Meet our people

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

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.

Evan R. Dentley
Associate Director Program + Impact

Born on the South Side of Chicago, with a passion for creating systems and supports for direct service youth workers. Loves basketball and creating experiences with great people.

Jas Cornell
Impact Coach

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

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.

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.

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.

Rosa Zamora
Chief, Partnership Development

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

Ryan Nishimoto
Associate Director, Impact Growth

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

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.

President, Business Partner Representative Protiviti Consulting

Vice President, Business Partner Representative First Gen Partners LLC

Treasurer, Business Partner Representative, CIBC

Secretary, Business Partner Representative Origin

Business Partner Representative, Right Management

Business Partner Representative, The City Fund

Business Partner Representative, Surge Institute