Staff

  • Priscilla Chawla

    Associate Director

    Master of Science, Social Work - University of Texas at Austin
    Bachelor of Arts, Sociology - Texas A&M University

    Master of Science, Social Work - University of Texas at Austin
    Bachelor of Arts, Sociology - Texas A&M University

    Priscilla joins the EverThrive IL team with over 15 years of nonprofit experience and over 12 years of management experience.  Prior to joining EverThrive IL, Priscilla was a Senior Manager at Girls on the Run-Chicago, a nonprofit that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that integrates running.  She also worked as a Director of Volunteer Programs at United Way of New York City, where she helped establish small and large scale volunteer events for partners such as Macy's, the NFL, and Deloitte.  In a previous role as the National Hunger Clearinghouse Program Director for WhyHunger, she directed a team who assisted in providing service to over 18,000 callers in need of food assistance and related social services.  Priscilla has a Master of Science in Social Work and has demonstrated skills in program development and strategic planning. She also enjoys reading, dancing, and traveling.  She is very excited to join the EverThrive IL team.

    Fun fact: Priscilla enjoys all types of dance especially salsa.  She’s danced salsa over 15 years and performed several times when she lived in New York and Las Vegas. 

    Phone:
    (312) 763-2389

  • Brittany Dunigan

    Public Health Associate - Immunizations Initiative

    Master of Science, Public Health - Campbell University
    Master of Business Administration - Campbell University

    Bachelor of Science, Biology - Saint Augustine's University

    Master of Science, Public Health - Campbell University
    Master of Business Administration - Campbell University

    Bachelor of Science, Biology - Saint Augustine's University

    Brittany joined EverThrive IL in October 2016 through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Associate Program (PHAP).  During her graduate work, Brittany was able to intern at the local health department where she was able to focus maternal and child health projects.  With an interest in MCH, she hopes to be able to apply her skills and become a great addition to the Immunization team.

    Fun Fact: Brittany loves to play tennis and swim!

    Phone:

  • Elizabeth Hackett

    Public Health Associate - Immunizations Initiative

    Bachelor of Science, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

     

    Elizabeth joined EverThrive IL in October of 2015 as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Associate Program (PHAP). Elizabeth comes to EverThrive IL with a background in quality control and health financial services.

     

    Fun Fact: Elizabeth loves animals and live music!

    Bachelor of Science, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

     

    Elizabeth joined EverThrive IL in October of 2015 as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Associate Program (PHAP). Elizabeth comes to EverThrive IL with a background in quality control and health financial services.

     

    Fun Fact: Elizabeth loves animals and live music!

    Phone:
    (312) 763-2389

  • Lilah Handler

    Manager - Healthy Lifestyles Initiative, Cooking Matters Project

    Master of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago
    Bachelor of Arts, Columbia College Chicago

    Master of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago
    Bachelor of Arts, Columbia College Chicago

    Lilah has been a public health advocate and staff member at EverThrive IL for almost ten years. Prior to her current role, Lilah managed office projects and events for the organization. Since 2013, when EverThrive IL acquired the national Share Our Strength Cooking Matters program, Lilah has been dedicated to educating and empowering families at risk of hunger. An excellent chef and passionate teacher, Lilah enjoys connecting with community members, volunteers, chefs, and nutritionists throughout the Chicago area.

    Fun Fact: Lilah is a talented actress herself and loves live theatre and improv shows.

    Phone:
    (312) 491-8161 x29

  • Nadeen Israel

    Director - Policy

    Master of Arts, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago
    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Master of Arts, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago
    Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Nadeen has experience in the nonprofit sector in both direct-service and policy advocacy capacities. She is our staff state and federal policy expert and advocates to advance legislative and administrative policies that improve the lives of Illinois children, adolescents, women, and families. Nadeen has experience advocating for a wide range of policy issues including health, public benefits, domestic violence and state budget and tax policy.

