Community Advisory Council: Members

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2019-2021 Community Advisory Council Members

Elizabeth Abunaw

Neighborhood & Physical Environment-Healthy Food Workgroup

WSU CAC Member Elizabeth AbunawA native of New York state, Abunaw moved to Chicago in 2012 when awarded a full-tuition fellowship to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, from which she graduated in 2014. Liz is a 2002 Cornell University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Policy Analysis and Management. Liz Abunaw is the founder and operator of Forty Acres Fresh Market, a fresh produce grocery startup launched in January 2018. Alarmed by the paucity of fresh food options on Chicago’s west side, after leaving her sales job at Microsoft in November 2017, she committed to opening a low-cost produce market on Chicago’s Westside in the next 12 to 18 months. Prior to launching Forty Acres Fresh Market Liz was a partner manager in Microsoft’s sales division and before that spent ten years at General Mills, Inc.

Edward Boone

Health & Healthcare-Live Healthy West Side Workgroup

WSU CAC Member Edward BooneEd grew up on the Near North side near the Cabrini Green Housing Project where he began working as a teen for the local YMCA, where Jesse White of the nationally known Jesse White Tumblers served as a mentor. Ed began his community organizing career in 1974 by protesting for open housing in Chicago’s segregated Marquette Park community. He has worked in community organizing, violence prevention, affordable housing, juvenile justice system advocacy, job creation, partnership creation, and healthy food access among others at local, and state levels. He has collaborated at various organizations and councils such as CeaseFire, LUCHA, the Illinois Violent Death Reporting System, the Statewide Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS) at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, Strengthening Chicago’s Youth, as well as in the Kells Park Advisory Council and the the Humboldt Park Safety Committee. In 2011, Ed received the Neighborhood Housing Service’s Neighborhood Leadership Award for his efforts to improve the quality of life in the West Humboldt Park community.

Vanessa Ford

Education Workgroup

WSU CAC Member Vanessa FordA former financial reporter, Vanessa is a grant writer at the Academy of Scholastic Achievement (ASA). She is a member of the board of the League of Women Voters of Chicago and the Women’s Educational Aid Association of Northwestern University. Vanessa is also a community representative of the Local School Council of Westinghouse College Prep. She has two adult sons and lives in East Garfield Park with her husband, Attorney Vernon Ford.

Keith Freeman

Economic Vitality-Local Hiring

WSU CAC Member Keith FreemanKeith Freeman is a native Chicagoan, born and raised on the Southside (Grand Crossing, Englewood & Brainerd). Mr. Freeman is a graduate of Chicago Vocational High School which is where he received an athletic scholarship to Jackson State University (JSU) in Jackson, Mississippi. He majored in Industrial Technology during his undergrad. He currently works for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) as a Community Organizer. In his role as an organizer, Mr. Freeman’s responsibility is to assist the homeless, formerly homeless, low income individuals with advocacy, leadership development, and policy work in the Greater Chicago land communities.

During his free time, Mr. Freeman enjoys spending time as a male mentor with the Safer Foundation. He loves breaking out his barbeque grill, watching sports, movies, listening to music, driving Uber, and most of all volunteering his time with organization such as Literacy Chicago, Chicago Fair Trade, Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, Salvation Army, and the Olive Branch Mission.

Esmirna Garcia

Economic Vitality-Small Business Grant Pool

WSU CAC Member Esmirna GarciaEsmirna Garcia was born in Mexico. At the age of 7, she moved with her family to ‘the Island’ in the Chicago Austin neighborhood. As an immigrant, she faced great challenges that came from the shortcomings of being undocumented in the U.S. Hence, she has always felt akin to struggle and compelled to be very active and involved. She learned to be a coordinator of youth as a teen, working in non-profit organizations. When she was 15 years old, she helped run a small company with her older sister who was also only 17. At the same time, she was going to school to get dual certifications in assisting with clients with mental illness and/or addiction. Now she lives in Pilsen and co-owns a minority-owned, woman-owned, family owned import-distribution and private label that has been in business for over 20 years. Esmirna, is also President of the Board of the Pilsen Community Market (a 501c3), which is on its 11th season running. Additionally, she is content producer, publisher, and part of the editorial board at the online bilingual magazine ‘ElBeiSMan’ which also put together a highly anticipated festival called Pilsen Fest for its 7th year.

