Developing educated, informed, and engaged citizens.

Partial McCormick Foundation Staff Photo, Fall 2016

Our People

Administration

Tameka Edwards-Chihota Tameka Edwards-Chihota
Administrative Officer, Democracy and Veterans

 

Tameka Edwards-Chihota is responsible for managing the grant making process. With over 15 years of experience working with non-profits as an event planning and fundraising professional Tameka has been responsible for raising millions of dollars for community-based groups. Most recently Tameka served as the Executive Manager of a regional convention center.

Tameka coordinates educational and social networking programs, service events and fundraisers in her home city of Gary, Indiana. She has worked with the Boys and Girls Club, Urban League, The Salvation Army and Susan G Komen for the Cure in an effort to create impactful community programs and events in the city.

She helped create a forum for local youth to discuss their rights and proper interaction with law enforcement and helped a local student afford the opportunity to attend a NASA space camp. Tameka is passing on the legacy of stewardship to her daughter, who often volunteers with her. Tameka is living a life of service as the past social chair and community service chair for Sigma Theta Zeta graduated chapter of Zeta Phi Beta.

 

Tonya Ehrenhaft
Executive Assistant

 

Tonya Ehrenhaft is the executive assistant for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. She supports the President and CEO, the Senior Vice President of Operations, and the Senior Vice President of Philanthropy. She also manages the Foundation’s facilities and its participation in the Cristo Rey/Christ the King Corporate Work Study Program. She started with the Foundation in May 1999 as a Communities Program Assistant and Secretary to the Vice President of Philanthropy. Shortly thereafter, she was asked to support the full executive team.

Prior to joining the McCormick Foundation, Tonya spent three years at a merchant credit card processing bank and taught early education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education from DePaul University in 1995.

 

Cantigny Park

Matt LaFond Matt LaFond
Executive Director, Cantigny Park

 

Krewasky Salter Krewasky Salter 
Executive Director, First Division Museum

 

More Cantigny Staff

Communications

Phil Zepeda
Director of Communications

 

Phil Zepeda leads the team that manage all strategic communications for the Foundation as well as Cantigny Park and Cantigny Golf. With a deep background in marketing communications and public affairs, he’s held senior communications leadership roles at the national headquarters of Feeding America and the American Red Cross. He holds degrees from Northwestern University and Northern Illinois University, and serves on the Board of Directors of Amate House, the young adult volunteer program of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

 

Dave Blake
Graphic Designer/Editor

 

Dave Blake designs and produces a variety of digital and print content for use throughout Cantigny Park. He is also the managing editor of the Bridgehead Sentinel, the official newsletter of the Society of the 1st Infantry Division. Dave has been with the Foundation for 9 years starting with the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in 2009. Dave holds an Associate’s Degree in Printing Pre-Press Technology from College of DuPage and a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design from Robert Morris University.

 

Lisa Bryant
Creative Services and Online Community Manager

 

Lisa Bryant oversees the creative, digital and social media team. In her role, she manages social media content development and strategy for Cantigny Park, Museums and Golf. She also leads creative communications, visual and digital marketing and brand management for both Cantigny Park and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Lisa holds a BA in Creative Communications from DePaul University.

 

Allison Claybon
Communications Manager

 

Brad Lash Brad Lash
Web Development Manager

 

Brad Lash manages content and updates for the Foundations' websites and produces digital content for the web and social media. He moved to the Communications department in 2010 after four years of service with the McCormick Foundation's Freedom Museum and Freedom Express as Exhibit Technician and Technology Coordinator. Brad holds a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology from Purdue University.

 

Francisco Martinez Francisco Martinez
Communications Officer

 

Francisco Martinez develops, executes and analyzes the Foundation’s digital strategy, and manages internal communication. He has previously served as communications manager for Erie Neighborhood House, and as a grant writer for Hamdard Healthcare. Francisco is currently a metro Board member for Metropolitan Family Services, and the current Chair of the National Foundation of Alpha Psi Lambda Fraternity. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in International Studies and History, and minors in Political Science and Spanish.

 

Ana Myers
Media Design Associate

 

Ana Myers designs, implements and develops marketing collateral for the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park. She also manages the museum’s social media channels and oversees its website. Prior to joining the museum in 2015, Ana worked in brand development and visual design for higher education, parks and recreation, and as a freelancer. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Indiana University.

