setting the direction for our work.
Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy’s leadership team participates in organizational and committee activities as leaders, decision-makers, strategic thinkers, and collaborators. Leadership team members volunteer their time and make a commitment to actively participating in meetings and events that advance the mission of the organization.
Born and raised in Chicago, Jessyca Dudley (she/her) has seen first-hand how philanthropy often excludes communities and their perspectives. She’s been on both sides of the system, seeking funding and making grants, and has seen how opaque practices regulate access to funding for BIPOC communities. Jessyca serves as the Director of Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy and is also the Founder and CEO of Bold Ventures, a strategic advisory firm that supports the philanthropic sector and social impact leaders advance racial equity. Jessyca began her career in philanthropy as the Gun Violence Prevention program officer for the Joyce Foundation, and has also served as a Director at Arabella Advisors. Jessyca holds an MPH in Maternal and Child Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a BA in Women’s Studies from Skidmore College.
Iona Calhoun-Battistee (she/her) is the Director for Opportunity Youth Strategies for Thrive Chicago and works with key partners to support Thrive’s opportunity youth (OY) strategies aimed at reducing the number of Chicago youth not in school or working. Iona serves as the primary point of contact and project manager for the wide range of stakeholders engaged in these workstreams. Stakeholders include: public institutions, community based organizations, funders, and employers. As a skilled project manager, Iona is flexible in supporting the needs of Thrive’s OY workstreams, ensuring the timely and effective completion of deliverables associated with them. This position will also serve as the primary coordinator of Thrive’s 100K initiative activities and liaison to 100K employers in Chicago.
Caronina Grimble (she/her) directs the Office of Strategy, Equity, and Transformation at the Illinois Department of Human Services, which manages the department-wide strategic planning process as well as the equity and racial justice planning and implementation. This is her second stint in state government, previously serving as Acting Associate Director of the Division of Family and Community Services at the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), managing a group of human services programs that provided homeless services, emergency food services, immigrant and refugee services, domestic violence services, and managed a federal block grant that funded an array of community services programs. Before rejoining the Illinois Department of Human Services, Caronina served as a Program Officer at Woods Fund Chicago from 2013 to 2020. As Program Officer, she shared responsibility for reviewing grant proposals, making informed funding recommendations to Woods Fund’s Board of Directors, monitoring relationships with organizations that Woods supported.
Caroline McCoy (she/her) is the Vice President of Program at Woods Fund Chicago where she supports operations and grantmaking. Her professional interests and passion include supporting community-driven strategies that influence equitable services, systems, and practices, and advancing racial equity in philanthropy. Prior to joining the Woods Fund, Caroline was a Program Officer at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, where she led the Foundation’s place-based initiative in Englewood and its health and wellness funding strategy. She also managed relationships with corporate partners to help them achieve impact in their local communities.
Previously, Caroline was an Associate Director at Arabella Advisors where she supported family and individual clients to build and implement grantmaking strategies across several issues. She also worked at the Ounce of Prevention Fund, where she supported advocacy efforts to improve services for young children and families in Illinois. She holds a BA in political science with a minor in African American studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a MS in public service management from DePaul University.
Tawakalitu J. Mitchell (she/her) is a Senior Program Officer at the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation where she has responsibility for grantmaking in the Chicago Commitment program. Prior to joining MacArthur, Tawa spent thirteen years in a variety of education policy and program roles in city government, including the Offices of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Mayor Richard M. Daley, the City Colleges of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools. Tawa holds an M.A. from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and a B.A. from Spelman College.
Since 2006, Ayom Siengo (he/him) has held various leadership roles in community and workforce development. Currently the Vice President of Community and Strategic Partnerships at Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, he has served on various executive boards. Ayom is most passionate about contributing to the sustainability and creation of accessible, high-quality employment pathways to ensure economic opportunity and advancement for all households. Ayom holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Illinois State University and a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.