    Prior to joining EverThrive Illinois, Nadeen was a Project Manager of Health Policy at the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights where she advocated for a health care system that fosters innovative, cost-effective, and integrated models of coordinated care and addresses the needs of vulnerable populations. As a leader among the Illinois health advocates, Nadeen led a successful effort to pass legislation that expanded Medicaid benefits to single, childless adults living in poverty. The Medicaid Expansion law provided health coverage for hundreds of thousands of impoverished Illinoisans and represented the successful implementation of a key element of the Affordable Care Act in Illinois.

    Fun Fact: At some point in her life, Nadeen hopes to own and operate a food truck serving globally inspired dishes.

    Phone:
    (312) 763-2389 x201

  • Blanca V. Leon-Carter

    Director - Operations & Information Systems

    Master of Business Administration with concentration in MIS, Keller Graduate School of Management, expected 2015
    Bachelors, Computer Information Systems, DeVry University- Chicago

    Master of Business Administration with concentration in MIS, Keller Graduate School of Management, expected 2015
    Bachelors, Computer Information Systems, DeVry University- Chicago

    Blanca has been with EverThrive IL for more than 15 years. She manages the organization’s network, database, website, and graphic design. Blanca also collaborates with our colleagues at Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and other partner organizations, working together on public awareness campaigns and the development of a statewide perinatal quality collaborative. Blanca also plays a key role in EverThrive IL’s fundraising and event planning.

    Blanca is dog lover and has a passion for assisting pit bulls in need. She is also an active member on the CIS- Industry Advisory Board DeVry University-Chicago.

    Fun Fact: Blanca majored in drama during her high school years.

    Email Staff:
    Phone:
    (312) 491-8161 x26

  • Lolita Lopez

    Director - Healthy Lifestyles Initiative

    Certificate in Health Coaching, Integrative Nutrition, Institute for Integrative Nutrition
    Master of Public Health, Maternal and Child Health, University of Illinois at Chicago
    Bachelor of Science, Speech-Language Pathology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Certificate in Health Coaching, Integrative Nutrition, Institute for Integrative Nutrition
    Master of Public Health, Maternal and Child Health, University of Illinois at Chicago
    Bachelor of Science, Speech-Language Pathology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Lolita has more than 15 years of experience in the public health field, 9 of which with EverThrive IL, and has significant experience analyzing research around maternal and child health indicators and outcomes. She has worked as a consultant on various projects doing research and data analyses in the areas of pediatric obesity, asthma, diabetes, and breast cancer. Lolita has partnered with a variety of organizations, including Rush University Medical Center, The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago's Children, the Sinai Urban Health Institute, and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

    Since EverThrive IL acquired Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters program, Lolita has taught numerous Spanish speaking Cooking Matters courses. In her free time, Lolita enjoys cooking, baking, and staying busy with her two children and dogs.

    Fun Fact: Lolita is a die-hard Chicago Bears fan!

    Phone:
    (312) 491-8161 x32

  • Kelly McKenna

    Manager - Immunization Initiative

    Master of Arts, Education Policy, The George Washington University
    Bachelor of Science, History, Politics and Government, Illinois State University

    Master of Arts, Education Policy, The George Washington University
    Bachelor of Science, History, Politics and Government, Illinois State University

    Kelly joined EverThrive IL in May 2012 and has developed into an immunization and vaccine-preventable disease expert! Prior to joining the Immunization Initiative, Kelly worked as an intern in our Child and Adolescent Health Initiative and at the American Youth Policy Forum in Washington, D.C.

    Kelly’s graduate school coursework included a comprehensive approach to research, policy, and advocacy. Outside of work, Kelly enjoys swimming and running and has completed the Chicago Marathon, triathlons, and multiple half marathons.

    Fun Fact: Kelly sits on a stability ball at work!   

    Phone:
    (312) 763-2389 x207

  • Joanna Medina

    Administrative Assistant

    Bachelor of Science, Advertising, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

     

    Joanna joined EverThrive IL in 2013 with more than ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector, serving multiple communities in Chicago. At EverThrive IL, Joanna ensures that day-to-day office operations are running smoothly and is also essential to planning our Annual Meeting and Annual Benefit. Prior to joining our team, Joanna taught an adult education computer literacy program through Asian Human Services, Inc.

