Staff

“Our kids are often faced with barriers that must be overcome. Every accomplishment and profession of faith is reason to celebrate — a glimpse into what Jesus referred to when He said, ‘I have come so that they may have abundant life.’” (John 10:10)

—Donnita Travis
Founder & Executive Director

Literacy is an important part of By The Hand Club and that is why we decided to take photos with our favorite books.

Meet Our Staff

By The Hand is unlike conventional programs. While we emphasize measurable educational goals, our focus is on loving the whole child—which leads us to focus on all aspects of child development. We literally and figuratively take kids by the hand and walk alongside them from the time they enroll in our program until they’re adults, walking independently with the Lord. We tutor them to academic excellence. We mentor them to their full potential. And we care for them as our own.

Executive  
Donnita Travis

Donnita Travis

Founder & Executive Director

312.305.2622

"Every day I thank God for His awesomeness—and for each and every child He brings to By The Hand. For me, there is no greater privilege than to serve God by investing in the lives of His children—mind, body and soul."

Sensing that God wanted her to start a holistic after-school program to help children from Chicago’s most under-resourced neighborhoods have abundant life, Donnita Travis resigned as president of an advertising agency and launched By The Hand Club For Kids in 2001. Under her leadership, By The Hand Club has undergone tremendous growth, becoming a $7.4 million nonprofit with five locations and a staff of 111 employees and 400-plus volunteers.

Still serving as a volunteer, Donnita is driven by her love for God and His children. She has been recognized for her work with children as Chicago magazine’s Chicagoan of the Year in 2012, the recipient of Mayor Daley’s SAGE Award in 2011 and Northwestern Kellogg’s School of Management’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010. Donnita has a Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts in English and communications from Spalding University. Most recently, she attended Harvard Business School for Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management after receiving the HBS Club of Chicago’s Roman Nomitch Fellowship.

Anwar Smith

Anwar Smith

Managing Director of Operations

312.860.2731

"By The Hand recognizes that God’s heart is for youth and families and it is an honor and privilege for me to be a small part of God’s life-altering and redemptive work."

The Lord has given Anwar Smith a passion to serve youth since he was a teenager. Prior to joining By The Hand Club in 2014, Anwar served as a director for a large nonprofit organization where he provided consultation to 26 community centers in and around Chicago. Before that he lived and worked in Wisconsin for a ministry to at-risk youth who were referred by the court. In his “spare” time, Anwar is the volunteer youth pastor at Living Word Church and has an extensive letter writing ministry to inmates in prison. Anwar has a Master of Education degree in youth development from UIC and a Bachelor of Arts in Christian education and youth ministry from Taylor University.

Michele Hoekstra

Michele Hoekstra

Senior Director of Learning

708.772.8778

"My desire is for all kids to learn. I love seeing when they are excited about something they understand, find interesting or just discovered, and the smile that spreads across their faces as a result."

Michele Hoekstra has always loved the natural curiosity of kids and has always had a heart for education in the city. She believes being a strong reader can help open doors and opportunities for students’ futures. Coming to By The Hand Club has given her the freedom to put those beliefs and interests into practice while she mixes all of her experiences together. Michele has worked as an elementary school teacher for 16 years in the South Loop, Lawndale and Austin neighborhoods of Chicago. Her experience in teaching ranged from kindergarten to eighth grade. Michele received her Master of Education in language and literacy from National Louis University and Bachelor of Science in elementary education with a kindergarten endorsement from Taylor University. Attending Calvary Memorial Church, Michele has been involved with the prayer ministry, Sunday school, a community outreach called the Clothes Closet and small group ministries.

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Altgeld-Murray  
Jamie Morriss-Benoit

Jamie Morriss-Benoit

Site Director: Altgeld-Murray

773.418.7690

“Children are our present, not just our future. That's why I love when Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me (Matt. 19:14).’ I want to be part of what God is doing now to draw children in and see them thrive today, be active and positive world citizens today, following Jesus and leading others today. God is able—and invites our students at By The Hand to join in the restoration of all Creation thanks to abundant life in Jesus right now!”

Jamie Morriss-Benoit received her degree in psychology from California Lutheran University, which encouraged and deepened her passion for holistic ministry in terms of understanding a person as body, mind and soul. She loves when children are emphasized, seeing that they too are vital in the kingdom of God here on earth and have so much to offer. Jamie is also a worship leader at NewStory Church in Edgewater.

Tiara Wilkinson

Tiara Wilkinson

Assistant Site Director: Altgeld-Murray

202.486.3173

“I’m excited to work with By The Hand because it allows me to pair my passion for youth with my passion for Christ in a holistic way.”

Tiara Wilkinson comes to us from Ark of St. Sabina where she worked as youth development specialist working with at-risk youth. Prior to that position, Tiara was the assistant dean at Seton  Academy High School working with students and their families. Tiara has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Howard University and a Master of Arts in Christian leadership from Liberty University.

Tiara currently attends Manifested Glory International Ministries where she serves as a youth leader and also in the audio ministry.

Tamisha Ballenger

Tamisha Ballenger

Team Leader: Altgeld-Murray

312.956.7383

“My passion is to drive students to use their mind, body, and soul; in achieving all things in life.”

Tamisha Ballenger joins By The Hand Club from North Park University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. After not understanding her passion, Tamisha pursed marketing positions. However, God was constantly sending her youth ministry positions that lead her to By The Hand Club. Tamisha works with kids ministry at Harvest Bible Chapel and attends New Life Covenant Oakwood church.

Jon Hane

Jon Hane

Spiritual Development Specialist: Altgeld-Murray

312.636.0955

"I am continually amazed and encouraged as I watch the lives of my students—by their growth in the midst of all the challenges and trials they face is the fuel for my passion."

Jon Hane worked as a youth pastor for eight years at several churches as well as a staff member with San Diego Youth for Christ and Youth Specialties. His last church position was with Community Christian Church in Aurora, IL where he spent time ministering to students in the under-resourced community of East Aurora. Jon graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian ministries with an emphasis in youth ministry.

Lesley Morales

Lesley Morales

Team Leader: Altgeld-Murray

312.813.8244

"There is so much potential in every child and to be a part of the work to uncover it is a blessing. What a privilege it is also to impart what God has placed on the inside of me: a love for worshipping our King Jesus, foreign languages and culture, healing, and the prophetic. God have YOUR way in us this and every year!"

Lesley Morales comes to By The Hand Club from North Park University. She worked with the Greater Works Private School, tutoring fifth- and sixth-grade students in math and science. She also worked with an education program while at North Park. The students in this program were at-risk youth who lived in Hammond, IN. Lesley’s degree is in biblical and theological studies. She is an active member of the All Nations Worship Assembly and is currently a part of life groups.

Chantria Morris

Chantria Morris

Team Leader: Altgeld-Murray

708.539.5845

“I believe if you change the mind of a child you can change the world.”

Chantria Morris attends Freedom Temple Church of God In Christ, where she’s involved with fundraising. In addition to this, Chantria’s family has played a big part in Chicago by serving the Englewood community for 24+ years through the Feed, Clothe, Help the Needy mission program. This program is a nonprofit organization that feeds families and offers other needs to the community, which is owned and operated by Chantria’s grandmother and mother.

Ngozi Okoro

Ngozi Okoro

Team Leader: Altgeld-Murray

708.400.3275

Ngozi Okoro comes to By The Hand Club after working with children as a Certified Nursing Assistant. She graduated from Roosevelt University with her Bachelors of Science in Sustainability Studies. Ngozi loves working with children, helping them grow, challenge and build their minds so that they know they can do all things. She currently attends CityLight International Church in Chicago.

Denise Patton

Denise Patton

Team Leader: Altgeld-Murray

708.299.2280

"I joined By The Hand because I know life is not easy, especially when you lack guidance in your life. I lost my mom at the age of 11. So it was hard and I want to show these children that there is somebody that loves them and wants the best for them. By The Hand has these children's back through college and I want to be a part of giving them abundant life and demonstrate the love and kindness of Christ."

