Meet the Staff of ICOY
The Illinois Collaboration on Youth (ICOY) team holds a wealth of experiences and expertise in the systems that affect and support children, youth, and families. Each ICOY staff member brings to the table a passion for the well-being of children and youth and for the advancement of best practices on the individual, community, and systemic levels.
Senior Manager of Technology and Quality Assurance
Alex is the Senior Manager of Technology & Quality Assurance for Illinois Collaboration on Youth. Motivated by a strong sense of commitment to addressing the structural inequalities faced by those who have been historically marginalized, Alex’s work connects ICOY’s large network of members, experts, and advocacy partners to create better outcomes for Illinois’ children, youth and families. Alex has been with ICOY since 2016, having originally taken a position as an Office Coordinator.
Prior to joining ICOY, Alex spent multiple years working in after-school programs providing direct services to elementary school-aged children. While receiving an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Iowa, Alex was funded to perform research on racial and ethnic disparities in school-day experiences in the Iowa City Community School District.
Alex and his wife live in Chicago. He’s an avid traveler, musician, and relentless consumer of all things news and politics.
Director of Marketing and Communications
Brie Blue (she/her/they) has spent the last 12 years working in the digital marketing space in San Francisco, Traverse City, and now Chicago. Brie has been with ICOY since 2022 as ICOY's first-ever Director of Marketing and Communications.
While the majority of her experience is in the corporate realm, Brie now utilizes her skills to positively impact her community in the non-profit space for the last three years. As an expert community builder, Brie has utilized her traditional and public relations marketing skills for brands like Arc'teryx to drive sales and partnership connections in Northern California, Oregon, and Southern California. Under her leadership, Arc'teryx built partnerships with minority-led non-profit organizations like Brown Girls Climb, Black Girls Trekkin, and Flash Foxy to bring awareness to and raise funds for non-profits that support people who have traditionally been excluded from outdoor brands. She also led the expansion of Arc'teryx's retail footprint from one to seven retail locations throughout California during a global pandemic.
She has been a continuous leader to advocate for and amplify minority voices throughout her career, including creating policies to build equity within the corporate organizations she's been a part of. Brie continues this work at ICOY as a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee since 2022.
Brie's passion for advocacy and equity derived from her early childhood experiences that were often filled with violence and abuse, eventually landing her within California's foster care system as a young child. Brie now draws on those experiences to utilize her voice in efforts to advocate for those who might be voiceless.
Despite her childhood challenges and obstacles, Brie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Communications from California State University in 2008. In her spare time, you might find Brie outside exploring the woods with her two dogs, learning new ways to make homemade pasta with her wife, or playing Minecraft online with friends.
Community Relations and Marketing Manager
Conor Van Santen joined the ICOY crew on the first working day of 2023 and has been loving it ever since. As the Community Relations Marketing Manager for ICOY, Conor works with Brie Blue to keep our branding in tip-top shape and help get the word out about the amazing programs, events, and trainings ICOY has to offer. Additionally, he handles internal outreach and membership renewals. In his free time, Conor loves learning new board games, drinking chocolate milk, playing video games, and, perhaps most of all, watching Star Trek.
Senior Trauma Specialist
Heshima Mance joined ICOY as a Senior Trauma Specialist in September 2021, to support technical assistance, training and capacity-building with a focus on SPR contracts. She coordinates workshops and trainings, faculty conferences, while supporting individuals and organizations with gaining an understanding about trauma-informed care.
Heshima received her master’s degree in Community Counseling in 2009 from Governors State University. She has dedicated over 17 years to the social service and mental health field. Her professional experience has included parent education, family assessments, individual and group therapy, and Trauma Informed Care trainings. In her spare time, she enjoys time with family/friends and roller skating.
Training Coordinator for Trauma Initiatives
Karina Velazquez joined ICOY in August 2021 as a training coordinator. She creatively supports the Trauma Initiatives Team with all administrative demands, standardizes internal processes, and explores new initiatives. Additionally, Karina leads Special Project Revenue coordination and all corresponding logistics, such as contract development, event planning, and invoicing. She also administers the team's weekly, IDHS trauma trainings by organizing workplans and training communications. As the trauma team continues to grow, Karina dedicates herself to helping build leadership in creating new processes and procedures for a strong foundation and team culture.
