Administrative Team

JACQUELINE BARAJAS, Executive Assistant

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Jacqueline is responsible for administrative tasks and special projects to the CEO. She serves as the liaison to the Board of Directors and supports in strategic planning of the organization. Prior to joining Horizons for Youth, Jacqueline worked at La Casa Student Housing, an initiative of The Resurrection Project, to support the persistence and graduation efforts of first-generation college students. Jacqueline became passionate about education while studying at Marquette University, where she earned her B.A. in Social Welfare and Spanish, becoming the first in her family to obtain a degree. Since Marquette, Jacqueline has worked in non-profit advocating for stronger educational opportunities for folks of all ages.

MEGHAN COLGAN, Chief of Staff

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Meghan leads the team in day to day operations, staff training, and development opportunities. She coordinates between the program and development teams for strategic initiatives, program evaluation, and donor relations. Meghan initially worked at Horizons for Youth from 2006-2010, spent some time working at nonprofits in the California Bay Area, and then returned to the Horizons for Youth team in 2014. Meghan has her BA from the University of Notre Dame and MA from DePaul University.

AUDREY GEORGE, Chief Executive Officer

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Audrey has led Horizons for Youth since 1999, overseeing growth from 42 students to 265, and staff from 2 to 17. Before Horizons for Youth, Audrey held positions at the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the Blessed Sacrament Youth Center in North Lawndale. She has presented at the National Partnership for Educational Access’ annual conference, the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management, the UChicago Booth School of Business, and the University of Notre Dame. Audrey holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an M.A. in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.

LUPE RUIZ, HR & Finance Manager

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As Finance and Operations Manager, Lupe is responsible for processing donations, managing databases, handling accounts payable/receivable, and generating acknowledgment letters. Prior to joining Horizons for Youth, Lupe served for seven years as an Assistant Manager at The Children’s Place, managing payroll and scheduling for her team. Lupe is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep High School and holds a B.A. from Northeastern Illinois University.

Development Team

AMANDA HASSE, Special Events Manager

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Amanda serves as the Special Events Manager for Horizons for Youth and is primarily responsible for the full planning and implementation of On Cloud Nine and No Ordinary Evening, two of the organization’s largest fundraisers. Prior to joining the team, Amanda worked with Heartland Alliance for seven years as the Special Events Manager and six years as the Database/Development Manager at One Hope United. Amanda holds a B.A. in Advertising from North Park University.

ADRIANA MARTINEZ, Development Manager

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Adriana is responsible for managing the Horizons for Youth databases, providing support for fundraising events and monthly enrichment outings, and assisting with the creation of communication pieces. Prior to joining the team, Adriana interned for Horizons for Youth during her summer breaks from college and over the past year, working closely with the program and development teams. She is a Horizons for Youth alumna and is excited to have the opportunity to give back to the Horizons for Youth community. Adriana holds a B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 


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Barry and his family became involved with Horizons for Youth through No Ordinary Evening, the annual benefit honoring his son Declan, who died while working as a videographer for the University of Notre Dame football team. Barry served on the Horizons for Youth board of directors before joining the staff in 2015. His 40-year career in engineering and education includes positions with Bell Laboratories, Northwestern University, Ameritech, and the International Engineering Consortium. Barry earned BS and MS degrees from Marquette University, and a Ph.D. from Princeton University, all in electrical engineering.

IAVORA VLAYTCHEVA, Development Manager

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As Development Manager, Iavora is responsible for managing grants, corporate and foundation relationships, student sponsorships, donor updates, and general development growth. Prior to joining the team, Iavora worked with Common Threads Chicago as a grant writer, as the Office Manager at Ohio Citizen Action, and on a number of progressive political campaigns throughout the Midwest. Iavora holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Missouri in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Administration and Policy from the University of Illinois-Chicago. 

Program Team

MIRIAM GLENN, Program Manager

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 Miriam is a Program Manager at Horizons for Youth, where she manages a group of 60+ students during monthly enrichment outings and supports their families at school meetings. Prior to joining Horizons for Youth, Miriam worked as a paraprofessional at CICS Bucktown, then served as the Special Ed Assistant at Kozminski Elementary School. Miriam has a B.A in Fashion Business from Columbia College Chicago. 


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  Jocelyn Hernandez is a Program Manager with Horizons for Youth, where she works closely with students and families. Previously, Jocelyn volunteered for AmeriCorps as a Scholar Coach with the Schuler Scholar Program at RTC Medical Preparatory School in Chicago. She also has experience in implementing and overseeing social and emotional support programs for high school students. Jocelyn holds a B.A from Denison University in Communications and Spanish. 

CHANITA JONES-HOWARD, Director of Academic Support Services

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  Chanita manages the academic support services for Horizons for Youth elementary and high school students. A National Board Certified Teacher-Exceptional Needs Specialist, she joins Horizons after 12 years as a teacher-leader in Illinois’ traditional public and charter schools. She is passionate about education and improving conditions for children in Chicago from disadvantaged backgrounds. Chanita is a Horizons for Youth alumna and feels that there is no better place for her serve.  She has a B.S. from SIU-Carbondale and a M.Ed. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

EMMA MITCHELL, Volunteer Coordinator

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  Emma is responsible for recruiting and managing individual and group volunteers. Before joining Horizons for Youth, Emma completed an AmeriCorps service year at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, working with their Volunteer Engagement team. Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Emma found a second home in Chicago after moving to the city for college. She earned a B.S. in Hospitality Leadership with a focus in Event Management from DePaul University.

VANESSA SANCHEZ, Program Manager

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  As a Program Manager, Vanessa works with over 40 students and their families and manages the Horizons for Youth counseling program. Her schools include Frances Xavier Warde and the Academy for Global Citizenship, among others. Vanessa has worked in family and youth services and relief for a decade, most recently having spent a number of years at CeaseFire Illinois, helping families and children in crisis. Vanessa holds a Bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana.