Executive Director

Celena Roldán-Moreno

Celena Roldán-MorenoCelena Roldán-Moreno began her tenure at Erie in 2001 as the Social Worker and Disabilities Coordinator and then became Director of Child Care in 2006. She brings with her notable and exemplary experience as a leader in the Latino community. Not only has she advocated on behalf of working families, but she has also worked with many elected officials throughout Chicago and the State of Illinois, as well as members from the U.S. Congress to ensure that working families are given equal opportunities for child care and career enhancement. 

Celena was selected to serve on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Education Transition team, the Mayor’s Early Childhood Task Force and also as one Leadership Greater Chicago fellow in 2011, participating in an intensive leadership training and partnership-building program that examines some of the key issues facing the Chicago metropolitan area. In 2008, Celena was selected as the Erie House Emerging Leader for the Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Leadership Program with 90 other emerging leaders from organizations nationwide that received the 2008 Bank of America Neighborhood Builder Award.

Additionally, Celena has been an eight-year member on the advisory board of the Inspiration Corporation - a nonprofit organization that helps people who are affected by homelessness and poverty - improve their lives and increase self-sufficiency through the provision of social services, employment training, placement and housing. As a previous full time board member, Celena helped to facilitate the planning, organization and final completion of one of the first non-profit business mergers in Chicago. 

Commitment to Service

Dedicated to the community, Celena is also involved with a number of other programs, including the following:

  • Illinois Action for Children, Board Member
  • Erie Elementary Charter School, Board Member
  • Chicago Coalition for Site Administered Child Programs, Co-chair
  • Illinois Department of Human Services’ Child Care Advisory Council, Member
  • McCormick Early Childhood Policy Fellows, Member
  • Early Childhood “Acuerdo” of the Latino Policy Forum, Member
  • Center for Urban Research and Learning at Loyola, Advisory Board Member
  • National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Midwest Member Delegate
  • Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), Member

And Celena’s commitment doesn’t stop there, as she has made a number of public speaking appearances as a panelist for the following events:

  • Voices for Illinois Children Kids Count Symposium, "Building Better Lives for Generations of Illinois Children”
  • Latino Policy Forum symposium on Latino Early Care and Education, "Transforming Early Learning: Educational Equity for Young Latinos"
  • University of Chicago Chapin Hall's Thursday's Child Seminars, "Location, Location, Location: Combating Urban Poverty through Place-Based Initiatives"  

She has also been quoted in the Chicago Tribune, Hoy and Extra, as well has appearing three times on Comcast Newsmakers and most recently on ABC 7’s “Chicagoing” with Bill Campbell. 

Education

Celena holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Administration from National Louis University, as well as a Master of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Senior Leadership

Senior Director of Development and Communications

Kirstin Chernawsky

Kirstin ChernawskyKirstin Chernawsky took on her role of Senior Director of Development & Communications in 2013. Highly skilled, she is responsible for setting the organizations strategic fundraising agenda to achieve and exceed Erie House’s revenue goals. Kirstin is responsible for representing the agency in external relations, media activities, overseeing agency special events and communications.

Prior to working at Erie Neighborhood House, Kirstin worked at BUILD as Director of Development & External Operations, where she helped launch the BUILD: The Future Capital Campaign. Prior to that, Kirstin worked as the Manager of Institutional Giving at Northwestern Settlement House, where she was an integral member of the “opening team” that oversaw the opening of Rowe Elementary School. 

Commitment to Service

In addition to holding the Senior Director of Development & Communications role, Kirstin demonstrates her leadership ability by volunteering for numerous social service agencies in Chicago, including:

  • Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) Board Member
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities, Governance Committee Member
  • Chicago Women in Philanthropy, Member
  • Erie Neighborhood House, TEAM Mentor

Education

Kirstin holds a Master of Science in Public Service Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, both from DePaul University. She also received her Certified Nonprofit Accounting professional designation. 

 

Senior Director of Programs and Quality Assurance

Rebecca Estrada

Rebecca EstradaRebecca Estrada returns to Erie Neighborhood House to serve as the Senior Director of Programs and Quality Assurance. Rebecca is responsible for overseeing the direction and scope of all programs, which currently includes Pre-school, After School, Youth, Adult Education, Workforce Development and Health & Leadership. She works within the organization to ensure quality assurance and stewardship of the agency’s mission though program excellence.

Rebecca began her career as a domestic violence counselor at Cook County Hospital. There she provided survivors individual counseling, conducted safety assessments, and case management . She then started at Erie House in 2000, dedicating 11 years in various roles, most notably Director of Youth Programs. Prior to her return, Rebecca served as the Executive Director of El Hogar Del Nino and most recently as Program Director for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago/ Community Schools Initiative. In these roles, she had the opportunity to lead a NAEYC-accredited early childhood education and after-school program. She has developed various program designs and evaluation tools to ensure program quality is being delivered. She has worked in collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools Network and other partnering organizations to develop strategies for quality programming.