Chief Programs Officer
Maha McDiarmid joined ICOY in January 2022 as the Chief Program Officer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Judson University and a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. Her years of work in nonprofit includes experience as a direct care provider in residential living for over ten years and extensive skills in providing training and continuing education. Before joining the team at ICOY, Maha worked in training and operations with CASA Kane County. As the Chief Program Officer at ICOY, she supports the work of the Prevention and Intervention, Trauma Initiatives, and Training Teams. Running, building campfires, cooking, and spending time with friends and family are just a few of the things that Maha enjoys doing in her free time.
Rachel Monroe, MNM received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Beloit College in 2015.
She graduated from DePaul University in June of 2022 with a Masters in Nonprofit Management. Above all, Rachel has a passion for helping others and environmental conservation. Rachel began working for ICOY as a part-time administrative assistant in March of 2020. She later transitioned to the role of Child Welfare Coordinator in November 2021. In August 2022, she was promoted to the role of Program Coordinator. In this role, she supports the Intact Family Recovery (IFR) program, serving both the Metro East Region and Eastern Illinois. Rachel is responsible for coordinating, planning, scheduling upcoming trainings and preparing organizational materials for both the IFR program as well as the DHS training department. Outside of the office, Rachel enjoys biking the lakefront trail, hiking, learning languages, volunteering and traveling.
Prevention and Intervention Manager - CCBYS and Homeless Youth
Sally Ehrlich joined ICOY in September 2021 as the Prevention & Intervention Manager for the Comprehensive Community Based Youth Services (CCBYS) and Homeless Youth contracts. In this role, she supports youth service providers through capacity building and technical assistance.
Sally graduated from Tufts University in Boston with a degree in Community Health and Anthropology and came to ICOY after several years working in direct service, both in Boston and Chicago. Much of this work has involved connecting individuals to housing and other resources. She’s passionate about addressing structural inequalities, both in housing systems and elsewhere, and about supporting the community organizations that are leading the way in this work.
Outside of work, Sally enjoys spending time with friends, taking long walks, and discovering new places to go camping throughout the Midwest.
Prevention and Intervention Intern
Stephanie Tebben joined ICOY in January 2023 as the Prevention and Intervention Intern. She’s excited about this internship and grateful for the opportunity. In her role at ICOY, Stephanie collaborates primarily with the Illinois Department of Human Services, Community Youth Services, and Illinois Youth Investment Program. Stephanie will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Calvin University in April 2023 and intends to go on to receive her master’s in Social Work. She has a background in direct service, working in Child & Family services in Michigan. In her free time, Stephanie can be found taking her dog outside, watching the latest Netflix documentary, or finding the best coffee shops around her apartment.
Chief Executive Officer
Andrea Durbin has been the Chief Executive Officer of Illinois Collaboration on Youth since 2012. A passionate and life-long advocate for young people, she leads ICOY’s work to children, youth, and their families thrive. She joined ICOY in 2009 as policy and advocacy director.
In 2017, Andrea helped to shepherd a long-discussed merger with the Child Care Association of Illinois, which took effect on July 1, 2017. Following the merger, ICOY is now the largest provider voice for services to children, youth, and families across the state.
In 2016 and 2017, Andrea fought to ensure that human service providers were paid for the work they did during Illinois’ historic and destructive state budget impasse, forming the Pay Now Illinois coalition to sue then-Governor Bruce Rauner and state agency heads. The lawsuit attracted national attention and was key in ensuring that providers were ultimately paid in full for their work.
In 2019, Andrea was recognized with the Social Impact Award from the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago. Chicago Business Journal named her a Woman of Influence in 2017. She served as an adjunct faculty member in the graduate School of Public Service at DePaul University from 2019-2022.
