Leadership Team

Joshua Hale
President and Chief Executive Officer
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.

Lauren Anderson
Director, Scholarship Program
312.374.5674 ✶
Lauren has been working in the non-profit education sector in Chicago since 2012. Inspired by her education at Loyola University Chicago and its commitment to philanthropy, servant leadership, and values-based education, she has dedicated herself to the cause of making quality education accessible and available to all students. Passionate about human rights and social service, she is proud to use her knowledge of organizational psychology and operations management to work with a group of committed, mission-driven individuals to help Chicago’s children achieve their dreams. When she is not working, she enjoys exploring the artistic, cultural, culinary, and (occasional) athletic exploits that the City of Big Shoulders has to offer. She joins Big Shoulders Fund excited to invest in the future by investing in those who will shape it.

Elizabeth Bartley
Director, Instructional Coaching and Literacy
312.374.5673 ✶
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.

Dan Bennett
Senior Director, Scholarships
312.751.8337 ✶
At Big Shoulders Fund, Dan is 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.

Tom Borah
Managing Director, School Finance and Facilities
Tom Borah oversees all aspects of the Big Shoulders Fund Plus School’s financial operations and capital improvement projects.  Prior to joining Big Shoulders Fund, Tom spent most of his professional career in the investment management business as a financial analyst and portfolio manager for several different firms.  He moved to the nonprofit sector in 2019 when he became Director of Finance and Operations at Old St. Patrick’s parish in Chicago, and is excited to bring his background and skills to support the Big Shoulders Fund mission.  A native of Massachusetts, Tom has lived in the Midwest since attending business school at Northwestern after receiving an undergraduate degree from Yale University.

Katie Britton
Director, Donor Stewardship, Cultivation, and Major Gifts

574.850.0330 ✶
Katie Britton is a passionate advocate for equitable access to quality teaching, having been a product of scholarship-enabled education herself. Born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, Katie attended Marian High School before becoming a first-generation college student at Valparaiso University. She then began her fundraising career in the nonprofit education sector in 2013 while pursuing a master’s degree at Lakeland University. Prior to joining Big Shoulders Fund, Katie has worked to provide a transformative education to students of all backgrounds at institutions including Lakeland University, Valparaiso University, and the University of Chicago.

Carolyn Broughton
Major Gifts Officer, Donor Stewardship & Cultivation

312.544.8696 ✶
Carolyn Broughton began her career in education as a 5th grade teacher at St. Malachy in South Central Los Angeles, through the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). It was in South Central LA that Carolyn discovered her passion for inner-city children and access to quality educational opportunities. Upon completion of program Carolyn joined the Big Shoulders Fund team in Chicago. Carolyn’s career also includes work at After School Matters, LEARN Charter School Network and most recently Empower Illinois. Carolyn has rejoined the Big Shoulders Fund team and brings with her experiences from these other organizations, as well as a passion for the mission of the Big Shoulder Fund, as well as the communities, schools and students served.

Eliza Bryant
Managing Director, Teaching and Learning
312.544.8683  ✶
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.

Samantha Clark
Senior Accountant
312.544.8682  ✶
Samantha, a lifelong Chicago north-sider, brings 24 years of financial management expertise and a dedication to service in a non-profit setting to Big Shoulders Fund’s finance team.  Formerly the Director of Finance at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, Samantha was responsible for many mission-critical functions including payroll, accounts receivables and payables, cash management, budgeting, forecasting, and annual audits that safeguarded financial solvency and cost-effective operations for the organization.  Samantha graduated summa cum laude from DePaul University and holds a Bachelor of Science in Commerce and a minor in Accountancy.

Malcolm Douglas
Chief Financial Officer
312.751.5294  ✶
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
Chief Advancement and Development Officer
312.751.3850  ✶
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.

DiAna Elcan
Managing Director, Development Operations and Donor Services
312-468-7056  ✶
DiAna is a proud Chicagoan who grew up in the Hyde Park neighborhood. With over 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit and education sectors, she truly understands and values the importance of creating opportunities to make high-quality education and resources, accessible for all. DiAna has worked at the University of Chicago, Rosalind Franklin University, and The Ancona School and has a bevy of experience in development, operations, project management, and strategic communications. She has also worked as a consultant helping to transform a small nonprofit on the Southside of Chicago into a fully functioning, thriving, and successful organization.