Commitment to Service

Over the years, Rebecca has been affiliated with various membership organizations in the local and broader community,  including:

  • El Valor Associate’s Board
  • National Society of Hispanic MBAs
  • Chicago Foundation for Women
  • Chicago Women in Philanthropy

She is also an active member of her parish, Ascension Church, where she had served on the parish council.

Education 

Rebecca holds a Masters of Business Administration from National Louis University and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago.

Leadership Team

Director of Adult Programs

Sandy De León

Sandy De LeónSandy De León began her career in program development and administration at Erie Neighborhood House in 2010. However, initially she was introduced to the agency as a Graduate administration intern in 2008. After completing her field placement she was hired as Erie House’s first Little Village Site Director. In that capacity Sandy lead the design, development and implementation of Proyecto Cuídate, a violence prevention and family wellness initiative, and LV READS, a children’s literacy program for elementary school students. In addition, she was responsible for management of English as a Second Language (ESL) and Technology Education Services programs, as well as oversight of the southwest site. In 2014, Sandy was promoted to her current position of Director of Adult Programs where she leads Erie’s most diverse department, with a total seven programs implemented at both West Town and Little Village locations. Her role now also includes Community Literacy, Citizenship & Immigration Services, and Buen HOGAR, a Latino outreach initiative of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA).

Among Sandy’s most recent accomplishments is leading the Proyecto Cuídate program and staff to obtain national recognition as recipients of the Family Strengthening award by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

Commitment to Service

Sandy has served as co-chair and consultant for the Violence Prevention Collaborative (VPC), a collective of committed organizations and individuals working toward a just and peaceful community. As part of the collaborative’s “Healing the Hood” series, she lead the implementation of Erie House’s first annual “My Wellness, OUR Community Fair” in Little Village in 2012 and every year after, with hundreds of community members and partners taking advantage of the resource-filled event.

Education

Sandy earned a masters-level AM Degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and a dual-major bachelor’s degree in psychology and Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Director of Child Care

Louis Falk

Louis FalkLouis began his tenure at Erie Neighborhood House in 1984 as a lead teacher in one of two Early Childhood Education classrooms. Since then he has had many roles at Erie Neighborhood House leading to his current role as Director of Child Care. During this time he has seen the program grow from two classrooms and ten-person staff to twelve classrooms and a fifty-five-person staff. Louis is a dedicated advocate for promoting excellence in Early Childhood Education with optimal learning and development for children and their families. Louis has always been a strong supporter of the idea that the relationship between parents, staff and children is the key to the successful experience offered at Erie. The other important key is making the program fit the needs of the families that walk through Erie’s doors.

Commitment to Service

Louis has also been recognized by National Louis University with the Next Generation of Chicago Leaders Award for his role as a Early Childhood Education administrator in the city of Chicago.

Education

Louis holds a Master’s of Arts in Administration and Supervision from Roosevelt University and graduate certificate in Executive Education Leadership from Loyola University Chicago School of Business Administration. Louis received his Bachelors of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education from Roosevelt University.

Director of Youth Options Unlimited

Joshua Fulcher

Joshua joined Erie House in August 2007 as the Education Programs Coordinator and has also served as Assistant Director of Youth Options Unlimited (YOU). His previous experience as an educator has been essential in his ability to strengthen the academic component of the YOU programs and fully develop the Monday night mentoring program (TEAM SS).

Commitment to Service

Not only is Joshua actively involved in the Illinois Student Assistance Coalition, a network that connects both resources and colleagues in order to support schools, CBOs and – ultimately – students. He is also a member the following:

  • SHPE Chicago
  • A.C.E. Advocates (Chicago Region)

Joshua has been recognized as Supervisor of the Year by the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and is often asked to speak on his tutoring technique: Model-Coach-Fade; How to Teach Anything.

Education

Joshua graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a major in psychology and earned his Master of Education while teaching in Montgomery, AL through the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education program. 

 

Director of Health and Leadership

Michael Guarrine

Before joining Erie in 2007, Michael worked in child welfare for eight years.  At Illinois Action for Children he served as the Supervisor of Community Outreach managing a team of forty outreach volunteers that promoted IAC’s programs, developed relationships with major children’s welfare agencies, and presented at various conferences on behalf of Action for Children, the National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference, Chicago Metropolitan Association for the Education of Young Children Conference, and the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies Conference.

Education

Michael has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Loyola University with a minor in Social Work.  He is currently working on his Master of Arts in Applied Professional Studies in Community Leadership Development at DePaul University.

