Rebeccah Sanders is the first executive director of the Chicago Cultural Alliance (CCA), a growing consortium of community-based ethnic museums, cultural centers and historical societies partnered with many of Chicago’s larger institutions.
The CCA works to promote social change and public understanding of cultural diversity through the first voice perspectives of Chicago's ethnic communities. Under her leadership, the CCA has grown from a fledgling collaborative effort to a vibrant organization. In 2011 the CCA was named a semi-finalist for the national Lodestar Collaboration Prize, which recognizes unique models of collaboration that “impact and increase efficiency of nonprofit organizations."
Rebeccah was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Israel following her graduation from Notre Dame and in 2012 The Chicago Community Trust awarded her an Emerging Leaders Fellowship. She currently serves on the Education Committee at the Loyola University Museum of Art and the Advisory Council for the City of Chicago's Office of New Americans. Her career has focused on human rights, community and identity issues, and civic engagement.
Troy Peters joined the Alliance in June of 2012. Prior to this, Troy worked as the Community Outreach Program Manager for the Global Philanthropy Partnership, a non-profit organization supporting the City of Chicago’s sustainability and climate change mitigation efforts.In this capacity he partnered with a wide range of Chicago organizations to develop and implement innovative programs that engaged residents in sustainable community-based environmental action.
Previous to this, Troy worked for The Field Museum as a primary ethnographer for their research on behalf of the City on neighborhood-level environmental awareness. He has also worked in multiple cities as a field organizer for President Obama’s 2008 campaign and as a policy researcher for the Campaign for America’s Future, a DC-based think tank. Additionally, Troy served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the West African nation of Niger. There he conducted rural education on sustainable agricultural techniques and HIV/AIDS awareness.
Troy holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan and an MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago. He has conducted independent field work in Ecuador and the Chicago neighborhood of Humboldt Park on the use of traditional music and dance in community organizing.
Yao Koudjonou joined the Alliance in December 2010. Prior to this, Yao worked as a Communications and Project Coordination Intern at United African Organization, a nonprofit located in Chicago, Illinois that is dedicated to the empowerment of African immigrants and refugees in Illinois.
Previous to this, Yao lived in France for several years. Yao worked at Culture Communication Coopération et Développement (3C&D), a communications firm in Paris, France that specializes in project conception and management. Yao’s work focused on cultural identity problems faced by French-born children of immigrants. Prior to his work with 3C&D, Yao was at Leo Lagrange, a nonprofit that promotes civic education and sustainable development. At Leo Lagrange Yao managed an international development project implemented in Niger. Before moving to France, Yao taught French and English for several years in Togo, West Africa.
Born in Togo, Yao attended the Université du Benin in Lomé, Togo where he graduated with a B. A. in Linguistics and Licence in English. Yao later got a B.A. in Communications from the Ecole Française des Attachés de Presse et des Métiers de la Communication, which is located in Levallois-Perret France, and a Master’s Degree in International Cooperation and Solidarity from the Université d’Evry Val d’Essonne in Evry, France.
Izabela Grobelna graduated in May 2011 from North Park University with a degree in Sociology and a great passion for Chicago's local communities. The relationships I built in various immigrant communities fundamentally changed the way I think of myself. When I was 10 years old, I emigrated from Poland with my family and because of my heritage became a member of the Polish-American community. Yet, I no longer just think of my identity in terms of my heritage, but I consider the city I grew up in as a great part of my identity--I am a Chicagoan. I became a Uniting America fellow with the Chicago Cultural Alliance to share my passion for Chicago and its diverse communities, as well as the importance of community dialogue to reflect on our shared identity to this city and its neighborhoods--not only as immigrants, but also as Americans, hyphenated or future Americans--but in the context of our personal stories. When I am not working in communities, I submerge myself in art by photographing, drawing, or art museum visits.
Interns- Spring 2012
Ellen Brooks graduated from Fordham University in May 2008 with dual B.A. degrees in History and Communications. A native of the Chicago suburbs, she is happy to be back in her hometown and thrilled at the opportunity to work with the CCA as the Community Engagement Intern. Her desire to travel has led her all over the world, her most memorable destinations being India and The Czech Republic, where she spent a semester studying abroad. This globe-trotting has cultivated a passion for culture and diversity. Today she is primarily interested in story-telling and oral histories and plans to continue her education in Public History. With a background working for non-profit organizations and cultural institutes Ellen looks forward to contributing to CCA's mission to effect social change and public understanding of cultural diversity.