Denise Patton worked for God’s Little Sugars where she was a teacher. She was responsible for helping the assistant director plan activities for children, maintaining a safe and healthy environment, and keeping student records. Denise was also the chair of the Peter Rock Church’s YWFC, a community-based mentoring program for girls, ages 15-18 years old. She has an associate’s degree in early childhood development from Kaplan University and currently attends Bethel Baptist Church.

Michael Perreca

Michael Perreca

Team Leader: Altgeld-Murray

631.335.9183

“If there is no love in a person, then we cannot expect compassion, empathy, wisdom and so on. And how are they to know love if someone does not first teach them what love is?”

Michael Perreca has a pastoral heart for caring and shepherding young people. Michael comes to us with a background as a youth pastor and has previously worked in a rape crisis center. He has a Bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry and biblical studies from Lancaster Bible College and he attends Bethel Community Church where he plays on the worship team and teaches Sunday school.

Ruth Raickett-Roberts

Ruth Raickett-Roberts

Team Leader: Altgeld-Murray

708.221.9886

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)

Ruth Raickett-Roberts comes to By The Hand Club after working as a teacher and a home health care provider. She attended Concordia University – Chicago where she received her Masters in Educational Administration. Currently, she is involved at the Living Word Church in Lansing and is active in the women’s ministry.

Kashara Thigpen

Team Leader: Altgeld-Murray

773.841.2771

“Dedicate your life to your dreams”

Kashara Thigpen chose to work with By The Hand because of the passion she has for empowering and nurturing the next generation of leaders. Kashara has a Bachelor]s degree in social science and a minor in gender and sexuality studies. She currently attends Mount Calvary Baptist Church where she serves in the youth ministry.

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Austin  
Bernadette Ballenger

Bernadette Ballenger

Site Director: Austin

312.208.6094

"I want to give back to my community by mentoring and helping youth make wise and healthy decisions."

Prior to By The Hand Club, Bernadette Ballenger was a teacher assistant at Daystar School, working with first- and second-grade students during the day and first- through eighth-graders after school. She also worked with the Sunshine Gospel Ministries’ after-school tutoring program. She is a mentor and Sunday school teacher at Ellis Avenue Church. Bernadette began at By The Hand as a volunteer then moved from being a team leader to a site director. She is an excellent leader and lives in the Austin community.

Jaclyn Latourelle

Jaclyn Latourelle

Assistant Site Director: Austin

312.647.0876

"Seeing God work in these kids' lives makes everything I do worth it."

Volunteering at By The Hand Club beginning in 2012 furthered Jaclyn Latourelle’s passion for teaching and youth development. She then decided to join By The Hand Club as an assistant team leader. In addition to helping students excel academically, Jaclyn largely influenced volunteer efforts at the Austin site, and was later promoted to Assistant Site Director. She has also worked with Latinos Progresando, developing youth through their theater program. She has a Bachelor of Arts in theatre design with a focus in youth development theater from Columbia College. Jaclyn regularly attends Missio Dei – Humboldt Park.

Deonte Baker

Deonte Baker

Team Leader: Austin

773.272.6438

Deonte Baker comes to By The Hand Club with an extensive vocal performance background. He has worked with students on the fundamentals of musical notation, harmony, scales, melodies, and vocal performance. Deonte went to Columbia College where he studied vocal performance and is currently enrolled at Harold Washington studying Music Education.

Ashley Brown

Ashley Brown

Team Leader: Austin

304.633.8447

“I want to see communities transformed through holistic development with children and families from the hope and wholeness that Christ brings.”

Ashley Brown graduated from Marshall University with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and from Wheaton College with a Master of Arts in intercultural studies.  She currently attends Wheaton Bible Church where she serves with their community outreach to refugees.

Lauren DeVries

Lauren DeVries

Team Leader: Austin

312.613.2911

“Thus far in my life, I have discovered three truths about myself - I love the Lord, I love kids, and I love urban ministry. By The Hand is the perfect crossroad for those three passions.”

Lauren DeVries brings her past experience working with Young Life on Chicago’s Northside as well as being involved in Willow Creek Community Church’s youth group. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Young Ministry with a minor in English Creative Writing from North Park University in Chicago. Lauren attends Christian Fellowship Evangelical Free Church where she participates on the prayer team.

Toi Dickson

Toi Dickson

Team Leader: Austin

773.870.1314

"I joined By The Hand because I love serving God's people and love spreading the word of God."

Toi Dickson comes to By The Hand Club from Oak Leyden Developmental Services where she was a training counselor. In this role, Toi participated in final assessment meetings and helped evaluate the progress of her clients. She is a licensed pharmacy technician and attended school at Everest College. She currently attends Harvest Church.

Kaylan Elder

Team Leader: Austin

773.554.5321

"I chose to work at By the Hand because I love working with children. I also want to help our children have a fun and a better future without struggling to have one."

Kaylan has an Associates degree from the Greater Works Midwest School of Theology.  Kaylan attends and serves regularly  at the Greater Works Kingdom Ministries Int’l church where she has served as the tech specialist and other assistant roles.  She is excited to be supporting our children and building Christ’s Kingdom through the By The Hand mission.

Amber Kasnick

Amber Kasnick

Team Leader: Austin

630.441.0778

“I think the future of Chicago’s violence and poverty depends on how we invest in our youth and enable them to live out God’s plan for them”

Amber Kasnick comes to By The Hand with a background in the medical field where she previously worked as a surgical trauma nurse and an international disaster relief nurse for Inca Link International. Amber has a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University and she currently attends New Life Covenant Church where she enjoys leading Bible studies.

Maurice Reed

Maurice Reed

Team Leader: Austin

708.942.9799

“I want to make a change in kids lives. They need to see more males doing positive things and being taught the Word.”

Maurice Reed brings great, positive energy into his role as a Team Leader at By The Hand Club. As an Austin resident, Maurice has volunteered at the South Austin Island Boyz Basketball Team where he mentored and encouraged younger teammates. He graduated from ITT Technical Institute where he earned his associate of applied science degree. Maurice currently attends Greater St. John Bible Church.

Akeeysha Rodgers-Williams

Akeeysha Rodgers-Williams

Team Leader: Austin

773.317.5710

“By The Hand realizes that children are our future, and they are a big part of our everyday lives. Like the saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ I am inspired and have a passion to help change these youths lives.” Proverbs 22:6

Akeeysha Rodgers-Williams is a regular attender at Greater St. John Baptist Church in Austin and is involved with the new membership committee and wherever she is needed. She is working towards receiving her Associate of Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice from Harrison College. She has over 15 years working as support and customer service specialist in a variety of roles. Most recently, she served as an intern for Volunteer Camp Noah where she assisted counselors in watching and interacting with youth.

Lawrence Thompson

Lawrence Thompson

Team Leader: Austin

773.773.1587

"I have been blessed to have people in my life that have helped me dream big and do even bigger things. I believe that it is God’s will for me to pass on that light to every child I can, in helping them dream big and reach their full potential.”

Lawrence Thompson grew up in Englewood and is passionate about helping the youth of our community. Previously, he worked for a television network where he was a writer, singer and actor for a national children’s TV show. Lawrence graduated from University of Central Florida (Orlando) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater.

Lucas Wittman

Lucas Wittman

Team Leader: Austin

515.988.3553

“I want to help students understand who God is, and who He made them to be, with a brain that can learn, and a body that can be taken care of.”

Originally hailing from Johnston, Iowa, Lucas Wittman attended Moody Bible Institute where he studied Pre-Counseling. He is involved with a high school youth group at Calvary Memorial Church. Prior to By The Hand, Lucas has worked at Inner City Impact as a Christian Kid’s Club volunteer and intern.