Director of Facilities

Paul Kasper

Paul Kasper has worked in the non-profit sector for over 30 years.

His past duties have included being a manager of Workforce Development for economically disadvantaged adults at Association House of Chicago, a prominent social service agency in Chicago. He went on to become the Office Manager at Illinois Action For Children, an advocacy group for abused and neglected children in the Juvenile Court system, where he was responsible for bookkeeping, human resources and payroll.

Paul joined Erie's staff in September 2001 as the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director. In 2005, Paul became the Director of Operations, where he is responsible for planning, organizing, directing and controlling the activities of facilities, management and engineering, strategic planning and energy management for all Erie sites throughout the city of Chicago.

Director of Finance

Leslie Okamura

Leslie Okamura joined the Erie Neighborhood House team as Director of Finance in January, 2013. Prior to working at Erie House, Leslie worked at Casa Central Social Services, where she began her career in nonprofit accounting and managed the daily accounting functions for over 5 years. Her previous experience in corporate finance working at American Book Display has helped the agencies she has served to maximize the benefit from donations and grants received.

 

Commitment to Service

Leslie is the volunteer treasurer at her church, Bethany Baptist Church, and has held that position for many years. Leslie has a passion to serve children in Chicago, as she and her husband adopted children from Chicago.

Education

Leslie graduated with a degree in Accountancy from Northeastern Illinois University and is a Registered Certified Public Accountant in Illinois. 

Director of Human Resources

Maria Perez

Maria Perez has been part of  the Erie family since 1987. Starting as a Financial Administrator, Maria also served as a Payroll Administrator before taking on her current role, 13 years ago, as Director of Human Resources. When Maria began at Erie House there were approximately 60 employees and she has seen the agency grow to the now over 150 employees, hence, the reason the HR department was implemented in 1999.   In addition, she has overseen the HR functions of the Erie Elementary Charter School since its inception in 2005 when it began with 2 employees and now has grown to approximately 50 employees. Prior to Erie House, Maria spent 10 years as a bookkeeper at Youth Guidance, a non-profit social service organization.

Commitment to Service

Maria is an active member of SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) and the Greater Chicagoland Not-for-Profit Human Resources Forum.  

Education

Maria holds a Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Studies from Northeastern Illinois University.

Director of After School Programs

Valery Sheppard

With over 15 years of experience in social services and education, Valery is the current Director of After School Programs. She joined Erie House in 1994 after having served as the Assistant Director of After School at Resurrection Lutheran Church.

Education

Valery holds a Master’s in Education from National Louis University and has extensive experience developing children’s curricula.

 

Director of Workforce Development

David Swanson

David SwansonDavid is the newest member of the Leadership Team at Erie Neighborhood House, serving as the Director of Workforce Development Programs. He is responsible for providing leadership, strategic thinking, and high quality management for all phases of the Pathways to Success workforce development bridge programs.

David first came to Erie as a volunteer English tutor in the Community Literacy program in 2007. A year later, he began teaching ESL classes at Erie’s Little Village site. Pathways to Success, Erie’s fledgling workforce program, tapped David to teach the first Manufacturing Bridge class shortly thereafter. This three month vocational preparation course connects community members to employment and further training in the advanced manufacturing industry. Over the span of some 20 classes, David developed Erie’s manufacturing bridge curriculum and program design into a contextualized training that integrates a range of job readiness and supportive services.

Commitment to Service

David was drawn to the dynamic and inclusive atmosphere of Erie House, reflected in its classes, workplace culture, and long history in Chicago. He sees the field of workforce development as intimately connected with issues that Erie House has always championed. Starting as a volunteer participant and working in adult basic education has shown David that a better future is continually unfolding for participants, staff, and stakeholders who invest their time and resources in Erie programs.

Education

David holds a Bachelor's Degree in Neuroscience from Oberlin College, as well as NIMS credentials in computerized numerical control (CNC) mill and lathe operation.

 

Meet the Leadership

Senior leadership's passion, talent, and commitment is not only reflective of the entire Erie family, but also at the core of our excellence.

Celena Roldán-Moreno

Executive Director

Kirstin Chernawsky

Senior Director of Development and Communications

Rebecca Estrada

Senior Director of Programs and Quality Assurance

Sandy De León

Director of Adult Programs

Louis Falk

Director of Child Care

Joshua Fulcher

Director of Youth Options Unlimited 

Michael Guarrine

Director of Health and Advocacy

Paul Kasper

Director of Facilities

Leslie Okamura

Director of Finance

Maria Perez

Director of Human Resources

Valery Sheppard

Director of After School Program

David Swanson

Director of Workforce Development

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