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.
Susan has spent her career in nonprofits working as vice president of finance and operations at the Healthy Schools Campaign, heading up historic house museums and early on serving as curator of costumes and director of exhibitions at the Chicago History Museum. Susan joined The Village Chicago in February 2018. Susan and her husband artist Michael x. Ryan have two grown children, Sam and Stella, who both live out of state. Susan looks forward to family gatherings, loves working on her family genealogy and is always at the ready to help others discover their roots.
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.
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.
Raquel is a senior in the BSW program at Loyola University Chicago and an intern at The Village Chicago. Throughout her college experience she has focused her volunteer work in child development and community organizing at Family Matters Inc., Centro Romero, and the Living Works After-School Program. She is also a research assistant for the Migration Studies program at Loyola. In her free time, she is spending time with her Yorkshire Terrier, Lani, and keeping up with as many documentaries as possible. In her time with The Village Chicago she is looking forward to gaining more experience and appreciation for the field of Social Work and the populations it serves.
Hannah Cooper is a first year MSW student at Loyola University Chicago. Hannah completed her undergrad coursework at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign where she majored in communications and sociology. She spent the last ten years working in sales and marketing, most recently at Tyson Foods. Through her job at Tyson, Hannah had the opportunity to mentor a Junior High School student which is what sparked her desire to change careers and pursue social work. Hannah is planning to pursue a mental health specialization at Loyola.
In her spare time, Hannah enjoys spending time with her husband, 1 year old son Sam, and dog Mac. She loves trying new restaurants and walking/running along the lakeshore path. Hannah is also an avid Chicago sports fan and is looking forward to football season.