Rodney Williams

Rodney Williams

Spiritual Development Specialist: Austin

708.673.2890

"John 4:34: 'My food' said Jesus 'is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.'"

Rodney Williams comes to By The Hand Club from Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Most recently he was a senior clinical assistant, responsible for providing administrative support for physicians in the hematology and oncology departments. Rodney is also the founder of Cozy But Kingdom, a ministry focused on the arts, music and poetry. He is a graduate of the Dorolyn Academy of Music where he earned a certificate in piano, music production and theory.

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By The Hand/Moving Everest  
Lamont Washington

Lamont Washington

Site Director: By The Hand/Moving Everest

773.891.8001

"If you change the life of a child, you will change the trajectory of his or her family. If you change the child's family, you will forever change the community."

LaMont Washington has served as a director of youth development for over 14 years, across multiple states. His responsibilities included overseeing the day-to-day operations of the program, program compliance, the creation of assessment and measurement tools, and creating curriculum and training resources for youth development and youth employment programs. Lamont strongly believes that the community is a great ally. He believes in interfacing with potential partners that will help to improve the quality of youth services holistically. He is a proud alumnus of the historic Wilberforce University–the first privately owned institution of higher education for African Americans (HBCU).

Talisha Cheeks

Talisha Cheeks

Assistant Site Director: By The Hand/Moving Everest

773.255.2052

"I am most excited about aligning with the By The Hand Club For Kids vision to see children in critical need meet Christ and, in Him, have life most abundant. My hope is to complete my work in Christ by aiding in the development and growth of arts and education programming at By The Hand as a light in communities here in Chicago and the world."

Talisha Cheeks worked for Metropolitan Family Services where she was responsible for planning and leading several out-of-school time activity programs. She brings a strong technical background to her role as assistant site director and a unique ability to build rapport with people. She holds a bachelor’s in communication from Western Illinois University.

Yasenia Roman

Yasenia Roman

Spiritual Development Specialist: By The Hand/Moving Everest

773.559.2868

“The greatest message one person can carry to reflect the intimate and active presence of God in his or her life is the love, peace and strength one brings into a room without any words.”

Yasenia Roman joined By The Hand Club because of her passion to share and teach the gospel to all ages, and looks forward to building relationships with families and connecting them with the body of Christ. She currently attends Soul city and she has actively taught praise dance to both children and adults, she disciples women in their walk with Christ, and she works with youth. She holds a degree in dance from Northeastern Illinois University. She enjoys teaching praise dance free of charge to the community.

Markel Anderson

Markel Anderson

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

815.614.0821

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

Markel Anderson understands the impact of positive leadership on his life and this has led him to be a positive role model for other young people. Markel is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in education from Loyola University and is a youth minister at his church, New Promise Land Missionary Baptist Church.

Jordan Carter

Jordan Carter

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

773.616.5549

“I chose to work at By The Hand Club because this is a community where I can continue to serve children and also grow spiritually during the process.”

Jordan Carter comes to By The Hand from City Year where he served as an Americorps member providing academic support for students. Jordan has a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies with a minor in business from Monmouth College and he attends New Harvest Chapel.

Andre Cooper

Andre Cooper

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

312.340.4996

Andre Cooper is from the Austin community and has volunteered and interned with By The Hand Club the past two summers. He returns to us after completing his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin where he was also a student athlete and worked as a technician.

Benjamin Gates

Benjamin Gates

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

440.563.8329

“I have been led by Jesus to use my talents and passion for children. Restoring communities and righting injustices by lifting up children is my life’s goal and By The Hand is a wonderful place to accomplish that!”

Benjamin Gates comes to us from Cleveland State University where he received his degree in theatre arts. He currently attends New Story Church where he serves as a leader of mens small group.

Nakia Harvey

Nakia Harvey

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

843.240.6502

“I want to be part of the people making Chicago great again.”

Nakia Harvey comes to us with a degree in psychology from Monmouth College and she currently attends Georgetown Presbyterian Church where she serves as a Bible school teacher.

Andrew Hempel

Andrew Hempel

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

815.575.7690

“D.L. Moody is remembered for reflecting after one of his meetings and saying, “ we had two and a half conversions.” The other person questioned him saying, “You mean two adults and one child?” “No”, Moody replied, “Two children and one adult; the adult has half his life left.”

Andrew Hempel has always had a passion for young people and has served for more than five years in youth ministry. He is excited about using his gifts to serve here at By The Hand. Andrew has a Bachelor of Arts in biblical studies from Moody Bible Institute and attends Harvest Chicago West.

Alyssa Jackson

Alyssa Jackson

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

708.574.5521

“You have to grow through what you go through so your greatness can show through.”

Alyssa Jackson comes to us from City Year serving at Collins Academy High School. Alyssa is passionate about the importance of arts in education and sharing her love of music with our students. She attended Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in music, she is also a member of Christian Unity Church in Bellwood, Illinois where she serves as a minister of music.

Jacquanda Jones

Jacquanda Jones

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

312.714.3766

"I love working at By The Hand because of the kids. The way they steal your heart is a constant reminder of the awe and love of Christ. They inspire me to be better, love more, trust more and continue to walk in the will of Christ."

Jacquanda Jones has worked at By The Hand Club for almost three years. She began as an assistant team leader at Englewood. Prior to working at By The Hand Club she served as a marketing assistant where her focus was connecting communities with resources and sponsored events. She is pursuing a degree in marketing from Columbia College Chicago.

Christian Kolthoff

Christian Kolthoff

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

218.722.2827

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” Proverbs 22:6.

Christian Kolthoff loves sharing the gospel with young people and having the opportunity to share God’s Word while working at By The Hand. He attended SUM Bible College and Theological Seminary where he received a Bachelor’s in biblical studies. He is a member of Metro Praise International Church where he serves in the evangelism and spanish ministry.

Sherrie Nelson

Sherrie Nelson

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

773.331.8680

"I am in love with the fact that God has chosen me to be a part of his work and I am excited to be able to share the gospel with the kids."

After attending By The Hand Club as a student, Sherrie Nelson worked as an assistant team leader at the Austin site before becoming one of the pioneer staff members of By The Hand/Moving Everest. She has been on staff for over 10 years. She has also taught Junior Achievement throughout Chicago. Sherrie also studied education at Robert Morris University.

Grena Pryor

Grena Pryor

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

773.712.0955

"I decided to join By The Hand Club For Kids because I always wanted to work at a place where I could share the gifting of God. I want to work with an organization that allows me to teach or express how great our God is and work with like-minded individuals who worship God. I attended ABC Youth Center and someone poured into me, mentored me and assisted me with homework and so on, so I want to do the same for the youth."

Grena Pryor comes to By The Hand Club from Youth Outreach Services where she was a prevention specialist, responsible for leading life skills training for the after-school program that included tutoring, setting up field trips and working with parents. She also has extensive general office experience. Grena holds diplomas from Farragut Career Academy and Malcolm X College in nursing, general education, medical assistant and is a certified emergency medical technician. She attends New Kingdom Church where she is currently a Minister and Lead Prayer Intercessor.

Rodney Smith

Rodney Smith

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

708.539.2207

“‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:13)”

Rodney Smith is a proud Austin native who has served in education for over 15 years. He attends Corinthian Temple where he serves as a deacon, choir member and lead singer. Rodney’s love for his students truly shines through, and he is dedicated to helping them navigate and grow in their talents and gifts. He especially enjoys sharing his love for culinary arts with his students and believes this is a great way to expose his students to abundant cultures and life. Rodney plans to continue his education and obtain a degree in culinary arts.

Gayinga Washington

Gayinga Washington

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

773.414.7221

"What motivates me is seeing children thrive in spite of the challenges they face. By becoming all that God has created them to be."

