Leadership Team

JACQUELINE BARAJAS, Director, Partnerships & Advocacy

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Jacqueline is responsible for day-to-day administrative tasks and special projects to the Executive Director. She serves as the liaison to the Board of Directors and supports the development and implementation of the organization’s strategic plan. 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 remained in the non-profit sector advocating for stronger educational opportunities for folks of all ages.

GREG BORKOWSKI, Executive Director

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Greg has spent his entire career working in Chicago’s non-profit sector. He began his career teaching kindergarten for two years with the Jewish Council for Youth Services before starting a fundraising role at the Golden Apple Foundation. In addition to the Golden Apple Foundation, he has held executive leadership positions at Ronald McDonald House Charities, Inc., Northwestern University and, most recently, DePaul University before joining Horizons for Youth as the Executive Director in the fall of 2020. While proud of the organizations and missions he has represented, Greg’s greatest professional satisfaction has come in roles that engaged directly with youth. He’s coached boys and girls high school soccer for more than 20 years at St. Benedict, Josephinum Academy, Lake View and Roycemore and has been part of the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy staff since 2011. Greg earned his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame.

MEGHAN COLGAN, Senior Director, Program Services

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Meghan is an integral part of the leadership team, working on key areas of management, mentorship, finance, and operations. She leads the program team in day to day operations, staff training, and development opportunities. She coordinates between the program and development teams for strategic initiatives and program evaluation. 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.

LUPE RUIZ, Director, Finance & HR

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Lupe is responsible for overseeing the financial strategic planning of Horizons for Youth and providing executive-level human resources support. She manages a wide range of complex and confidential administrative duties, directs the day to day operations and staff, and also oversees all internal control financial processes and reporting. 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 and holds a B.A. from Northeastern Illinois University.

Development Team

AMANDA HASSE, Senior Manager, Special Events

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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. Along with managing our fundraising events, Amanda directs our Young Professionals Board and co-manages our high school monthly outings. Prior to joining the team, Amanda worked with Heartland Alliance for seven years as the Special Events Manager. Amanda holds a B.A. in Advertising from North Park University.

ADRIANA MARTINEZ, Manager, Data Strategy & Annual Giving

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As the Development and Data Strategy Manager, Adriana is primarily responsible for the development and management of the Horizons for Youth database systems. She also provides support across the organization with data collection and reporting, manages the gift entry processes, and creates and implements strategies to further grow our fundraising efforts. Adriana holds a B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

IAVORA VLAYTCHEVA, Manager, Corporate & Foundation Relations

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As the Development & Communications 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

TERI FORD, Senior Program Manager, College

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 Teri works closely with our high school seniors as they navigate the college admissions and financial aid processes.  Teri also works with our students upon graduation from high school to help them make a smooth transition into college, navigate the course selection process, and work towards obtaining internships during college and full-time employment upon graduation.  Teri is a first-generation college graduate herself and is passionate about providing support to Horizons for Youth students as they work towards their college degree.  Teri attended Illinois State University where she obtained a Bachelor’s in Accountancy and DePaul University where she earned her Masters in Education.  

MIRIAM GLENN, Senior Program Manager, Elementary

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 Miriam is a Senior 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. 

BRENT HAMLET, Program Manager, Middle School

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 Brent began pursuing a personal mission of having an impact on youth and families at a very young age. An Educator and Community Organizer with a little over 10 years of experience, he has worked with underserved families in a variety of settings; most recently directing and designing after-school enrichment programs. Brent received his BA from Alcorn State University in History and is currently completing a MA in School Counseling from Chicago State University. He proudly serves as a City Policy Scout with Workers Center for Racial Justice.     

JOCELYN HERNANDEZ, Senior Program Manager, High School

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  Jocelyn Hernandez is a Program & Post Secondary 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, 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 for Youth 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, Manager, Volunter Engagement

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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, Senior Program Manager, Family Services

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  As a Senior Program Manager, Vanessa is a youth advocate and family liaison for the Envision group and loves communicating and helping connect resources to her group. Her individual caseload is made up of families from the Southwest and West sides of Chicago. Vanessa attended the University of Illinois and holds a degree in Sociology. She started her career in non-profit management in 2010 and carries a background in public health reform, youth intervention, and prevention services including violence prevention, substance abuse, bullying, and sex education. Her non-profit experience includes community outreach, school-based prevention education, and compliance management.