boutique catering company, Monogramme Events, and cooked for luminaries most notably First Lady Michelle Obama at a private dinner party in her home. Until 2005, she was a partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP resident in the State and Local Tax practice group in the Chicago office. Melissa received her bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Colgate University in 1991 and her law degree from the Washington College of Law, The American University in 1994. Melissa is currently pursuing her Executive MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Contrary to what you might think, Melissa’s favorite vegetables are carrots and her favorite color is red.

Antonio Gutierrez, Co-Founder and Director of Marketing and Communications at Saga Education

Antonio Gutierrez grew up in the Villa Victoria, a Puerto Rican community in Boston's South End. After graduating from Union College and serving as a City Year corps member in Boston, Antonio joined Match Education in 2011 to launch the tutor dissemination unit with Alan Safran. He received his MBA from Boston University Questrom School of Business, specializing in public and nonprofit management, and is a Board Member of Summer Search Boston. Since Antonio and Alan co-founded Saga in 2014, Saga has served over 8,500 students. Antonio leads Saga's innovation lab, exploring ways to increase Saga’s impact by leveraging its core competencies. Areas of investigation include virtual tutoring, juvenile justice, and teacher training.


SocialWorks is located on the second floor inside the Lacuna Lofts which is Pilsen’s cultural hub. This space has an elevator and is handicap accessible. 

Driving: From the Dan Ryan Expressway: Exit on 18th west towards Halsted. Head south on Halsted and turn west onto Canalport.
From the Stevenson Expressway: Exit at Ashland turn north. Turn east on Cermak and left on Morgan. Guest parking in the northside parking lot.

Take the Red Line to Chinatown Station and transfer to the 21 Cermak bus heading west for about 5 minutes. Get off at Morgan Street stop and LACUNA is on the corner.

Ticket Details

Add any important details here, like: All attendees must be 21 years or older. Event meets upstairs, etc. 

Member Pricing

$10 Member Ticket

Please note, to purchase a ticket at the member price, you must be logged in and have a current paid membership on file. Limit 1 member ticket per member. Guest tickets should be purchased at the public ticket price. Contact membership@ynpnchicago.org if you have any questions. 

Public Ticket Pricing

$12 Public Ticket

May 29, 2019 at 6pm - 8pm
2150 S Canalport Ave
2nd Floor
Chicago, IL 60608
United States
Google map and directions
Programming Co-Chairs ·


$12.00 Public Ticket
$10.00 Member Ticket
Please note, to purchase a ticket at the member price, you must be logged in and have a current paid membership on file. Limit 1 member ticket per member. Guest tickets should be purchased at the public ticket price.