Who We Are

We’re Serious About Play

Little girl takes a break during an event at an Urban Initiatives camp.

Our Mission & Participants

Our mission is to use the power of sport and play to empower Chicago’s youth to achieve academic success, develop social-emotional skills, and build social capital.

We provide free sport and play opportunities for 50,000 Chicago Public Schools students annually and are on track to do so for 100,000 by 2025. UI empowers Chicago’s youth to achieve success in life.

Invest in quality coaches

Invest in quality coaches

Invest in quality coaches

Invest in quality coaches

Invest in quality coaches

Enlist support from diverse networks of families, schools, and community members

Enlist support from diverse networks of families, schools, and community members

Enlist support from diverse networks of families, schools, and community members

Develop social-emotional learning through play

Develop social-emotional learning through play

Develop social-emotional learning through play

Use our network to help students build social capital

Use our network to help students build social capital

Use our network to help students build social capital

Our History

Two Decades of Chicago’s Greatest Sports Team

What started 20 years ago as an after-school soccer program led by then-CPS teachers Jim Dower and Dan Isherwood has evolved into a citywide sports and play ecosystem that is accelerating change for Chicago and the leaders who will guide our city in the future.

OUr Team

Meet the People at Urban Initiatives
Each full-time staff member serves on average 500 students per year, enabling us to create a broader and more lasting impact.

Executive & Management Team

Arianna Bell

Lead Director of Programs – Recess

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Arianna earned a B.S in Community Leadership & Civic Engagement from the Northern Illinois University. She attended Howe Elementary one of the many CPS schools we serve throughout the Chicagoland area. She owes many of her successes to her ability to access extracurricular activities at a young age.

Jackson Boleky

Program Manager – Coach for Success – Continuum

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Jackson first attended Loyola and then graduated from Tulane with a degree in International nonprofit management and Economics. Prior to his time at Urban Initiatives, he worked in Argentina and worked with the Catholic Charities of Chicago. Jackson is now excited for his new role as take the lead program manager.

Paul Boye

Chief Innovation Officer

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Paul provides strategic leadership and planning in collaboration with senior leaders, staff, board members, and advisors to oversee UI’s fulfillment of its vision, mission, and strategic plan, fostering of values, and management of internal and external operations. Since earning his B.A. from Northwestern University, Paul has dedicated his professional career to improving outcomes for young people, including as a teacher, nonprofit professional and executive leader, and school district administrator. Beyond UI, Paul enjoys time with his amazing wife, Christine, and their three daughters on the South Side.

Amy Buscemi

Lead Manager of Board Engagement

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Amy Buscemi is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University with a degree in Communications and Media. Her past includes managing a non-profit radio station and a small start-up business of which she was the first employee. Amy has volunteered for various Chicago organizations and is excited to be back on the other end of the spectrum as Urban Initiatives’ Lead Manager of Board Engagement. When not working or volunteering, Amy’s favorite activities include cycling and attending live music events.

Lakita Chandler

Director of Programs – Recess

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Lakita Chandler is a mom of 3 intelligent, beautiful young ladies. Her passion and joy for working with youth goes back to her childhood when she was always the teacher or mom. She’s been a volunteer and cheer coach with CPS for 6 years. She is so excited to be apart of the UI team and to continue to fulfill her passion of empowering our youth.

Julie Chelovich

Chief Operating Officer, Vice President

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Julie graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Political Science and has a Kellogg Executive Scholar Certificate in Nonprofit Management. She played many sports growing up and has always had an interest in youth development and health education. Previously Julie worked at Black River Farm and Ranch where she served as the Program Director. After volunteering at Urban Initiatives as an Assistant Coach, she knew she had found a great organization for which to put her professional skills to work. Julie oversees day-to-day internal operations of Urban Initiatives.

Adrians Cleveland

Director of Special Events

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Adrians is an Indianapolis, IN native. She graduated from Butler University with a B.A. in Journalism. Prior to joining the UI team, she worked for Sigma Nursing. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors with her pup, Monte.