Marshall Hatch Jr.

Economic Vitality-Local Hiring

WSU CAC Member Marshall Hatch, Jr.Marshall Hatch Jr. is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the MAAFA Redemption Project, a Chicago-based workforce, social & spiritual-development initiative for African American men ages 18-26. Hatch Jr. hails from the Westside of Chicago. He graduated from Lincoln Park high school in 2006, and was awarded the Gates Millennium scholarship the same year. He attended Bates College located in Lewiston, Maine, and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Religion. After working for Bates as an Admission Counselor, Marshall moved back to Chicago, joining Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men as the Director of College Counseling and teacher of African American History. He served in these capacities for three years while mentoring hundreds of African American young men on the South and Westside. He earned a dual Master’s degree from the Divinity and Social Service Administration Schools at the University of Chicago in 2014. Upon graduation, Marshall joined his father, Pastor Marshall Hatch Sr., in full-time ministry at New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, the largest congregation in Chicago’s West Garfield Park neighborhood.

Tanesha House

Economic Vitality-MAPP

WSU CAC Member Tanesha HouseLocally, Tanesha D. House, EdD., M.B.A., is a Community Organizer on the Westside of Chicago, where she was born and raised. As lead QLP staff, she is responsible for galvanizing all community stakeholders to develop and execute a comprehensive Quality of Life Plan for the North Lawndale community. Universally, having had diverse experiences in a variety of sectors, Tanesha is recognized as an award-winning transformational leader, organizer, speaker, educator and coach. Tanesha is very people oriented and possesses great optimism for community and economic development locally and globally. She is often described as a change optimizer, natural community organizer, encourager, and conscientious, as well as, proficient in her professions with an uncanny ability to connect with individuals from various social stratums — disadvantaged to diplomats.

Emma Lozano

Health & Healthcare-Live Healthy West Side

WSU CAC Member Emma LozanoPastor Emma Lozano has been an activist for the immigrant/undocumented community for decades. She was born in Texas and raised in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. As a teenager and young adult, she worked alongside her brother Rudy Lozano, an activist for workers and the Latino community who was assassinated in 1983. Since his death, Lozano decided to dedicate her life to the continuation of her brother’s work. She is the founder and President of Centro Sin Fronteras where she has worked to stop thousands of deportations. She is a co-founder of Familia Latina Unida along with Elvira Arellano. She is currently the pastor of sanctuary church Lincoln UMC, a sanctuary to the undocumented and LGBTQ communities, where she continues to counsel those who are in deportation proceedings and works with the local youth to close the 20-year life expectancy gap that exists in Chicago.

Levi Moore

Neighborhood & Physical Environment-Impact Investing & Economic Vitality-Small Business Grant Pool

WSU CAC Member Levi MooreLevi Moore is an Illinois public policy subject matter and not-for-profit management expert. His connection to Chicago’s West Side is through his work as the Foxglove Alliance Coordinator for the Hektoen Institute of Medicine. He is also the Chairman of the Board of Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV). Professionally, Moore recently served as the Executive Director of the National Veterans Art Museum, President of the Six Corners Business Association and was a City of Chicago Special Service Area Commissioner. Earlier in his career, Moore was the primary City of Chicago and federal lobbyist for the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce and was the 2nd in command of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Community Affairs as a cabinet member under then Governor Jim Edgar. The East St. Louis, IL native is a graduate of Northwestern University with a B.S. in Journalism and graduate level work in political science.