Prior to joining ICOY, Andrea worked for seven years in education, including serving as the Director of Communications at the Crown School, and for eight years at Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness, where she led efforts to develop programs for high-risk youth, and primary and preventive health services for medically underserved communities. She has a master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. A mother of three, Andrea lives in Chicago where she is active in her local community as a Trustee for Morgan Park Academy.
Cameron Zelaya joined ICOY in July of 2020. He graduated with a BA in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign in 2012 and followed it up with a Master of Public Administration, with a concentration in Public Management, from DePaul University in 2019. In between, he served as an intern for Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA-6), and the City of Chicago’s Bureau of Historic Preservation. At ICOY, Cameron tracks State and Federal child welfare legislation as well as State administrative rules. He is also the policy point-person on juvenile justice issues. A few of Cameron’s favorite things are snow, ice skating, candles, musicals, and running along the lake.
Director of Operations
Denail Timms joined ICOY in 2009 as a Special Projects Coordinator and has held the roles of Contracts Coordinator, Office Manager, and Director of Operations. As Director of Operations, her duties include accounts payable, payroll, income tracking, and serving as primary liaison to ICOY’s human resources, financial team, and information technology support consultants.
Denail has a bachelor’s degree in English and is a Notary Public. Outside of work she enjoys volunteering, sewing, camping, and spending time with family and friends.
Director of Trauma Initiatives
Jocelyn Vega is a proud daughter of immigrants and first-generation college student. Jocelyn has dedicated herself to fostering intergenerational and ancestral healing within perspectives, communities, and systems. Her work has guided several cross-sectors collaborations to become trauma informed and approach change management. Jocelyn continues to implement Trauma Informed Care (T.I.C.) principles to advance IL professional, social service, and multi-tiered systems. Currently, she leads ICOY’s Trauma Initiatives Team which has doubled under her leadership. Her team equally serves trauma needs for IDHS youth service providers, nonprofit networks, and communities. As Director, Jocelyn’s mission is to grow partnerships to deliver nuanced tailored services and trainings which address and resolve the greatest needs during crisis and trauma.
Over the course of her career, Jocelyn has additionally interviewed Khmer Rouge survivors and provided program consulting in Siem Reap, Cambodia. She additionally served as a research assistant and legal translator for undocumented farmworkers in Upstate New York. In 2018, Jocelyn served in the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic in the Cook County Domestic Violence courthouse as a legal advocate. Throughout the years, Jocelyn’s leadership has continued to several committees ranging from legal aid to educational needs. Due to these experiences, Jocelyn is determined to address structural barriers that marginalize experience, expression, and belonging within an intersectional trauma lens.
Born and raised on Chicago’s Southside, Kelsey Kleidon is a product of Chicago Public Schools and deeply passionate about the transformative nature of education. She holds an Associate Degree in Biology from Triton College, a Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies from Elmhurst University, and is continuing her education with a dual degree MBA/MS in Environmental Management and Sustainability at the Illinois Institute of Technology. In addition to her responsibilities at ICOY, she serves as a Research Assistant at Illinois Tech for a project entitled, Chicago Food Mobilization, seeking to restructure food production, distribution and consumption systems to center equitable access to nourishing and culturally affirming foods, while ensuring BIPOC food producers and workers can self-determine the scale and scope of their participation in the food system.
In her role as administrative assistant, she collaborates with Director of Operations, Denail Timms, Juvenile Justice Manager, Maribel Gonzalez, and Redeploy Illinois Manager, Susie Schoenrock, to assist in a variety of organizational functions ranging from supply orders to meeting minutes.
Juvenile Justice Manager
Maribel Gonzalez joined the team as a Juvenile Justice Manager in September of 2021. In this role, she supports the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission and its efforts to reduce racial & ethnic disparities statewide and maintain accordance with federal standards set forth by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. To promote best practices and policy change at the local level, Maribel collaborates with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) staff and provides capacity building for youth-serving organizations and juvenile justice councils. Along with working with stakeholders, Maribel also partners with Alder University to oversee Illinois’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB) to ensure that restorative practices are implemented within communities. Her passion is fighting oppression with a social and economic inequalities lens. Maribel holds a dual bachelor's degree in Criminal, Law, and Justice and Political Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Outside of work, Maribel enjoys trying new food, traveling, watching crime documentaries, and spending time with friends, family, and her pets, Coco and Buster.