Gayinga Washington attended National Louis University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Human Services. She recognized her passion for working with children as a volunteer in her children’s school. She then went on to pursue it professionally. Gayinga has worked as a teacher’s assistant in head start and also served as a parent advocate. She is a member of Breakthrough World Harvest Ministries and volunteers with Courtside Ministries.

Briana Williams

Briana Williams

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

224.856.9544

“I chose to work at By The Hand Club For Kids because Christ is doing a new and good thing in these communities. I just want to be one of those He uses to bring light.”

Briana Williams loves working with children and believes that taking small steps of faith can lead to a big difference in our communities. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Christian ministries from Judson University and before joining us, she interned at Christ Church of Oak Brook. She is a member of Rivers of Living Water Ministries International.

Dyquan Lynch

Dyquan Lynch

Team Leader: By The Hand/Moving Everest

When teachers see students like they see themselves, they see the best in students. - Chris Emdin

Dyquan Lynch comes to By The Hand Club For Kids all the way from North Carolina where he was the Assistant Program Director of Peacemakers of Rocky Mount, a local after school program. He was also a Servant Leader Intern at Freedom Schools, a program founded by legendary civil rights activist Ms. Ella Baker. Upon sensing God’s call to the city of Chicago, Dyquan moved from North Carolina in January 2017 and joined By The Hand in February 2017. He is currently a part of Legacy Christian Fellowship where he serves in urban missions and outreach.

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Cabrini-Green  
Dezsiree Jones

Dezsiree Jones

Site Director: Cabrini-Green

630.886.9973

"The kids—that’s what keeps me going. My students."

Formerly a kindergarten teacher at Cambridge Academy, Dezsiree Jones is passionate about helping kids. She holds a Bachelor of Science in child psychology and criminal justice from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, IL. Dezsiree is actively involved at New Life Celebration Church of God in Dolton. She is the head Sunday school teacher for preschoolers as well as helping with the junior and senior high ministry.

Boman Bognet

Boman Bognet

Spiritual Development Specialist: Cabrini-Green

312.971.7348

“What inspires me to work with "By The Hand" is it holistic approach to address human needs, the mind, body and the soul. It addresses fundamental question about who we are as God's image bearers. In simple terms, By The Hand reflects human justice, and gives hope to the hopeless. My daily motivation comes from kids I see everyday knowing that God has not forgotten them.”

Boman Bognet brings his past experience working as the Christian Education department head at Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA). There, he helped develop a strategic plan for meaningful community engagement. He attended Moody Bible Institute where he received his masters in Ministry Leadership along with his Bachelor of Arts in Communications: Electronic Media. While attending college, Boman was an intern at Park Community Church. He currently attends Good News Church.

Elizabeth Cho

Elizabeth Cho

Team Leader: Cabrini-Green

254.541.9440

"I felt a clear calling in my life to partner with By the Hand in ministry. I love investing in children's lives, and finding new ways to make everyday tasks fun! My deepest desire is to make Jesus' name known among the nations, and I believe that begins by investing in the next generation.”

Elizabeth Cho is currently a member at The Moody Church, where she is involved with kid’s ministry for 1st and 2nd graders as well as the Crossroads University ministry. She received her Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and a Master of Music in vocal performance from Michigan State University.

Uyioghosa (James) Ebomoyi

Uyioghosa (James) Ebomoyi

Team Leader: Cabrini-Green

970.397.8142

“What I love most about By The Hand is that they incorporate divine values into the environment and use spiritual principles to handle any issue.”

Uyi Ebomoyi has been tutoring for about three years in different programs such as YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs. Although Uyi graduated with a business management degree from Chicago State University, he’s found that his real passion is tutoring kids and applying neuroscience to help them retain what he teaches. Due to his humble beginnings, Uyi has felt a calling to work with at-risk youth who struggle with learning. He currently attends Universal Church.

Elisha Frison

Elisha Frison

Team Leader: Cabrini-Green

734.864.2038

“I have always been passionate about education and sharing the Gospel with kids. By The Hand seemed like the perfect combination of all that God has placed on my heart in recent years.”

Elisha Frison comes to By The Hand Club from Huntington University where she received her Bachelor of Science in youth ministry and children’s ministry. While in school, Elisha worked as a Campus Ministry Coordinator and was a youth ministry volunteer – college crew with College Park Church. She previously worked with Center for Students Missoins where she developed a heart for kids in need. She now attends Park Community Church – Forest Glen.

Jasmine Jaurigue

Jasmine Jaurigue

Team Leader: Cabrini-Green

847.529.5841

"I specifically want to work at By The Hand Club because not only does it focus on helping high-risk, inner-city children have an abundant life, which is my passion, but it is also Christ-centered. I want to be able to guide youth with Jesus being so present. Youth are the future, and I have a strong passion for making sure the youth are guided in the direction they are meant to live. I don't want a zip code to determine what kind of quality education or guidance they will receive. I want all children to succeed."

Jasmine Jaurigue comes to By The Hand Club from Habitat for Humanity where she was a neighborhood engagement specialist. She co-designed and taught a homeownership class and designed a cooking curriculum for an after-school program. Prior to this, Jasmine worked for AmeriCorps providing academic, social and emotional support for at-risk ninth-graders. Jasmine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Elmhurst College and attends Cornerstone Chicago church.

Richard Johnston

Richard Johnston

Team Leader: Cabrini-Green

407.733.7021

“For too long, I was a social justice warrior who would see injustice in the world and say “That’s terrible!” and go about my day. By The Hand finally gave me the opportunity to physically serve the minds, bodies and souls of God’s children in need.”

Richard Johnston previously served as a volunteer at By The Hand for two years before working with us. Richard is excited about using this opportunity to be a positive influence in the lives of Chicago youth. Richard comes to us with a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Flagler College and he is a member of Chicago Tabernacle.

Derek Leyendeckers

Derek Leyendeckers

Team Leader: Cabrini-Green

217.257.0400

"By The Hand gives me the opportunity to renew the city and impact the students’ lives through God's love."

Derek Leyendeckers was a volunteer with By The Hand Club-Cabrini while in college. He has experience as an ESL tutor for Literacy Chicago, working to help students improve their ability to read, speak and write English. Derek is an experienced photographer and worked with Greater Chicago Motors editing their website and creating customized content. Derek has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The University of Illinois at Chicago and attends Park Community Church – Logan Square.

Victoria Marshall

Victoria Marshall

Team Leader: Cabrini-Green

708.674.8668

"The mission of By The Hand is important to me because I, too, desire to help students develop a strong Christian foundation."

Victoria Marshall comes to By The Hand Club from New Moms Inc. where she worked with adolescent parents providing a variety of education programs for children up to age three. Prior to this, Victoria worked as a family support specialist, conducting home-based visits to enhance the parent-child relationship. Victoria has also worked for Young Life where she provided prevention and intervention services to urban youth through personal mentoring and counseling. Victoria attended Oral Roberts University where she studied social work and currently attends Nehemiah Church.

Rudy Salt

Rudy Salt

Team Leader: Cabrini-Green

773.988.0479

“Working at By The Hand is an answer to prayer for me to do what God is calling me to do in ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ by being the light in dark places and showing Hope to the hopeless. Chicago for Jesus.”

Rudy Salt came to know Jesus five years ago and wants to share how coming to Christ has changed his life with children and teens. Rudy currently attends Metro Praise International church where he is a deacon along with being the director of “Chicago for Jesus”. He came to By The Hand Club from School of Urban Missions Bible College and Theological Seminary where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Biblical studies.

Darriah Springfield

Darriah Springfield

Team Leader: Cabrini-Green

214.853.1627

“I love working at By The Hand. It is so refreshing to see the hand of God working on the hearts of children. This is not just a job for me; it’s a ministry!”

Darriah Springfield has a passion for young children and young people, currently serving as youth minister at her church, Greater Hope Baptist Ministries. She has served as Sunday school teacher since the age of 13 and has been a licensed preacher since the age of 14. She has led several Bible studies, Sunday school classes and homework clubs through her church. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hillside FEB College in Moore, OK.

