May 2010 Conference Speakers
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Below are names and contact information for speakers who were part of the May 27 and 28, 2010 Conference at Loyola University Chicago

All of the speakers are volunteers, who share their time and knowledge to help volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring programs grow. While most of these speakers and the conference focuses on Chicago, we encourage people from other cities to attend and share your ideas, while borrowing from what we're doing and applying it in your own community.

If you would like to speak or be part of a panel at the November 19 conference,  submit handouts or host a display table, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Keynote Speakers - (see bios in the alphabetical listings)

See network analysis of May 2009 conference participants.

Thursday, May 27, Morning Welcome Keynote Speaker
Professor James Garbarino, Loyola University-Chicago, author of “Lost Boys,” on Violence and Young Men,

12:00 pm - 1:15pm - Lunchtime Keynote Speaker

Catherine Gottfred, Leap Learning Systems, Youth Brain Development and Literacy

Friday May 28 - Welcome Keynote Speaker
Bill Curry, Breakthrough Urban Ministries, The Breakthrough Model for Tutoring and Mentoring

12:00 pm - 1:15pm - Lunchtime Keynote Speakers
Prof. Deanna Wilkinson, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science, Ohio State University


Workshop and Panel Participants

Azam Ahmed, Chicago Tribune

Dr. Marlene Allen

Dr. Marlene Allen  is a consummate professional with over 20 years of experience working within  nonprofit organizations, Fortune 500 corporations, and educational institutions. Her expertise lies in the fields of management, human resources development, training and education. She served in leadership roles at major institutions such as the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), City Colleges of Chicago, BP Amoco and Andersen Consulting. She has also partnered with other professionals in developing a workforce re-entry program for federal offenders being released from Metropolitan Correctional facilities. She has developed and conducted job readiness, life and survival skills programs for young people as well as displaced workers. She is an alumni of DePaul University and holds both a
Masters degree and a Doctorate degree in the fields of Human Resources and Christian Education, respectively. Dr. Allen is an educator for grades K-12 for School District 160 in the State of Illinois.


Katelin Anderson, Volunteer, Tutor/Mentor Connection and Graduate Student, Dominican University

Katelin Anderson is a Graduate Student of library and Information Science at Dominican University, and a law library intern.

Kathy Anderson, Wicker Park Learning Center

La Shon Anthony, Visuals 4 U

La Shon Anthony has over 20 years experience in sales & marketing and over 10 years in consulting for small businesses & non-profits. Her services are strengthened by business partnerships with Constant Contact, PayPal, and Acteva. In addition to Associated Content, LaShon writes for SmallBizLink on and the Examiner. She also provides expertise on Yahoo! Answers, Linkedin's Answer Center, LivePerson, and WikiAnswers. For more information, visit her website at

Brian Banks, Regional Manager,
Brian Banks, BAC Partners (BACP) is a consultant that provides research-based strategy, grants writing and development, and technical assistance to community-based and faith-based organizations interested in education, economic development and jobs creation. BACP helps these organizations develop collaborative partnerships with universities, government, business and philanthropic organizations.

Daniel F. Bassill, President, Founder,
Tutor/Mentor Connection
Dan Bassill has spent more than 30 years, mostly as a volunteer, leading organizations that connect workplace volunteers with youth living in  inner-city neighborhoods like Chicago's Cabrini-Green. He and six other volunteers formed Cabrini Connections in 1992 and the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993. Through the TMC, and the Internet, Bassill leads a global learning strategy  intended to draw needed resources to all volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, including Cabrini Connections, in Chicago and other major cities. Bassill was a Commissioner on the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteering and Community Service from 2001 - 2009. 
Visit ; and


Christy Beigh-Byrne, Director of Mentor and Volunteer Services, Chicago Youth Centers
Christy Beighe-Byrne, M.A., is the Director of Mentor and Volunteer Services at Chicago Youth Centers.  She oversees the direction of two mentoring programs:  Mentoring Children of Prisoners (a community based mentoring program for children ages 4-17 years old who have an incarcerated parent) and a school based mentoring program for children in 4th-6th grades who need a mentor for social and academic skill development).  Additionally, Christy places corporate groups for Day of Caring Events.  Previously, Christy was the Manager of Customer Relations and Enrollment and Matching (Community Based) at Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, where she oversaw the direction of the Customer Relations and Enrollment and Matching teams in the Community Based Program.  Christy holds a Masters in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.  Before graduate school, Christy was an active AmeriCorps Member at Leadership Education Athletics in Partnership in Connecticut where she assisted over 500 children and families to Bridge the Digital Divide by running the LEAP Computer Learning Centers across the state of Connecticut. 