Director of Training and Program Development
Randi Slack joined ICOY in February 2017 as a Program Assistant for the Pathways Independent Living Program. After the program ended, Randi filled direct service and administrative roles throughout the organization, including Executive Assistant, Training and Office Coordinator, and Child Welfare Manager.
Now Randi serves as the Director of Training and Program Development.
In this role, Randi Co-Directs all ICOY's Illinois Intact Family Recovery (IFR) programs in Northern, Eastern, and the new expansion of Metro-East Illinois. In these projects, ICOY works with child welfare and substance treatment organizations within these programs to increase children's well-being, permanency, and safety. In addition to managing IFR Programs, Randi supports the overall Programs Team with technical assistance by overseeing ICOY's training department that serves both Prevention & Intervention and Trauma Initiatives. Randi also serves as Co-Chair of ICOY's Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. Her leadership has been instrumental in chartering the committee and implementing the overall expectations, priorities, and goals for the organization's DEI work, internally and externally.
Outside of ICOY, Randi has been an entrepreneur for nearly 20 years, sharing a small business with her sister on the Southside of Chicago that now focuses on training youth with skills and teaching them about entrepreneurship.
Assistant Executive Director
Sarah Daniels received her BA in Communication/Public Relations from Millikin University. While debating on whether grad school would be the next best thing, she decided to stay at Millikin as an AmeriCorps*VISTA, where she focused on economic development and education for one school year. Many of her duties entailed creating service-learning opportunities, grant management for voter engagement, solidifying and maintaining partnerships with community organizations. She then went on to complete her Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Illinois- Springfield. During her time as an MPA student, she served as a Graduate Public Service Intern (GPSI) at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and a Case Manager at a behavioral health hospital.
At the start of a global pandemic, she joined ICOY as a Policy Analyst. During her first year, she assumed all things Medicaid and Behavioral Health, including facilitating trainings and providing amended language to the Medicaid Technical Assistance Center (MTAC) legislation to ensure its passage. A year into her role, she was promoted to Assistant Executive Director where she expanded her capacity to assist the CEO with larger internal and external duties that would allow for a more efficient work culture, including co-leading the DEI committee and other expanded leadership efforts. She also represents ICOY and its members on policy commissions, committees, and various workgroups. As a public servant, Sarah is someone who wishes to always teach and give back to those in the community, especially as it relates to regaining power in underserved areas by extending resources and opportunities for growth. When she is not “working”, she can be found selling real estate in the Chicagoland area, traveling with friends and family, binge-watching the latest TV shows, or enjoying brunch and creating content for her socials.
Summer George’s passion for advocating on behalf of children and families was cultivated by more than fifteen years of personal experience. This has led her to pursue a dual degree master’s program, with an expected graduation in spring 2023 with a Master of Jurisprudence in Children’s Law and Policy from Loyola University Chicago and a Master of Science in Child Development from Erikson Institute. She comes to ICOY with vast volunteer experience serving with the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, as a CASA, and in additional community organizations. She feels privileged to have this internship experience which will commence in May 2023. In her spare time, Summer enjoys hiking and traveling with her family, and running when Chicago weather cooperates!
Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs
Ashley Deckert, MSW, MA has been the Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs for ICOY since May 2021. She is a native of Chicago but moved to Champaign in 2001 to attend the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she received her bachelor's degree in Sociology and later her Master of Social Work degree. Ashley previously worked for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and served as the Deputy Director of Child Services where she managed the Division of Residential Monitoring, Residential Recruitment, Foster Parent Recruitment, and Juvenile Delinquency and Restorative Justice. Ashley went back to school in 2018 to obtain her Master of Art in Public Policy, with the hopes of having an impact on policy at a higher level. Ashley came to ICOY as an expert in child welfare, with over 15 years of experience in the field. Her desire is to use collaborative problem solving to transform child welfare in Illinois. Ashley serves on a number of committees and work groups to help shape policy and inform practice in Illinois. Ashley has a beautiful 14-year-old daughter, and they love trying new restaurants and boating.
