Kirstin Chernawsky began her tenure at Erie Neighborhood House in 2013 as Senior Director of Development & Communications. During her three years in this role, she was responsible for setting the organization's strategic fundraising agenda to achieve and exceed revenue goals. Kirstin also represented the agency in external relations and media activities as well as by overseeing agency special events and communications.
The Erie House board of directors named her executive director in March 2016, making her just the ninth individual—and fourth woman—to serve in this capacity since the agency's incorporation in 1915. Kirstin has been a tireless advocate for the mission of Erie House and brings with her a strong background in nonprofit administration and strategic fundraising. She also has extensive experience working with the agency's strategic partners both across the city of Chicago and at the national level.
Prior to joining Erie House, Chernawsky was director of development & external operations at BUILD, Inc., a youth organization aimed at violence prevention as well as college and career readiness in low-income Latino and African American communities in Chicago. She also worked as manager of institutional giving at Northwestern University Settlement House in the city’s Noble Square neighborhood.
Kirstin has applied her leadership expertise by volunteering for numerous organizations in the city of Chicago, including:
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.
Rebecca 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.
Over the years, Rebecca has been affiliated with various membership organizations in the local and broader community, including:
She is also an active member of her parish, Ascension Church, where she had served on the parish council.
Rebecca holds a Masters of Business Administration from National Louis University and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago.
Mike McGlinn joined Erie House at the start of 2015 as Senior Director of Operations. Mike is responsible for the daily operation of Erie House, overseeing Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology & Support and Operations/Facilities.
Prior to joining Erie House, Mike had a 33-year career with the Northern Trust Company. Mike had many assignments at Northern Trust, including Investment Performance Analysis, business use of Technology, Finance, and Facilities deployments, and leadership of many projects. Mike was a people manager in most of those assignments and was regularly charged with managing multiple priorities in order to produce results in a short amount of time.
Mike has participated in many initiatives at St Juliana Parish, including Chairperson of the Finance Council and President of the School Board. Mike and his wife are currently regular Lectors/Commentators at church services. Mike also coached soccer in the Edison Park Youth League program for 15 years.
Mike holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Kansas, which he attended as an Evans Scholar.
Yair Rodriguez began his tenure as senior director of external affairs at Erie House in 2016. He is responsible for steering the organization's strategic fundraising and external communications plan in order to achieve revenue goals through the solicitation of individual and major gifts, special events, corporate and foundation support and government grants. He also represents Erie House in external relations and media outreach activities.
Prior to arriving at Erie House, Yair served as manager of family and community engagement for Chicago Public Schools. There he oversaw public relations, community partnership development and leadership training for 39 Chicago Public Schools and their stakeholders throughout the city. Aside from working with communities at a local level, Yair spearheaded city-wide and state-wide conferences for College DREAMers and their families.
In the fall 2015, Yair was named to Chicago’s inaugural “Latino 40 Under 40” by Negocios Now. Yair also received the Remy Martin One Life / Live Them Award in 2016 and was featured in a national campaign that celebrates and recognizes individuals’ multi-talents.
Having grown up in Mexico with a grandfather who was a carpenter and grandfather who worked as an electrician for railroad engines, he developed a passion for wood working and steel. Yair recently co-founded 1840 Creative, a start-up that provides design services and custom fabrication of industrial-style furniture.
Yair exudes a passion for supporting the aspirations of individuals within the Latino community. Past and present areas of involvement include:
Yair attended the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where he earned his bachelor’s degree in communications. During this time, he spent two years abroad between France, South Korea, and Brazil. Two years later, he returned to UIC to obtain his masters in public administration.
Cristina De La Rosa assumed the role of the Director of the Adult Programs at Erie House in summer 2015. Cristina is responsible for overseeing the daily management and implementation of direct service programs for adults which currently includes English as a Second Language, Community Literacy (tutoring), Proyecto Cuídate, Little Village READS, and Buen HOGAR.
Prior to joining Erie House, Cristina worked with the Chicago Federation of Labor-Workers Assistance Committee for seven years focusing on workforce development as a Program Coordinator and case manager. There she helped laid-off workers find new employment through job readiness training and managed a summer youth work program with Chicago Public Schools and community-based organizations. After much thought and consideration, Cristina decided to take her career in a different direction toward the housing policy field and joined Erie House as an Outreach Coordinator in late November 2011 for Buen HOGAR.
As an Outreach Coordinator, she worked directly with the Chicago Housing Authority to affirmatively market and promote their programs and services in Chicago’s Latino communities. Cristina was also able to build partnerships with local housing service providers and advocates to ensure equitable access to housing services. After almost 4 years with Erie’s housing program that provides education and supportive services to empower the Latino community she became the Site and Assistant Director of Erie House’s Little Village site.
Cristina attended DePaul University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Science with a major in Public Policy and then continued her education at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Urban Planning and Policy program.
Louis 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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
A native of Ecuador, Paula King began her tenure at Erie Neighborhood House in 2012 as Development Manager where she was responsible for overseeing the grant portfolio, communications, and special events for Erie Elementary Charter School. In 2014 she assumed the role of Associate Director of Development. Paula is responsible for overseeing the institutional fundraising program at Erie House, including devising funding strategies, managing, and expanding relationships with foundation, corporate and congregational donors. She became the director of development in 2016, having served as interim senior director of development for a period of 5 months.
Prior to joining Erie Neighborhood House, Paula worked at Casa Central as Development Associate for three years, where she was responsible for grant writing and management of diverse private and public funding sources. Additionally, she participated in the agency’s Performance Quality Improvement system as a Co-Chair of the Program Review subcommittee to provide recommendations to improve quality of agency programming and service delivery processes.