Tiffany Thompson

Tiffany Thompson

Team Leader: Cabrini-Green

405.264.6751

“I want to impact students’ lives with the truth of who they are in Christ. I count it all joy, when troubles come, for my faith is growing.”

Tiffany Thompson is a native of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in marriage and family education at the University of Central Oklahoma. She recently moved to Chicago to attend Moody Theological Seminary. She recently joined TrueVoices Chicago as the only woman poet on the team.  Tiffany is a proud member of New Life Covenant Southeast under the leadership of Pastor John Hannah.

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Club For Big Kids  
LaKimbra Arrington

LaKimbra Arrington

Junior High Program Coordinator

312.929.8301

“It is my desire to empower kids and help them understand that God has created them for a purpose. He has a plan for their lives.”

LaKimbra Arrington served as a Youth Ministry Team Leader for several years for the Third Baptist Church of Chicago. She was also a mentor for the church’s “Girls Rites of Passage” program. LaKimbra now attends New Life Covenant Southeast church. Ten years ago, LaKimbra launched her own business, Unique Virtual Design. It specializes in web design, social media strategic planning and print marketing materials for both consumer and business-to-business clients. LaKimbra earned her Bachelor of Science in computer science from Northern Illinois University.

Felix Bunn

Felix Bunn

CBK Coach

773.349.5380

"I joined By The Hand because I believe the children of our communities are so important and need to be brought to Jesus (Matt. 19:14), and there's no greater investment to change a city and a nation than making sure our children are living in the abundant life of Christ (John 10:10)!"

Felix Bunn has a bachelor’s from the University of Illinois in speech communications. At the university, he was part of the Excel Campus Ministry leading Bible study and serving as a worship leader. Felix pursued an advanced diploma of ministry from Hillsong International Leadership College in Sydney, Australia. In this role, he worked to build community between new college students and worked with the kids ministries as a worship leader. He attends the City Church of Chicago and is on the worship team.

Valencia Carter Rucker

Valencia Carter Rucker

CBK Coach: Altgeld-Murray

708.270.4054

"It’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about what you’ve done with those accomplishments. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back."

Valencia Carter has a Bachelors in Marketing Communications from Columbia College and a Doctorate degree in Divinity and is a student at Liberty University where her focused study is Discipleship and church planting.  She also has extensive experience working in ministry development throughout the world.  She has a degree in biblical studies from Living Word School of Ministry and  is the founder of 1Faith Ministries,  a ministry that internationally trains and develops ministry leaders, ministry schools and orphanages globally. She is a member of Living Word Christian Center with Dr. Bill Winston, she is an ordained minister of the gospel.

Brittany Densieski

Brittany Densieski

CBK Coach: Englewood

631.626.6205

"These children are close to the heart of God. It is my passion to walk life with them, to love and serve them with the Father's heart. Isaiah 1:17 ‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’”

Brittany Densieski attended Moody Bible Institute and received her Bachelor of Arts in Urban Ministries. While in college, she volunteered with Sunshine Gospel Ministries and Grip Outreach for Youth. For two years she served as a SLAM coach, an intern and mentored high school girls, walking life with them spiritually, emotionally and academically. She has been serving as the Youth Music Volunteer at Family Focus Christian Center in Englewood the past two years.

Tatiana Scott

Tatiana Scott

CBK Coach: Austin

614.592.0821

Tatiana Scott is originally from New York and attended Ohio State University where she received her Bachelor of Science in Sociology. Before coming to By The Hand Club, Tatiana facilitated a 2-4 week camping and outdoor experience for urban youth with The Fresh Air Fund. She heard about By The Hand Club after meeting CBK students while volunteering at SLAM. Tatiana currently attends Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park.

Sparkle Washington

Sparkle Washington

CBK Coach: Cabrini-Green

312.636.4387

"Transformation happens from the inside out. I love that By The Hand focuses its ministry on each core area of each student: mind, body and soul."

Hailing from the Lone Star State of Texas, Sparkle Washington has a considerable background in education. She served Kerala Prime Learning Center, Dallas, as an English/math tutor and an SAT workshop coach. For ten years plus, she also served the Wichita Falls Independent School District where she was voted student body’s favorite teacher. Sparkle has a bachelor’s in secondary education from Midwestern State University and a master’s in media arts and media communication from Dallas Theological Seminary. She is an active member at City Point Community church serving on the praise and worship and media team.

Emanuel Williams

Emanuel Williams

CBK Coach: Austin

773.870.2129

Emanuel Williams was born on the west side of Chicago and was adopted by his uncle and aunt who were in the Army. They moved to Alabama, Wurzberg, Germany and back to Alabama where he finished high school. After four years in the Navy, Emanuel graduated from Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical Institute with a Bachelor of Science degree in political science. Since moving to Chicago, Emanuel has been mentoring teenagers at a number of youth organizations. Emanuel attends Legacy Christian Fellowship Church.

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Club For College Kids  
Rebecca Bunn Bognet

Rebecca Bunn Bognet

Director of High School and College Programming

773.938.0663

"I'm honored to serve By The Hand youth and families. I believe that serving others and helping them have eternal life is the essence of true religion."

Rebecca Bognet has a passion for people’s spiritual, academic and physical development…especially under-resourced youth and families. She has served as a youth center director, academic program coordinator, community program consultant, middle school teacher, Sunday school teacher, as well as a vocal and visual artist. In 2012, she completed her first full marathon to raise money for a youth organization and later took a missions trip with a local singles ministry, helping to serve over 75 orphans and 600 health fair patrons in Nigeria. Rebecca holds a Master of Education in youth development from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rebecca and her husband have one daughter and attend ECWA Goodnews Church-Chicago.

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Compassion and Crisis  
Bethany Arvan

Bethany Arvan

Director of Compassion and Crisis

312.305.2628

"I’m excited to serve with an organization that enables me to share the truth of who Christ is while showing love to children and families in a tangible way."

Bethany Arvan is committed to our kids’ knowing Christ personally and experiencing His transformative power in their lives. Recognizing that God cares for the whole person, she is a committed nurturer of the whole child—mind, body and soul. Prior to By The Hand Club, Bethany facilitated high school and volunteer groups at Chicago nonprofit and social service organizations on behalf of the Center for Student Missions in Chicago. Bethany has a Bachelor of Arts in urban ministry from Moody Bible Institute. As a student, she worked with urban junior high youth and children with HIV. She also taught English as a second language in Sarajevo, Bosnia. While currently attending Park Community Church Rogers Park, Bethany serves in the Loop Kids ministry.

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Englewood  
Eddie Wilson

Eddie Wilson

Site Director: Englewood

773.733.9837

"I want to work with By The Hand because of its holistic approach working with students. I want to assist the agency in creating a space that is spiritually, physically and emotionally safe."

Eddie Wilson comes to By The Hand Club from the Rebecca K. Crown Youth Center where he was the center director. During his tenure, Eddie significantly increased program funding and exceeded recruitment goals. Prior to this, he served as the director of the Family Economic Center and the Community Business and Technology Center in St. Louis. Eddie was responsible for supervising seven programs and helped several micro enterprises start successful businesses. Eddie has a bachelor’s in English and communication from East-West University and a Master of Business Administration from DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management. Eddie is a member of New Life Christian Fellowship Oak Park.

Rosalyn Overton

Rosalyn Overton

Assistant Site Director: Englewood

847.942.9979

"Just Speak It!"

Rosalyn Overton sees herself as a spiritual vessel in the classroom to expose and introduce her students to their gifting, talents and callings for the Kingdom. Her church home is Follow Me As I Follow Christ Outreach Ministries International where she is involved in preaching, teaching, training, praying and counseling the congregants and leadership. She holds two degrees: a Bachelor of Science in biology from Chicago State University and a Master of Education in Biblical studies from Hope Bible College.