Prevention & Intervention Manager - Illinois Youth Investment Program & CYS
Chanel Dotson joined ICOY as the Illinois Youth Investment Program Manager in August 2021. She later added Community Youth Services Program Manager to her role as well. At ICOY, Chanel supporters Illinois Department of Human Service program sites with their approach to investing in youth employment and education assistance. She currently holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Health Administration from Northern Illinois University. Chanel is passionate about helping at-risk youth in Illinois and believes that addressing youth barriers will contribute to the overall needs of Public Health and success of each youth.
Chanel’s past experiences include working with transition-age youth in Chicago to secure post-secondary plans after high-school graduation. She also became instrumental in providing youth with work-based experiences, wrap-around services, and personal support. Chanel has several years of mentorship experience with youth aging from 6-24 years of age.
Chanel loves all things fashion. In her personal time, she helps women develop their personal style and provides them with wardrobe assistance. She is also an active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated.
Senior Trauma Specialist
Gabriela Zamora joined ICOY in 2021 and is a Senior Trauma Specialist focusing on IDHS programs. She provides technical support and trauma informed training to youth service providers and staff throughout the state of Illinois. Additionally, she leads the Capacity-Building Assessment Tool for Organizations (CBAT-O) to advance the delivery of trauma informed services. In 2017, Gabriela graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Spanish at Cornell University. She was a Research Assistant for the Person and Context Lab (formerly known as Personality, Attachment, and Control Lab) with the Department of Psychology at Cornell University. Most of her research focused on different processes such as cognitive and controlled, or automatic and unconscious, and how they shaped people's world experiences. Gabriela has also been a part of City Year Chicago, an AmeriCorps program, as a Student Success Coach and focused on developing the social-emotional learning curriculum for CPS high school students. In her spare time, Gabriela enjoys exploring the city, traveling, spending time with family, and watching baseball games.
Senior Policy Analyst
Kacy Garrard, MSW, LCSW joined ICOY in October 2018, after experience working at rural Illinois Comprehensive Community-Based Youth Services (CCBYS) providers. In her position at ICOY, Kacy serves as the subject-matter resource in areas of child welfare and youth experiencing and/or at-risk of homelessness, and maintains effective relationships with youth-serving system stakeholders. While working collaboratively with legislators of the Illinois General Assembly and stakeholders, Kacy authored and advocated for Public Act 102-0604 and Public Act 102-0688. Kacy leads ICOY’s Policy Advisory Committee (PAC), which works diligently to determine ICOY’s legislative agenda for each General Assembly session.
Kacy became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in June 2022, earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work – Policy, Planning & Administration from the University of Missouri – Columbia, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from MacMurray College. Outside of work, Kacy can be found exploring city life, spending time with her family and dog, and traveling.
Marlee Goodman is the newest member of ICOY’s Trauma Team! As a Trauma Specialist at ICOY she focuses on SPR contracts and facilitates training and capacity-building to support Illinois’ youth service providers with gaining tools, skills, and knowledge about trauma-informed care. Marlee got her B.A. in Psychology, with a minor in Social Welfare & Advocacy from Indiana University. Before joining ICOY, she worked at a grief center, specializing in grief in youth, and most recently worked as a Social Justice Specialist at a university in D.C., focusing specifically on education around intersectional identities, mental health support and access, LGBTQIA2S+ affinity spaces, and access to disability support services. She is currently on the board for an organization specializing in LGBTQIA2S+ youth mentorship and community building. In her free time, you can find her hosting monthly dinner parties with her friends, listening to one of the many podcasts she keeps on rotation at all times, exploring everything Chicago has to offer, and giving her cat, Franklin, one-woman performances of Mamma Mia!