DiAna is a Double Demon of DePaul University with a bachelor’s in Communications and a master’s in applied professional studies with an emphasis in educational communications. She is also a proud Kenwood Academy alum – Go Broncos! She is excited to be a part of Big Shoulders Fund and contribute in making a meaningful difference in the lives of students and families.

Tim Gallo
Managing Director, Plus Schools & Leadership
312-751-8337  ✶
Tim has worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and executive director at schools across the Big Shoulders Fund network since 2010. He started as a member of the Inner-City Teaching Corps, where he was placed as a teacher at St. Thomas the Apostle School. He later went on to become assistant principal and principal at St. Thomas the Apostle School. He then went on to serve as the executive director of three different schools across the Big Shoulders Fund Plus Network. Tim has an undergraduate degree from the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame, a masters degree in education from Northwestern University, and a doctorate in education administration from Loyola University Chicago. 

Maria Ippolito
Managing Director, School Marketing and Enrollment
610.405.7722  ✶
Maria brings over 15 years of experience in education in a variety of roles ranging from teacher and coach to advancement and admissions director. In her current role, Maria is responsible for developing an enrollment management strategy for the Plus network of schools. She works closely with principals all over the city both teaching them how to market their schools and setting up programs that will generate long term enrollment results. 

Maria has been involved in many facets of Catholic school life. She served as a member of the Inner-City Teaching Corps (ICTC) where she taught Jr. High Math, coached girls and boys varsity basketball and earned her Master’s Degree in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University. She previously worked in advancement and admissions at both the elementary school (St. Gall School) and high school level (De La Salle Institute). Maria grew up outside of Philadelphia where she captained the University of Pennsylvania Women’s basketball team and led them to an Ivy League Championship in 2004. 

Matthew Katzfey
Director, Alumni Outreach and High School Development
312-544-8692 ✶
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!).

Rebecca Lindsay-Ryan
Chief Schools Officer
312.751.3851  ✶
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. Rebecca is both an Erikson Institute Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellow and a member of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ 2018 Emerging Leaders cohort.

John Malloy
Senior Director, Strategy and Communication
312.751.3896  ✶
John Malloy brings a service mindset and extensive professional and volunteer experience in inner-city education. He spent 16 years at Holy Trinity High School, part of the Big Shoulders Fund network, where he served in a variety of roles including Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Chief Operating Officer. Born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia, John made his way to the Midwest to attend Washington University in St. Louis. From there, he tried out the legal field for two years before finding his calling in non-profit work. John is driven by a desire to give all children the high-quality education they deserve and he is excited to apply his school experience on a larger scale at Big Shoulders Fund.

Laura Nalley
Senior Director,  People and Leadership
773.251.9032 ✶
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.       

Danielle Robinson
Managing Director, School Operations and Patrons program
312-544-8696 ✶
Danielle Robinson is ferociously committed to providing transformative educational experiences to the most traditionally underserved communities. During her 19-year educational career, she served as a teacher for 12 years, teaching grades 1-10 and leading instruction in all core content areas. Danielle also served as a school turn-around principal for Barbara A. Sizemore Academy, located in Chicago’s West Englewood neighborhood. With her leadership, the Sizemore Campus improved student academic growth from the first percentile to the 98th percentile in both ELA and math, increased Sizemore’s CPS school performance rating, and was recognized by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel for improved student performance in mathematics.

Prior to joining Big Shoulders Fund, Danielle served as Superintendent-Regional Director for Phalen Leadership Academies, as well as the contracted Chief Academic Strategist for Chicago Shabazz Schools. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University and holds a BA in Humanities and a Masters of Public Administration degree with a concentration in non-profit management.

