OUR TEAM

Meet the motivators behind the motivated

Executive Team

Our Executive Team is a motley crew of entrepreneurs, educators, fundraisers, and career flippers. Together, they lead Cara’s enterprise of boot camps and businesses, they evangelize for the mission locally and nationally, and, even after a combined 50 years of Cara experience, they fervently believe they are just getting started.

Maria Kim President & CEO

After 13 years in the insurance industry, Maria Kim joined Cara – bootcamps and businesses that uplift people and communities through the power of employment. Cara produces hundreds of jobs each year, at retention rates more than 20 points higher than national norms, and with more than 80% of employed participants pivoting from homelessness to permanent housing in which their families can thrive. Maria serves on the boards of EPIC Academy, a charter high school in South Chicago and Rebuilding Exchange (a social enterprise in the circular economy). She is a member of the 2020 Presidential Leadership Scholars and was a fellow for Leadership Greater Chicago’s Class of 2008, a 2012 American Marshall Memorial Fellow, a 2013 TEDxMidwest Emerging Leader, and a 2018 Bank of America Vital Voices Global Ambassador. Maria holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Maria’s side hustle: “Personal shopper, getting folks fashion forward-ish on a budget”.

Joel Pomerenk Chief Financial Officer

Joel brings more than two decades of senior finance leadership across Fortune 100, nonprofit, and education sectors. He joined Cara from Oracle Corporation, where he most recently served as Finance Vice President and Compensation Global Process Owner, and, prior to that, Senior Finance Director, Global Business Units. His span of responsibility included strategic budgeting, financial modeling, planning and reporting, as well as large-scale systems implementations. A California native, Joel earned his BA in Economics from Occidental College in Los Angeles and his MBA from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Prior to his latest decade-long stint at Oracle, Joel spent four years as CFO of Adler University. Joel recently served on the board of Polaris Charter Academy - an innovative elementary school serving the West Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. Joel’s first gig: “A bicycle paper route for my hometown newspaper taught me early lessons in the value of punctual and accurate deliverables.”

Bob White Chief Program Officer

A graduate of the University of Michigan, Bob served as the owner-operator of an automotive aftermarket business in Michigan prior to joining Cara in 2007. Bob began in a direct-service role at Cara, coaching students through the challenges of job retention, and was quickly promoted to manager of the department. He draws upon his direct-service experience in his current role as Chief Program Officer with responsibilities for overseeing the effective and sustainable application of our mission through integrated program services, as well as optimizing the program’s interface with our social enterprises. Under Bob’s leadership, Cara has expanded its programming across two campuses to meet the needs of a higher volume and a more diverse community of participants while realizing record levels of employment retention, regularly exceeding the national average by 20% or more. Bob proudly serves on the Chicago Committee on Urban Opportunity, an oversight and review board that advises the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services. Bob’s first gig: “My first jobs were detailing cars during the day and flipping burgers at night.”

Joe Mutuc Chief Business Development Officer

After six years of for-profit experience in supplemental education and sales, Joe began his nonprofit career in 2006 as a Corporate Account Manager at Cara, responsible for securing and building relationships with major employment partners such as ABM, Northwestern Medicine, and the CTA. He has served in various capacities and roles including leading Cara’s Admissions/Recruitment, Training, and Career Coaching divisions before settling into his role of Chief Business Development Officer. He currently focuses on the growth of strategic employment partnerships and Cara Connects, Cara’s alternative staffing firm. Under Joe’s leadership, Cara expanded its portals of entry allowing for quicker routes to services and employment, won a prestigious Chicago Innovation Award, and gained acceptance into the REDF National Portfolio of high-performing social enterprises. Joe earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan. Joe’s first gig: “I filed medical records for my mom’s pediatric patients at the old Resurrection Medical Center's Professional Building.”