Richard "Dick" Walsh has worked as Compliance Monitor for the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission and ICOY since 2009. As Compliance Monitor, Dick ensures that municipal lockups, county jails, and other correctional facilities remain in compliance with federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act requirements for the sight and sound separation of juveniles from adults, the removal of juveniles from adult facilities and the deinstitutionalization of status offenders.
Before coming to ICOY, Dick served as Detective and Youth Officer for the Village of Matteson Police Department for over 25 years. He has also served as Executive Director of the Illinois Juvenile Officers Association, President of the South Suburban Juvenile Officers’ Association, and member of the Advisory Committee of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Board. Dick worked with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and legislators on the enactment of the Balanced and Restorative Justice Act.
Director of Prevention and Intervention Services
Seth El-Jamal began working for ICOY in November of 2020 as Director of the Prevention and Intervention team. Over the last 20 years he has been blessed to work in several areas of direct service including after school program management, workforce development, mentoring, family support services and community outreach. Seth believes that great direct service work begins with finding and highlighting the values that communities already have and empowering individuals with the tools they need to showcase those values.
One of the major reasons he has devoted his life to this work is the fact that he was invested in as a child by a network of mentors and advocates that filled in the gaps he was missing at home. He has seen first-hand, the growth that can result from an invested community. He brings this direct service mindset to the work of supporting DHS grantees and ICOY membership. He truly believes that there are no projects too small to devote his time to if needed.
Seth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Illinois and a Master’s Degree in Human Services Management from Concordia University. He loves to go camping with his wife and daughter and is an avid fan of all things science fiction including books, TV and film.
Prevention and Intervention Manager - Redeploy Illinois
Susie Schoenrock, MA, LSW joined ICOY in April 2022 as the Prevention and Intervention Manager for Redeploy Illinois. In this role, she collaborates with the Illinois Department of Human Services and Redeploy service providers. She provides technical support and capacity building to Redeploy Illinois program sites to support their efforts to decrease youth incarceration. Susie holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master's degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. Susie is a Licensed Social Worker and has a background in direct service, working in areas of housing, violence prevention, and reentry services. Susie enjoys exploring the city by walking, listening to podcasts, thrift shopping, and practicing pilates.
Meet the R.E.A.L. Staff
Rising. Elevating. And. Leading. Youth Initiative (R.E.A.L.) is an unassociated group facilitated by previously incarcerated young people. It is a youth-led, peer-mentor resource hub which addresses the trauma and PTSD of incarceration and post-incarceration community re-entry. R.E.A.L. founders Denzel Burke and Destine Phillips work with young people to address these issues with community education, professional development, and the arts. In addition, they use peace circles for conflict resolution. ICOY is supporting and working with them to ensure they can become a successful standalone 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the future.
Learn more about R.E.A.L. on our blog or visit their website to stay up to date on their current events.
R.E.A.L. Youth Initiative Co-Founder
R.E.A.L. Youth Initiative Co-Founder
Denzel Burke is a community builder, facilitator, organizer, and the co-director/co-founder of the REAL Youth Initiative, a peer navigation program, that develops revolutionary consciousness and builds community, with currently and formerly incarcerated youth to work towards the abolition of prisons and the conditions that (re)produce them. He is also a consultant for the Justice 20/20 Network and an Ambassador Fellow for the Illinois Prison Project. Upon his release from the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice in July of 2019, Denzel began studies at Chicago State University and co-facilitated, 32 convenings inside the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice with Northwestern University Bluhm Legal Clinic, interviewing incarcerated young people about how they would reimagine the juvenile justice system and co-published a report at the conclusion of the project. Denzel then connected again with the Bluhm Legal Clinic and a collective of abolitionists, to launch the Final 5 Campaign, which he served on for a year before launching the REAL Youth Initiative. Today, the REAL Youth Initiative runs programming for youth in facilities across the state of Illinois and provides community reentry programming to young people as they come home. Denzel currently lives in Northbrook and plans to receive a PhD in Africology and African American Studies.