Heidi Rouleau
Director, STEM Programming and Extended Day
312.751.8337 ✶
After many years of collaboration with Big Shoulders Fund staff and schools, Heidi Rouleau joined the Academic Programs team as the Assistant Director, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Programming. In this role Heidi supports schools in building capacity for STEM through in-school, extended day, and enrichment programs. She earned a Master of Education in Secondary Education from DePaul University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Theatre from Millikin University. Heidi has a passion for bringing the rich cultural resources of Chicago to bear to elevate teaching and learning in classrooms throughout the City. Previously, Heidi worked to bridge classroom and informal learning environments through her work as the Senior Manager, School Learning Experiences at the Field Museum and during her time as a high school teacher and educator at the Adler Planetarium. After serving as a science instructor for the Big Shoulders Fund STEM Scholars Program on Saturdays for four years, she was thrilled to be able to make an even greater impact in her current role.

Christine Sweeney
Managing Director, Operations and Administrative Systems

312.751.8337  ✶
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.


Kamilah Anderson
Accounting Project Coordinator
312.374.5672 ✶
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.

Luis Calderon
Associate Scholarship Program
312-566-4401 ✶
Born in the heart of Little Village, Luis Calderon has been living the majority of his life in Chicago’s southwest side. Luis is a graduate of Saint Xavier University with a BA in Psychology, and minors in mathematics and communication. After graduation, Luis went onto Georgetown University to work as a residence counselor for Summer Discovery. Following that, he went to work at a charter school in Manhattan, NY working for AmeriCorps where he taught sixth grade mathematics. Now, Luis is excited to work with Big Shoulders Fund’s Scholarship team and help to provide support to as many scholars and families as he possibly can.

Russell Castro
Manager, Development Communications
858.602.2299 ✶
A transplant from San Diego, CA, Russell joins the Big Shoulders Fund with the goal of developing his own roots in Chicago. His parents emigrated to Chicago in the 1980s and served the Filipino community through their work at the Philippine Consulate until they moved to California. After graduating from UCLA, Russell remained at the University to work for the Community Programs Office, which provides resources and services that empower students from underrepresented backgrounds. He spent the last eight years there executing programs that facilitate student development and advance student success.  

Russell holds an MA in Social Sector Leadership and Nonprofit Management from the University of Chicago. He hopes to support the Big Shoulders Fund’s mission through creative and compelling storytelling.

Jacqueline Chapman
Manager, School Marketing and Enrollment
312-544-8694 ✶
Jacqueline is a Chicago native who grew up in the City’s north side. She graduated from Lake Forest College with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and double minor in Business and African American Studies. Throughout her time at Lake Forest College, she worked as the Assistant in the Office of Communication and Marketing, and as a Student Ambassador in the Office of Admissions. Jacqueline also interned at Stewart Talent, a talent agency where she strengthened her marketing and media skills. Prior to working at Big Shoulders Fund, she served as a Development and Marketing Associate at VOCEL, a non-profit organization focused on early learning and family support which operates innovative child-parent programs that are accessible to families facing adversity.

Monica Chapman
Manager, Communication
312-544-8680 ✶
Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Monica Chapman loved stories from a young age. Her love of storytelling led her to graduate with a BA in Creative Writing and a minor in Advertising from Columbia College Chicago. She later went on to receive her Master of Communication in Digital Media and Storytelling at Loyola University Chicago. During her time at Loyola, she became a Big Shoulders Fund Summer Fellow where she was introduced to St. Francis de Sales High School and became part of their marketing team (and family) for 7 years. Prior to joining the Strategy and Communication team at Big Shoulders Fund, Monica served as a Project Coordinator at the American Library Association assisting in the promotion of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and Stonewall Book Awards. Monica is excited to be a part of the Big Shoulders Fund team once more in a new capacity and helping to promote the amazing work the organization is doing for schools in the Chicagoland area!

Jocelyn Esparza
Manager, School Marketing & Enrollment
224.406.1124 ✶
Jocelyn Esparza graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BA in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Psychology. During her time at Loyola, she was part of the student government where she served as a Senator during her third year and an Associate Communications Officer during her fourth year. Jocelyn interned at Jasculca Terman Strategic Communications and was a Big Shoulders Fund Summer Fellow in 2021. She is excited to use her degree in the nonprofit and education world, two areas about which she is passionate.