Shanta Evans

Shanta Evans

Team Leader: Englewood

312.305.2630

“I've always loved children and nothing pleases me more than seeing a child thirst for the knowledge of Christ. To be a part of a team that goes into the heart of our city reaching our youth through the word of God is a definite privilege and I've received just as much as I've given.”

Shanta Evans was the first ever staff member of By The Hand Club For Kids! She served many years in Cabrini-Green and returned to join our Englewood team. Shante is an active member at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist church where she leads in the women’s ministry. She is incredibly gifted in working with young people and has strong relational skills as well as deep understanding of the communities By The Hand serves.

Chris Ferrill

Chris Ferrill

Team Leader: Englewood

773.988.5071

“I believe that in order for the world to change for the better, we have to focus on rebuilding relationships, communities and families, and not revisit the misfortunes of our past. It’s like Socrates said ‘The secret of change is to focus your energy not to fighting the old but on building the new.’”

Chris Ferrill has worked with multiple grade levels at the Englewood site and loves more than anything bringing joy, hope and love to the youth of Chicago. Chris is passionate about sports and music, has attended Leo High School and is involved at Canaan Community Church as a youth pastor.

Cornell Ferrill

Cornell Ferrill

Team Leader: Englewood

773.559.7944

"I decided to join By The Hand because it opens the door to help communities where, from the outside, a lot of people only see darkness. But inside these communities are gems—talented and gifted children who will become the leaders of tomorrow."

Cornell Ferrill joined By The Hand Club after working for Daystar School as an after-school care assistant responsible for working with pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade students. Prior to this he worked for Mission of Virtue and Excellence as a music team leader. Cornell also worked for the athletic department of Kentucky State University as a staff reporter. Cornell has a bachelor’s from Kentucky State University where he received several honors including senior of the year. He currently attends Canaan Community Church.

Jordan Gamby

Jordan Gamby

Team Leader: Englewood

312.806.3041

“Raise them up, Send them out and repeat!”

Jordan Gamby enjoys being a voice of encouragement for children and being that voice at By The Hand.  Jordan has been involved in church ministry for the last five years with her last position being an assistant manager at All Nations Worship Assembly. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree at Kennedy-King College.

Ledgure Herron

Ledgure Herron

Team Leader: Englewood

773.584.5124

"Working for By The Hand allows me to continue the mission I have been on – working with at-risk youth."

Ledgure Herron joins us from Alternative Academic Achievement Academy where he was a teacher with responsibility for implementing Individualized Education Programs. Prior to this he worked as a case manager for the Chicago Housing Authority, responsible for leading career and vocational workshops and helping students find summer employment. Ledgure has a bachelor’s degree in theology from Grace Seminary and attends Freedom Temple COGIC.

Ed Johnson

Pastor Ed Johnson

Spiritual Development Specialist: Englewood

312.515.3349

"Seeing their eyes opened to a new world and their emotional and spiritual growth opened my own eyes to what I wanted to do after the Air Force."

Prior to By The Hand Club, Ed Johnson served 20 years as youth pastor at Rock of Our Salvation Church in Chicago and in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years as an aircraft mechanic and production supervisor. During that time he volunteered as a youth director in Tampa, FL and Las Vegas, NV. Seeing himself in the kids at their age—seeing their eyes opened to a new world and seeing their emotional and spiritual growth develop had a dramatic impact on Ed. “I could have been a By The Hand kid, but there was no By The Hand to help me.” Ed received a Master of Arts in urban ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a Bachelor of Arts in general studies from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Joshua Larson

Joshua Larson

Team Leader: Englewood

815.298.6934

"I interned at By The Hand last year while I worked for the Center for Student Missions. I grew to love the kids and I have a huge heart for my kids. I really resonate with the mission and vision of By The Hand. After a year of interning, I wanted to stay with my kids."

Joshua Larson brings experience working with at-risk children while on staff at The Park, a local church summer day camp ministry. While in college he worked as a mentoring coordinator for the Journey to Success Mentoring Program. Joshua also worked with the Center for Student Missions leading short-term mission trips to Chicago. He has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University in psychology and currently attends Missio Dei Wrigleyville church.

Brittany Robinson

Brittany Robinson

Team Leader: Englewood

773.678.0845

“Children deserve the right to a quality education and to have someone by their side helping them reach their full potential.”

Brittany Robinson previously worked as a mentor team leader with City Year Chicago. Brittany received a Bachelor of Science in therapeutic recreation from Calvin College and she currently attends New Life Community Church Oak Lawn where she volunteers in the children’s ministry.

Tabitha Tabb

Tabitha Tabb

Team Leader: Englewood

773.868.7026

“‘Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing’ means to have faith and to trust and know that anything is possible with God. When we believe it, we will soon see it. With By The Hand Club, standing on the belief that change is possible with our children will manifest the change we desire and strive for. Faith is the substance of things hoped.”

Tabitha Tabb believes that her dancing is one of the keys to manifest breakthroughs and overcoming any trial, obstacle or spiritual struggle. Working towards receiving her Associate of Arts degree at East-West University, Tabitha is also involved in choir, praise dance and altar guild at New Life Covenant Progressive Community Church where Pastor John Hannah is the pastor.

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Facilities  
Miguel Rodriguez

Miguel Rodriguez

Director of Facilities

312.523.5048

"Working for By The Hand is an answer to prayer. I have always wanted to work with kids who share the same struggles as I did growing up here in Chicago."

With over 25 years of carpentry, construction, and business experience, Miguel Rodriguez brings to By The Hand Club expertise in building maintenance, remodeling and general contracting. Having owned his own company for 10+ years, Miguel has vast experience with repairing and renovating homes and churches, including the historic Moody Church in Chicago. Currently, Miguel runs the Franson Risberg Memorial Mission home in Logan Square, a housing residence for missionaries, pastors, and Christian students. In addition to his professional experience, Miguel brings to By The Hand Club a first-hand knowledge of the under-resourced neighborhoods that By The Hand Club serves. Having been raised in the inner-city of Chicago himself and having overcome some of the same obstacles, Miguel is grateful to be able to work with the students to motivate them to reach out to God and never give up.

Antoine Scott

Antoine Scott

Facilities Manager

773.454.9136

God's Word tells us 'train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.' I was once a lost child. Now I'm found. As a Christian, it is my duty to share God's love and Word with His children.

Antoine is a Chicago native who was raised in the South Shore community. Antoine’s life was forever changed when he heard the Gospel and became a Christian. Since then, he has been developing his gift for working with his hands and staying active in influencing the lives of others. He received his HVAC-R Certification from Lakeland College and prior to joining By The Hand Club, he served as the Facilities Technician at St. Leonard’s Ministries. He has a passion for tutoring students in math and discipling young people.

Jerry Hooks

Jerry Hooks

Facilities Assistant

773.558.3336

 

Jerry Hooks graduated from Manley Career Academy High School and is joining Miguel and David on the Facilities team. Jerry attends New Mount Pilgrim Church, located in West Garfield Park. We are thrilled about him joining the team.

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Finance  
Marc Kole

Marc Kole

Senior Director of Finance

616.808.6906

"I felt that the Lord was calling me to help. He had opened doors, through making me available, by putting people in my life who were supporters of the organization, by introducing me to the dedicated leaders and wonderful staff of the organization. Plus, the organization's need fit very closely with my skill set and experiences."

Marc Kole started his career at Arthur Andersen in Grand Rapids, MI, eventually transferring to the Andersen office in Chicago. During his career, he has served in top financial and leadership roles for a number of companies most recently serving as chief financial officer at Hope Network, a $125 million Christian, nonprofit, healthcare and human services provider in Grand Rapids. Marc graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s in business administration and is a non-practicing CPA in the state of Michigan. He currently attends Thornapple Evangelical Covenant Church and is a member of their finance committee.

