Darcy comes to the Village with years of non-profit management experience including leadership roles at public and private universities, libraries, medical, technology, non-profit organizations and media companies. Most recently, Darcy was Chief Development Officer for the Chicago Public Library Foundation, where she led the organization to record-breaking engagement and community awareness milestones. Darcy is active in Chicago’s corporate and civic communities and is a member of the Economic Club, Executives Club, Chicago Innovation Advisory Board, and a variety of cultural and business organizations. In her spare time, she is an avid history buff and author who published an illustrated history of jewelry and metalwork entrepreneurs during the Chicago Arts and Crafts movement. Darcy lives in Chicago’s near north neighborhood.
Jonathan has been advocating for, learning from, and working with individuals 55+ for over a decade in the Chicagoland area. He discovered his passion for helping older people at an early age visiting older neighbors and working in the kitchen at a nursing home while in college. Most recently, he was the Program Manager for Senior Connections, a friendly visiting volunteer program for socially isolated adults in Evanston, Skokie and the North Shore. Prior to joining The Village Chicago team, he also served in roles at Center on Halsted, where he provided case management services to residents of Town Hall Apartments, Chicago’s first LGBTQ-Friendly Senior Housing, and at Little Brothers- Friends of the Elderly, where he managed social and volunteer programs for isolated older adults living in Lincoln Park and the Loop. He is originally from Louisville, KY area and currently resides in the Ravenswood neighborhood with his husband and cat, Monster. He enjoys traveling, visiting National Parks, going to breweries, trying new restaurants, and spending time with family and friends.
Laurel Baer, Communications Strategist, is responsible for most Village communiqués: Newsletter, Member Memo, Gigs and Bytes, even this website. Her years of experience in advertising as media director, account manager and consultant prepared her well. Laurel enjoys choral singing and, fortunately for the Village, enjoys writing, too; it gives her great satisfaction.
Niki Fox began as a social work intern and has now joined the staff. She marvels at the way small actions can make a big difference. Members appreciate her warmth, possibly because her grandmother taught her that a smile is contagious, even over the phone! Niki is a quilter, scuba diver, avid reader and enjoys competitive sports.
After launching four children into adulthood, Susan Wakula has joined the Village as Development Associate. She recently moved to Chicago from her hometown in the Quad Cities where she had gone to help care for her aging parents in their final years. In her rich and varied background, Susan developed expertise in fundraising, volunteer management, marketing, and financial reporting while working in finance and development at various non-profit organizations including religious, youth services and higher education.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, walking her senior rescue dog, Boomer, running, yoga, craft beer, visiting her children across the country and indulging in the myriad of cultural opportunities in this world-class city.
Jen Hurd could not be more thrilled to be part of the Village team! Jen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Psychology and has been in the healthcare field for over 13 years. As a certified dementia practitioner, Jen worked primarily in the field of dementia care for nearly a decade–managing care units, providing education, running support groups and working collaboratively with the Pioneer Network who has been a national leader in the culture change movement since the late 90’s. Her vision has always aligned with the idea of person-centered care, making it her mission to help cultivate communities that provide purpose, meaning and joy to people living with dementia. In her spare time she enjoys gardening, has a passion for cooking and loves to be in, on, or near any body of water.
Kristine Cichowski is an educational and business consultant who has worked in the healthcare industry for more than 30 years. Kristine was the founding director of the Henry B. Betts LIFE Center at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (now Shirley Ryan AbilityLab) which is an award-winning family education center that supports family education and professional development in 181 countries. Kristine developed systems and processes to help rehabilitation clinicians, physicians, and nurses better understand the results of patient care and what is needed to successfully resume key life activities. As a Certified Dementia Care Practitioner, Kristine conducts seminars and workshops on topics of family empowerment, team building, and work-life integration. Kristine founded her company, Power To Be, to help individuals, families, professionals, and community organizations connect to resources that enable self-determination, goal achievement, and active community participation. Click here to read more about Kris.
With a varied background in photography, independent comic book publishing, and event organization, Megan enjoys combining her passions to serve the local community. As Editor-in-Chief of Ladies’ Night Anthology, she worked closely with a dedicated team of editors to publish an annual comic book collection featuring local emerging creators. Should you meet Megan at one of the Village events, she will happily show you photos of her cat Luke upon request.
One of the Village’s first members, Betty Dayron has always been active: volunteer, participant, and since 2009 Field Instructor for Village interns from Loyola’s School of Social Work (she has supervised more than 20). Betty brings valuable career experience, but she too is learning: Village members from all walks of life have more in common than she anticipated!
Heather joined The Village Chicago after serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Legal Aid Chicago. While there she oversaw the Advanced Directives and Property Transfers (ADAPT) Project, leading a team of volunteers and attorneys to provide people with Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, and Transfer on Death Instruments. She is a lifelong Purdue Boilermaker and loves old musicals.
Emma is a graduate student at Loyola University Chicago in the MSW program, entering her second year this fall. She is specializing in mental health, and completed her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University where she majored in Human Development and Psychological Services. During her time at Northwestern, she completed a practicum at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital where she was an intern in the Inpatient Psychiatry Unit. She was born and raised in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, and she is passionate about spreading mental health awareness and providing compassionate care to those who are struggling. In her downtime, she enjoys spending time with her family and supporting independent content creators online.