Esteban Rodríguez

Economic Vitality-Small Business Grant Pool

WSU CAC Member Esteban RodriguezEsteban Rodriguez joined the Northwest Side Housing Center (NWSHC) as Director of Programs in 2016. NWSHC is the premier community-based organization in Belmont Cragin. His current efforts are to organize and support services for the youth in Belmont Cragin and the Austin neighborhoods. In addition, Mr. Rodriguez overlooked all the housing programs with NWSHC, working and providing support with their Foreclosure Prevention Counseling, First Time Home Buyer Counseling, Rental Counseling, and Financial Coaching which saw an average of 3,000 individuals from the community. Prior to his time with NWSHC, he worked for Corazon Community Services, a youth-based organization, as the Director of Health Programs were the main focus was convening resources to work towards the most prevalent health disparities. He holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College through the National Urban Fellowship. He is a trained Peace Circle facilitator and Adverse Childhood Experience trainer

Nathalie Rosado

Economic Vitality- Small Business Grant Pool & Procurement

WSU CAC Member Nathalie RosadoNathalie Rosado is the Business Relationship Manager at Chicago Anchors for a Strong Economy (CASE), an initiative of World Business Chicago. In this position, Nathalie is responsible for sourcing, vetting, and preparing local, small-to-medium sized businesses, including MBE and WBE firms, to become competitive suppliers for Chicagoland’s anchor institutions. Prior to World Business Chicago, Nathalie held roles in development and programming at the Women’s Business Development Center, where she worked to bring access to contacts, capital, and contracts for low to moderate-income entrepreneurs operating in Chicago neighborhoods. Nathalie developed a passion for economic development as a program manager at Ladder Up, an entrepreneurial non-profit dedicated to providing free financial services for low-income families. At Ladder Up, she spearheaded partnerships with housing authorities, community organizations, and the IRS to bring tax preparation services, ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) application assistance for immigrants, small business taxation workshops, and financial counseling to hundreds of clients each year. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Celeste Sánchez


WSU CAC Member Celeste SanchezCeleste Sanchez is a passionate individual striving to build genuine humanitarian bonds with the intention of constructing a better future. She believes in youth as catalysts of change for a greater Chicago. In the scope of her future goals, are innovative therapeutic art initiatives for mental and emotional wellbeing. She is a strong advocate for educational equity in Chicago Public Schools as she herself is a graduate from Crane Medical Prep High school. Celeste hopes to share her love of visual and spoken word arts as a form of healing and introspection with the community.

Natasha Smith-Walker


WSU CAC Member Natasha Smith-WalkerNatasha Smith-Walker has 20 years of experience in youth development and education. Her career has focused on supporting youth and communities having access to opportunities that will support their development. As the Executive Director of Project Exploration, she works to ensure that there is equity, access, and opportunity for girls, minority youth and communities to get high-quality science out of school programming. In addition, her efforts have positioned Project Exploration to lead the development of a STEM Learning Ecosystem for Chicago including earning a National Science Foundation INCLUDES award. She serves on the national STEM Ecosystem Advisory Council and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity working group and the Chicago Public Schools, Instructional Equity Working Group. Her career has included classroom teaching and numerous administrative and educational roles in Chicago’s out-of-school time landscape. She has worked on several projects as a private consultant, including a national examination of public sectors in an effort to identify best practices of leadership. She has a BA from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Kevin Sutton


WSU CAC Member Kevin SuttonKevin began his relationship with Homan Square more than twenty years ago, and officially joined the Foundation five years ago. He has deep roots in the community and a life-long passion for strengthening families and transforming underserved neighborhoods. Throughout the years he continued his community advocacy by serving on the Homan Square Community Center Advisory Council and the governing board of Power House High School. Additionally, he served on the board of Lawndale Christian Health Center and the Local School Council of Gregory Elementary School.Prior to working for Homan Square, he spent more than ten years working for a global consulting firm, managing conference planning and special events.