Katherine Fedrigon
Assistant Director, Donor Relations and Stewardship
312.544.8693 ✶
Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Katherine is a product of Catholic education, graduating from St. Catherine of Alexandria, Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, and Saint Louis University (SLU). Katherine holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication-Journalism/Media Studies, Political Science, and French from SLU. While at SLU, she spent time volunteering with youth in St. Louis and was also a member of the Micah Program, a program dedicated to service and social justice.

Katherine was first introduced to Big Shoulders Fund during her time as a staff member at San Miguel School Chicago. She immediately fell in love with the mission and values of the Big Shoulders Fund. She is excited to join the development team.

Sheila Fenn
Assistant Director, Scholar Access and Support
312.374.5677 ✶
Sheila Fenn has been involved in the field of education for most of her adult life. While her four children were growing up, she was involved in their schools working as a volunteer and serving on school boards. For ten years, she worked in kindergarten and second grade classrooms at St. Athanasius School in Evanston. More recently, she was the College Ready Manager at Pass With Flying Colors, a college access and success nonprofit for low-income, underrepresented high school students who are first in their families to attend college. Sheila is passionate about equity in education for all of Chicago’s students, and is thrilled to continue pursuing this mission by joining the efforts at Big Shoulders Fund.

Kelsey Kyle
Assistant Director, Volunteerism and Engagement
312.751.8394 ✶
Kelsey Kyle was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin but has been proud to call Chicago home since 2017. Prior to joining Big Shoulders Fund, Kelsey spent the last 10 years serving at two Feeding America food banks (Feeding South Florida and the Greater Chicago Food Depository). During this time, Kelsey gained a wide variety of skills including how to drive a forklift, food distribution optimization and helped lead thousands of mission driven volunteers. Kelsey brings a passion for community led change, social impact, relationship building and collaboration. She is excited to continue to serve the Chicagoland area and connect further with the Big Shoulders volunteer community!

Caitlin Lee
Assistant Director, School Talent
312.374.5670  ✶
Prior to joining the Big Shoulders Fund, Caitlin served for five years as principal of St. Gall School, a Big Shoulders Fund Plus school on Chicago’s southwest side. She was fortunate to strengthen her leadership skills as a Sullivan Fellow and a Polk Bros. Foundation Leadership Award recipient. Before her role as principal, Caitlin spent seven years in the classroom as a middle school ELA teacher. She earned her BA in English and Secondary Education from Illinois State University and her MA in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Having witnessed the impact of the Big Shoulders Fund first-hand, she is thrilled to join the Big Shoulders team and support its mission of empowering schools, families, and communities.

Cindy Martinez
Manager, Grants and Institutional Giving
312.751.8337  ✶
Born and raised in the Pilsen neighborhood, Cindy’s love for community service stems from the ideals placed by her maternal grandparents. They instilled in her the value of giving back to her community. After graduating from DePaul University with a BA in Anthropology, she decided to work with community-based organizations in Pilsen, Little Village and Brighton Park. Cindy most recently received a master’s degree in Non-Profit Management and Social Sector Leadership from the University of Chicago. She is excited to join The Big Shoulders Fund family and continue to uplift communities across Chicago.

Meg Nielsen
Manager, Digital Marketing Communications
312.965.9975  ✶
Meg Nielsen was born in St. Charles, IL. She lived in Florida during her elementary school years before moving back to the Midwest and graduating high school from Central Catholic in Canton, Ohio. She received her Bachelor of English from The Ohio State University and worked in product licensing before leaving her corporate job to become an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer in New Orleans. She worked for three years for a nonprofit connecting the community to healthcare. At the end of her service, she moved to Scotland to attend the University of Edinburgh and received her Master of Science in Design and Digital Media. She is thrilled to be back in the nonprofit world as a part of the Big Shoulders Fund.