David Cornelius

Program Manager, Out of School Time

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David is a dedicated professional with a strong background in education and community development. Formerly a Physical Education teacher at CPS, David’s passion for fostering growth and well-being has now led him to his role as the Program Manager (OST) at Urban Initiatives in Chicago. His tenure as a PE teacher at CPS allowed him to witness firsthand the transformative power of sports and physical activity in young lives, laying the foundation for his commitment to creating positive change.

Vanessa Corral

Parent Network Manager

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Ruby Dajani

Director of Learning

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Ruby has been in education for the past 8 years teaching Spanish and Physical Education. She was also the head Track and Field coach. She is currently completing her Master’s at NEIU in Higher Educational Leadership through a fantastic program designed to prepare leadership that will create change responsive to the educational needs of Latinx students and an increasingly diverse college student population. Some of her interests include restorative practices, social justice, trauma-informed teaching, self-care, and collaborating with stakeholders to create change.

Jim Dower

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, President

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Jim graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Political Science. He started his professional career as a substitute teacher at Cabrini-Green’s Byrd Academy, where the inspiration for Urban Initiatives began. Jim serves on the Governor’s Council on Health and Physical Fitness and is a member of Leadership Greater Chicago’s 2014 class. He is in his eleventh year as a professional soccer coach for the Wilmette Wings Soccer Club. Jim oversees the day-to-day external operations of Urban Initiatives.

Diana Flores

Lead Program Manager- Community Schools Initiative

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Diana was born in the northside of Chicago and moved to the Pilsen neighborhood at the age of five. As the daughter of Mexican Immigrant parents, she is proud of her Mexican heritage. Diana has experience coordinating one of the largest Latino festivals in the Midwest, and is a leader in her community, passionate about youth empowerment. She is excited to continue working and investing in the Chicago communities to empower the youth and our children to become leaders. In her free time, Diana enjoys traveling, spending quality time with her family, and cooking.

Yolanda Givens

Lead Program Manager – Community Schools Initiative

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Yolanda Givens is Chicago born but grew up and lived the majority of her adult life in the Los Angeles area. This University of California, Irvine (UCI) alum, has over 20 years of experience in the K-12, Higher Education and Nonprofit Sector. Yolanda has a wealth of knowledge and experience with the Community Schools Initiative model and is excited to now join the team at Urban Initiatives.

Miki Grace

Lead Director of Communication

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Miki L. Grace is a business innovator, equity designer, and advocate for creative expression as a form of healing. Here at Urban Initiatives, Miki leverages her skills and experience in equity-based design and business innovation to provide organizational leadership, improve team effectiveness, and lead strategic design initiatives from end to end. When she’s not hard at work, Miki loves to engage in thought-provoking conversations, travel, write, vlog, explore new music, film, fashion, and the possibilities that lie within all kinds of new ideas.

Miguel Granados Jr.

Program Manager, Out of School Time

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The Program Managers – OST are responsible for maintaining consistent, high program quality and ensuring outputs are delivered at a cluster of schools. They will directly supervise Soccer Head and Assistant Coaches as well as 2 TTL Program Coordinators. The program manager will provide regular communication and professional development support to these staff members and will lead one-on-one and group meetings to provide ongoing feedback, coaching, and support as those they manage will provide direct service to school partners.

Miguel Granados, comes with a background in soccer, parks and recreation, and event operations. Most recently serving as the Athletic Supervisor at the Lemont Park District, where he helped raise enrollment in their recreational leagues (basketball and soccer) and in gymnastics. He helped increase enrollment 30% by surveying the parents and listening and trying to give leagues and gymnastics the proper resources.

Miguel is an avid sports lover with soccer being his favorite and roots for the Chicago sports team. He is a husband to his beautiful wife, Marisol, and has 2 children Mateo Miguel and Celeste and currently lives in Brookfield.

KyJuan Hardin

Lead Vendor Manager – Community Schools Initiative

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Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, KyJuan attended Kenwood Academy and immediately began working with youth sports programs after graduating. He believes that sports play an essential role in both physical and emotional development- sport has been a safe haven in his own life. He started with Urban Initiatives in 2016 and has continued his growth and development by taking on new roles. He is now excited for his new role as a leader for the CSI team.