Maria Bucio, Manager of Outreach and Professional Development,
Illinois Student Assistance Commission
Maria Bucio is the Manager of Outreach and Professional Development at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) – the state agency that administers grant, scholarship, loan, and 529 plans in Illinois. Maria oversees outreach to students and families and professional development opportunities for counselors and mentors. In this capacity, she is part of the team at ISAC that is responsible for pursuing statewide partnerships and developing college access programming that increase awareness about planning for, applying to, and paying for college. Prior to ISAC, she served as admission counselor at Chicago State University and at Loyola University Chicago. In addition to a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license from Carleton College, Maria holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Northeastern Illinois University.

Charles Cameron, Social Edge
Charles Cameron dreams up and moderates many of the discussions on the Skoll Foundation's SocialEdge website -- -- covering a range of topics of interest for those who would like to build a better world for their children and their children's children. He has also been the senior analyst in a think tank, the designer of games one fellow game-designer described as "like Tetris for the higher brain centers", a shaman's apprentice, a poet and more.

Alex Cornwell, Associate Director, Chicago Lights Tutoring and Day at Fourth Presbyterian Church

Katie Cusack, Gads Hill Center
 has been working in various capacities serving youth for the past seven years. She currently works as a Youth Specialist for the New Horizons Mentoring Program at Gads Hill Center.

Bill Curry, Chief Operating Officer, Breakthrough Urban Ministries,
Since 2000, Mr. Curry has held several positions of increasing responsibility at Breakthrough, a social services nonprofit in East Garfield Park. He is currently responsible for program operations, fund development, administration and strategic direction. Previously, he held multiple leadership roles at Middletown Christian High School. Mr. Curry founded the Lighthouse Christian Fellowship in East Garfield Park, and serves as an elder at River City Community Church and Volunteer Basketball Coach at Homan Square Community Center. He is a board member of the Garfield Park Preparatory Academy that is sponsored by The Chicago School of Professional Psychology;  Bill is a current Fellow in the Leadership Greater Chicago fellowship program.

Anthony Davis, Firman Community Services

Felicia Dechter, Columnist and Staff Writer, Skyline
Felicia Dechter is a seasoned journalist who writes an award-winning weekly column focusing on the people, places and happenings in Chicago for the Chicago Journal/Skyline. She is also a former staff writer for the Sun-Times News Group and still writes a weekly real estate column on a freelance basis. Dechter lives on the city's North Side with her three grown kids, her husband of 25 years, and their Boston Terrier, Mick. 

Andrea Durbin,
Youth Network Council
Andrea Durbin has been working as an administrative social worker and communications professional for 17 years. Currently serving as Program Director of the Youth Services Capacity Enhancement Program at the Youth Network Council, she has extensive experience in youth services, program development, and communications. She has worked in youth service agencies and in educational settings across the Chicagoland area, including Aunt Martha's Youth Service Center, The University of Chicago, and Morgan Park Academy. She has also served as a consultant on fundraising and program development. Ms. Durbin has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master's degree in social service administration from The University of Chicago.

Darrell Finch, Milwaukee Housing Authority
Darrell Finch was appointed in 2004 as the Education Specialist for the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM), where he manages HACM’s Education Initiative.  In 2008 and 2009, 100% of participating high school seniors graduated from high school and 60% of those graduates are currently enrolled in college.  Darrell gained significant experience while directing his volunteer program Dimensions: “Sports Keeps Kids Out of Trouble” (1992).  Among the many benefits that Mr. Finch brings to HACM is his history as a former resident of public housing. He attends the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is currently completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Education and Education Policy.