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Fund Development  
Susannah Schwarcz-Yount

Susannah Schwarcz-Yount

Senior Director of Fund Development

312.550.3737

"I love seeing our children grow academically, physically and spiritually. God is doing tremendous things in our children’s lives and I feel truly blessed to be a part of it."

For Susannah Schwarcz-Yount, it’s such a joy hearing our kids share their excitement about their first ABC report card, acceptance of Jesus as their Savior, graduation from high school or start of college. Bringing plenty of enthusiasm and a love for people, Susannah previously served as a director of development for Caris Pregnancy Centers, assistant director of development at Art Institute of Chicago, and currently serves on the Wheaton College Alumni Association Board. Susannah has an Master of Business Administration from North Park University and Bachelor of Arts in communications from Wheaton College. She attends Park Community Church.

Nancy Good

Nancy Good

Director of Fund Development

847.421.1576

"I am grateful to be part of such an effective ministry which transforms lives through the love of Christ and provides children with hope for the future. I love seeing children grow spiritually, develop confidence in their academic abilities and know they are valued."

Nancy Good has a passion for serving children and families. The ministry of By The Hand Club is one that is close to her heart because of the tremendous investment it makes in the lives of so many children. Nancy has been involved in Chicago-area ministries for almost 30 years; including founding Caris Pregnancy Centers, an abstinence education program in Chicago Public Schools, and served as director of development for a child welfare organization. She has a Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois Chicago and a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Illinois University. Nancy currently attends Christ Church Lake Forest.

Julie Heth

Julie Heth

Annual Fund Manager

630.640.3813

"I joined By The Hand, because I wanted to work with a group of passionate, spirit-filled leaders who care about kids and a city well. I want to see young people fall in love with Jesus and grow into all that God has called them to be, and By The Hand offers an opportunity to make a difference in that way."

Julie Heth comes to us from Igniting Hope Ministries and Bethel Church in Redding, California. She brings administrative experience from serving as the director of Marion Inner City Outreach after-school program and as Operations Manager for Management Consulted. She holds a bachelor’s in Christian educational ministries from Taylor University. She attends Greater Chicago Church in Oak Park where she is actively involved with the prayer team.

Allison Daze

Allison Daze

Fund Development Manager

312.636.2839

"I love working for an organization that is committed to nurturing the whole child—mind, body and soul."

Allison Daze first got involved with By The Hand Club as an intern while attending Wheaton College. From that time on, the kids and the mission of By The Hand Club have been close to her heart. Prior to By The Hand Club, Allison worked as a consulting business systems analyst at Abbott Laboratories. Allison has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and a certificate in urban studies from Wheaton College. Allison is a member of Church of the Beloved-Near West.

Megan Harvey

Megan Harvey

Fund Development Associate

907.978.5007

“I love that By The Hand recognizes the image of God in each child and believes in the potential each one has to change his or her community. It is an honor to be a part of what God is doing here.”

Megan Harvey first came to By The Hand Club as a volunteer at the Altgeld-Murray club. She earned a Master of Social Work from Indiana University and has several years of experience in fundraising, program development and project management. She served as founding program manager for Public Allies Indianapolis. She also worked for her church, raising funds to turn an empty bowling alley into a community center. Megan loves seeing God transform people and places, making all things new. Megan is a member and active volunteer at Living Word Church in Lansing.

Ben Waterman

Ben Waterman

Senior Director of Fund Development and Brand Management

630.217.9090

“It is amazing to witness God working in and through the mission at BTH. I am excited to be joining this mission as God continues to help the most unlikely kids discover their extraordinary potential.”

Ben Waterman has a desire to see every child reach his or her full potential in Christ, and this deep conviction to serve children in greatest need has led Ben to By The Hand. Prior to joining By The Hand, Ben served as a regional director of development at Taylor University, director and interim vice president of advancement at Northern Seminary, and an associate director of programming at Sports Ministries, Inc.

He has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Taylor University, a certificate in fundraising management from North Park University and later this year he will be completing a Master’s in organizational leadership from North Park University. Ben attends Glen Ellyn Bible Church where he serves with the caregiving center and small groups.

Suzette Webb

Suzette Webb

Senior Manager of Fund Development

708.261.3303

“I am honored and grateful to be a part of an organization that inspires children to let their little lights shine. By The Hand children beam so brightly with possibility to the extent that even those who only witness their change are impacted.”

Suzette Webb loves to see children thrive and flourish. She knows this is a real possibility when the right seeds – spiritual, academic and physical are planted and nurtured in children early on. “By The Hand has mastered the process of planting seeds early and often in their children.” Suzette comes to By The Hand Club with 20+ years experience in designing effective marketing and sales strategies for high growth firms such as Burger King Corporation and United Airlines. Suzette holds a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Business, Northwestern University, and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Loyola University. She has been a member of Pastor John Hannah’s New Life Covenant (Southeast) since March 2013.

Marilyn Cassells

Marilyn Cassells

Fund Development Coordinator

312.329.0705

"By The Hand is a wonderful opportunity to be an instrument of God in making an eternal difference in the lives of children and their families."

As fund development coordinator for more than 12 years, Marilyn Cassells is a constant presence at the club, wearing many hats in faithful service. Prior to joining By The Hand Club, she worked at her first nonprofit, Overcomers, holding an administrative post for two years. Prior to that, her corporate career included Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Marshall Field’s, National Boulevard Bank and Marmont Corporation. Marilyn began her working career by teaching music after having earned her Master of Arts in music education from Indiana University and Bachelor of Arts in music education from Olivet Nazarene University. She is a member of The Moody Church.

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Human Resources  
Omokhosen

Omokhosen "Osen" Imoukhuede

Director of HR and Volunteer Department

773.934.9698

"I love working with children and helping them recognize that they are unique gifts in the eyes of God. I am also passionate about kids who face challenges which have prevented them from getting adequate educational, emotional and spiritual support. This has led me to volunteer with children and also to work with kids from early childhood up to the age of 18."

Omokhosen “Osen” Imoukhuede served as the director of the Kidzcity Department for CityLight Church where she managed week-to-week programming of the children’s church.  Osen is a member of CityLight Church and works with Kidz Explosion and volunteers at the NICK Center (Nurturing Inner City Kids), a weekly outreach initiative which ministers to underprivileged children in the Kenwood, Woodlawn and Bronzeville neighborhoods, teaching them the Word of God while also providing homework help and tutoring. She completed her master’s in educational leadership with a concentration in higher education from DePaul University. She has a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.

Ulyssia Dennis

Human Resources Manager

773.234.6993

This is the first time in my career in which my profession is so closely aligned with my personal commitment to the Great Commission. I cannot think of a better way to use the education and professional experience that God has given me, than to serve an organization whose mission is to help children experience abundant life.

Ulyssia grew up in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood and understands firsthand how important it is for students to be exposed to the Gospel and quality academic resources as early as possible. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Science in Human Resources and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ulyssia began her career as a Human Resources specialist with Texas Instruments, Inc. in Dallas, TX. She continued expanding her professional experience in a variety of roles in the Dallas area including several years as the Administrative Manager at counseling center and – most recently – as a Project Manager with Optum Health (a UnitedHealth Group company). When she’s not supporting By The Hand staff, Ulyssia can be found leading a small group and serving in women’s ministry at Good News Church in Gage Park.

Timothy Hughes

Timothy Hughes

Volunteer and HR Processing Analyst

708.745.4382

"I have always felt passionate about helping others, and By The Hand helps me to fulfill that dream. I not only consider this a job, but also a ministry."

Timothy Hughes is a graduate of St. Xavier University with a Bachelor of Science in psychology. Tim currently attends Chicago First Church of the Nazarene where he got involved with By The Hand Club as a weekly volunteer. He then joined the volunteer development as a processing analyst, helping individuals who share his desire to help others. He now assists in both Human Resources and the volunteer department. His work enables every site to have the paid and upaid support staff they need to serve kids well.