Mia Jackson

Director of Programs – Coach for Success – Continuum

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Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, Mia spent her first two years at Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga and later returned home to complete her B.A. in Sociology at Roosevelt University. There she was able to continue developing a strong passion for art, social justice, educational reform and activism. Being a first generation graduate only fueled Mia’s passion to become more involved in her community.  She understands how important it is to bridge fun, equitable and quality opportunities for marginalized youth, and is a strong believer in community pride and support. More so, Mia believes the biggest opportunity as leaders is the need to work on giving one another, especially our youth, spaces to develop personal autonomies in a safe and non- judgmental environment.

Andrea Johnson

Director of Community Engagement

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Alec Josiah

Community Design Manager – Innovation

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Originally from Orlando, Florida, Alec moved to Chicago in 2017 after receiving his BA in Communications and Spanish from the University of Pennsylvania. He then became a teacher here in Chicago and taught PreK and received a MS in Early Childhood Education from the Erikson Institute. Outside of work, Alec loves dancing and playing volleyball.

Gina Laguzza

Lead Manager of Employee Engagement and Retention

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Gina Laguzza was an actor for 17 years, previously taught ESL and theatre to children, and around seven years ago, started honing in on talent development and employee engagement. She is passionate about coaching people in her work and personal life to reach their potential and achieve their dreams. She can think of no better way than to spend her time supporting our inspiring staff in fulfilling Urban Initiative’s mission to empower Chicago’s youth to become community leaders!

Dana Landau

Lead Director of Procurement

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Originally from the Kansas City area, Dana graduated from Washington University in St. Louis before joining Teach for America in Atlanta. Her time in the classroom solidified her passion for and commitment to closing the opportunity gap for young people in addition to sparking an interest in utilizing a more holistic and community-based approach in order to do so – thus leading her to pursue her Master’s in Social Work at the University of Chicago. Since then, she has worked in a variety of roles impacting youth development at City Year Chicago and is excited to leverage her experience with partnership engagement and systems oversight toward UI’s mission. Outside of work, you can find Dana seeking out a snack/treat, participating in one of her community-based running groups, or discussing fantasy baseball strategy with her dad.

April Lillstrom

Director of Program Administration

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April started working with Urban Initiatives as the Healthy Places Program Coordinator in Fall of 2011. April believes that play should be part of every school day for all students (and even staff!), so she works with the UI program team and school administrators to help make that easy. April holds a BA in English from University of Illinois in Champaign and an M.Ed from UIC. She is also a licensed School Counselor. April is grateful for all the years of work with and all the different schools she’s been able to visit.

Jonathan Livingston

Lead Director of Data and Evaluation

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Jonathan earned his PhD in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, where he researched social entrepreneurship organizations scaling for impact. Jonathan has 20 years of experience as a nonprofit leader, serving as a director, instructor, and consultant providing research, evaluation, and strategic development. In his free time, Jonathan coaches his son’s soccer team(s), serves on the OPRF D200 School Board, and spends as much time as possible with his family in and around the Great Lakes.

Aurora Martinez Del Rio

Lead Manager of Data Implementation

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Originally from Wyoming, Aurora holds a PhD from the University of Chicago in linguistics, where she researched variation in sign languages. During her time in Chicago, Aurora has volunteered for a number of organizations, leading accessibility initiatives for events. She is excited to leverage her skills at Urban Initiatives to support youth in Chicago.

Gabriela Mendez

Program Manager – Recess

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Gaby Mendez was born and raised in the Southside of Chicago. As a CPS student herself, her mission is to help the youth of today through guidance and child development. Gaby first started with UI in 2017 as a recess coach in the Pilsen neighborhood. In 2021 she moved on to be a resource coordinator, where she built meaningful relationships with families and the school staff. She is excited and looking forward to continue giving back to the community and bringing Chicago families together!

Madison Mullen

Program Manager, Coach For Success – Continuum

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Madison Mullen was born and raised in Chicago. She earned her undergraduate degrees in Law and Society and Advanced Leadership Studies from American University in Washington, D.C. As an educator and school culture specialist, Madison has worked at both the elementary and middle school level, as well as at a residential summer camp. Prior to working in education, Madison was a senior facilitator and outreach specialist at StoryCorps, a nonprofit whose mission is to teach the value of listening in order to build connections between people and create a more just world. As a Program Manager for Coach for Success, Madison is excited to build confidence in young people by drawing out, nurturing, and celebrating their strengths, while providing consistent, caring support to help them become change agents in their own lives.