James Garbarino, Professor of Psychology, Loyola University-Chicago,
Dr. James Garbarino holds the Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology and was the founding Director of the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago. Previously, he was Professor of Human Development at Cornell University, and from 1985-1994 he was President of the Erikson Institute for Advanced Study in Child Development. He earned his B.A. from St. Lawrence University in 1968, and his Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University in 1973. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Garbarino has served as consultant or advisor to a wide range of organizations, including the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, the National Institute for Mental Health, the American Medical Association, the National Black Child Development Institute, the National Science Foundation , the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, and the FBI. In 1991 he undertook missions for UNICEF to assess the impact of the Gulf War upon children in Kuwait and Iraq, and has served as a consultant for programs serving Vietnamese, Bosnian and Croatian children. 

Mary Gerace,
Marketing and Publicity Consultant, Mary Gerace Enterprises
Mary Gerace is a local marketing and publicity consultant for self-employed persons, small businesses and small nonprofit organizations. A lifelong Chicagoan with a record of community activism, she has built her reputation on wide-ranging customized client services and outcome-driven affordability. Visit her at

Catherine Gottfred,
Leap Learning Systems
Dr. Gottfred founded Leap Learning Systems in 1988. She has teaching and clinical experience and has held numerous positions in the field's state and national associations. Dr. Gottfred is the 2008 President of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and actively oversees Leap Learning Systems program offerings. She received her doctoral degree in speech pathology from Northwestern University.

Toinette Gunn,
PEAK (Partnership to Educate and Advance Kids)
Toinette McClellan Gunn is the current Executive Director for the Partnership to Educate & Advance Kids (PEAK), a non-profit scholarship and mentoring organization for at-risk Chicago high school students.  Toi has over 12 years experience in recruiting, training, and retaining volunteers within non profit organizations. Toi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University in Criminal Justice and Sociology, a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from Oakland University, is a candidate for a Ph.D. degree in Counseling Education from Oakland University, and is a Limited Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Michigan with a specialization in Mental Health.  She has worked in the Human Service field and non-profit sector for 15 years, working in foster care, substance abuse therapy, child and adolescent mental heath therapy, low-income housing, and mentoring.   Toi states that her educational studies and professional endeavors are aligned with her goal of breaking negative intergenerational cycles through educating, mentoring, enhancing, empowering, and improving resources and the quality of life of at-risk youth and/or lower income families.   

Suzanne Hanney, Editor in Chief, Streetwise
Suzanne Hanney has been editor of the weekly publication Streetwise for five years. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, she was employed early in her career at a number of downstate Illinois newspapers, including award-winning work as Ronald Reagan presidential archivist in Dixon, Reagan’s boyhood hometown. She has written for The American Banker and United Press International. Hanney has been an alumni board member for Cathedral and Immaculata High Schools, and also served four terms on the Franklin Fine Arts Center Local School Council. A past president of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association, she is very active in the local chapter of the Association for Women Journalists.  

Jordan Hestermann, Founder
Becoming "We the People"
Jordan Hestermann is the executive director for Becoming We The People in Chicago. She formed the organization in 2008 while living in California and decided Chicago would be a better place to start a fight against poverty. She has a B.S. in business from DePaul University and is currently working on her MBA through California State University.

Michael Levesque, Executive Director,
Leap Learning Systems
In addition to his 20 years of corporate experience with firms such as Pepsi Cola, Service America Corp., AutoNation and Discovery Communications, Michael has been involved as a business consultant, volunteer and board member with youth and community-based organizations across the country including the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Boys & Girls Club, Chicago Youth Centers, Focus on Youth, Inc., Daniel Murphy Scholarship Foundation, Little League Baseball, Concerned Black Men in Washington, D.C., United Negro College Fund to name a few. Michael has a BA in Management from Morehouse College has studied international business at Roosevelt University and Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium, and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Kurt Kittner,
 Former University of Illinois and NFL Quarterback
Kurt Kittner (born in Schaumburg, Illinois) is member of the Tutor/Mentor Connection Board of Directors, and an advocate for volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring.   Kittner most recently played quarterback for the Chicago Bears. Prior to playing professional football, he was a record-setting quarterback for the University of Illinois, leading them to the 2001 Big Ten Championship. Kittner currently resides in Chicago. He works for Jones Lang LaSalle, Americas. In July 2007, Kittner was named the color analyst for University of Illinois football radio broadcasts, replacing long-time analyst Jim Grabowski. 