Karina Pagan
Coordinator, Donor Services
312.374.5676  ✶
Born in Northwest Indiana and raised in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, Karina Pagan has spent most of her life in the Chicagoland area. She credits her interest in academic success to having a Catholic/Jesuit education almost the entirety of her academic career. She attended Epiphany School from kindergarten to eighth grade, during which she became a Big Shoulders Fund Gallagher Scholar. She then attended Saint Ignatius College Prep and went on to graduate from Marquette University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminology/Law Studies. She took a brief break from higher education to be a part of the AmeriCorps program Public Allies Chicago, where she gained a passion for working in the non-profit world. She then completed her master’s degree in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. Karina is excited to continue to be in the non-profit world at an organization that played a significant role in her success.

Marjurie Ribeiro
Data Manager
312.374.5679 ✶
Marjurie Ribeiro graduated from Ball State University with a doctoral degree in Educational Psychology with a cognate in Linguistics. Her passion in education stemmed from her Catholic education and propelled her to explore the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity in education. After graduate school, she served as a Principal Consultant in Data Analysis at the State Board of Education for more than six years. Today, she is excited to strengthen the cause and outreach of schools and programs of Big Shoulders Fund by applying her experience of collecting, analyzing, and reporting impact outcomes and providing data to allocate resources effectively.

Maya Roberts
Assistant Director, Scholarship Program
312-544-8697 ✶
Maya Roberts received her bachelor’s degree from Central State University where she majored in Communications – Broadcast Media. After realizing that she wanted to return to City life, rather than reporting the news to the chickens in the country at 5 am, she decided to look into nonprofit communication which led to her serving two terms in AmeriCorps and then to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Looking for a change of pace and the opportunity to use her degree and skills differently, she ventured into communications, marketing and event planning as a contractor. Prior to joining Big Shoulders Fund, she supported numerous departments in the College of Arts and Sciences at Roosevelt University. Maya is committed to creating a more just world for everyone and spends her time fighting for the underserved and unheard through organizing, volunteering, and now in her role as Assistant Director, Scholarship Programs.

Natalie Sullivan
Executive Assistant to Joshua D. Hale, President and Chief Executive Officer
312.751.3898  ✶
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!

Fernanda Valentino
Assistant Director, Development
310.739.2451  ✶
Fernanda Valentino is passionate about philanthropy and fundraising, having served as Associate Director of Development in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, where she raised funding for research in Neurosciences and Neurology. After moving to Illinois, Fernanda was active in various local non-profits, serving on the Next Generation Board of the DuPage Children’s Museum, the National Assistance League Fund Development Committee, and as VP Philanthropic Programs for Assistance League, Chicagoland West chapter, and the District 181 Foundation board. Fernanda joined Big Shoulders Fund in October 2023 and is eager to bring her expertise and enthusiasm to support the mission of providing a quality, values-based education to Chicago’s children and building stronger communities.

Grace White
Content Associate, School Marketing and Enrollment
Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Grace attended Catholic school for majority of her life and has always been passionate about the resources and learning she received from those schools. She attended St. Germaine School and went on to Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School. Grace graduated from Loyola University Chicago in May 2023 with a BA in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Marketing. Grace was also a former Big Shoulders Fund fellow in 2022. She is thrilled to be back as part of this organization and looks forward to continue her support the schools Big Shoulders Fund servers.

Oriana White
Coordinator, Events and Donor Engagement
Oriana is originally from Oklahoma moving to the Chicagoland area for university seven years ago. With a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, a Masters in Business Administration from Purdue University Northwest, and a passion for building relationships while growing communities, Big Shoulders Fund was the perfect fit for her. Oriana is delighted to be apart of the Development team and growing with Big Shoulders Fund supporting the amazing mission.

Maggie Writt
Manager, High School Transition and Enrichment
312.380.7492  ✶
Prior to joining the Big Shoulders Fund team, Maggie taught middle school humanities and was the eighth-grade teacher at Big Shoulders Fund Plus School, Academy of St. Benedict the African located in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. She holds a BA in Secondary Special Education from Loras College. Additionally, she was a member of the Pacific Alliance of Catholic Education through the University of Portland where she earned her M.Ed.