    Bachelor of Science, Advertising, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

     

    Joanna joined EverThrive IL in 2013 with more than ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector, serving multiple communities in Chicago. At EverThrive IL, Joanna ensures that day-to-day office operations are running smoothly and is also essential to planning our Annual Meeting and Annual Benefit. Prior to joining our team, Joanna taught an adult education computer literacy program through Asian Human Services, Inc.

    Fun Fact: Joanna has two miniature pinschers, 12 year old Timmy and 8 year old Go-Go.

    Phone:
    (312) 491-8161 x21

  • Kristen Nuyen

    Coordinator - Child and Adolescent Health Initiative

    Master of Arts, School of Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago
    Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Kalamazoo College

    Kristen joined EverThrive IL in November of 2015 and is committed to increasing services for and improving the lives of children and youth. Kristen comes to EverThrive IL with a background in project management and has gained experience working on youth development programs, health care enrollment initiatives, and policy advocacy through a variety of positions with nonprofits in Chicago.

    Master of Arts, School of Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago
    Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Kalamazoo College

    Kristen joined EverThrive IL in November of 2015 and is committed to increasing services for and improving the lives of children and youth. Kristen comes to EverThrive IL with a background in project management and has gained experience working on youth development programs, health care enrollment initiatives, and policy advocacy through a variety of positions with nonprofits in Chicago.

    Fun Fact: Kristen loves to travel and has visited over 20 countries.

    Phone:
    (312) 491-8161 x25

  • Sessy Nyman

    Executive Director

    Master of Science, Cultural Geography - University of Massachusetts-Amherst
    Bachelor of Arts, Government and International Relations - University of South Carolina

     

    Master of Science, Cultural Geography - University of Massachusetts-Amherst
    Bachelor of Arts, Government and International Relations - University of South Carolina

     

    Sessy Nyman joined EverThrive Illinois in March 2017 as Executive Director with more than 25 years of experience in advocacy, legislative strategic development, and non-profit leadership. Sessy most recently  served as the Vice President for Policy and Strategic Partnerships at Illinois Action for Children (IAFC), directing state and federal legislative strategy for the organization, overseeing a team of community, research and policy professionals.
     

    Sessy first joined IAFC in 1999 as a Community Organizing Associate and served as Director for Public Policy before becoming Vice President in 2001 where she managed strategic direction and fiscal growth for the department, and successfully expanded its staff size and annual operating budget through private foundation support. In addition to negotiating legislative outcomes and spearheading administrative advocacy to state agencies, she managed statewide campaigns for policy change and increases in fiscal expenditures; created partnerships with community organizations, parents and faith-based initiatives to expand and deepen legislative strength of IAFC. Under Sessy’s leadership, grassroots membership has expanded, leadership across the early childhood field was developed, and the organizational strength of Illinois Action for Children grew. Most importantly, Illinois’ early care and education program grew in the numbers of children served as well as in the state’s investment and focus on quality care for the state’s most vulnerable children. Sessy served on multiple early childhood task forces and committees to influence the development and implementation of statewide policy and programs.
     

    Prior to joining Illinois Action for Children (then called the Day Care Action Council of Illinois), Sessy worked as the Director of the Violence Prevention Project for the Alliance for Logan Square Organizations, where she created community collaborations with local stakeholders to effectively implement violence prevention strategies. While serving as the Director, she served asa primary spokesperson to represent the project to Chicago’s greater not-for-profit community and other citywide institutions working on violence prevention issues. From 1990-1992 she was National Coordinator for the Chicago-based Mozambique Support Network, a national network of state affiliate organizations advocating for change in Southern Africa.
     

    Sessy earned her M.S. in Cultural Geography from The University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and holds a B.A. in Government and International Relations from The University of South Carolina. Her community involvement includes: 2006 Alum of Leadership of Greater Chicago, Board President of Lifeline Theater located in Chicago’s Rogers Park community, and is a member of the Concordia Place Early Childhood program Advisory Board. Sessy lives in Chicago’s Rogers Park community with her 13 year old daughter, and their dog Webster.

