Our Team

2024 PHA Staff Momunmental Wall ilhumanitiespha05222024 2903cr Glitter Guts

Illinois Humanities is powered by a dedicated team of Board and staff members whose care and commitment have helped to increase our impact across the state. Get to know the people who make our work possible and browse available opportunities at Illinois Humanities below.

Our Board

For information about our Board, please contact us at development@ilhumanities.org

Jai Winston IL Humanities 2468

Jai L. Winston, Chair

Program Director, St. Paul
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation


Rikeesha Phelon, Vice Chair*

Director of Marketing and Communications
SIU School of Medicine

Larry Sophian IL Humanities 2421

Laurence (Larry) Sophian, Treasurer

Director Ostrow Reisin Berk & Abrams

Bridget Hayman IL Humanities 2503

Bridget Hayman, Secretary

Communications Director
Access Living

Antoinette Burton

Antoinette Burton

Maybelle Leland Swanlund Endowed Chair, History Department
University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana


Teresa L. Córdova

Director, Great Cities Institute and
Professor, Urban Planning and Policy
University of Illinois at Chicago

Myriam Del Angel headshot scaled

Myriam Del Angel

Vice President of Human Resources for North America
Randstad Sourceright

Aaron Diaz Bianco headshot scaled

Aarón Díaz Bianco, JD/CFA

Sonora Investment Partnership

Sylvia Ewing

Sylvia Ewing

Principal Director, Strategic Partnerships and Communications 

Juana Guzman IL Humanities 2657

Juana Guzmán

I Juana Know, Inc.

Hubbard E

Erica S. Hubbard*

Director of Chicago Programs
Obama Foundation


Susan Manning

Professor of English, Theatre, and Performance Studies
Northwestern University

Tawa Mitchell IL Humanities 2578

Tawa Mitchell*

Senior Program Officer
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Paz Julio

Julio Paz

Chief External Affairs Officer
Chicago Commons

Nakea West headshot cropped

Nakea West

Chief Equity and Diversity Officer (CEDO)

Debra Yepa Pappan IL Humanities 2191

Debra Yepa-Pappan*

Director of Exhibitions and Programs
Center for Native Futures

 *Denotes Gubernatorial Appointee


Lifetime Directors

Deborah Epstein
Consultant to
Foundations and Not-for-Profit Organizations

Alton B. Harris
Nixon Peabody

J. Paul Hunter
Professor Emeritus
The University of Chicago

Our Staff

Contact Illinois Humanities staff by emailing [first name].[last name]@ilhumanities.org. Photos by GlitterGuts.

Fairouz Abughazaleh IL Humanities 0561

Fairouz AbuGhazaleh

Director of Statewide Programs

Rebecca Amato IL Humanities 1997

Rebecca Amato

Director of Teaching and Learning

Jane Beachy IL Humanities 2229 2

Jane Beachy

Senior Director of Public Engagement

Maddie Cruz IL Humanities 2318

Madeline Cruz

Administrative Coordinator

Michael Foley IL Humanities 2289

Michael Foley

Senior Manager of Operations and Human Resources

Vicki Garza IL Humanities 1969

Vicki Garza

Senior Director of Finance and Operations

Mark Hallett IL Humanities 1996

Mark Hallett

Director of Grants Programs

Morven Higgins IL Humanities 1924

Morven Higgins

Senior Director of Development and Communications

Joanne Hsu IL Humanities 2113

Joanne Hsu

Grants Programs Manager

Kurt Kindt IL Humanities 2101

Kurt Kindt

Staff Accountant

Martin Krause IL Humanities 2063

Martin Matsuyuki Krause

Manager, Special Initiatives

Margy La Freniere

Margy LaFreniere

Program Manager, Teaching and Learning

Karen Loda IL Humanities 2335

Karen Loda

Development Manager

Gabe Lyon IL Humanities 2520

Gabrielle Lyon

Executive Director

Matt Meacham IL Humanities 2256

Matt Meacham

Program Manager, Statewide Engagement

Tony Pizarro from Linked In

Tony Pizarro

Program Manager: Envisioning Justice

Brooklyn Rue Headshot

Brooklyn Rue

Program Operations Coordinator

Hannah Sugarman headshot

Hannah Sugarman

Foundation and Corporate Relations Coordinator

Zerline Thompson IL Humanities 2033 1

Zerline Thompson

Programs and Grants Coordinator

Bobby White IL Humanities 2359

Robert White

Senior Director of Programs

Tia Williams IL Humanities 1938 2

Tia K. Williams

Digital Communications and Database Manager

Photos by GlitterGuts

Contact Us

General Information


Staff Retreat Karen Zerline Natl Mm Puerto Rican Arts Culture

Staff members share ideas at a retreat in Chicago.

PHA23 Fairouz

Board member Rikeesha Phelon (left) and Director of Statewide Programs Fairouz AbuGhazaleh present an award at the 2023 Public Humanities Awards (Photo by Glitter Guts Photography).

EDI Committee

The purpose of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee is to guide and support Illinois Humanities in its efforts to integrate the ideals of EDI into its daily work, workplace culture, and relationships with our partners statewide. We strive for equitable representation and access to opportunities with regard to our staff, our communities, and the people and organizations we serve. We aim to examine and recognize Illinois Humanities’ role in perpetuating historical trauma, and we commit to dismantling systems of oppression. Contact the EDI Committee at edi@ilhumanities.org.

Committee Members

Jane Beachy
Artistic Director

Madeline Cruz
Administrative Coordinator

Karen Loda
Development Manager

Martin Matsuyuki Krause
Special Projects Manager

Zerline Thompson
Programs and Grants Coordinator

Robert White
Senior Director of Programs