Shikha Jain Chief Philanthropy Officer

Hailing from the Midwest, Shikha spent 10-plus years on both coasts before returning to Chicago and joining the team at Cara in 2014. She focuses on investor acquisition and cultivation and is charged with curating the Cara brand and donor experience. She previously had executive and strategy roles at Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, GLAAD, and Cara peer Chrysalis and holds degrees from University of Dayton and University of Illinois at Chicago. Shikha serves as a Founding Board Member for The Bernie Project, a binational organization that positively impacts the lives of vulnerable people in Uganda through holistic initiatives. She is excited to work with our key partners to ensure Cara donors are getting the best bang for their buck. Shikha’s first gig: “Folding clothes perfectly and selling the GAP brand in my hometown’s mall.”

Sara Wasserteil Managing Director of Expansion

Sara came to Cara after spending 12 years weaving her way through the social sector – first, managing and implementing development programs in Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and then working as a social impact strategy and measurement consultant for organizations like Google.org, YouTube, TD Bank, the City of Chicago, and the Government of Canada. At Cara, she leads our national expansion efforts, where she sets strategy, cultivates strategic partnerships, and ensures model fidelity and impact as we adapt to new contexts. Sara sits on the Executive Board of Spark and is actively involved at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, where she received her MPP. Sara’s first gig: “Selling cinnamon rolls and bagels at my parents’ bakery in Portland."

Brady Gott Managing Director

Brady currently oversees Cleanslate Chicago, a social enterprise that creates more than 300 jobs annually for Chicagoans affected by homelessness and poverty. For ten years, Brady has overseen business operations, personnel management, budgeting, quality control, and business expansion consistent with the strategic plan of Cara, Cleanslate’s parent nonprofit. Brady earned a BA in Urban Ministry from Moody Bible Institute and a MBA at the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business. Brady was a 2016 Fellow at the University of Chicago's Civic Leadership Academy. Brady’s first gig: “My first job was bagging and stacking ice in a warehouse that was 27 degrees year round."

Board of Directors

Our board’s tireless commitment and passion for our mission keeps Cara fiscally healthy and thriving. With their stewardship, we are equipped to create and evolve programs that meet the urgent and challenging needs of our candidates and their communities.

  • John Bennecke
    Managing Director
    True Partners Consulting LLC
  • Daniel Brennan (Alumnus)
    President
    DWME LLC
  • Kristin Carlson Vogen
    Senior Director of Development, Donor Services
    The Chicago Community Trust
  • Mark Carroll
    Principal
    Cognitive Capital, LLC
  • Bill Conroy (Chairman)
    Technology Consultant
    Conroy Advisors
  • Terry Diamond
    Principal
    Method Capital
  • Jeff Galowich
    President
    BlueHorizon Software
  • Andy Gloor
    Managing Principal
    Sterling Bay
  • Na’Ree Hankins (Alumnus)
    Market President
    BMO Financial Group
  • Anny Huang
    Partner
    Sidley Austin LLP
  • Tim Hunter
    Owner
    Hunter Capital, LP
 
  • Maria Lin
  • James W. Mabie (Alumnus)
    Principal
    Chicago Capital
  • Katie Owens Mulcahy
    Board Member
    The Owens Foundation
  • Andrea O'Leary
    HR Director, Global Health & Benefits
    Aon Corporation
  • Sharon Owens
    Board Member
    The Owens Foundation
  • Tom Owens, Jr.
    Board Member
    The Owens Foundation
  • J. Todd Phillips
    CEO
    Parson Partners
  • Patricia Provenzano
    Senior Vice President, Private Client Manager
    Bank of America Private Bank
  • Robert Roche (Alumnus)
    Director
    Acorn International, Inc. - Shanghai, China
    Chairman
    Oak Lawn Marketing, Inc. - Tokyo, Japan
  • Theresa M. Roche
    President
    OAR Management, Inc.
  • Heather Ronnow
    Chief Human Resources Officer
    Kronos Foods
 
