Staff

Leadership Team

Joshua Hale
President and Chief Executive Officer
jhale@bigshouldersfund.org
Joshua Hale began at the Big Shoulders Fund as Executive Director in 2005 and was promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer in 2012. He previously served as Director of Development and Public Relations for Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, a nationally recognized model for inner-city college preparatory education.
Read Josh Hale’s full biography.

Dan Bennett
Director, Leadership and Scholarship Support
312.374.5670 ✶  dbennett@bigshouldersfund.org
At Big Shoulders Fund, Dan is responsible for recruiting and coaching emerging school leaders and supporting academic programming across the Big Shoulders network of schools.  He is also an integral member of the scholarship team, supporting student enrichment programs and scholarship receptions.  Prior to coming to Big Shoulders, Dan was an award-winning principal for nine years at St. Sylvester School in Logan Square, where he more than doubled enrollment and oversaw a dramatic increase in the vitality of the school.  He is excited for the opportunity to support more students and more schools. Bennett was fortunate to receive a high-quality Catholic education at Holy Spirit High School in his native southern New Jersey before moving west and attending the University of Notre Dame.

Eliza Bryant
Director, Academic Programs and Enrichment
312.544.8683  ✶  ebryant@bigshouldersfund.org
Eliza Bryant hails from New York but became a proud Maroon at the University of Chicago and has not left Hyde Park since, except when hunting for NY pizza. Eliza holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from the Urban Teacher Education Program (UChicago UTEP) and a Bachelor in History from the University of Chicago. Eliza is a true lover of math and puts her prior teaching in Chicago Public Schools and instructional coaching expertise to work making sure Big Shoulders Fund schools have access to high-quality curricula and professional development.

Malcolm Douglas
Chief Financial Officer
312.751.5294  ✶  mdouglas@bigshouldersfund.org
Malcolm Douglas brings a passion for education and more than 20 years of financial and administrative experience in the not-for profit sector. He is responsible for optimizing the financial performance of Big Shoulders Fund including operational efficiency, risk management, budgeting, and financial controls. He served as Chief Financial Officer at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, where his responsibilities included finance, budgeting, facilities management, and student financial aid. Continuing his involvement in the nonprofit sector, Malcolm also held senior financial positions at Loyola University, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, and Pillars Community Health. Malcolm, a CPA, holds an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Amelia “Amy” Drozda
Senior Director, Philanthropy, Partnerships, and Engagement
312.751.3850  ✶  adrozda@bigshouldersfund.org
Amy Drozda grew up in Omaha, NE, where she was instilled with the drive to serve. This drive brought her to Milwaukee, WI where the Jesuits expanded on it as she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Marquette University with a major in marketing. Upon graduation the lure of Chicago called where she worked for Sentry Insurance and the Hertz Corporation. In 2007 she joined the Big Shoulders Fund team. Amy completed her MBA at DePaul University with a focus in marketing management. It is her drive to serve and provide the chance for a brighter future that keeps Amy here and keeps our service arm growing.

Lea Jesse 
Director, Patrons Program
312.544.8688  ✶  ljesse@bigshouldersfund.org
Lea Jesse has over 12 years of business development, marketing, and project management experience. In her role at Big Shoulders Fund, Lea partners with donors to invest in inner-city Catholic schools to make a material impact on the schools’ long-term viability and effectiveness. Before joining Big Shoulders Fund, Lea served as a Vice President with the J.P. Morgan Endowments & Foundations Group, and also traveled the globe as a management consultant. She graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a Bachelor of Science. in Business. As a graduate of one of Cleveland’s inner city Catholic schools, Lea is passionate about using her marketing and consulting background to help change the trajectory of Chicago’s neediest Catholic schools.

Matthew Katzfey
Director, Alumni Outreach and High School Development
312-544-8692 ✶  mkatzfey@bigshouldersfund.org
At Big Shoulders Fund, Matt is responsible for building and enhancing elementary school alumni outreach efforts, as well as creating and implementing fully-functioning advancement programs within participating high schools. These initiatives progressively improve each school’s viability, not only through financial contributions, but also through active community engagement and volunteerism.