Amber Neal

Lead Director of System Design

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Amber Neal (she/her/hers), born and raised in Chicago and grew up in Marquette Park, received her B.A in Child and Youth Development from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. After being exposed and realizing at an early age the inequities many low-income Black and Brown communities face across Chicago, she knows her life’s purpose is to uplift, work alongside with, and give back to the communities that raised her. She is extremely dedicated and passionate about child and youth development, community engagement, and partnerships and one day hopes to have her own non-profit! After years of philanthropic work, working within the nonprofit sector and Chicago Public Schools, she is excited to step back into the sector and be leading UI’s strategic partnerships across the city to continue creating positive and fun spaces for children and youth! While not being involved in communities, you can find Amber spending time with family, crafting with her Cricut machine, at the gym, or playing with her fur babies!

Andrew Neilsen

Lead Director of Learning

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Andy is a coach at heart. Beginning his youth development career in Chicago as a nature camp counselor, Andy has worked in affordable housing, after school programming, and lots and lots of coach training. Excited to be returning to Urban Initiatives after five years working in local and national youth development organizations, Andy focuses on creating transformative learning opportunities for internal and external partners.

Joy Nelson

Chief People Officer

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A Chicago native, Joy graduated from UIC with a Master’s in Education, focusing on Youth Development. After working as a Program Manager at Urban Initiatives for 2 years, she was promoted into the role of Play with Potential Program Director, overseeing recess at 24 local schools. In 2017, she took an opportunity to work with the National YMCA and spent a year and half traveling the Midwest and West Coast, supporting out of school time programming in underserved communities. She returned to Urban Initiatives in 2019 as the Culture and Climate Director and oversaw the day to day operations of our Play with Potential and Community School’s Initiative programs. She will begin her doctorate in Educational Leadership at DePaul in the fall of 2019. Joy is fun-loving supermom with a knack for connecting to people, children, and all things under the sun.

Monique Polk

Program Manager – Out-of-School Time

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From Chicago to Arkansas and more, Monique (or Coach “P” to the students) is literally an all around the way girl. With a bachelor’s degree in business and 2 Masters’ degrees, she is nothing short of educated. The relationships she’s built and nearly 10+ years of working with youth, she is proud to return home to a home sport that she loves, Soccer. She joined the UI team in May of 2022 as an Assistant Soccer Coach, and has since continued her efforts with us as a Head Coach of the summer camp at Morton. She is now proud to join our team in her new role as Program Manager, OST.

Averill Price

Program Manager, Coach For Success – Continuum

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Averill Price is a South Side Chicago native who’s passionate and committed to creating impactful work through youth and community engagement. He’s had the opportunity to enhance his experience across North America in various roles as an educator, facilitator and even a motivational speaker. Averill is looking forward to helping cultivate the new leaders in young people by engaging, inspiring and persisting for positive change in their lives.

James Risley

Program Manager – Out-of-School Time

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James is originally from Louisville Kentucky, and moved to Chicago in 2022 after getting his degree in Sport Management from Xavier University. Playing sports throughout his life, James knows how valuable healthy habits and being a part of a team can be in one’s life. James previously worked with a non-profit the Boys and Girls Club, this is where he found his passion in working with youth helping them grow as individuals both on and off the field.

Daniel Serna Geitz

Lead Program Manager – Out-of-School Time

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Daniel played soccer and water polo while studying Sociology at Carnegie Mellon University. After college he worked in Family and Community Engagement for Denver Public Schools, where his passion for school support and community outreach flourished. He is excited to bring his interests together to serve Chicago students and families!

Andrea Serna

Director of Data Infrastructure

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Andrea received her B.A. in Psychology from Concordia University Chicago, and for the past 6 years has worked with south and west side communities to support families experiencing homelessness. As a sports and wellness enthusiast, she looks forward to using her data and nonprofit skills with Urban Initiatives.

