West Side United Team

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Ayesha Jaco, Executive Director

Ayesha Jaco, WSU Executive Director

Ayesha Jaco is a philanthropist, educator and choreographer and Co-Founder of M.U.R.A.L. (formerly the Lupe Fiasco Foundation). She has partnered with many Chicago based organizations to provide comprehensive social services, substance abuse prevention, food equity, study abroad and artistic programming for over 18,500 inner-city youth and their families. In 2008, Ayesha founded the youth dance company Move Me Soul and has provided over 1,000 Chicago teens and young adults with professional dance training and life skill development.

Currently, Ayesha is a faculty member at The Northeastern Illinois University; Jacob Carruthers Center for Inner-City Studies. She was featured in Hype Magazine South Africa for her artistic prowess and youth work and she was recently awarded the Power 25 Chicago Award by Walker’s Legacy for her commitment to excellent leadership, community achievements and philanthropic contributions. Ayesha holds a Bachelor of Science in Dance and Mass Communication from Illinois State University and a Masters of Arts Management (Arts in Youth and Community Development) from Columbia College Chicago. Ayesha is excited to lead the work of West Side United. You can reach Ayesha at ajaco@westsideunited.org.

Tenisha Jones, Senior Director for Strategy and Operations

Tenisha Jones, Senior Director for Strategy and OperationsTenisha Jones is a civic leader, cultural organization lover and a life-long student of data. Aa a results-driven Education and Community Development Expert with 15+ years of experience in developing proposals, grant-writing, and program strategy management, Tenisha has a track record of leading highly successful cross-sector collaborations to level the playing field for underserved families across Chicago. Tenisha also brings a keen insight and understanding of challenges, needs, and solutions existing within communities to the WSU team.

Formerly, the Director of Education and Community Engagement at Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation, Tenisha served as the chief architect of the Auburn GOLD initiative on Chicago’s South Side. This education-focused reform program combats poverty by connecting principals, evaluators, funders, parents, teachers and the community to transform neighborhood schools into resource hubs capable of providing services to support academic empowerment of children and families.

In her recent role as an independent consultant with the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, she served as a thought-leader in the Evaluation of Team Work Englewood Quality Life plan and implementation. Tenisha was also tapped to serve as the Policy Lead on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Internal Education Transition Team, where she played a significant role in shaping educational policies across the city of Chicago for the Mayor’s first 100 days in office.

Tenisha is a 2015 Civic Leadership Academy Fellow who serves on the Executive Alumni Committee and serves as a board member of Austin Coming Together and the Chicago Land Equity Network. She holds a B.S. from National Louis University and is an MPP Candidate at Northwestern Kellogg School of Management. Outside of the office Tenisha enjoys living the basketball-mom life, traveling to games with her daughter.

Eve Shapiro, Director of Data and Evaluation

Eve Shapiro, WSU Director of Data and EvaluationEve Shapiro is a health researcher and evaluator focused on programs that reduce health disparities. She is passionate about health equity and access to quality healthcare, education, and livelihoods for Chicagoans. Prior to her work at West Side United, she was an analyst with NORC at the University of Chicago, providing technical assistance to a variety of federal initiatives through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and evaluation services to non-profit and private organizations.

Before her life in public health, Eve was a community and labor organizer, working on green jobs with Lakeview Action Coalition (now ONE Northside) and union participation for healthcare employees at SEIU. Eve holds a Master of Public Health from Emory University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Minnesota. Off hours, she likes to spend time with her fluffernut of a dog, bike around Chicago, and try new foods.

Martina Coe, Program Manager

Martina Coe, WSU Program Manager

Martina Coe is a health care researcher and public health advocate with a background in program management, health policy, and psychology. Her work as a mental health administrator in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, allowed Martina to witness the huge gaps in mental health understanding and policy changes. She previously worked as a Program Specialist at the American Hospital Association. While there her focused centered on population health and the social determinants of health.

Martina holds a Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). In academic, Martina served as a policy researcher conducting a social impact analysis on marginalized communities and organizations impacted by the Illinois Budget Impasse. In her role as a research assistant for the MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice (MCPHP), Martina served on the planning committee for the Change Institute focusing on nutrition and physical activity.

Outside of work, Martina loves to travel. Her recent adventures have taken her to Europe and will soon include travels to South America. She looks forward to contributing and growing the West Side United goal by applying her skills and knowledge.