Heather Tarzcan

Economic Vitality-MAPP

WSU CAC Member Heather TarzcanHeather M. Tarczan is a professional with more than 23 years of experience across a number of sectors including government, where she has worked under three governors in various roles and departments, leading initiatives and conveying community groups for projects such as the Dan Ryan Expressway reconstruction. Heather has fine-tuned her skills in public relations where she managed million-dollar accounts, increased Midwest profits by 20%, served as a national spokesperson for a billion-dollar corporation and counseled C-suite leaders in communications. Heather is currently the executive director of Urban Autism Solutions, a nonprofit that works with young adults with autism through an integrated community life that advances social and vocational opportunities.

Angela Taylor

Neighborhood & Physical Environment-Healthy Food Workgroup

WSU CAC Member Angela TaylorAngela Taylor is the Wellness Coordinator for the Garfield Park Community Council (GPCC), where she manages the 32-member Garfield Park Garden Network and the Garfield Park Neighborhood Market. Each summer, Angela works with up to ten local youth through the Youth Garden Corps, a paid internship program in which teens work in local gardens and gain horticultural and job readiness skills. Angela also plans and organizes additional wellness projects throughout the year, including healthy block parties through the PlayStreets program and violence prevention events through the Communities Partnering 4 Peace coalition. A lifelong Garfield Park resident, Ms. Taylor has taken a leadership and organizing role in her community’s renewal efforts. She serves on the Tilton Park Advisory Council and The Hatchery Community Advisory Council. In addition to her work in Garfield Park, Ms. Taylor is a board member of Chicago Community Gardeners Association and Advocates for Urban Agriculture, an affiliate of NeighborSpace, and a retiree of the Illinois Department of Human Services. With her family, she manages an award-winning garden, the Fulton Street Flower and Vegetable Garden, one of the original sites of the Garden Network.

Richard Townsell

Neighborhood & Physical Environment-Impact Investing & Economic Vitality-Small Business Grant Pool

WSU CAC Member Richard TownsellRichard Townsell is a Chicago native and thought leader in community development. In Richard’s 20+years, he has created countless public service programs, and designed comprehensive community plans for affordable housing, education and more. Richard is currently the Executive Director at the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation and a consultant to FEED (Fellowship Educational & Economic Development Corp.). Richard has taught community development courses at Northwestern University and been an adjunct professor at Wheaton College. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University in Mathematics Education and a Master of Science from Spertus College in Nonprofit Management. Richard has received many awards for the work including the Fellow of the Year at Leadership Greater Chicago’s 20 the anniversary and a Leadership for a Changing World Award from the Ford Foundation. Richard also coaches youth wrestling in his spare time.

Greg Van Hyfte

Health & Healthcare-Live Healthy West Side

WSU CAC Member Greg Van HyfteGreg Van Hyfte is a native of the west suburbs of Chicago and has lived in Ukrainian Village and East Village since 2006. Greg currently serves as the Executive Director & Co-Founder of YogaCare, a non-profit organization focused in increasing access to yoga in underserved areas of the city. In his role, Greg helps YogaCare secure partnerships with community health centers and non-profit organizations. Greg is also President & Principal Consultant of GrowthVisionHealth, a consulting company he founded that supports non-profits and social entrepreneurs in developing and growing their vision with attention to individual and organizational health.

He has experience in many fields including youth development, environmental sustainability, racial/ethnic disparities, mental health, HIV/AIDS prevention and care, LGBTQ health, hospice care, integrative medicine, and yoga. His work spans areas of grant writing, prospecting, reporting, and management; fundraising; strategic planning; process improvement; filling temporary vacancies in development roles; program development; program evaluation and research; startup advising; and employee wellness. His consulting work has led to over $10 million in grants and funds raised. Greg has a Master of Arts in Social Sciences, a Master of Arts in Social Service Administration, and a Graduate Certificate in Health Administration and Policy from the University of Chicago. He completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Spanish, and The Creative Self from the University of Redlands.