 

Jeff Reiter
Senior Communications Manager

 

Jeff Reiter oversees communications and marketing for Cantigny Park and Cantigny Golf in Wheaton, the former estate of Robert R. McCormick. He joined the Foundation in 2008 after serving 11 years in corporate communications for Tribune Company. Jeff holds a BA from Washington and Lee University and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He serves on the board of the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce.

 

Communities

Molly Baltman Leonard Molly Baltman Leonard
Assistant Director / Grantmaking

 

Molly Baltman Leonard is the Assistant Director of Grantmaking in the Communities Program at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, responsible for grantmaking partnerships with civic-leading companies to develop, implement and evaluate poverty alleviation investment strategies.

Before joining the Foundation in 2007, Molly served as Executive Director of Archeworks, a nonprofit socially-conscious design school, using design as a tool for social change. Previously, she held positions in the Child Welfare systems in Illinois and Michigan, working towards systems change at the both the policy and direct service levels. Molly holds a MA from University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, a BA in Human Ecology from Michigan State University, and was a 2009 International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation Fellow. She serves as co-chair of the Chicagoland Workforce Funders Alliance, an advisory member of the FSG/Aspen Institute Collective Impact Forum, and board member of Links Hall. She is a native of Detroit and has been a resident of Chicago since 1997.

 

Sharod Ford-Paige
Administrative Officer/Raiser's Edge Specialist

 

 

 

David Pesqueira David Pesqueira
Senior Program Officer

 

David Pesqueira is a Senior Program Officer in the Communities Program. Mr. Pesqueira coordinates the Communities Program’s jobs and economic opportunity issue area, and supports the place-based initiative in South Lawndale (Little Village/La Villita). He also co-manages the partnership with the United Way of Metro Chicago’s Neighborhood Networks.

Prior to joining the Foundation in 1993, Mr. Pesqueira worked at the Chicago Tribune Foundation, the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning, the Community Renewal Society, as a grassroots organizer with the West Town Concerned Citizens Coalition, and as a fellow with the Chicago Community Trust. Mr. Pesqueira holds a Bachelor’s degree in African American Studies and Latin American Studies from Brandeis University, is a co-founder of Chicago Latinos in Philanthropy and is a steering committee member of the Literacy Funders Network, a task force of the Council on Foundations.

 

Democracy

Shawn Healy Shawn Healy, PhD
Program Director

 

Shawn Healy serves as the Foundation's internal resource for knowledge on civic education and engagement. Healy plays a key role in the Democracy Program’s work in the areas of advocacy and public policy, serving as a chair of the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition, and leading the state’s Democracy Schools Initiative.

Healy recently chaired the Illinois Task Force on Civic Education and led the successful push for a required high school civics course in Illinois. He also led the Illinois Social Science Standards Task Force in 2014-2015. Its recommendations were adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education in June 2015.

Healy makes regular appearances as a guest speaker and panelist at academic and professional development conferences across the country, is a frequent contributor to local media, and produces original scholarship in the area of political participation and civic education.

Before joining the McCormick Foundation, he served as a social studies teacher at West Chicago Community High School and Sheboygan North High School. A 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin, he holds a MA and PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago in political science and earned a bachelor’s degree with distinction in Political Science, History and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Healy's doctoral dissertation is titled "Essential School Supports for Civic Learning."

 

Sonia Mathew Sonia Mathew
Program Officer

 

Sonia Mathew is a Program Officer for the Democracy Program at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. In this role, she oversees the youth civic engagement strategy and manages the Democracy Schools Initiative to strengthen the state's civic education system. Prior to joining the Foundation, Sonia’s career was grounded in both the classroom and the nonprofit sector. She spent almost 10 years as a social studies teacher in Chicago and her experience with nonprofits included work with Urban Teacher Residency United, Mikva Challenge, and Public Allies Chicago. She completed her BA in Political Science at the University of Michigan and her MA through the Social and Cultural Foundations in Education program at DePaul University.

 

Andres Torres Andres Torres
Program Officer

 

A committed partnership-builder, Andres has worked in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors fostering collaborations to drive social change. His experience includes policy-making in several fields, from transportation to tourism. Prior to McCormick, he led work at Grand Victoria Foundation developing networks to improve early childhood and environmental policy in Illinois.

He brings to the Democracy Program an understanding of government institutions, built through service in local, regional, and national public agencies, including most recently, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, where he focused on developing strategies to promote inclusive economic growth. Andres holds degrees in City Design and Policy, from the London School of Economics, and Humanities, from Yale University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Children’s Choir.