Stephanie Gómez, Program Manager

Stephanie Gómez, WSU Program Manager

Stephanie Gómez is a first generation Latina from the North Side of Chicago. Her parents’ migration from Colombia has informed much of her academic and professional work. She earned a B.A. in Sociology from Northeastern Illinois University with a minor in Latina/o Studies and a Master in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida. During her undergraduate career, she was part of a student taskforce carrying on generations of struggle to have a Latina/o Student Resource Center at NEIU that resulted in the Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs. She also co-founded an organization, Latinas in Power (LIP), to help first generation Latinas navigate their college experience while culturally affirming their identities.

Prior to joining West Side United, Stephanie was Co-Director of Programs and Pathway Success at Public Allies Chicago, a national organization committed to advancing justice and equity by engaging and activating the leadership of young people. During her time at PAC, she analyzed organizational engagement of Latinx youth in Chicago and developed targeted outreach plans to connect unemployed and out of school youth to opportunities with Public Allies. As Co-Director of Pathways, she was responsible for developing and delivering coaching sessions to young adults geared towards educational attainment, full time employment, and national service. She is excited to bring her years of experience in workforce development to WSU’s Pathway Programs and local hiring initiatives.

When she’s not chasing her toddler all over Rogers Park, you can find her with her nose in a book. She is a self-proclaimed bibliophile and particularly enjoys reading works written by POC.

Rachael Wilson, Program Manager

Rachael Wilson, WSU Program ManagerRachael Wilson is an advocate, coordinator and researcher with a background in urban planning. She is native to Chicago and is also an Irish citizen with roots in Belfast. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Science and her master’s in Urban and Regional Planning, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rachael became fascinated with urban planning while working with a team of planners to assess the social impacts of a river remediation as an undergraduate researcher. While completing her masters degree, Rachael focused her research on the intersection of community health needs and the built environment. She also developed interests in economic development and local finance.

Before starting work with West Side United, Rachael worked as the Health Outreach and Engagement coordinator at the Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA), located in Humboldt Park. There she forged partnerships with residents and local health institutions. She also led community programming focused on decreasing health disparities in the communities LUCHA serves.

Rachael’s work at LUCHA provided her with a visceral understanding of the negative health effects of displacement, which informed her advocacy work for the creation and preservation of affordable housing with LUCHA and the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

In her free time, Rachael enjoys singing and playing guitar, catching up on local news, and reading science fiction.

Jennifer Norsworthy, Healthy Food Program Manager

Jennifer Norsworthy, WSU Healthy Food Program ManagerJennifer Norsworthy is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a Master of Public Health degree (MPH) focused on directing community-based interventions. She serves as the Chair for the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition (HEN) Dietetic Practice Group (DPG) and on the Communication Committee for the Global Member Interest Group (GMIG) under the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In additional, she volunteers with GreenCity Farmers Market (GCM) and on the Junior Associate Board for Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA). Jennifer is an advocate for regenerative and equitable food systems. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys experimenting with recipes and traveling to new places.

LeShonne W. Segura, Special Project Manager

LeShonne W. Segura, West Side United Special Project ManagerAs Special Project Manager, LeShonne will work closely with WSU to develop a strategic plan and implementation of at least one robust, multi-service community hub model housed within an active PK-12 public school.

Project Management (Cross-functional, community-aligned, and inclusive)
This role will be responsible for ensuring that WSU’s Community Hub(s) serves the interests of the community, including the enrolled students and their families, as well as the community at large. The objective is to have a multi-generational set of resources/services that align with what the community desires while also bolstering the school’s academic environment.

Before joining Kids First Chicago and West Side United, LeShonne served as the Manager, Program Investments at The Chicago Public Education Fund. There, she grew school support programs to their largest cohorts to date and helped launch partner convenings, a signature feature of The Fund’s partner management approach. LeShonne began her career as a corps member with City Year at a school in Chicago’s West Side. She then joined Teach For America as the Director of College Counseling in the Noble Network of Charter Schools, later founding the Family and Community Engagement department at Rowe Elementary.

LeShonne was recently recognized as Education Pioneers Agent of Change and Negocios Now 40 Under 40 Latinos in Chicago. LeShonne is a Chicago native and an alumna of Chicago Public Schools

LeShonne graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and received a Masters in Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education. In her free time, LeShonne enjoys dancing, fitness, reading, and traveling with her family.