Ebony Stallworth

Program Manager – Recess

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Ebony graduated from North Central College in Naperville with a Bachelors in Exercise Science. She was a 6x National Qualifier in Shot Put and a 4x All-American in Shot Put. After undergrad she began a career in coaching Track & Field at Lincoln Way East H.S. and then later a coach at St. Laurence H.S. In addition to coaching, she continued to further her education at St. Thomas University in Miami, Fl., where she earned two master degrees- Master of Science in Educational Leadership & Sports Administration. Along with coaching, Ebony is a part of a nutrition club where promoting healthy treats and consistent routines is beneficial to help improve one’s physical & mental confidence. Ebony’s passion and goal in life is to become an Athletic director and continue coaching youth/young adults not only in a track & field setting but in other sports as well.

Meaghan Stanford

Lead Director, Programs, OST/TTL

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Meaghan is originally from Michigan, where she grew up with a love for sport, play, and just being outside (particularly on the shores of the Great Lakes). She attended the University of Michigan, where she studied Developmental Psychology and Gender & Health. With nearly a decade of experience in education and sports-based youth development, Meaghan is excited to join UI as the Lead Director of OST Soccer & Take the Lead. While she loves a good kickabout herself, she’s also an avid spectator and fan of the beautiful game! You can often find her cheering on our Chicago Red Stars or supporting her wife, a local soccer coach, from the sidelines.

Aziz Tahir

Lead Program Manager – Out-of-School Time 

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Aziz Tahir is originally from Ethiopia but spent most of his childhood years in Minnesota. He graduated in December 2019 from Western Illinois University with a master’s in Sports Management and moved to Chicago to start his career in 2020. He started coaching soccer right after graduating from high school because it’s a great way to be involved in the sport and positively impact the confidence, health, and well-being of young people.

Elyse Tussey

Director of Curriculum

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Elyse is originally from Peoria, Arizona, and attended the University of Arizona receiving a BFA in Theatre Education. She moved to Chicago in 2010 after completing her Peace Corps Service in Cameroon where she volunteered with the Ministry of Education as a Teacher Trainer. Prior to joining UI, Elyse worked as a teaching artist and actor and spent 10 years serving as a Department Head and Theater Teacher for Noble Charter Schools.

Annie Waldoch

Program Specialist

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Annie grew up in a soccer-mad house with her five brothers in the west suburbs. After graduating from Michigan State, she worked with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic for over two years teaching Spanish literacy and building a community basketball court. Now, she loves biking to schools all around the city to see the coaches she manages in action. The best part of her work day is hearing the kids yell “GOOOAAAALLLL” at practice.

Tiffany Wilson-Washington

Director of Programs – Community Schools Initiative

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Tiffany Washington is an experienced people leader who’s passionate about growth and development. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois @ Champaign, and spent the last decade of her career building and leading high performance teams at Kaplan University. Tiffany is from the Austin neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago and is proud to be contributing to the community through her work as the Director of 21st Century Learning.

Morgan Wolcott

Program Manager – Out-of-School Time

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A Chicagoland native, Morgan Wolcott has been serving as a PE/Health teacher and coaching throughout the suburbs and CPS for the past eight years. She attended Trinity Christian college on a soccer scholarship and is passionate about using her skills and experience to support new coaches as well as providing Chicago youth quality playing opportunities. You can find Morgan attending soccer games with her husband, traveling and enjoying time with her church community and family.

Javon Wright

Program Manager – Recess

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Javon Wright was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. He graduated from Simeon Career academy and attended University of Central Missouri, majoring in Sports Management. He is a dog dad, to his first puppy: who goes by the name of Isabella. Javon started with UI in 2019, as a Recess coach in the Back of the Yards where he left a gracious impact with the students and community.

Laura Zull

Program Manager – Out-of-School Time

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Laura grew up in the suburbs of Chicago before moving to New Orleans to complete her undergraduate education at Tulane University. She graduated from George Washington University with a Masters of Public Health and managed Tulane Campus Health’s COVID testing and contact tracing programs before moving back up north. She is excited to be back in Chicago and to bring her passion for public health and physical activity to Urban Initiatives! 

Resource Coordinators

Venus Finley

Resource Coordinator – Spencer Elementary

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Lovie Goshay

Resource Coordinator – Harold Washington Elementary

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Alondra Hernandez

Resource Coordinator – Clay Elementary

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Alondra Hernandez’s background is in budgeting, analytics, coaching kids and adults, and overall, knowing how to make spaces comfortable and fun. The sports she enjoys are volleyball, softball, soccer, basketball, and baseball. 