In a former life, he employed his relationship building and fundraising skills in the private sector, successfully selling print and online advertising for the Chicago Tribune and award-winning Chicago Parent magazine. Matt was born in Chicago, lives in Albany Park and holds an undergraduate degree from Millikin University.

Outside of Big Shoulders schools, you can find Matt attempting to learn how to tie a bow tie (it’s not going well), asking his kids if his sock game is “on fleek” (progressing), and cheering on the Cubs (this is the year – again!).

Kate LaMantia
Scholarship System Coordinator
312.751.3896  ✶  klamantia@bigshouldersfund.org
A product of Catholic education from grade school through college, Kate LaMantia is proud to carry on supporting Catholic education not only with her work at Big Shoulders, but also in sending her children to Catholic school. After graduating from Marquette University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and from IIT with an MBA in Finance, Kate moved up the ladder in different positions for the City of Chicago’s Office of Budget and Management & the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Prior to Big Shoulders, Kate was the Chief Financial Officer for After School Matters, where she caught the non-profit bug.

Rebecca Lindsay-Ryan
Senior Director, Academic Programs and External Affairs
312.751.3851  ✶  rlindsayryan@bigshouldersfund.org
Rebecca Lindsay-Ryan started out her career in education at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, then wandered north to Francis W. Parker School before ending up at the Big Shoulders Fund picking up experience in teaching, fundraising, program development and coaching along the way. A Double Demon, she has an undergraduate degree in History and Secondary Education and a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from DePaul University. Using her blend of academic, analytical and development skills, Rebecca is driven to help change lives through access to a quality education for all children.

Michaela Metzger
Senior Director, Strategy and Communication
312.544.8680  ✶  mmetzger@bigshouldersfund.org
Michaela Metzger initially got hooked on education as a Teach For America corps member and has learned a lot along the way from her experience at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Chicago Public Schools and now Big Shoulders. A graduate of Northwestern University, she pursed her MBA at Loyola to build her skill base for educational program implementation, evaluation, and marketing. She is passionate about getting the word out about Big Shoulders Fund schools that are producing life-changing outcomes for students all across the city.

John Moran
Senior Director, Patrons Program
312.751.3897  ✶  jmoran@bigshouldersfund.org
John Moran is the Patrons Program Senior Director, a position he has served in since 2006. In this role he not only administers the Patrons Program, but also leads Big Shoulders’ efforts to help improve school operations. Prior to joining Big Shoulders, he spent over twenty years in a variety of executive positions in Fortune 500 firms including IBM and AT&T, where he was responsible for both revenue and profitability in a competitive business-to-business setting. John earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and passed the CPA exam after graduating from the University of Notre Dame. He is the proud father of four, and an alumnus of a Catholic elementary school, high school and university.

Laura Nalley
Senior Director,  People and Leadership
773.251.9032 ✶  lnalley@bigshouldersfund.org
Laura Nalley came to education through Teach For America’s (TFA) national teaching corps in 1998 as a junior high Spanish teacher in Washington, D.C.  In 2002, she joined staff at TFA where she worked for 15 years focused especially on talent acquisition and leadership development. She made the leap to Catholic education in 2017 by joining the team at the Big Shoulders Fund. In addition to serving as Big Shoulders Fund’s human resources lead, Laura also manages the Sullivan Leadership Fellows program which seeks to recognize, support and develop outstanding principals within the Big Shoulders Fund network. Laura has an undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Iowa, and an MA in teaching from Trinity College in Washington, D.C.

Meika Slotsema
Director,  Scholarship Program
312.374.5674 ✶  mslotsema@bigshouldersfund.org
Meika Slotsema comes from a family of educators and therefore was destined to be involved with education herself. But first she went to law school. After graduating from Chicago-Kent College of Law she practiced estate planning and commercial litigation and then was called to give back, and went to work for a national nonprofit health organization. She is now pursuing a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Kellogg School of Management – Northwestern University. She first got to know Big Shoulders Fund as an inaugural member of the Auxiliary Board and has always felt passionately about the Big Shoulders mission. She is now excited to help grow the scholarship program to ensure more students have access to a high quality education.