    Phone:
    (312) 491-8161 x22

  • Heidi Ortolaza-Alvear

    Director - Child and Adolescent Health Initiative

    Master of Arts, School of Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago
    Master of Public Policy, Harris School of Public Policy, The University of Chicago
    Certificate of Health Administration and Policy, The University of Chicago
    Bachelor of Arts, Carleton College

    Master of Arts, School of Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago
    Master of Public Policy, Harris School of Public Policy, The University of Chicago
    Certificate of Health Administration and Policy, The University of Chicago
    Bachelor of Arts, Carleton College


    Heidi is passionate about breaking cycles of poverty, and improving the effectiveness of health and human services systems. Heidi has seven years of combined work experience across the non-profit and government sectors. Prior to graduate school, Heidi worked at Erie Family Health Center for nearly five years where she held direct service and middle management roles in maternal and child health and led quality improvement initiatives across the organization.  She has also held strategy, stakeholder engagement, and policy fellowships across Chicago non-profits and government offices such as ACCESS Community Health Network, Illinois Public Health Institute, the United States Department of Health and Human Services - Region V, and the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services.


    Fun Fact: Heidi is originally from Puerto Rico. She loves the ocean and its grandness and dreams of the day that she might live in a tropical place once again.

    Phone:
    (312) 491-8161 x31

  • Brielle Treece Osting

    Director - Maternal and Infant Mortality Initiative

    Master of Arts, School of Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago
    Master of Public Policy, Harris School of Public Policy, The University of Chicago
    Bachelor of Arts, Tufts University

     

    Master of Arts, School of Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago
    Master of Public Policy, Harris School of Public Policy, The University of Chicago
    Bachelor of Arts, Tufts University

     

    Brielle Treece Osting joined EverThrive Illinois as the Manager of the Maternal and Infant Mortality Initiative in January 2016. Prior to joining EverThrive Illinois, Brielle served as an Associate Program Officer at the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation, the only private foundation dedicated solely to children’s health in the state of Illinois. Brielle has significant experience in health care, research, and philanthropy.

    While pursuing her graduate degrees, she served as an Erikson Administrative Fellow at the University of Chicago Medical Center and a Research Assistant at the University of Chicago Section on Family Planning and Contraceptive Research.

    Prior to pursuing her graduate education, Brielle served as the Maternal Child Health Performance Improvement Assistant at PCC Community Wellness. In that role, she oversaw the implementation a depression screening and assessment curriculum for all perinatal women by their Primary Care Provider.

    Fun Fact: Brielle is an expert parallel parker. If it's physically possible, she can fit into any space.

    Phone:
    (312) 491-8161 x24

  • Sheila Sanders

    Manager - Outreach and Education

    Bachelor of Science, Criminal Justice, Virginia Commonwealth University

    Bachelor of Science, Criminal Justice, Virginia Commonwealth University

    Sheila joined EverThrive IL in 2005 and has served the organization in a variety of roles since that time. She spent four years on the Closing the Gap Initiative on Infant Mortality and has also been involved in EverThrive IL’s Campaign to Save Our Mothers & Babies, both of which are committed to improving birth outcomes and decreasing health disparities in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Sheila is also an experienced health advocate and trainer; she provides community members with the knowledge they need to educate their own communities on topics such as immunizations, healthy pregnancy, reproductive justice, and other MCH topics.

    Prior to joining EverThrive IL, Sheila provided technical assistance and consultation to African American community-based organizations that provide HIV/AIDS prevention services.

    Fun Fact: Sign language was Sheila’s first language.

    Phone:
    (773) 651-0520

  • Kaylan Szafranski

    Manager - Health Reform Initiative

    Master of Social Work, Family and Child Development  - Erikson Institute
    Montessori Education Credential, Birth to three, American Montessori Society
    Bachelor of Fine Arts, Art History - Salem College

    Master of Social Work, Family and Child Development  - Erikson Institute
    Montessori Education Credential, Birth to three, American Montessori Society
    Bachelor of Fine Arts, Art History - Salem College

    Kaylan joined EverThrive IL in May 2017. Kaylan's graduate studies focused on early childhood development and policy and advocacy. During her graduate studies she helped conduct and co-authored research around mindfulness in Chicago Public Schools as a way to mitigate chronic stress' effects on executive function development. Prior to her graduate studies, Kaylan served as a Montessori early childhood educator for seven years in North Carolina. During her time as an educator she focused on curriculum development, as well as family an community engagement around healthy early development.  