Rose Mabwa,
Mercy Housing
Mabwa is a doctorial student with a  concentration in Organizational Leadership, and currently works as a Manager at Mercy Housing Inc Chicago, whose mission is to create stable, vibrant, and healthy communities by developing, financing, and operating affordable program-enriched housing for families, seniors and people with special needs who lack the economic resources to access quality safe-housing opportunities. Mabwa uses her strong skills and expertise in leveraging resources through partnerships and collaborative efforts to help mercy residents become sufficient and ultimately self-reliant.

Mabwa has served on different boards, among them was CTC Net Chicago, and was among the first CTC National Board member formed in 2000, for Community Technology Centers around the country, and Garfield Conservatory Park. Currently, she is on the advisory committee for YWCA, West side of Chicago, Dominican University student community outreach for service connectors, and Illinois Technology Consortium In 2006. She was appointed to the young Women’s Leadership Council, an invitation that resulted from a proposal she had submitted to the Chicago Foundation for Women that addressed the needs of women and children suffering from poverty and HIV/AIDS. Mabwa is also a C3 advocate, facilitating workshops to educate the community on environmental issues such as recycling, worm casting, and urban gardening, and was nominated 2 years ago as the best gardener of the year.

In the past, Rose has been recognized for her commitment to furthering technology and good health in disfranchised communities for instance, won 1st place in Mayor Daley’s Landscaping community award, recognized as a knowledgeable informative presenter for National Service Coordination Conference in 2001, helping further financial education in Mercy Housing Lakefront Chicago communities, and for being motivational speaker committed to good quality childcare programs in Illinois, and at the Mentor tutor annual conferences.

Kristen Mack, Chicago Tribune
Kristen Mack is a general assignment reporter at the Chicago Tribune and is part of the team of reporters who have written “Safe Passage” stories about teen violence. She earned her bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing from Emory University and her master's in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley.

She has been a reporter in Tennessee, Washington state, Michigan, New York, Texas and Washington, DC.

Kristen was a reporter at the Houston Chronicle for several years, where she covered City Hall and was a political reporter and columnist. Before coming to the Tribune covered local politics and government at the Washington Post.

Dorothy Mars, Firman Community Services

Scott McFarland, Serve Illinois Commission
Scott grew up in the Quad Cities Area of Illinois.  He earned his Bachelors of Arts in History with a Teacher’s Certification from Western Illinois University in 2006, and his Masters of Public Administration from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2008.  For the past three years, he has served as the Graduate Public Service Intern at the Serve Illinois Commission, and now fills the role of Resource & Information Manager.

An Eagle Scout, Scott takes great joy from camping, community service, and teaching.  He also has six years of governmental experience from the National Archives in Washington DC, Senator Obama’s Moline Office, and at the Department of Human Services.  As a full time staff member at the Serve Illinois Commission, he hopes to continue living by his motto, “better yourself by serving others.”

Erin McPartlin, Executive Director, Cabrini-Green Tutoring

Steven Miller, Branch Manager, Classic Mortgage Solutions, Inc.
Steven Miller is owner of several successful Southside real estate-based businesses averaging $6 million per year in revenue. Born in Chicago, he was raised in Palos Heights, Il. In 1988 he graduated from the University of Illinois and created Legacy Home Mortgage, Inc. He is a member of the Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection Board of Directors and Olympia Fields Country Club.

Debra Natenshon, CEO, The Center for What Works
The Center for What Works is a nonprofit dedicated to building performance measurement capacity and developing a common language for the social sector to benchmark results, learn and improve.

Debra B. Natenshon is the CEO.  Since 2004, Debra has successfully re-designed the organization's strategy and infrastructure.  By focusing The Center for What Works on conducting and sharing sector-wide research, she ensures successful outcomes for nonprofits and funders.

Debra is an influential thought leader in the field of outcome measurement. As a Principal Investigator with the Urban Institute, she completed ground-breaking research to develop outcome frameworks that are currently used by a wide spectrum of nonprofit organizations.

She also designed and developed the Performance Measurement Toolkit and the Foundation Effectiveness Toolkit, inspiring hundreds of nonprofits and funders across the country to approach outcome measurement more easily and

Debra's expertise in assisting nonprofits to connect their strategic plans with actionable outcomes and indicators for improved internal management and increased external funding has made her a highly sought after advisor and
speaker.  She has presented at conferences including:  the Grant Manager's Network, Net Impact, NYU's Social Entrepreneur Conference, Social Solutions, the League of American Orchestras, and the Tutor/Mentor Leadership Conference.  She also frequently presents web-based seminars and training programs.