Paula is passionate about social justice and sustainable development in Latin America. She serves as a board member for Sustainable Sharing with Guatemala, a grassroots nonprofit that works on sharing best practices to build working models of sustainability, and optimizing resources in the United States to support effective Guatemalan organizations. She is also an active volunteer with the Chicago English Bulldog Rescue and The Good Food Project.
Paula holds a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies, both from North Park University. She also received graduate certificates in Conflict Management and Leadership. Paula is a member of Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society in Business.
Judy joined Erie Neighborhood House as the Director of Workforce Development in spring of 2016. Her role at Erie House involves daily management of the Pathways to Success adult education and work readiness bridge programs, building partnerships with potential employers, community organizations and funders as well as providing leadership to the workforce team.
Prior to joining Erie House, Judy worked at the Chicago Federation of Labor Workers Assistance Committee, a WIOA and city-funded agency, for 10 years, initially as Program Coordinator prior to being promoted to Program Manager. Judy’s previous experience includes oversight of the Dislocated Worker Program, Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center Cook County Boot Camp program, healthcare bridge program, transitional jobs and a customized training program between Veterans, City Colleges and People’s Gas. Judy is fully dedicated to the workforce field and her longevity at her previous employer speaks volumes about her passion, interest and success in transitioning adult learners into gaining the essential soft and hard skills needed to return to the workforce at a livable wage.
Coming from a first-generation immigrant family, Judy was the first in her immediate family to obtain an undergraduate degree and the first of her entire family to obtain a graduate degree. Judy’s never ending desire is to bring the knowledge she gained back to her community and towards refugee rights. Judy is a member, advocate and active donor to the following organizations:
Judy holds a Master of Science in Public Service and a Master of Arts in Political Science, both from DePaul University.
Jane Lombardi began her tenure at Erie Neighborhood House in March 2014 as the Citizenship and Immigration Program Coordinator where she was responsible for overseeing the New Americans Initiative providing free naturalization workshops in the Chicagoland area. Jane became accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals in December 2014, allowing her to represent clients in immigration applications before US Citizenship and Immigration Services. In May 2016 she assumed the role of Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Jane is responsible for overseeing the daily management of Erie House’s immigration legal services and citizenship classes, including on-going program evaluation, budget oversight, and leadership to the Citizenship and Immigration team.
Prior to joining Erie House, Jane was an AmeriCorps VISTA at Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) serving in two separate roles. In her first role as LiveHelp Program Coordinator, she was responsible for recruiting and supervising law student volunteers, along with developing and implementing the Spanish-language LiveHelp instant-messaging service which provides low-income Spanish-speakers in Illinois with free legal information and legal aid referrals. After a year abroad teaching in Mexico, Jane returned to ILAO as the Translation Coordinator in Fall 2013. In this role she implemented and managed a volunteer translator program, conducted outreach to the Spanish-speaking community in Illinois, and created a comprehensive training manual with translation guidelines and skill assessment.
Jane is dedicated to a life of service empowering the low-income, immigrant community. In 2012, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach English at the Universidad de Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico. She is currently an active volunteer for and supporter of Illinois Legal Aid Online and WBEZ Chicago.
Jane holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Public Service Management at DePaul University with an expected completion in Spring 2017.
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.
Leslie graduated with a degree in Accountancy from Northeastern Illinois University and is a Registered Certified Public Accountant in Illinois.
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.
Maria is an active member of SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) and the Greater Chicagoland Not-for-Profit Human Resources Forum.
Maria holds a Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Studies from Northeastern Illinois University.
With over 20 years of experience in social services and education, Valery is the Associate Director of Expanded Learning Programs for Children and Youth. She joined Erie House in 1994 after having served as the Assistant Director of After School at Resurrection Lutheran Church.
Valery holds a Master’s in Education from National Louis University and has extensive experience developing children’s curricula.
Micaella assumed the role of Director of Health and Leadership Programs in January 2016 and is responsible for the implementation of health education initiatives for Erie House’s families. These initiatives include programming for early childhood, youth, and parents. Micaella is also responsible for developing new programs, creating evaluation methods, and maintaining community partnerships.
Micaella first joined Erie House in 2009 as an AmeriCorps volunteer through the Mennonite Voluntary Service program. She worked as the Reading Specialist in the after-school program, and then helped develop the Health Programs department and served as the Coordinator until 2014. After receiving her graduate degree in public health, Micaella returned to Erie as the Assistant Director of Health Programs.
Prior to becoming the Director of Health and Leadership Programs, Micaella worked with a research team in Mexico that provided aid to Central American migrants in transit, and also worked as a research and teaching assistant in Chicago. She has long been involved in immigrant rights, which originally drew her to serve at Erie House.
Micaella has volunteered with various community organizations in Seattle, Chicago, and abroad, primarily focusing on immigrant rights, women’s health access, and homeless services. She is currently a regular volunteer at Resurrection Covenant Church’s warming center and an active member of the American Public Health Association.
Micaella holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Seattle Pacific University. She also received her Certified Health Education Specialist professional designation.
Our senior leadership's passion, talent, and commitment is not only reflective of the entire Erie House community, but also at the core of our excellence.
Senior Director of Programs and Quality Assurance
Senior Director of Operations
Senior Director of External Affairs
Director of Adult Programs
Director of Child Care
Director of Expanded Learning Programs for Children and Youth
Director of Facilities
Director of Development
Director of Workforce Development
Director of Citizenship and
Director of Finance
Director of Human Resources
Associate Director of Expanded Learning Programs for Children and Youth
Director of Health and Leadership