Christine Sweeney
Director, Development Operations and Donor Services

312.544.8693  ✶  csweeney@bigshouldersfund.org
Christine Sweeney has spent most of her life within a 90 mile radius of Chicago. She grew up in South Bend, IN and later traveled north to Milwaukee where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications at Marquette University. She gained fund development experience in the service of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, Habitat for Humanity, and finally, COA Youth & Family Centers. Her passion for the nonprofit sector led her to pursue a Master in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.  She is thrilled to be in Chicago and excited to be part of Big Shoulders Fund’s mission and the larger effort to provide high-quality, values-based education in Chicago.

Tom Zbierski
Senior Director, Scholarship Programs and School Relations
312.751.8365  ✶  tzbierski@bigshouldersfund.org
Tom Zbierski has overseen the scholarship program in his 15 years at Big Shoulders. Originally from Missoura (a.k.a. Missouri) Tom has spent his entire lifetime in Catholic schools. His current challenge is that he wants to build the scholarship program to 10,000 so any fiscal help you can give him to achieve his goal would be appreciated. His favorite phrase is “you are the best” and he considers each of the principals as the “love of his life.” A Golden-Apple Award winning teacher and former school principal, Big Shoulders relies on Tom’s understanding of schools inside and out the classroom to reach students all across Chicago.

 

Team

Kamilah Anderson
Accountant
312.374.5672 ✶ kanderson@bigshouldersfund.org
Kamilah Anderson graduated from Butler University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. Previously an auditor for Deloitte and then Northern Trust, Kamilah helped ensure control environments were appropriately developed and implemented and consistently maintained. Today, she brings her passion for travel and accounting expertise to help cultivate a worldly and fiscally responsible Big Shoulders Fund office culture. Kamilah is excited to have an impact on the lives of Big Shoulders Fund schools and students every day.

Elizabeth Bartley
Lead Instructional Coach, Data Analysis
312.374.5673 ✶  ebartley@bigshouldersfund.org
Originally hailing from Portage, Indiana, Elizabeth Bartley (also known as Liz) always knew two things: she wanted to be a teacher and she wanted to live in Chicago. After earning her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, she fulfilled her first dream by joining the Waukegan Public Schools team as a fourth grade teacher. She realized her second dream when she moved to Chicago and began teaching at the LEARN Charter School Network. During her time in Chicago, Liz became an Assistant Principal and earned her Master’s in Educational Leadership. She joined Big Shoulders Fund to assist schools in using data to improve instruction and elevate student achievement.

Amanda Conley
Administrative Assistant
312.751.3895 ✶  aconley@bigshouldersfund.org
Amanda Conley was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. She worked hard throughout her time in college in the service industry to finance her own way through school. In her prior office management experience, she provided exceptional administrative support, coordinating schedules between contractors and customers to ensure effective and efficient delivery of services all over the Chicagoland area. She is now looking to grow her skills by joining an organization whose mission inspires her, and that’s what has brought her to Big Shoulders Fund. She loves children and helping others in need. Amanda’s hard-working, positive energy have clearly fueled her academic and professional success to this point.

Vicente Del Real
Latino Outreach Coordinator
312.566.4405 ✶ vdelreal@bigshouldersfund.org
Vicente Del Real immigrated to Chicago from Mexico thirteen years ago at the age of fifteen. He is passionate about community empowerment and leadership development, particularly among Catholic youth. His work as a community organizer has revolved around building leadership capacity in communities to advocate for immigrant rights. Vicente is also very passionate about youth ministry and is currently a graduate student at Catholic Theological Union where he is working towards a Master of Divinity. He strongly believes youth can and should play a key role in the transformation of communities and that faith and education are fundamental tools and factors to building strong communities.

Colleen Dugo
Assistant Director, Next Generation and Events
312.544.8691  ✶  cdugo@bigshouldersfund.org 
Originally from Bloomington, IL, Colleen Dugo comes from a big family. A graduate of the University of Kansas with a degree in Applied Behavioral Sciences, Colleen works closely with Big Shoulders Fund’s Next Generation Boards: the Auxiliary Board and Chairmen’s Advisory Council. She absolutely loves children and had the wonderful opportunity to work with children with autism for two years. Now she works for the benefit of children. Colleen believes every child should have access to a quality education.

