West Side United Interns

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Meet our driven and qualified interns dedicated to building healthy, vibrant neighborhoods on Chicago’s West Side.

Elie Portnoy

WSU intern Elie PortnoyElie is a Psy.D (Doctor of Clinical Psychology) student at Adler University. She is working with West Side United as an intern through the Social Justice Practicum program at Adler. Elie is originally from Berkeley, CA and went to college at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. At Willamette, Elie majored in Psychology and Religious Studies. While in college, After graduation, Elie joined Teach For America and taught special education in Tulsa, OK. While in Tulsa Elie also worked as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in the foster system, developed an after school tutoring program for her students, and worked with her school to improve their special education program.

Elie will be working on the school hub project while at West Side United and hopes to bring her experience as an educator and psychology student.


Amanda Santiago

WSU intern Amanda SantiagoAmanda is a first-year MA student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Adler University. She holds a B.S. in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience from the University of Michigan, where she co-created a Latinx student organization (La Casa) and participated in various psychology research labs. She currently works as a Rehabilitation Aide for Athletico Physical Therapy while studying full-time.

Outside of work and school, Amanda enjoys writing blogs, reading poetry and memoirs, working out, and enjoying the outdoors.


Sharonda Simmons

WSU intern Sharonda SimmonsSharonda Simmons is the Coordinator for the NLU Military and Veterans Department actively serving student veterans. Developed long term partnerships with military-friendly organizations (Mission continues, United Service Organizations, Fisher House) for community engagement and explored opportunities for veterans/military and their families to become engaged in service. To provide holistic support to veteran and military-connected students (mental health counseling, tutoring/mentoring, financial aid, basic needs support, etc.). She was active in counseling, working with post-partum women with children and adolescent boys in Chicago. For 13 years, Sharonda managed two educational centers in the western and southwest suburbs. She relocated to Tennessee and continued working in outreach as a volunteer coordinator for ex-offenders under supervision release seeking shelter, job placement, and other resources.

Sharonda’s leadership skills led her to work with communities in Tennessee that suffered the highest health, crime, housing, education, and economic disparities in order to bring revitalization and economic growth to our communities. She helped a few political campaign teams develop a strategic plan for black communities to increase voting opportunities. Help restore the historical status of both communities. Sharonda is an Executive Director for a colon cancer foundation. To raise a voice for individuals to get screened and become educated about this deadly disease, “Colon Cancer.” At National-Louis University, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree and pursuing her Master’s in Public Policy at Adler University. Sharonda’s greatest gift is singing recorded with many artist’s R & B, Soul, Gospel, Jazz, Alternative and other genres.