KeAundra Jones

Resource Coordinator – Jensen Elementary

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KeAundra is a Chicago native, born and raised in the west side, Garfield Park area. KeAundra has been pescatarian for 6 years now, and is striving to switch over to vegan. She admires children and is currently working on forming a Non-profit called Galore Gems, to help minority children in her neighborhood. KeAundra dedicates most of her time finding programs and resources to benefit neighborhood children. She enjoys reading and swimming in her free time.

Agustin Martinez

Resource Coordinator – George Leland Elementary

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Agustin has a diverse career spanning over two decades. He is committed and passionate about helping and leading others to reach their goals. He is an outgoing individual who is ready to work with our youth and community to have a better future. He enjoys watching all sports. Soccer, baseball, football and basketball are his favorites. He is a diehard White Sox fan and Mexican soccer fan.

Rashad Rucker

Resource Coordinator – Pullman Elementary

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Rashad was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, he earned a Bachelor of Science at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale majoring in Sport Administration. Very passionate through sports & recreation and has a demonstrated history of working in indoor/outdoor facilities. Rashad is looking to help build the young leaders through sports and activities.

Recess Coaches

Earl Aaron

Mitchell Elementary

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Alberto Arellano

Greeley Elementary

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Re’anna Bass

Mozart Elementary

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Coach Re’anna has been working with children for over eight years now. She enjoys soccer and running. In addition, Re’anna is very passionate about creating a safe and fun environment for children to be themselves. 

G.E. Bennett

Nicholson Elementary

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Janale Blackwood

Brenneman Elementary

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Brian Bryd

Reavis Elementary

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Jenn Feliciano

Bateman Elementary

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Jennifer was born and raised in Chicago, but she has lived in different states. She is a proud mother of six, her oldest being 20 and youngest 8. Jennifer is currently working on achieving one of her many goals of earning her Bachelors in Early Childhood and would one day love to be a first or second grade teacher. Her precious job prior to joining the Urban Initiatives team was as an Infant to Three’s teacher at a center in Andersonville. Jennifer is most eager to learn and grow with the UI team and help children grow.

Bernadette Hansen

Ravenswood Elementary

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Born and raised in Chicago, Bernie attended Lane Tech college prep and immediately began working with youth sports programming. She started with Urban initiatives in 2015 and has continued to grow and develop to better her skills with conflict resolution, social emotional learning, physical and mental Health. 

Latia Hendricks

Prieto Elementary

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Jackqulin Johnson

Manierre Elementary

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Jackqulin Johnson goes By Coach Redd. She was Born and raised in South Bend Indiana where from an early age, she showed her passion for people and her community! She has volunteered, tutored youth, and even helped with community clean ups. She moved to Chi-town’s Old Town area in 2009. She has worked in a few job titles such as counter manager at Macy’s in the fragrance department, Uber, a recess coach, a remote learning supervisor, along with a few other roles with Urban Initiatives. She’s loves being a mom to Jaela(11), Lee’ann(6), and Brian (1), along with a list of bonus babies. Lastly, she aspires to one day own scattered site rehabilitation homes to help the homeless, less fortunate, or persons in need of temporary living spaces. 

Savannah Kimbrew

Sub Recess Coach

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Damian Lopez

Shields Middle School

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Shania Mccall

Gresham Elementary

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Being born and raised on the south side of Chicago Shania has a desire for giving back to the community by working with the youth. She is an Illinois media school graduate making her an advocate for creative expression.

Jessica Nixon

Christopher House Elementary

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Crystal Perez

Jahn Elementary

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Born and raised in Chicago, Grew up on the Northside…Go Cubs! Mother of 3 Girls. Family is Everything to me.

Monae Pleasant

Kellman Elementary

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Monae Pleasant is a mom of 1 intelligent, handsome young man. Her passion and happiness for working with youth can often go unrecognized. This is because playing with and understanding youth as they grow comes naturally to her as it is similar to her own experiences of when she was growing up as a youth. She is so excited to be a part of the UI team to help kids keep a smile on their face as she does her job.

