Go Back

Meet our new Associate Board members

Meet the 11 newest members of Cara Collective’s Associate Board – emerging Chicago professionals eager to volunteer their talents, activate their networks, and bring unique perspectives from the public and private sectors to our mission.

Let’s hear it for our Cara Associate Board

Every year, we look for leaders ready to roll up their sleeves in order to raise both awareness and support for eradicating relational and financial poverty in Chicago, and beyond.

In late fall, we wrapped up our recruitment process and welcomed the newest members of our already dynamic, mission-driven associate board. Our incoming changemakers explained why they wanted to join our community, what they hope to bring to it, and how our mission serves as a source of great joy. Here’s what they had to say:

What or who inspired you to join the Associate Board and why?

“I was inspired to join the Associate Board after first learning about Cara through my organization’s company affiliation. I had the pleasure of working with a colleague who had been through Cara. What impacted me the most was seeing their drive and passion for the work. Being able to see how a person’s job can spark a sense of dignity in one’s self created a sense of teamwork and community throughout our workplace. That experience inspired me to engage with Cara’s Associate Board.”
Brianna Brooks, Program Director of Digital Health and Strategy, UChicago Medicine

I was lucky enough to get involved with Cara through a pro-bono consulting project where we engaged in conversations with staff about the challenges and opportunities to improve the participant experience post-Covid. Through our initial conversations, I could already feel a magnetic and powerful energy from the staff. Then I observed in-person trainings and just felt that energy even more with every participant that walked through the door. The feelings of acceptance, compassion, drive, and togetherness inspired me to continue my relationship with Cara by joining the Associate Board. It felt impossible NOT to stay involved!”
Kelsey Sicard, Associate Consultant, ZS

“My deepest inspiration for joining Cara’s Associate Board is how much the mission resonates with me personally. With gratitude for the many pathways that were opened for me throughout my life, I am thrilled to dedicate some time and energy of my own to enriching those pathways for others. One meeting with Robyn El Kay and attendance at a handful of Cara events last year cemented for me that this is a place filled with people motivated by the same cause.”
Tanner Rice, Director, SSA & Company

“Cara helps people work toward and obtain stable employment and income, while helping employers expand their perception of what it means to have a strong and diverse workforce. I am inspired by the sustainable change for individuals, families, and communities that this work can create over time. I am glad to support an organization whose mission I know will create a lasting impact.”
Ashli Adibe, Associate Director, UChicago Medicine

What is one thing you hope to bring to the Cara community?

I hope to bring my passion for Cara’s mission along with my perspective as one of Cara’s employment partners. Working at Aon, I’ve had the privilege to see the transformative impact of our Apprenticeship Program in partnership with Cara. I hope to amplify Cara’s mission by raising funds and encouraging other businesses to create the employment pathways needed for a more inclusive local economy.”
Ryan McCauley, Associate Director, Aon

I hope to bring a diverse sense of Chicago’s neighborhoods and residents to the Cara community. In my 9-5 role, I’ve learned so much about the importance of having jobs within your community. I’m also a member of another auxiliary board for Chicago Youth Centers, so I look forward to identifying ways I can bring best board practices to this board and vice versa. I believe I have a wealth of knowledge and connections that would benefit my experience on this board, and I aim to make the best connections that will support Cara’s mission.”
Tori Rudd, Lead Community Affairs Specialist, Discover Financial Services

I believe my background in Talent Acquisition and Human Resources has given me the tools to make a positive impact on the participants at Cara. I am beyond excited to have an active part in impacting the participants at Cara by empowering growth and professional development; whether that’s directly working with a participant or raising awareness and funds to this incredible organization. In addition, I’m ready to introduce more organizations and other young professionals to Cara!”
Kaitlyn Baerenstecher, Senior Recruitment Specialist, Clarity Partners

As a marketer, I’m a huge fan of word-of-mouth, and I have been spreading the word of Cara far and wide! I grew up in a state that has incredible amounts of poverty, and an organization like Cara would make such an impact in those communities. I’ve been sharing Cara’s mission with my friends and family back home, and hearing their reactions to the work Cara does is so encouraging. I’m eager to shout Cara’s mission from the rooftops (of LinkedIn, Instagram, happy hours, family get-togethers, and everything in between)!”
Angie DeWitt, Digital Marketing Specialist, The Habitat Company

How does Cara and its mission bring you joy?

“I love that Cara treats dignity as a priority! Regardless of where you live, what you do, or how much you make, you are entitled to respect.”
Angelyn Irvin, Director of Marketing and Development, The Bean Path

“I have lived in Chicago for 11 years now and have so much love for this city, but it isn’t perfect. I am happy that there are wonderful non-profits like Cara that are working to eradicate poverty.”
Drake Blessum, Key Account Director, Latch

Keep an eye out for our upcoming events, where you will meet our new members and the rest of the Cara Associate Board!