Meet our people

Our human connections make NewRoot who and what we are today. Get to know more about our incredible, dedicated team.

Team

Our team is committed to community, curiosity, dignity and radical love. Learn more about what makes each individual tick.
AJ Johnson-Garrett
Impact Manager

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alum enjoys running and roller skating, trying to convince her three little girls to eat veggies.

Benjamin Young
Impact Coach

Benjamin was born and raised in Chicago and has always had a heart for serving and supporting empowered youth. He now helps educators integrate culturally responsive teaching, social emotional learning theory, and restorative practices to create holistic learning environments for those youth.

Cindy Degand
Impact Coach

DePaul alum and former CPS teacher with a passion for the power of social-emotional learning. Mystery novels, travel and fun with family are my pastimes.

Clem Fox
Impact Manager

Rural transplant with 15 years of experience in education, RJ, & youth work in Chicago. Queer abolitionist with a passion for mutual aid, cats, and messy art projects

Elizabeth Kesner
Chief, People + Operations

Pouring into humans and systems that make social impact organizations run is my jam. Also, I love trees, baby animal videos, and hanging with all of the kiddos in my life.

Jackie Lemon
Chief Executive Officer

Leading with love, authenticity, and humor while relentlessly pursuing measurable impact. Sunshine, yoga, golf, and dining alfresco replenish my soul.

Jas Cornell
Impact Coach

Active learner committed to vulnerability, healing, and joy. Consumer of basketball, books, and baked goods.

Jazmine Valadez
Impact Coach

Chicagoland native. Educated in the fields of social work (undergrad) and public policy (masters). Passionate about improving systems that mold our youth. Inspired by life experiences, guided by others. Mother to one human and one fur baby.

JoAnn Lulla
Evaluation Specialist

University of Illinois grad & CPS parent with an affinity toward data, databases & streamlining processes. Loves hanging with family & friends, checking out new restaurants & volunteering.

Kathryn Rayford
Impact Manager

University of Illinois alum devoted to learning, growing, family and friends. Loves growing food, nature and cats.

Kelly Yacono
Associate Director, People + Operations

UIC alum who thrives on cultivating relationships. Avid supporter of the arts, especially theatre.

Kristin Moore
Chief, Program + Impact

Roots in Englewood, South Side of Chicago, sprouted in Arkansas, home of the Razorbacks. Endless Love for basketball, traveling, my son, Karter, and genuine, down to earth people.

Mason McVeigh
Impact Coordinator

Recent Northwestern alum with a passion for social equity and nonprofit work. Avid reader, cat person, and coffee enthusiast.

Monja Johnson
Impact Coach + Curriculum Designer

A self-described “forever student” who utilizes education as a tool to explore diversity, inclusion, and equity, inside and outside of the classroom. When I’m not facilitating, you can find me at a concert or binge-watching a tv show.

Reco Bates
Impact Coach

Robert Taylor's, Southside Indigenous. NIU Alum. Licenced Professional Counselor by trade. Community and youth holistic wellness centered practitioner at heart. Muay Thai, Basketball, and all things centered around my son!

Reyna Smith
Impact Coach

Passionate licensed School Social Worker and lifelong learner. Nature loving, adventure-seeking, hype-woman.

Ryan Nishimoto
Associate Director, Partnership Development

Northern Illinois alum with a love for education, his nieces, and his son. Photography, jiu-jitsu, and travel enthusiast.

Rosa Zamora
Chief, Partnership Development

Social change champion with a passion for educational equity. Loves nature, concerts, and multi-faceted growth.

Sid Townsend
Technician

BA Journalism, The Ohio State University. Chicago native and expatriate. 10+ years Information Technology.

T McDaniel
Impact Manager

Chicago native, servant leader, with the gift of encouragement. Passionate about whole community RJ implementation and SEL practices, loves content creation and facilitation. Foodie, sun chaser, tea drinker who believes in crystal magic and loves hanging out with 13 year old daughter, Nevaeh.

Our Internal Breakdown

Partnership Development

Nurtures our partnerships with stakeholders of all kinds

Program + Impact

Provides support to and builds impact with our learning partners

People + Operations

Sustains our internal team and infrastructure to help us deliver on our mission

Swim Team

Collaborates on strategy to help us move in alignment toward our shared vision

Board of Directors

With the leadership of our Board of Directors, NewRoot continues to grow while remaining focused on serving youth and communities.

SHARON LINDSTROM
President, Business Partner Representative Protiviti Consulting

JOHN HEIBERGER
Treasurer, Business Partner Representative, CIBC

ANGELA COBB
Vice President, Business Partner Representative First Gen Partners LLC

MARIA TEAL
Secretary, Business Partner Representative Origin

LINDSAY CHIM
Business Partner Representative, Right Management

KAMEELAH SHAHEED-DIALLO
Business Partner Representative, The City Fund

RODNEY THOMAS
Business Partner Representative, Surge Institute

HAROLD MAYS
Director, Illinois Department of the Lottery

NICOLE WILLIAMS
Director of DEI, UChicago’s Lab School