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Literacy  
Martha Metcalfe

Martha Metcalfe

Senior Reading Specialist

219.798.7643

"I long to see my students embrace their worth as God's image-bearers through their relationship with Him, their creativity and expression, and their academic exploration of God's world."

Martha Metcalfe is passionate about integrating faith and learning while working toward justice through education. She was previously an elementary teacher in public and Christian schools, specializing in fourth-eighth grade humanities. She holds a Master of Education in integrated curriculum and instruction from Covenant College and a Bachelor of Arts in education from Wheaton College. Martha attends Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Gertie Brogsdale

Gertie Brogsdale

Reading Specialist: Englewood

773.419.9586

“I believe reading is thinking. I want to invite kids to discover the power, joy and wonder of reading. Dr. Seuss said it best, “Oh The Places You’ll Go!”

Gertie Brogsdale has extensive education experience working with students in the Waukegan and Chicago public school systems as well as with Loyola University. She has a Master of Arts in education from National Louis University and she currently attends Room at the Cross CME Church where she serves as a steward, Sunday school teacher and on the praise and worship team.

Helen Eng

Helen Eng

Reading Specialist: Cabrini-Green

773.916.6316

“When I was in fourth grade, I learned that God is the one who created me and has a plan of hope and a future for each person. Knowing God has a plan for each of us made me want to believe in Him. I work at By The Hand because I hope every student will also have the opportunity to know Christ's love and hope for each of them.”

Helen Eng received her Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Northwestern University and her Master of Arts in Reading Education from Concordia University. When opportunities arise, Helen volunteers at her church, Chinese Christian Union, its Christian elementary school PTCS, and its community outreach Pui Tak Center in Chinatown.

Robin Tyrrell

Robin Tyrrell

CBK Academic Specialist

224.629.9561

“What a joy it is to help a child gain confidence and success in school! What a privilege it is to show him that he is loved by God, made in His image and offered abundant life through Jesus! I love the holistic approach at By The Hand Club For Kids and the opportunity to be a vessel that God uses to draw His children to Himself.”

Robin Tyrrell comes to By The Hand with over 10 years experience as a resource teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Education in special education from Northern Illinois University and a Master of Arts in special education from Northeastern Illinois University. She currently attends Christ Community Church in St. Charles and serves in the small groups ministry.

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Operations  
Sarah James

Sarah James

Senior Program Operations Manager

312.515.7772

"I love being able to work with a child in every area of his or her life. And I love teaching our kids who God is and how much He cares for them."

Thoroughly committed to the kids, Sarah James is a long-time presence at By The Hand Club. Prior to By The Hand Club, Sarah taught elementary school and ran youth programs. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from the University of Indianapolis and an Master of Arts in urban ministry from Moody Bible Institute. She attends Park Community Church.

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Volunteer Department  
Omokhosen

Omokhosen "Osen" Imoukhuede

Director of HR and Volunteer Department

773.934.9698

"I love working with children and helping them recognize that they are unique gifts in the eyes of God. I am also passionate about kids who face challenges which have prevented them from getting adequate educational, emotional and spiritual support. This has led me to volunteer with children and also to work with kids from early childhood up to the age of 18."

Omokhosen “Osen” Imoukhuede served as the director of the Kidzcity Department for CityLight Church where she managed week-to-week programming of the children’s church.  Osen is a member of CityLight Church and works with Kidz Explosion and volunteers at the NICK Center (Nurturing Inner City Kids), a weekly outreach initiative which ministers to underprivileged children in the Kenwood, Woodlawn and Bronzeville neighborhoods, teaching them the Word of God while also providing homework help and tutoring. She completed her master’s in educational leadership with a concentration in higher education from DePaul University. She has a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.

Tobi Adewodu

Tobi Adewodu

Volunteer South Regional Manager

757.309.6248

“Jesus changes everything. He changes our lives and our surrounding communities. By The Hand Club allows me to see and be a part of what Jesus is doing here in Chicago. He is changing lives and changing communities.”

Tobi Adewodu is passionate about influencing communities for Christ and he is confident that his  experiences as an operations analyst for Goldman Sachs and as a program manager at Twelve2Athlete will be used to connect volunteers with By The Hand.

Tobi has a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Howard University and he is currently looking for a church home in Chicago as he recently moved here from Pennsylvania.

Shawn Azam

Volunteer Coordinator: Austin

630.669.0668

“To serve God by helping His children is the greatest privilege and honor.”

Shawn Azam comes to us from Moody Bible Institute where he is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in ministry leadership. Shawn serves on the leadership team of Wheaton Bible Church.

Larvon Birch

Larvon Birch

Volunteer Coordinator: Cabrini-Green

312.731.0342

"I feel that God has called me to By The Hand Club to be a part of what He is doing in the lives of our families and community."

Larvon Birch joined By The Hand Club in 2007. She has an associate degree in salesmanship and marketing from the City Commercial School of Business in Liberia/West Africa. She attended Moody Bible Institute and Truman College. She has been a member of the St. Luke Church of God In Christ for 21 years, is part of the Evangelistic Outreach Ministry Team and directs the Nursing Homes Ministry.

Dustin Brewer

Dustin Brewer

Sr. Manager of Volunteer Development

312.478.4289

“By The Hand really is the Church outside the walls. Daily, we break bread as a family, we study God’s word, and make Jesus the center of all. Personally, I appreciate the way that By The Hand so closely cares for its kids and raises them up in Christ. It’s something I’m privileged to be a part of.”

Convinced that God was calling Dustin Brewer into music ministry, he left his small town in Ohio to pursue a music degree in Chicago. Soon after finishing at Moody Bible Institute, Dustin found himself working as the Co-Director of Extended Day, the elementary after school program at Latin School of Chicago. During his time there he newly realized his passion for working with youth before moving on to By The Hand, initially working as Team Leader before moving into the Volunteer Department. Dustin holds a B.Mus from Moody Bible Institute. Dustin and his wife are closely connected with community groups at Holy Trinity Church and are proud parents.

Felicia Dennis

Felicia Dennis

Volunteer Coordinator: By The Hand/Moving Everest

773.226.7993

“My joy is to watch children grow in all areas of life - mental, emotional, physical, and most importantly spiritually which is the key to being successful in life”

Felicia Dennis loves interacting with children and one of the main reasons why she loves working at By The Hand. Felicia has an Associates degree in nursing from Chamberlain College and is a member of New Life Southeast church.

Timothy Hughes

Timothy Hughes

Volunteer and HR Processing Analyst

708.745.4382

"I have always felt passionate about helping others, and By The Hand helps me to fulfill that dream. I not only consider this a job, but also a ministry."

Timothy Hughes is a graduate of St. Xavier University with a Bachelor of Science in psychology. Tim currently attends Chicago First Church of the Nazarene where he got involved with By The Hand Club as a weekly volunteer. He then joined the volunteer development as a processing analyst, helping individuals who share his desire to help others. He now assists in both Human Resources and the volunteer department. His work enables every site to have the paid and upaid support staff they need to serve kids well.

Eric Peng

Eric Peng

Volunteer North/West Regional Manager

224.805.3068

"It is a privilege to be a part of By The Hand Club. It is especially a blessing to be able to share, connect, and see the excitement of volunteers as they learn more about By The Hand Club and get connected with our kids. It is here you know and see that the Kingdom of God is for children such as these and we get the mutual blessings of witnessing this Truth and living it."

In addition to working at By The Hand Club, Eric Peng is also the community engagement pastor at Ninth Hour Covenant Church. God developed his heart for the city of Chicago through a 2010 mission trip where he worked with By The Hand Club in Austin. He loves to engage people in bringing God’s Shalom to the city. Eric earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and received his master of divinity at Moody Theological Seminary in 2011.

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