  • Lance Russell
    Executive Director
    Spark Chicago
  • Daniel Ryan (Alumnus)
    Managing Director
    JLL
  • David J. Ryan (Alumnus)
    Managing Principal
    Gray Matters Group
  • Rudy Smith
    Vice President-Market Team Lead
    J.P. Morgan Private Bank
  • Bill Steinmetz (Alumnus)
    Managing Director
    BlueStar Ventures
  • John Walden
    President & CEO
    Inversion, Inc. LLC
  • Amanda Wilson (Alumnus)
    Managing Director
    Principal Global Investors, LLC
  • Doyoung Yong
    Partner
    Deloitte
  • Ron Zinnerman (Alumnus)
    Global Head of Talent Acquisition
    Aon
  • Maria Kim (Ex-Officio)
    President & CEO
    Cara
  • Thomas M. Owens †
    Founder
    Cara
Executive Council

Our Executive Council is a team of established executives across industry – talented leaders who engage in strategy, marketing, alumni engagement, and signature fund- and friend-raising events for Cara.

  • Shyrlden Carmichael
    The Habitat Company
  • Shaun Considine
    Command Performance Coaching
  • Matt Crowl
    Riley, Safer, Holmes & Cancila
  • Jennifer Dunmore
    Aon
  • Bob Flannery
    CA Residential
  • Jay Freshwater (Co-Chair)
    Sales & Technology Consultant
  • Bela Gandhi
    Smart Dating Academy
  • Julie Garfield
    BMO Harris Bank
  • Mike Grill
    Holland & Knight LLP
  • Elena Grotto
    Edelman
 
  • Peter Halligan
    I&M Construction
  • Adam Klotch
    ABM Janitorial Services
  • Julie Lopez
    Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
  • Jeff Madden
    Ironbridge Capital Management LP
  • Brian McCormick
    Hyatt
  • Kevin Moore
    Tenant Advisory Services Transwestern
  • Arneser Norman
    SodexoMAGIC
  • Joe O’Neil
    Chicago Bulls
  • Dani Petrie (Co-Chair)
    Origami Works Foundation
 
  • Dan Ringo
    Ringo Services
  • Cetoya Ross
    Altair Advisers LLC
  • Chris Ryan
    HBR Consulting
  • Russell Shapiro
    Levenfeld Pearlstein
  • Adam Short
    Golub & Company LLC
  • Joel Staffilino
    Brixmor Property Group
  • Shawn Strack
  • Paul Strike
    Twin Lake Total Return
  • J. Maurice Thomas
    Thomas Services, Inc.
  • John Llewellyn Thompson
    Consultant
  • Brett Williams
    PwC
Associate Board

Our Associate Board boasts emerging leaders across industry who are ready, willing, and able to activate their network to help spread the word. Their focus includes program design and engagement of Cara’s Ambassadors (a group of mission enthusiasts) and signature fund- and friend-raising events like the Cara Summer Social and Motivations After Dark.

  • Justin Anthony
    Morgan Stanley
  • Veronica Connolly
    HBR Consulting
  • Nichole Graveen (Vice President)
    Eastspring Investments
  • Ashley Hartson
    Destini - SPINS Ventures
  • Brendan Hogan
    Plante Moran
  • Charlie Hoover
    Citi Private Bank
  • Joseph Horrigan
    CBRE
  • Sarah Jaffe
    The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
 
  • Sarita Landrum
    Compass Group
  • Ben Liener
    Merrill Lynch
  • Andrea Marinho
    Circuit Court of Cook County
  • Mary Kate Mineman
    Presence Health
  • Matt Owens
    JLL
  • Abigail Pairitz
    Northwestern Memorial Hospital
  • Jake Panter
    Kimley-Horn
  • Marcus Peasley (Secretary)
    HBR Consulting
 
  • Jason Rahoy
    U.S. Department of Justice
  • Liz Ribordy
    LinkedIn
  • Rachael Rosario
    Entertainment Cruises
  • Jackie Scandinaro (Mission)
    InnerVoice Psychotherapy & Consultation
  • Cordelia Seidel (President)
    Medix
  • Kandice Walker
    McGuireWoods LLP
  • Annie Weinheimer
    Ryan Specialty Group
  • Chelsea Williams
    McDonald's Corporation
  • Fahad Zaidi
    Quoroso
Staff
  • Aaron Jones

