Celena 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.
Dedicated to the community, Celena is also involved with a number of other programs, including the following:
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:
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.
Celena holds a Master's degree in Early Childhood Administration from National Louis University, as well as a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Kirstin 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.
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:
Kirstin holds a Masters of Science in Public Service Management and a Bachelors 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.
Sandy 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Michael has a Bachelors 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.
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.
Julián is the newest member of the Leadership Team at Erie Neighborhood House, serving as the Director of the Workforce Development. Julián is responsible for providing leadership, strategic thinking, and high quality management for all phases of the Pathways to Success workforce development bridge programs.
Prior to working at Erie Neighborhood House, Julián worked at Catholic Relief Services as a Program & Advocacy Officer, helping over a dozen dioceses in the Midwest region. Prior to this, Julián worked for three different community-based organizations in Chicago, including The Resurrection Project and Enlace, as a community organizer, over a span of six years. He worked on issues such as comprehensive immigration reform, higher education access for immigrant students and violence prevention initiatives.
Julián sees this position as another step taken on the path towards building a more just and equitable society. He is excited about joining the committed staff of Erie to continue building and strengthening the Workforce Development programs offered, while maintaining a focus on other avenues to work with Erie participants who are looking to improve their vocational skills in the hopes of a better, more economically stable life for themselves and their families.
Julián holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in History from Williams College and is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration degree from DePaul University’s School of Public Service.
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 Bachelors of Arts in Integrative Studies from Northeastern Illinois University.
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.
Valery holds a Master’s in Education from National Louis University and has extensive experience developing children’s curricula.
Senior leadership's passion, talent, and commitment is not only reflective of the entire Erie family, but also at the core of our excellence.
Senior Director of Development and Communications
Senior Director of Programs and Quality Assurance
Director of Adult Programs
Director of Child Care
Director of Youth Options Unlimited
Director of Health and Advocacy
Director of Facilities
Director of Workforce Development
Director of Finance
Director of Human Resources
Director of After School Program