Allison Plewa

Cameron Elementary

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Rae Powell

Sub Recess Coach

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Nathan Price

Dulles Elementary

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Nathan has been a lifelong Chicago native. He is an avid basketball fan and lover of all things sports.

Laura Quintana

Dewey Elementary

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Victor Ramirez

Monroe Elementary

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Amber Roberson

Barton Elementary

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Dalila Soto

Sub Recess Coach

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Dalila Soto is a mom of a loving, curious and energetic 3 yr old girl. Dalila was raised in the city of Chicago since the age of one. She is always spreading positive energy and is a huge advocate of mental health. She’s excited to help the youth through play and creativity. She is also passionate in creating a safe and welcoming environment. 

Carolyn Szontagh

Sub Recess Coach

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Born and raised in Chicago. Carolyn is a mom of 5 beautiful girls, family is everything.

Monica Toro

McCormick Elementary

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Jessica West

Tarkington Elementary

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Paul Whitehouse

Ravenswood Elementary

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Paul Whitehouse is a passionate mental health advocate, especially for the youth, and aspires to bring positive change to those that are struggling. He hopes to spread a message of empathy to everyone to ensure that no one feels left out or misunderstood. His passion for creativity and fun is infectious and creates a positive environment for all involved!   


Meet the People Supporting Our Work

Board of Directors

Solomon Barnett


Pete Cherecwich

Northern Trust

Patrick Croke

Croke Fairchild Morgan & Beres

T.J. Dammrich

Mercer Oak LLC

Jim Dower

Urban Initiatives

Ric Estrada

Metropolitan Family Services

Patrick Gallagher

Arthur J. Gallagher

Christian Gordon

JP Morgan Chase

Alaina Harkness

Current Innovation

Adolfo Hernandez

Pritzker Community Health

Ralf Hilpuesch

Dr. Wolff USA Distribution Inc.

Adam Hitchcock

Great Lakes Global Holdings

Neil Hirshman

Board Chair, Kirkland & Ellis

David Mahoney


Kate McAdams

JP Morgan Private Bank

Edwin McDonald, MD

University of Chicago Medicine

Dave McGranahan

Relative Value Partners

Michael McGrew

Constellation Brands

Habib Moudachirou

V-Square Quantitative Management

Sarah Naim

Board Vice-Chair, Grainger

Jason Pritzker

The Pritzker Organization, LLC

Rosa Ramirez

UChicago Consortium

Ari Randolph


Yeming Rankin

Rankin Family Ventures

Anel Ruiz


Jonathan Taylor

Blitz Capital Group

Partners Board

Brooke Alexander


Andrew Bartush

Eli Lily Co.

Michelle Baumann

VMLY&R Commerce

Jarrod Carter


Molly Costich

J.P. Morgan

Annie Couyoumjian

Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP

Richard Douglas

Themis Bar Review

Larry Fogel

Sidney Austin

Mike Galibois

Reed Smith

Patty Hester

National Student Leadership Conference

Jamie Hitch


Iman Jalali

Bear Peak Capital

Enrique I. Juarez


Lee Lampley

Northern Trust

DeJuan Lever

Iverson & Company

London Rakestraw

SCR Transportation

Sarah Smoler


Jared White

Madison Dearborn Partners

Jeffrey Zhang


Associate Board

Orlando Aguirre


Heidi Annaheim

PNC Capital Markets

Nathan Asher

Health Strategy

Julien Baneux


Andrew Bartush

Eli Lilly & Company

Michelle Baumann


Ryan Biek


Makeila Blanter


Doug A. Bowen

MBA Candidate

Jack Buehler


Finnian Bunta


Jamie Burt

Lindsay Pickett & Postel, LLC

Andrias Campbell

Fidelity Investments

Peter Campbell

Providence Equity Partners

Will Campbell

Huron Consulting

Alex Coggin

William Blair

Benjamin Cohen

Karis Gold

Andrew Cole

Arthur J. Gallagher

Chris Crimmins

Eastern Illinois University

Keegan De Silva

Great Point Capital

Brandon Deger

The Pritzker Organization

Shay Deverell

Citadel Securities

Caroline DeWeirdt


Ashley Dobbins

Spark Foundry

Brian Dobmeier


Joshua Dunn


Kevin Eisele

William Blair

Chris Ellison

Jump Trading

Jamie Ende

David A. Axelrod & Associates, P. C.