    Fun Fact: Kaylan plays roller derby for the Windy City Rollers! 

    Phone:
    (312) 763-2389

  • Katelyn Talsma

    Coordinator - Communications

    Bachelor of Arts, Sociology and Gender Studies, Calvin College

    Bachelor of Arts, Sociology and Gender Studies, Calvin College

    Katie Talsma joined the EverThrive IL team in January 2015, excited to work within an organization committed to the health and wellness of all Illinois families. A Chicago transplant hailing originally from Grand Rapids, MI, Katie started off in nonprofit social services working for the Senior Meals on Wheels program in her home county. She has a background in project coordination and grant funding as well as qualitative research, brand messaging, and social media. Katie is currently working towards a Certification as an Associate of Project Managment through the Project Management Institute with an expected completion in early 2016. 

    Fun Fact: Katie was born on April Fools Day!

    Phone:
    (312) 491-8161 x23

  • April Thompson

    Health Education Coordinator

    April joined EverThrive IL in 2005 and was essential to the success of the Closing the Gap on Infant Mortality Project in the Englewood community. She currently leads reproductive justice classes for young women to promote healthy relationships, safe sex, and encourage young women to lead healthy lifestyles. April also assists with Cooking Matters courses.

    April joined EverThrive IL in 2005 and was essential to the success of the Closing the Gap on Infant Mortality Project in the Englewood community. She currently leads reproductive justice classes for young women to promote healthy relationships, safe sex, and encourage young women to lead healthy lifestyles. April also assists with Cooking Matters courses. April is from the Englewood community herself and is committed to empowering the youth of her neighborhood. She is a member of several committees and organizations, including 7th District Domestic Violence Subcommittee, Greater Englewood Healthy Start Initiative, and the Englewood Safe Start Council. 

    Fun Fact: April enjoys fishing with her family every summer.

    Phone:
    (773) 651-0520

  • Cecilia Tipiani-Fuentes

    Senior Coordinator - Immunizations Initiative

    Ceci is dedicated to increasing access to school breakfast for low-income students attending schools in the Cook and Collar counties and works closely with our partners at Share Our Strength. Prior to joining the EverThrive IL team, Ceci was a Program Specialist for an organization that provides after school programming to youth. She also worked in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention education. Ceci has more than 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and her career has been driven by a passion for community advocacy.

    Ceci is dedicated to increasing access to school breakfast for low-income students attending schools in the Cook and Collar counties and works closely with our partners at Share Our Strength. Prior to joining the EverThrive IL team, Ceci was a Program Specialist for an organization that provides after school programming to youth. She also worked in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention education. Ceci has more than 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and her career has been driven by a passion for community advocacy. Through experiences at various organizations, Ceci has utilized her extensive program management and development skills to enhance the lives of others.

    Fun Fact: Ceci loves to bake!

    Phone:
    (312) 491-8161 x23

  • Kathy Waligora

    Director - Health Reform Initiative

    Master of Arts, Social Service Administration, Health Administration and Policy, University of Chicago
    Bachelor of Science, Social Work, Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

    Master of Arts, Social Service Administration, Health Administration and Policy, University of Chicago
    Bachelor of Science, Social Work, Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

    Kathy joined EverThrive IL in June 2011 after numerous internships and research opportunities focused on women’s health and reproductive health policies. At EverThrive IL, Kathy is responsible for advancing a policy agenda that will improve access to high quality, comprehensive health care for all Illinoisans. She also monitors implementation of the Affordable Care Act, providing technical assistance and education for enrollment specialists and other stakeholders.

    Kathy is well-versed in the many counties of Illinois and is often traveling to give ACA presentations throughout the state. In her free time, Kathy enjoys running along Chicago’s lakefront path and spending time with her many household pets.

    Fun Fact: Kathy is a huge Disney fan! She’s been to Disney World more than 20 times and worked there for a semester in college

    Phone:
    (312) 763-2389 x3