Melina Higbee, currently serves as the Strategic Programs Administrator for UCC Church Building & Loan Fund. Melina has a key role in overseeing and implementing strategic programs that focus on the transformation of neighborhood, community and region, working with churches and faith organizations, local community development corporations, philanthropists, investors, government officials, planners, developers, civic groups and neighborhood leaders. She has worked for the United Church of Christ National Setting for 14 years and began her service with Wider Church Ministries where she led the successful launch of WCM’s Haystack Society – an endowment to support mission practices in global settings.
In 2014, Ms. Higbee began working in the department of Office of Philanthropy and Stewardship (OPS) as the Coordinator for Donor Relations. In this position, she helped to coordinate various components of the UCC’s fundraising strategies, launched a centralized acknowledgment process to help the United Church of Christ be more responsive to donors, and has developed thoughtful strategies for donor engagement. Melina Higbee was promoted to Associate Director, Campaigns, Appeals and Special in the Office of OPS in 2016. In this position her responsibilities included overseeing the coordination and implementation of the annual fund. As the associate director, Melina planned the first bi-annual Stepping Into Stewardship Conference and recently coordinated the making of the new OCWM video.
Eugene Grandberry graduated from Illinois State University and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Master’s Degree in both Social work and Psychology. He has a wealth of Clinical experience and is a Qualified Mental Health Professional. He is a life-long IDCFS Senior and Executive Staffer. He began his career in Law Enforcement with 30+ years at the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS). Eugene’s experience with youth and youth services is impeccable. He has served as Chief of Staff for past DCFS Director McEwen. Mr. Grandberry is currently the Statewide Monitor for the Community Base Family Advocacy Centers in the State of Illinois and is also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Miss Keisha Norris was raised in the Gresham/Auburn community and more than ten years of experience facilitating Community Youth Employment Programs, WIOA specific programs and employment services with adults in a variety of areas (homeless, veterans, dislocated worker, etc.).
Miss Norris also has a significant amount of experience working with housing programs with the Chicago Housing Authority throughout the city of Chicago and the Department of Children and family Services which focuses on youth in care. She holds a Master’s degree in Non-Profit Management from Spertus Institiute.
Brenda Duncan is a seasoned Human Resources executive whose career has been focused in healthcare and nonprofit associations. Duncan is currently the director of Human Resources for a hospital in the south suburbs of Chicago where she has oversight for Human Resources, Education and Security and Safety.
Previously, Duncan served as the Vice President of Human Resources and Facilities for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), a global, cause‐based, not‐for‐profit organization focused on better health through information technology (IT). In this role, Duncan oversaw all Human Resources and Facilities functions including talent management, compensation and benefits, employee relations, facilities management and office services. Duncan played a role in HIMSS growth through a variety of acquisitions and the addition of international offices.
Prior to joining HIMSS, Duncan held increasingly responsible Human Resources positions including serving as the director of Administrative Services for the Regional Transportation Authority (the funding arm for mass transit in the Chicagoland area).
Duncan was selected for Crain’s Chicago Business 2020 Notable Leaders in HR. Duncan holds a Masters of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Human Resources management from Keller Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication from Bradley University. She holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from the HRCI Certification Institute and holds a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SPHR‐SCP) designation.
Shiela is pastor of her church, Union Congregational UCC which is in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is a graduate of the CHSSM leadership program (Nollau) and invested in the lives of youth and families to become sustainable. Shiela serves on the program committee for the board for CHSSM, a national membership organization for the UCC. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority incorporated; an international membership service organization.
Matt left the venture capital world to pursue his passion for solving social problems. Matt discovered this passion from volunteering where he was asked to mentor a handful of young people. While trying to connect his mentees to jobs and resources, Matt ultimately met with over 1,000 public and private sector leaders across his favorite city, Chicago. He hit a moment of volunteer and activism fatigue when he realized he couldn't mentor more Chicagoans. That's when he went on to create RiseKit (a SOLVE network).
RiseKit provides all job seekers access to a career path, regardless of the zip code in which they live. RiseKit’s software connects entry to mid-level job candidates to jobs, training programs, and supportive services to rise above all the barriers to employment. In return, we help nonprofits, employers, Government systems and community foundations save time in finding job candidates and measuring outcomes.
Recently, Matt was awarded Crain's Chicago 20 in their 20s. In Matt's free time, you will catch him with his family and friends, or watching/playing soccer.
Jonathan has served many boards and has exemplary board development skills, leading boards of directors across multiple social service agencies to success. He also served as Board Secretary for the Legacy Project; a small philanthropic organization on the North side of Chicago that assists the LGBTQ community. Jonathan has almost 15 years of experience working in executive leadership in social services and a vision to help youth and families of all differences succeed.
Tania White is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief HR Strategist for Canary HR Consulting. Tania is a native of Chicago and received her Bachelor’s degree in Textiles, Apparel and Merchandising with a minor in marketing. She also holds a dual Master’s degree in Human Resource Management and Business Administration. Tania leads a team of skilled consultants providing a vast amount of diverse services including but not limited to: Strategic Development, Employee Relations, Performance Management, Training & Development, Organizational Development, Policy and Procedure Development, Succession Planning, Climate Assessment and Operations Audit, Labor relations, Compensation Analysis as well as ensuring consistency in the administration of HR.
Tania has 20-plus years of experience in various areas of human resources management and as an HR executive leader and consultant, she has concentrated on organizational change management, talent acquisition and retention, employee development, performance management, compliance, policy implementation and corporate culture initiatives. Tania has created fundamental human resource policies, developed training programs in Diversity, Ethics, Leadership and Workforce Management and brought stability and structure to organizations. She has worked in both the private and public sectors inclusive of such industries as retail, brokerage insurance, food service, senior living and non-profit. Additionally, she has experience working with union, non-union and service contract (SCA) employees.
Ms. Ladon Brumfield has a wide range of experience facilitating training programs for youth and adults. She was Executive Director for Girls Rule; a youth empowerment program that helped young girls and boys to embrace and pursue their career dreams. She has fifteen plus years of experience facilitating youth and employment programs through contracts with Chicago Public Schools, the Department of Labor, the Illinois Department of Human Services, and the Mayor's One Summer Chicago Programs.
Miss Brumfield works with more than 100 employers in various industries throughout Chicago and its adjoining suburbs. She is currently pursuing an enhanced degree in Business Management at DePaul University.
Renita White is the Founding and Executive Director for Of Color, Inc. She was born and raised in the Gresham/Auburn community on the south-side of Chicago. Her family owned businesses in the Englewood community, so she has a vested interest in its residents and their neighboring resident’s success. Ms. White has 35+ years of experience as an administrator of programs working in large social service organizations throughout Chicago.
She brings more than 35 years of social services experience and holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. Ms. White also holds a professional license in social work from the State of Illinois. She has developed, implemented, and provided oversight for contracts that delivered child welfare, older adult, youth development, counseling, community workforce development and housing programs ranging from $550k – 3.8 million dollars annually. Miss White is also a certified national peer reviewer through the Council on Accreditation and have served on the Boards of national and local organizations.