    Corporate Account Manager

  • Aleena Agrawal

    Director of Expansion Strategy

  • Alison Benes

    Data & Systems Manager

  • Amy Pojman

    Events Manager

  • Andrea Cote

    Director of Data & Technology

  • Arieh Venick

    Talent Mobility Specialist

  • August Mangun

    Account Manager

  • Brett Kube

    Admissions Specialist

  • Carmen Taylor

    Development Associate

  • Christine Allen

    Student Development Coordinator

  • Claire Roehri

    Marketing Associate

  • Clennetta Trotter

    Financial Coach

  • Courtney Newton

    Field Foreman

  • Da'Sean Hillsman

    Senior Individual Development Specialist

  • Dave Atkinson

    Landscape & Snow Crew Leader

  • Dennis Rodriguez

    Field Foreman

  • Ebony Carter

    Crew Chief

  • Elaine Ross

    Manager of Placement Services

  • Emily Billups

    Executive Assistant

  • Enrique Borges

    Field Foreman

  • Erin Rubenstein

    Individual Development Specialist

  • Erwin Delfin

    Network Engineer

  • Gabriel Pachter

    Individual Giving Manager

  • Intisar Omar

    Admissions Specialist

  • Ivan Campbell

    Weekend Business District Manager

  • James Lange

    Crew Chief

  • James Moore

    Crew Chief

  • Jeremy Williams

    Crew Chief

  • Jerlinda Nelson

    Supportive Services Specialist

  • Jesse Teverbaugh

    Director of Student & Alumni Affairs

  • Jessica Harris

    Director of Advancement

  • Jill Lewandowski

    Individual Development Specialist

  • Johnny Galloway

    Lead Facilities & Maintenance Associate

  • Jonathan Eisen

    Individual Engagement Manager

  • Joshua Hayum

    Crew Chief

  • Joycee Black

    Training Specialist

  • Juan Rodriguez

    Auto Mechanic & Facility Supervisor

  • Julie Chiu

    Quality & Standards Manager

  • Justin Jones

    HR Coordinator

  • Kathie Stokes

    Business Development Director

  • Kelly DeBouver

    Corporate Account Manager

  • Keshawn Idris

    Senior Staff Accountant

  • Kimberly Jones

    Individual Development Specialist

  • Kristin Boelkens

    Director of HR & Operations

  • LaTanya Simpson

    Administrative Assistant

  • Laura Louden

    Contracts Associate

  • Lauren Birchlove

    Institutional Giving Manager

  • Lauren Rogers

    Contracts Manager

  • Lauren Ward-Martin

    Training Specialist

  • Lawrence Gilmore

    Crew Chief

  • Lisa Kidd

    Business District Maintenance Manager

  • Lisa Peters

    Office Support Manager

  • Lisa Schreck

    Office Manager

  • Liz Jones

    Senior Corporate Account Manager

  • Lynnette Frazier

    Senior Manager of Supportive Services & Site Director

  • Maricela Heredia

    HR Generalist

  • Mariel Corona

    Staffing Site Manager

  • Mario LaPlaca

    Controller

  • Mark Toriski

    Director of Marketing & Communications

  • Mary Belville

    Staffing Account Manager

  • Maryam Arbaboon

    Individual Development Specialist

  • Michael Bellino

    Field Foreman

  • Michael Hurst

    Crew Chief

  • Nikiya Little

    Staff Accountant

  • Nora Vail

    Manager of Coaching & Retention

  • Pat Murray

    Business Development Director

  • Patricia Banks

    Supportive Services Resource Coordinator

  • Rita Balzotti

    Career Advancement & Alumni Manager

  • Ron Holakovsky

    Operations Director

  • Sally Gonzalez

    Director of Business Administration

  • Sam Lovett

    Talent Acquisition Specialist

  • Sara Rahim

    Integration Manager

  • Sasha Ongtengco

    Director of Cara Connects

  • Steven Thomas

    Crew Chief

  • Tekorah Martin

    Manager of Recruitment & Admissions

  • Tommy Wells

    Crew Chief

  • Trici Coleman

    Training Specialist

  • Vicki Hudson-Stapleton

    Manager of Curriculum

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