Khyla Jackson 
Assistant Director, Scholarship Program
312.544.8682 ✶  kjackson@bigshouldersfund.org
Originally from the “Cheese State “Khyla earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. Khyla then moved to Chicago to pursue a career in infectious disease prevention where she grew a desire for helping others. This dedication has led her to volunteering with Catholic schools. Khyla served on the transition board of St. Columbanus and St. Dorothy to merge the schools seamlessly into Augustus Tolton Academy.  Khyla’s passion for Catholic education led her to attain her Master Degree in Business Management from Calumet College – St. Joseph. She is overjoyed to be part of the Big Shoulders Fund team as Assistant Director of Scholarship Program.

Tammy LoVerde 
Accountant

312.751.8394  ✶  tloverde@bigshouldersfund.org
Tammy LoVerde has been keeping the books in check at Big Shoulders Fund since 2007. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University. A graduate of Chicago Catholic schools herself, Tammy understands the importance of a values-based, quality education.

Jennifer Moran 
Assistant Director, Communication

312.544.8685  ✶  jmoran2@bigshouldersfund.org
Jennifer Moran has been working with Chicago’s inner city Catholic schools for more than seven years. She served as a tutor/mentor to elementary school students during her time at DePaul University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Media Studies. Prior to joining the Big Shoulders Fund team, she served as the Development and Marketing Director at Our Lady of Grace School in the Logan Square neighborhood. She is excited to be able to showcase the commendable work of Big Shoulders Fund students, teachers, and staff to create a brighter future for Chicago’s youth.

Kevin Pitts
Assistant Director, Volunteerism and Engagement
312.566.4403 ✶  kpitts@bigshouldersfund.org
Born in rural Minnesota in a town of 4,000 people, Kevin immediately fell in love with the big city of Chicago. After graduating Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Film/Video, he joined an AmeriCorps program for two years called City Year where he tutored elementary students in the Back of the Yards and North Lawndale neighborhoods. He has led hundreds of community service projects with high school students and traveled abroad to build three schools in high-need communities. Kevin is grateful to be a part of the Big Shoulders Fund team and continue to empower supporters in our mission and for our students.

Samuel Rodriguez
Development and Events Coordinator
312.566.4404 ✶  srodriguez@bigshouldersfund.org
Born and raised in Chicago’s southwest side, Samuel or “Sam” attributes his academic success to a strong foundation provided by Catholic School, for he attended St. Nicholas of Tolentine here in Chicago from Pre-K to 8th grade.  After going to one of Chicago’s charter high schools, Sam went on to graduate from Oberlin College, as a Posse Scholar, with a degree in Sociology.  Today, Sam enjoys exploring Chicago and playing pick-up soccer when he can.

Rebecca Schmitt
Gift Processing and Database Coordinator
312.374.5675  ✶  rschmitt@bigshouldersfund.org
Born and raised in a small town in Colorado, Becky received a Bachelor of Art in History from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Art in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. She previously worked at Seton Academy in the Advancement office, working on both the student recruitment and donor databases. She loves cross-country road trips to visit family in both Colorado and Oklahoma as well as family vacations in Hawaii.

Natalie Sullivan
Executive Assistant to Joshua D. Hale, President and Chief Executive Officer
312.751.3898  ✶  nsullivan@bigshouldersfund.org
Natalie Sullivan graduated from Elmhurst College with a degree in Interdisciplinary Communications with an emphasis on Public Relations and Advertising. During Natalie’s last two years of college she worked part-time at a residential facility for children with physical disabilities. It was during her time there that she realized she wanted to work in the non-profit world. Natalie is grateful for finding such a wonderful organization, Big Shoulders Fund, to be a part of!

Elizabeth Tracy
Assistant Director, School Marketing and Operations

312.374.5671  ✶  etracy@bigshouldersfund.org
Hailing from the Northwest suburbs, Elizabeth Tracy credits her interest in working with inner-city Catholic schools to her experiences from her Jesuit education. Elizabeth graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a double major in economics and marketing and an MBA in marketing. Elizabeth spent two summers as a Marketing Fellow at Big Shoulders Fund working with Santa Lucia School in Bridgeport. She then worked part-time as an Enrollment Marketing Coordinator while completing her MBA. As Assistant Director of School Marketing and Operations, she now continues to work with schools and assist the Big Shoulders Fund staff with the development of new marketing and enrollment projects.