LaDawn Norwood, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
LaDawn Norwood is the Director of Youth Development for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.  She is responsible for the development, management and execution of numerous youth development programs which collectively serve over 400 youth between the ages of 13-19.  Prior to joining the YMCA, Norwood served as the Career Links Program Manager for Women Employed.  In this position, she oversaw a career exploration and employment readiness program for teen girls which was designed to expand their knowledge of life options and the world-of-work. Norwood has extensive experience with initiatives geared toward teens.  At DePaul University she conducted workshops and seminars on collegiate issues and concerns for freshmen students.  Norwood served on a research team at Cook County Hospital that researched causes and possible solutions to teen handgun violence.  She served as a program development committee member, mentor, and tutor for a Chicagland mentoring program for female high school students.  Norwood was also an advisory committee member of the Chicagoland L.E.A.D.E.R. Institute, a leadership development program for high students.  In addition, Norwood was a contributing author to Implementing Reform: Stories of Stability and Change in 14 Schools. 
Norwood has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from DePaul University and will be attaining her Masters of Arts in Education from DePaul University in June 2010.

Joel Newman, Program Director - Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley
Joel Newman is currently serving as Program Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley. In this position, he is in charge of all matching and enrollment within a five-county territory reaching from the Mississippi River to LaSalle County. Newman holds a Bachelors degree in Education from Western Illinois University and spent several years teaching in numerous school districts in the Quad Cities Area. From 2006 ­ 2008, Newman served as a volunteer in the AmeriCorps program conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Assigned to the Quad Cities Chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Newman introduced youth mentoring services into two new counties in the region. In 2007 ­ 2008, he served as the president of Illinois LeaderCorps, overseeing the activities of volunteers in twenty-two service programs throughout the state.

El Da' Sheon Nix,  Administrative Coordinator, Cabrini Connections Tutor/Mentor Program  

EL Da’Sheon Nix is a former football player and a 2004 graduate of Northwestern University who majored in Human Development and Psychological Services and has a Bachelor’s in education and social policy. Due to a career ending knee injury, Nix’s football career ended prematurely. Following graduation from Northwestern, Nix worked for two years as the Lead Mental Health professional at the Rice Child and Family Center which is a residential treatment facility in Evanston, Ill. that provides services for adolescents with mental and behavioral disorders.  Nix then began working as a Youth Development Worker at the Youth Organization Umbrella in Evanston, Ill.  A little over a year later Nix was offered and accepted the Director of Social Services position at the Evanston Community Defender Office where he provided individual and group counseling services to Evanston adolescents and their families.  In Nix’s new role as the administrative coordinator he is in charge of coordinating the Cabrini Connections program and continuing to connect the Cabrini Green youth to the necessary resources in an effort to prepare them for successful careers in the future.  Read El Da'Sheon's blog at

Ruphina Pettis, Executive Director, Sunlight African Community Center

Gabriel Piemonte, Editor,
Hyde Park Herald
Gabriel Piemonte is the editor of the award-winning Hyde Park Herald and Lakefront Outlook community newspapers. The Herald is Chicago’s oldest community newspaper, and the Lakefront Outlook is a 13-year-old George Polk Journalism Award recipient. Prior to heading these papers, Piemonte was a leading organizer of the Midwest arm of Radio for People, a grassroots community FM radio station development effort. Before that, he worked at We The People Media, publisher of Residents’ Journal, as advocacy and outreach coordinator. Earlier, Piemonte was a reporter and then associate editor of the Herald and Outlook. He lives in Hyde Park. 

Jessica Pupovac, Freelance Journalist
Jessica Pupovac is a freelance reporter and a current Soros Justice Media fellow, conducting a year-long exploration into the growing number of elderly inmates in US jails and prisons. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, AlterNet, Prison Legal NewsIn These TimesThe  Chicago Journal, and Mindful Metropolis, among other publications. She was the editor of the now-defunct Booster newspaper, which covered community news on Chicago's North Side. Pupovac’s work has shed light on the ongoing struggles of victims of police abuse in Chicago, the prevalence of solitary confinement in prisons across the country, and explored a range of national policy issues, from ballot access to immigration reform. Her coverage of the military's failed attempts to address sexual assault within its ranks earned her the 2008 Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism.  Meet Jessica on LinkedIn.