 

Education

Cornelia Grumman Cornelia Grumman
Program Director

 

Grumman joins the McCormick Foundation from the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago where she served as Director of Policy & Strategic Communications since 2013. While there, she headed strategic marketing and policy efforts and leveraged local and national partnerships as channels for UEI knowledge. Prior to that role, Grumman spent five years with the Ounce of Prevention Fund as the Founding Executive Director of the First Five Years Fund, spearheading the start-up of an influential campaign designed to secure greater federal investments in high quality early education. With a journalism career spanning more than 20 years, Grumman held reporting duties with the News & Observer (Raleigh) and the Chicago Tribune, where in 2003 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Writing for her editorials on capital punishment.

 

Yanira Cirino
Administrative Officer

 

Yanira Cirino joined the McCormick Foundation in October 2018 as Administrative Officer. She provides administrative and event support to the Education team and the Special Initiatives Director.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Yanira worked at the Newberry Library, the Chicago High School for the Arts and Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education. She also gained customer service experience as a flight attendant for United Airlines. Yanira holds a Bachelor's degree in Public Communication from the Universidad de Puerto Rico and a Master's degree in Nonprofit Management for Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, also in Puerto Rico.

 

Wendy Uptain
Program Officer

 

Wendy Uptain is the Program Officer for the Education Program at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. In this role, she assists with programmatic and grantmaking efforts to strengthen the state’s early childhood education system.

Wendy began her career as an early childhood educator. She has worked in policy and advocacy, providing recommendations and consultation to national policymakers, state superintendents, and state agency leaders on a range of issues including educator evaluation, teacher preparation, and early childhood education. She founded the Hope Street Group Fellowship, a prestigious leadership program for teachers to learn about and influence national and state policy. She has a BA in Early Childhood Education from Brigham Young University and an MPA from the George Washington University.

 

Finance

Nakita Burrell Nakita Burrell
Director of Finance and Administration

 

Nakita Burrell leads the Finance/Accounting function for the Foundation. Ms. Burrell holds responsibility for risk management, financial planning and analysis, auditing, managerial and financial reporting and directs the controllership, as well as grants and fundraising accounting.

Prior to McCormick, Burrell was the Financial Planning Manager at Constellation Brands. Before that, she managed the global strategic and annual planning function at Shure, Inc. Burrell hales from Atlanta, GA and began her career at PWC Chicago, one of the premier global accounting firms.

Burrell is a board member and Treasurer for Women Employed and a board member and the Fundraising/Scholarship Chair for the Bradley University Black Alumni Alliance.

Burrell earned her B.Sc. in Accounting - Manga Cum Laude from Bradley University, her M.B.A. from DePaul University and is a certified public accountant. Burrell currently resides in Chicago with her husband Terrence.

 

Dolores Lee
Accounts Payable Clerk

 

Luz Santiago
Staff Accountant & Department Administrator

 

Luz Santiago is the Staff Accountant & Department Administrator for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. She has been with the Foundation since 2014 and is responsible for providing support to the senior management team and directors at Cantigny Park. In addition, she is an integral part of both the Finance and Human Resources departments. Ms. Santiago holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Roosevelt University.

 

Dennis Welch
Controller

 

Shirley Wen
Staff Accountant

 

Human Resources

Oscar Regalado
Human Resources Director

 

Mario Bastida
Human Resources Generalist

 

Whitney Wade
Talent Acquisition Specialist

 

Whitney is the Talent Acquisition Specialist for the McCormick Foundation and Cantigny Park. She serves as an advocate for the foundation, identifying and attracting exceptional and diverse talent across teams. Prior to joining the McCormick Foundation, she spent more than three years at Arabella Advisors, a philanthropy consulting firm, managing talent acquisition, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Whitney also served in other recruiting and project management roles at two national, retained executive search firms: Alford Executive Search and Carrington & Carrington.

Whitney holds a master of social work from Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work and a bachelor of arts in Psychology and African and African American Studies also from Washington University in St. Louis. A native Chicagoan, she is a member of the South Side Giving Circle in partnership with the Chicago Foundation for Women.

 

Information Technology

Richard Kachikwu
Director of Information Technology

 

Richard oversees the Information Technology department, managing a team of seven, setting IT strategy and coordinating infrastructure and service delivery across the Foundation (Cantigny and Chicago). He joined the Foundation in 2011 and assumed his current role in 2016. Previously, he served as IT Business Support Analyst for the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2008 to 2010. Richard earned a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from University of Benin, Nigeria, West Africa, and holds a number of Microsoft professional certifications.

