Office team

Darcy L. Evon, Chief Executive Officer


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 Tague, Director of Membership & Engagement


Jonathan has been advocating for, learning from, and working with individuals 50+ 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 Director 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 held positions at Center on Halsted as Senior Services Case Manager for the residents of Town Hall Apartments, Chicago’s first LGBTQ-Friendly Senior Housing and at Little Brothers- Friends of the Elderly as a Program Coordinator managing social and volunteer programs for isolated older adults living in Chicago. Originally from the Louisville, KY area, he currently resides in the Ravenswood neighborhood with his husband Alex, cat Monster, and dog Murphy. He enjoys traveling to new places, hiking in National Parks, going to breweries, trying different cuisines and restaurants, and visiting family and friends all over the country.

Laurel Baer, Director of Strategic Initiatives

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Laurel Baer, Director of Strategic Initiatives at The Village Chicago, is a founding Village member. She started volunteering for the Village shortly before it opened in June 2009 and became a part time staff member in 2010. She worked in marketing for nearly 40 years, in advertising agencies and as a sole practitioner consultant. In her current role, she helps shape strategy, planning and communications for most major Village initiatives. Her proudest accomplishment was founding Bottomless Closet in 1991, the first nonprofit free business apparel resource for women transitioning from assistance to work.

Niki Fox, Director of Member Services

Niki Fox

Niki Fox joined The Village Chicago team in 2015 as a social work intern and, as she’ll tell you, “just never left!” She earned her Master’s in Social Work with a specialization in healthcare from Loyola in 2017 and is now Direct of Member Services. Niki feels honored to fulfill the Village concept by connecting members to services, resources, and one another – drawing upon members’ experience and expertise just as they draw upon hers. She especially appreciates how the Village is adapting and evolving, building intergenerational relationships and continuously adding new ways to support mental and physical well-being. In her spare time, Niki can be found reading too many books at once, cutting squares for a quilting project, or pursuing an amateur interest in cycling.

Susan Wakula, Director of Finance, Administration & Development


After successfully launching four children into adulthood and living in various cities, Susan spent several years back in her hometown in the Quad Cities helping her parents navigate their final years. With that challenging experience behind her, she landed at the Village because its mission resonated with her recent lived experience — ‘I wish my parents would’ve had a place like the Village.’

She has a rich and varied background in finance, working for financial institutions and non-profits, including religious organizations, youth services, and higher education. Susan lives in Ukrainian Village and enjoys commuting to work on her bike, running, yoga, reading, hunting for thrift store treasures, sampling craft beer, and exploring this world-class city.

Megan Byrd, Director of Programs & Communications


Before joining the Village, Megan enjoyed an eclectic background as a freelance writer, photographer, and event organizer. She is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and was an international student of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Australia, where she met her husband. She is a founding member and community organizer for the international independent comic book publishing collective, Ladies’ Night Anthology. She is also a former contributing writer for the Eisner award winning website Women Write About Comics, an occasional comic book editor, and loves to share her passion for comics and building community. Upon request, she will happily share photos of her baby Marigold, and cat Luke.

Jen A. Hurd, Project Manager, Brain Health & Memory Loss


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.

Rick Planos, Community & Member Engagement Manager


Rick grew up in Evanston and graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign in Marketing. After a long and diverse career in retail that included 11 relocations all over the US, he is happy to be back near family and friends in the Chicago area. Rick held a variety of store and customer focused roles with brands like Apple, Google and Warner Bros. Studios. In recent years Rick has pivoted from a retail focused career into nonprofit work revolving around children, education and elder care. These three areas have touched his life deeply.

Currently Rick sits on the Board of Directors for Mary Crane Centers, volunteers as a mentor at America Needs You, and as a Wish Granter and trainer at Make a Wish Illinois, and as a volunteer and trainer for Curt’s Café in Evanston and Highland Park. Rick has two adult children, a son Josh in Nebraska and a daughter, Jessica in Manhattan. In his free time Rick enjoys travel, movies, books, theatre, concerts at Ravinia or the Chicago lakefront and discovering new restaurants. Rick is looking forward to the future with his son getting married in March and his daughter making him a first time Grandpa in April.

Kristine Cichowski, Project Consultant, Healthcare Advocacy Initiative & Memory Loss Program


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.

Betty Dayron, Social Work Field Instructor

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When Betty retired from a long clinical and administrative career as a Social Worker at Jewish Child and Family Services the Village was just beginning and so she joined. She remains an active volunteer and member. Since 2009 she has supervised more than 35 Village Interns from Loyola’s School of Social Work. She also enjoys travel, when sensible, spending time reading, doing Sudoko puzzles and is into Folk Music and the Blues.