Interns- Fall 2011 Olivia DeSimio, is a Kansas City, Missouri native who currently attends North Park University (an Alliance Partner Institution) in Chicago, Illinois where she is earning one B.A. in Art and another in Politics and Government. In addition to serving as an Alliance intern, Olivia also works as a Resident Assistant and as an Advocacy Program Coordinator with University Ministries at North Park University. She is looking to continue pursuing her love of law and working with people and cultures with hopes of attending law school for international human rights law. Her love of traveling has led her to Ndola, Zambia and New Dehli, India working with grassroot organizations, and it has continued to fuel her passions in refugee and immigration issues. Olivia believes that the Alliance is the perfect place to engage in dialogue about our shared and differing experiences within Chicago's communities. Karen Kelly, is a senior at North Park University earning a BA in Global Studies and French with concentrations in French and Francophone Studies and Middle Eastern Studies; she spent a semester studying French at Université Paul-Valéry in Montpellier, France. Karen grew up in Mexico City where she attended Greengates School, a British International School. Karen has volunteered with the Friends of Refugees program at North Park University and at Casa Central in Chicago. She now serves as the Secretary of Public Relations for the North Park Middle Eastern Student Association. Karen is eager to continue to learn from and about other cultures and use her abilities to be a positive contribution to the Chicago Cultural Alliance and to the city as a whole. Christina Ruscitti, graduated in May from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a major in Anthropology and minors in Art History and Italian. She enjoys learning about others cultures in the classroom as well as through art, music, movies, and food. Eager to immerse herself in a different environment, Christina studied in Verona, Italy for a semester learning the language and culture first-hand. She is active in the Italian-American community through her participation at the Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia. She is excited to work with the Chicago Cultural Alliance and its members to promote cultural awareness through educational programs and resources.
Interns- Summer 2010
Kara Gonnerman, grew up in Saint Louis and now attends College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she is earning a BA in History. Past summers have been spent as a YMCA resident camp counselor in Indiana, and she now looks to combine working with the public and her love for history. She wants to learn more about non-profit organizations, how to coordinate events, and how to write grants at the Chicago Cultural Alliance. Kara is excited for this new experience and ready to work with an organization that is committed to preserving the history and culture of many ethnic groups.
Interns - Winter 2010
Lyndsi Barboza, originally from a rural town in Wisconsin, moved to Chicago in 2008. She graduated in December 2007 with a Bachelors degree in English, specializing in Creative Writing, from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Currently, she is working toward a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management at Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. The decision to persue a higher education in nonprofit developed while volunteering with 826CHI, where she doubled as a Boring Store Secret Agent and ekphrastic poetry workshop instructor. Half-way through Spertus' program and ready for hands-on experience, Lyndsi is excited to be working with an organization dedicated to nurturing Chicago's eclectic cultural build.
Brigid Brown, a native of the Chicago-area, began her career in book publishing in Lincolnwood, Illinois after graduating from the University of Dayton with a B.A. in Public Relations. She continued her career in publishing in NYC where she made the transition to online reporting. After a handful of years of "working abroad" she's made her way home in the pursuit of a Master's Degree in Nonprofit Management at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She believes the Chicago Cultural Alliance is a perfect place to explore the different areas in nonprofit as the Alliance works with so many wonderful organizations in the community. She will be taking part in a study abroad program this summer in London, England where she hopes to introduce the UK locals to the mission of the Alliance.
Interns - Summer 2009
Daniel Clarke, originally from Manchester, England, earned his M.Phil. in Social Anthropology from King's College in Cambridge, England. His work has focused on civic identity in the aftermath of conflict, looking at the rebuilding of Manchester city centre after an IRA bomb in 1996 and public responses to the Madrid train bombing of March 2004. While on a whirlwind 5 week internship at the Alliance, Daniel was the lead coordinator for the launch of the Alliance's Talking About... Im/migration dialogue series.
A. Justin Floyd is a recent graduate of Columbia University. He has recently started his studies at Oxford University where he his pursuing M.Phil and D. Phil degrees in early modern European history with an emphasis on literary history and gender relations. Justin has previously interned at the Illinois Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. While at the Alliance, Justin was integral to the creation of the Alliance's Civic Engagement Model while also assisting in the development of the organization's shared services initiatives.
Katie Hughes is currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame, where she is pursuing a double major in Arabic and Political Science. In 2008, she studied in Morocco and London, building upon her earlier experience abroad with the organization Hands of Peace, Hands of Peace, which amins to foster long term peaceful coexistence among Jewish-Israelis, Arab Israelis, and West Bank Palestinians. While at the Alliance, Katie developed a major cross cultural event and managed several critical aspects of Alliance operations.
Interns - Spring 2009
Angeli Datt is currently studying in Beijing, China for her first year of a double M. Phil in International Relations at Peking University; next year, she will complete her second year at the London School of Economics. Angeli is a graduate of the University of St. Andrew's in Scotland. While at the Alliance, Angeli created the first version of our social networking strategy, delivered workshops on social networking technologies to Core Members, and supported the Talking About... Im/migration program launch. Her mother is a founding member of the Indo-American Heritage Museum, an Alliance Core Member.
Cara Pickett started her internship at the Alliance with significant administrative responsibilities. Her first major project with the Alliance was to organize Alliance Days at Brookfield Zoo, in which she coordinated multiple activities and performances with Core Members as well as leading work to bring Alliance communities and children to Brookfield Zoo, many for the first time. Cara joined the Alliance as a staff member in July 2009.
The Chicago Cultural Alliance is a partnership of Chicago's ethnic museums and cultural centers whose mission is to effect social change and public understanding of cultural diversity through first voice perspectives. Learn More About the Chicago Cultural Alliance