Adrienne Rainey, DreamBig Foundation
A native of St. Louis, Rainey graduated from Normandy High School and went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Arts from Spelman College in Economics.   After she graduated she moved to New York accepting a position in the corporate offices of Macy’s as a Buyer.

One day while serving as a representative for Spelman College at a local college fair, it became very apparent to her that our youth today need access to living, breathing examples of success.  Even more, they need the practical guidance to point them in the direction of success and exposure to tools and resources that will aid them in making the transition from high school to college seamless. 

From that experience, her not-for-profit organization was birthed – The dream BIG Foundation (in 2005). The dream BIG Foundation is designed to inspire, support, and promote education among high school students.—particularly for at-risk students i.e. low income students, first generation college students and students of color.  Dream BIG’s goal is to create a critical mass of leaders that will foster a commitment to young people’s continued education after high school,  promote strong interpersonal skills, and reassert a sense of hope for theirs and America’s future.   Today the foundation operates in 4 cities – Atlanta, New York, St. Louis and Detroit.  “Dream BIG represents a story of hope as we diligently work to reclaim, rebuild and renew our black communities,” Rainey says. “I just want to point young people in the direction of success! …especially the ones who believe success is not attainable for them.”

Sandy Reyes Gads Hill Center
has been working in various capacities serving youth for the past seven years. She currently works as a Youth Specialist for the New Horizons Mentoring Program at Gads Hill Center.

Tasha Robinson,
Youth Network Council

Tasha Robinson has been working with youth programs for well over 10 years. She have been involved in youth mentoring programs as both a volunteer and as a program manager. Currently, she works with Youth Network Council coordinating capacity building efforts for youth service agencies in the City of Chicago. Prior to joining Youth Network Council, Ms. Robinson worked as a Program Manager and Business Process Consultant in both for-profit and non-profit settings working for such organizations as Accenture, SmithBucklin, New Concepts Tutor/Mentor Connection, and Chicago Gear Up. She also spent two years in Senegal, West Africa performing business development work.

Ms. Robinson has a bachelor's degree in Business Management and Human Resources from Bradley University where she also minored in Psychology.

Marilyn Rodgers-Danos - Mental Health Court System Association of Illinois

Sue Sowle, Social Worker, Project SOAR at McGaw YMCA, Evanston, IL
Sue Sowle is a licensced clinical social worker who has worked with Project SOAR for the past 10 years.  Project SOAR is the YMCA's one-on-one mentoring program which currently has 73 active mentoring matches. Sue has a husband, two children and a parrion about mentoring.

Tracy Swartz, Reporter, Chicago RedEye
Tracy Swartz has a RedEye reporter for three years. She covers the CTA and tracks homicides for the paper.


Alexandria Taylor, Program Officer, College Success Network, Associated Colleges of Illinois
Alexandria Taylor came to The Associated Colleges of Illinois from North Park University where she served as the Director of Africana Studies.  Ms. Taylor holds a masters degree in Multicultural Education from Columbia College/Chicago. She coordinates a retention initiative with ACI member colleges and universities.  Her duties include facilitating program development, organizing colloquia for Directors of Multicultural Student Affairs departments.  Ms. Taylor maintains communication with ACI's College Readiness Program Alumni to assist them in navigating the college

Antonio Thomas, Firman Community Services

Philip Thompson, Editor, The Mash
Phillip Thompson is the editor of the MASH, a Chicago Tribune newspaper written by and produced for high school students.

Cynthia Townsend, author, From the Temple to the Classroom - Cynthia Townsend is an educator, author and speaker.  She has been an elementary school teacher for the past 10 years.  She has authored the inspiring self-published book From the Temple to the Classroom; What Every Teacher Can Learn.  Her life experiences include parenting, foster parenting, international travel, speaking and teaching on a variety of topics to a variety of audiences. These topics have included parenting, grant-writing and fulfilling life's dreams.  Cynthia has presented workshops locally and internationally, most recently in pre-earthquake Haiti to a large group of Haitian educators.  Her workshops present insightful practical tips in an interactive format.

Mike Trakan, GIS Mapping Coordinator, Tutor/Mentor Connection, Mike joined the Tutor/Mentor Connection in January 2008, as a part time map maker, using his experience with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Mike is also a substitute teacher and part time musician. Visit his blog to read map articles  he has created and learn more about his other interests.