 

Gamelle Davis Gamelle Davis
Web Developer/Programmer

 

Noe Lara Noe Lara
IT Technician

 

Organizational Effectiveness and Strategic Initiatives

Courtney Steck Courtney Steck
Director

 

In striving to amplify the impact of McCormick’s mission-driven work, Courtney Steck seeks out and capitalizes on opportunities to improve organizational effectiveness and performance. She serves as an internal consultant who assists staff across the Foundation in defining business problems, analyzing root causes, conducting research, and designing solutions. Courtney also contributes her process design, facilitation, and project management skills to strategic initiatives across the Foundation. She appreciates the opportunity to work across departmental boundaries in order to foster organizational cohesion and strategic alignment.

Prior to joining the Foundation in 2006, Courtney served as an education programs manager for ArtrainUSA, a non-profit that traveled art exhibitions—via the nation’s railways—to predominantly rural communities across the country. She completed her B.A. in History at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and her M.A. in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University, where she also earned an advanced certificate in Museum Studies.

 

Ava Schneider Ava Schneider
Grants Administrator

 

Ava Schneider is a Grants Administrator, working primarily with the Communities Program. Her responsibilities include management of the grant cycle process, liaising with grantee and fund partners, and continual improvement of grantmaking procedures.

Ava has previously served as an Administrative Officer at the Foundation. Prior to joining McCormick, she gained experience as a personal aide and event planner in Chicago, and also as a research assistant and tutor while an undergraduate. She holds a bachelor's degree in both Cognitive Science and English from Case Western Reserve University.

 

Special Initiatives and Community Justice

Anna LauBach
Program Director

 

LauBach leads special projects including development of new initiatives to support the Foundation’s place-based work to strengthen local communities, a national initiative to address unmet mental health needs of returning veterans and their families and most recently the foundation’s strategy to address violence reduction and criminal justice reform.

She is past chair of the board of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and has served on a number of committees and advisory groups addressing violence, public safety, mental health and wellness in the city.

Veterans

Megan Everett Megan Everett
Program Director

 

Megan Everett, Director of the Veterans Program for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, is a former Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy. As Director of the Veterans Program, Megan manages a grant portfolio focused on veteran employment to include education and entrepreneurship, behavior health and wellness, and systems navigation. Megan joined the Foundation in August 2014.

Megan served on the USS JARRETT (FFG-33) as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and on the USS DENVER (LPD-9) during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her last tour in the Navy was on a Personal Exchange Program to the Canadian Fleet Atlantic in Halifax, NS. Following her service in the Navy, Megan worked at a small nonprofit with adults with disabilities doing job placement and supported employment in Athens, OH. She was then the Service Learning Coordinator at Chapel Hill High School working with local and national nonprofits and community organizations in the Research Triangle area. She moved to Chicago in 2010 to work at Northwestern University at the Center for Civic Engagement and Center for Leadership. Prior to joining the McCormick Foundation, Megan was the Assistant Director at Northwestern’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the McCormick School of Engineering.

Megan serves as a Community Member on the Board of Governors for Rickover Naval Academy in Chicago Public Schools. She is an advisory board member for the Advisory Council on Veterans Affairs for the city of Chicago and on the Illinois Veterans Advisory Council. Megan is a board member for the Veterans Leadership Council in Chicago and a Political Partner for the Truman National Security Project. Megan is a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at the American Red Cross of Chicago. Megan received a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University receiving her commission through Naval ROTC. She has a MBA from Penn State University and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University.

 

Emanuel Johnson
Program Officer

 

Emanuel “Manny” Johnson joined the McCormick Foundation in 2016. Prior, he served 6 years in the Navy as an Information Systems Technician. During his tour of service he was stationed onboard the U.S.S. Vella Gulf (CG-72) and with the National Security Agency.

He received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the George Washington University. While attending GWU he served as president of GW Veterans, a chapter of Student Veterans of America. He also served as the coordinator for the Veteran Service Initiative, creating service opportunities for veterans in their community and increasing GW’s student body involvement with veterans in their community.

Emanuel returned to his home state of Illinois to accept an appointment to the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs where he served as Senior Policy Advisor, focusing on community outreach and engagement. He headed task forces and councils designed to provide critical feedback to the Director of Veterans’ Affairs. As well as leading the department’s veterans’ hiring initiative.

 

To contact a member of the Foundation staff, send us an email at: info@mccormickfoundation.org.