Holton Faust

Northwest Community Healthcare

Brian Flanagan


Rachel Flanagan


Nick Franz

Prairie Capital Advisors, INC.

Emily Friedl

Edelman Data & Intelligence

Harrison Freund

Cash App

Greg Friend

Nativo Inc.

Alex Gorniak


Jeremy Guterl


Austin Haas

Sprout Social

Carter Hale

Avison Young

Kyle Hannon


Willy Hernandez

William Blair

Julian Hilpuesch


Liz Hoppe

Lurie Children’s Hospital

Lauren Horn

All Stars Project of Chicago

Brett Joseph

Sports Info Solutions

Conor Kelch


Andre Kohn


Joe Kryza

GCM Grosvenor

Young Kwak


Chris Laackman


Wendelina Lai


Lauren LaVan

Harness Wealth

Bill Lawrence

US Court of Appeals

Carly Levick

SVT Robotics

Erin Lippert

Bauman Center for Social Enterprise & Responsibility

Patrick Mahal

Antares Capital

Ali Malehorn


Joe Mark

Havas Media Group

Rick Marquardt


Elise Marrinan


Matt Matosian

Shore Capital Partners

Brian Mattoni

Priority Sports & Entertainment

Brandon Medina

Wind Point Partners

Jordan Metter

Comunidade FIT

John Moten IV

CBRE Capital Markets

Hannah Nichols

Fidus Investment Advisors

Susan Nichols

Guggenheim Technology Investment Banking

Erica Nied

Alexandra Jules LLC

Samantha Nitti

Trilogy Behavioral Health

Parth Patel


Cami Pham

Enova International

Kellan Pierucci

TD Ameritrade

Christen Baillie Plotkin


Rhian Pritchard


Brian Quirke

Davis & Hosfield Consulting LLC

Michael Quirke

Bain & Company

Jose Ramos

Community Investment Corporation

John Reglin


Will Reichert

Libby Rice


Quinn Ricketts

Chicago Cubs

A.J. Riddell

Compass Group

Chris Ritter


Catherine Sangster

Purpose London

Lars Skattum

William Blair

Derek Skoog


Sarah Skoog

Home Chef

Annaka Stoeckel

Home Chef

Mia Stokes

Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund

Isaac Torres-Villa

JPMorgan Chase & Co

Hannah Tzeghai


Melissa Valentino

Tom, Dick & Harry Creative Co.

Emily VanGilder


Cameron Van Wyk

Discover Financial Services

Tyler VanGilder

William Blair

Kate Walsh


Christopher Wang


Katie Wells

Equity Group Investments

Nicole Willens

Northwestern Medicine

Lauren Wolf

Amazon Web Services

Coety Wyse

the Competence Group

Shelby Zang

BSL Studios

Katie Zara

Kraft Heinz

Austin Zimmerman


Advisory Board

Jen Axelrod

Chicago Community Trust

Eddie Bustamante


Felicia Davis-Blakely

Chicago Foundation for Women

Connie Falcone

 Firefly Group LLC

ME Girgenti


Alicia Gonzalez

Cubs Charities

Jim O’ Connor

Head of Venture Capital and Managing Director William Blair 

Nelson Padilla

Youth Development Worker

London Rakestraw

SCR Transportation

Katy Reichert


Stacy Stutz

Independent Consultant

Nancy Sullivan

Illinois Ventures

Cedric Thurman

Federal Home Loan Bank

Jasmine Thurmond

King Academy of Social Justice

Lisa Wiersma

IMC Chicago Charitable Foundation

Our Sponsors

Donors Help Us Reach More Students

We’ve served over 100,000 kids since our founding and aim to serve that many per year by 2025. Sponsors enable us to reach that goal and impact more lives.

Supporters Make It All Possible

We don’t do this work alone. Our sponsors and partners are crucial to the work we do to help kids today and invest in the young people who will guide Chicago tomorrow.

Event Sponsors Bring Teams Together

In addition to underwriting our teams, our event sponsors bring UI’s entire community together to celebrate, mingle, and build community.