Golaleh Yazdani
Coordinator, STEM Enrichment
312.751.8337  ✶
Golaleh Yazdani is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in Chicago, Illinois. Born and raised in Iran, Yazdani holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Art in Tehran, Iran. She received her Master of Fine Arts at Maine College of Art & Design in Portland, ME. Yazdani’s love for teaching came when she started working as an ed tech at LearningWorks After School Program. She quickly rose to the position of lead teacher and then the teaching site coordinator. She has a passion for helping all children to reach their full potential while maintaining their curiosity and love for learning. Golaleh is excited to be a part of the Big Shoulders Fund as the STEM Enrichment Coordinator and contribute to providing students with opportunities to learn and grow.

Pam Yeshewas
Scholarships Program and Special Projects
312.380.7490 ✶

Pam Yeshewas was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is proud to call Chicago home. Pam believes she has the dream role at Big Shoulders Fund: Providing customer service to Tax Credit Scholarship applicants while working within the Scholarship System to create a streamlined application in line with the Illinois Invest in Kids Act. In addition to the Tax Credit Scholarship program, she provides outreach support for Enrollment and Chicago Connected initiatives.  Out of the office, Pam is a competitive rower and rowing coach at the Lincoln Park Boat Club.

Tom Zbierski
Director Emeritus
312.751.8365  ✶
Tom Zbierski has overseen the scholarship program in his 23 years at Big Shoulders Fund. 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. 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.

Northwest Indiana Team

Dan Kozlowski
Managing Director, Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana

219.649.7818  ✶
Dan Kozlowski started his career in public accounting before his calling to nonprofit work took him to his alma mater, Valparaiso University, where he worked in development. He was then called to serve as Vice President for Advancement at Marian Catholic High School where he oversaw the complete transformation of the development, alumni outreach, and marketing efforts.

A native of Northwest Indiana, Dan has now heeded the call to serve at Big Shoulders Fund as Regional Director of the new Northwest Indiana Initiative, which will bring vital resources to under-served schools in “The Region.” A product of Catholic education in grade school at St. John the Evangelist and a two time graduate of Valparaiso University with a BA in Business-Accounting and a master’s degree in Business Administration, Dan has a passion for his community and for Catholic education!

Gisele Jones
Director of Community Partnerships and Engagement, Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana

219.472.2832  ✶
Gisele Jones brings to Big Shoulders Fund a passion for servant leadership and 14 years of proven success managing people, projects, and critical resources to drive business outcomes, including grassroots projects in low resource/high expectation environments. She is highly skilled at analyzing customer needs and collaborating across multiple departments to build consensus, internal leadership, and targeted solutions.

Dr. Mia Jones
Assistant Director, Academics and Instructional Coaching, Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana

219.472.2997  ✶
Prior to joining the Big Shoulders Fund family, Dr. Mia Jones called the School City of Hammond home for over 30 years. During her tenure in the Indiana public school system she gained immeasurable knowledge and skills while serving as an educator, instructional coach, and administrator for elementary and secondary schools.  Her love for the Northwest Indiana Region, desire to support educators and calling to improve the academic outcomes of students drew her to the career opportunity to develop academic programs and coach fellow educators in the Diocese of Gary.  Dr. Jones looks forward to serving and giving back to the community through her efforts with Big Shoulders Fund.

Eric Roldan
Assistant Director, Marketing & Enrollment, Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana

219.671.4974  ✶
Prior to joining Big Shoulders Fund, Eric Roldan worked within the Catholic Diocese of Gary. He started his career as a physical education teacher at St. Thomas More Catholic School. He then went on to become the basketball coach at Indiana University Northwest before transitioning into the athletic director role at his alma mater, Bishop Noll Institute. During his time in this role, Eric rebranded the department and created multiple communication channels to highlight student athletes and build community presence and engagement.

A product of Catholic education, Eric attended St. John the Baptist Grade School and Bishop Noll Institute before heading to Trine University where he completed his BS in Sport Management with a minor in marketing. He also holds an MBA from Indiana University Northwest. Eric looks forward to serving the Big Shoulders Fund Northwest Indiana community.