Audrey R. Walker is a Career Specialist at the College of DuPage who also teaches a class in Career Development.  Prior to coming to the College of DuPage, She worked as a Human Resource Manager for Sears Roebuck and Co.  Ms Walker also taught and was an Administrator in the N.Y.C public school system.  In addition she presently has a coaching practice as a life/career coach.

Nicole White, Tutor/Mentor Connection Research and Networking Coordinator,,
Nicole White is the Tutor/Mentor Connection Research and Networking Coordinator for the Tutor/Mentor Connection. She joined Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection in July 2007 through the Northwestern University Public Interest Program Fellowship, which matches graduating seniors from Northwestern with non-profits in the Chicagoland area for one year. She took on the T/MC role in April 2008. In her new role, White will be working to establish and maintain relationships between Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection and the 400 tutoring and mentoring sites in the T/MC Database. She will also be working to rebuild the August/September Volunteer Recruitment Campaign so that by September 2009,  50 tutoring and mentoring organizations in the Chicagoland area will be a part of a push to recruit volunteers to be tutor/mentors.  White graduated from Northwestern in June 2007 with a Bachelor’s in French and International Studies.   Read her blog at .   

Deanna Wilkinson, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science, Ohio State University
Dr. Wilkinson's primary research interests are adolescent development, risk and problem behaviors, youth violence, delinquency, gangs, firearm use, resiliency, prevention, event perspectives, community-police partnerships, program evaluation, poverty, injustice, and urban communities. Her work is largely grounded in understanding the link between macro- and micro-levels of explanation.

Dr. Wilkinson is currently engaged in a National Institute of Justice funded project entitled: Event Dynamics and the Role of Third Parties in Youth Violence. The project examines the situational aspects of violence among urban youth to expand existing perspectives on offender decision making in conflict situations, the roles of third parties in violence, and the application of the principles of situational crime prevention to violent crime. A major focus of the project is to develop concrete recommendations for policy and practice relying heavily on the situational crime prevention framework. As part of this research project, I am leading a partnership with 22 local criminal justice, social service, and community leaders to develop new strategies for intervening with high risk youth. The advisory group is currently conducting a feasibility and resource assessment “mini-study” to lay the groundwork for new initiatives to promote positive youth and community development in distressed high crime urban areas in Columbus.

As a direct extension of her scholarship, Dr Wilkinson is actively involved in several local initiatives to reduce youth violence and improve neighborhood safety including serving as a board member to Strategies against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), an advisor to the Africentric Personal Development Shop's Collective Action for Youth and Neighborhood Development’ (CAYND) ambassadors’ program, and a member of Mayor Coleman’s Neighborhood Safety Working Group. She is working with civic leaders in Columbus to plan community engagement and safety initiatives for Columbus’ bicentennial celebration in 2012.

Chris Word, Dream Big Foundation

 Chris Word is a of native East St. Louis, IL and graduate of the East Saint Louis Senior High School Class of 2002, where he was active in Basketball, Upward Bound, and the Beta Club. While in high school, Chris was selected by the East St. Louis Chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction to be recognized as a Young Man of Distinction.

Chris first began his undergraduate studies at Illinois State University, Normal, IL, where he was selected to participate in an 8-month internship program at the Walt Disney World theme parks in Orlando, Florida. The Disney world experience not only afforded Chris the opportunity to meet and interact with people from all over the world, but it taught him the importance of setting goals, time management, financial planning and a good quality education. After completing the internship program, Chris returned home and enrolled at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) where he graduated with the title and honor of magna cum laude in December 2006 with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Accounting. Chris was hired in August 2007 as a staff accountant by one of the top 4 accounting firms in the country, Ernst &Young LLP.  In addition to working full time, Chris attended graduate school at the prestigious University of Notre Dame, where he graduated in the summer of 2008 with a Master's Degree in Accountancy.

Chris is involved in several community organizations including, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois, the Ministry of Criminal Justice, the dream Big Foundation, and Brother 2 Brother. In his free time, Chris enjoys reading, movies, traveling, playing golf, and being in the company of family and friends.

 Currently, Chris is working at Executive Real Estate Consulting Services, where he is learning to family business.

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