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 – a suite of 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 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
  • Daniel Brennan
    President - DWME LLC
  • Kristin Carlson Vogen
    Senior Director of Development, Donor Services - The Chicago Community Trust
  • Mark Carroll
    Principal – Cognitive Capital, LLC
  • Bill Conroy

    Technology Consultant – Conroy Advisors
  • Terry Diamond
    Principal – Method Capital
  • Jeff Galowich
    President – SA Ignite
  • Andy Gloor
    Managing Principal – Sterling Bay
  • Na’Ree Hankins
    Market President – BMO Financial Group
  • Anny Huang
    Partner – Sidley Austin LLP
  • Tim Hunter
    Owner – Hunter Capital, LP
  • Maria Lin
  • James W. Mabie

    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
  • Thomas M. Owens
    (Chairman Emeritus)

    Vice President – 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

    Director – Acorn International, Inc. - Shanghai, China
    Chairman – Oak Lawn Marketing, Inc. - Tokyo, Japan
  • Theresa M. Roche
    President – OAR Management, Inc.
  • Lance Russell
    CEO – Russell Advisory
  • Daniel Ryan

    Managing Director – JLL
  • David J. Ryan
    Managing Principal – Gray Matters Group
  • Rudy Smith
    Vice President-Market Team Lead – J.P. Morgan Private Bank
  • Bill Steinmetz
    Managing Director – BlueStar Ventures
  • Amanda Wilson
    Managing Director – Principal Global Investors, LLC
  • Doyoung Yong
    Partner – Deloitte
  • Ron Zinnerman

    Global Head of Talent Acquisition – Aon
  • Maria Kim

    President & CEO – 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
  • Bob Flannery
    CA Residential
  • Jay Freshwater

    The Washington Post
  • Bela Gandhi
    Smart Dating Academy
  • Julie Garfield
    BMO Harris Bank
  • Mike Grill
    Holland & Knight LLP
  • Elena Grotto
  • Peter Halligan
    I&M Construction
  • Adam Klotch
    ABM Janitorial Services
  • Julie Lopez
    Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
  • Jeff Madden
    Ironbridge Capital Management LP
  • Kevin Moore
    Tenant Advisory Services Transwestern
  • Joe O’Neil
    Chicago Bulls
  • Dani Petrie

    Origami Works Foundation
  • Dan Ringo
    Ringo Services
  • Chris Ryan
    HBR Consulting
  • Russell Shapiro
    Levenfeld Pearlstein
  • Adam Short
    Golub & Company LLC
  • Joel Staffilino
    Briximor Property Group
  • Shawn Strack
  • Paul Strike
    Twin Lake Total Return
  • J. Maurice Thomas
    Thomas Services, Inc.
  • Brett Williams
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.

  • Karima Ali-Ahmad
    Guggenheim Partners
  • Justin Anthony
    Morgan Stanley
  • Veronica Connolly
    HBR Consulting
  • Kyle Cushing
  • Heidi Gilbertson
  • Nichole Graveen

    Eastspring Investments
  • Sarah Jaffe
    The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Ben Liener
    Merrill Lynch
  • Molly McCann Lightner
  • Sean Lightner
    BMO Harris Bank
  • Mary Kate Mineman
    Presence Health
  • Matt Owens
  • Abigail Pairitz
    Northwestern Memorial Hospital
  • Jake Panter
  • Marcus Peasley
    HBR Consulting
  • Ashley Phillips
  • Jason Rahoy
    U.S. Department of Justice
  • Rachael Rosario
    Entertainment Cruises
  • Jackie Scandinaro
    InnerVoice Psychotherapy & Consultation
  • Danny Scott

    Slalom Consulting
  • Cordelia Seidel
    (Vice President)

  • Bryan Verstegen
    American Medical Association
  • Kandice Walker
    McGuireWoods LLP
  • Annie Weinheimer
    Ryan Specialty Group
  • Chelsea Williams
    McDonald's Corporation
  • Aleena Agrawal

    Expansion Strategy Manager

  • 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

  • Christine Allen

    Student Development Coordinator

  • Claire Roehri

    Marketing Associate

  • Clennetta Trotter

    Financial Coach

  • Courtney Newton

    Crew Chief

  • Da'Sean Hillsman

    Senior Individual Development Specialist

  • Dave Atkinson

    Landscape & Snow Crew Leader

  • Dennis Rodriguez

    Field Foreman

  • Elaine Ross

    Manager of Placement Services

  • Ellen Kinczewski

    Donor Relations Manager

  • Emily Billups

    Executive Assistant

  • Enrique Borges

    Field Foreman

  • Erwin Delfin

    Network Engineer

  • Gabriel Pachter

    Individual Giving Manager

  • Helen Adewale

    Admissions Specialist

  • Intisar Omar

    Supportive Services Specialist

  • Ivan Campbell

    Weekend Business District Manager

  • James Moore

    Crew Chief

  • Jeremy Williams

    Crew Chief

  • Jesse Teverbaugh

    Director of Student & Alumni Affairs

  • Jessica Harris

    Director of Advancement

  • Jill Lewandowski

    Individual Development Specialist

  • Johnny Galloway

    Lead Facilities & Maintenance Associate

  • Joshua Hayum

    Crew Chief

  • Joycee Black

    Training Specialist

  • Juan Rodriguez

    Auto Mechanic & Facility Supervisor

  • Julie Chiu

    Quality & Standards Manager

  • Kathie Stokes

    Business Development Director

  • Kelly DeBouver

    Corporate Account Manager

  • Keshawn Idris

    Senior Staff Accountant

  • Kimberly Jones

    Individual Development Specialist

  • LaTanya Simpson

    Administrative Assistant

  • Laura Louden

    Contracts Associate

  • Lauren Birchlove

    Institutional Giving Manager

  • Lawrence Gilmore

    Crew Chief

  • Lisa Kidd

    Business District Maintenance Manager

  • Lisa Peters

    Office Support Manager

  • Lisa Schreck

    Office Manager

  • Liz Jones

    Corporate Account Manager

  • Lynnette Frazier

    Senior Manager of Supportive Services & Site Director

  • Maricela Heredia

    HR Generalist

  • Mariel Corona

    Staffing Account Manager

  • Mario LaPlaca


  • Mark Toriski

    Marketing & Communications Manager

  • Marlin Exton

    Senior Corporate Account Manager

  • 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

    Manager of Operations

  • Sally Gonzalez

    Manager 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

  • Tyrone Hudson

    Cleanslate Administrative Associate

  • Veeta Nowell

    Contracts Manager

  • Vicki Hudson-Stapleton

    Manager of Curriculum

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