- Grace B. Hou
Grace Hou is the President of the Woods Fund of Chicago. She was appointed in February 2012 to lead this grant-making foundation whose goal is to promote social, economic, and racial justice through the support of community organizing and public policy advocacy that engages people who are most impacted. Grace's career has been dedicated to systems change improvement through public policy change, social services provision, community organizing and education, and now, philanthropy.
Prior to joining the Woods Fund, from 2003 to 2012, Grace Hou served as the Assistant Secretary at the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), one of Illinois' largest agencies, with more than 13,000 employees and an annual budget of approximately $5 billion. She was responsible for the oversight of the agency's six program areas. During her time with the state, she was a key player in the creation and implementation of the state's Immigrant Integration New American's Executive Order. Prior to her time with the state, Grace was the Executive Director of Chinese Mutual Aid Association (CMAA).
Grace is currently a board member of the Community Memorial Foundation and the Asian American Action Fund of Greater Chicago. She has received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights' Building the American Community Award 2012, the Monsignor Romero Award from Centro Romero, the Asian American Institute's Milestone 2005 Award, the Action for Children Individual Champion Award Recipient 2008 Honoree, and the United African Organization Distinguished Public Service Award. She is also a 2001 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and a 2002 German Marshall Fellow.
- Becky Belcore
- Lead Program Officer
becky [at] woodsfund.org
Becky Belcore has served as a Woods Fund Program Officer since the fall of 2010. Prior to joining the Woods Fund staff, she served as the Executive Director of the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC), where she began volunteering in 1996. She also worked with the Quality Education as a Civil Right Campaign and the People’s Organizing Committee (post Hurricane Katrina) in New Orleans, LA. Becky worked for 3 years as a registered nurse, and 5 years as a union organizer. She serves as a board member of the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC), National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and is a founding member of a Korean adoptee organization, Helping Adoptees Lead Together (HALT). She graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from Smith College and an Associates Degree in Nursing from Truman College.
- Suzanne R. Boyle
- Deborah D. Clark
- Grants and Operations Manager
- Jhatayn "Jay" Travis
- Program Officer
Jay’s unwavering commitment to democracy at the grassroots level and racial justice have led her to impact the landscape of organizing pertaining to education, housing, youth employment and public safety issues. At age 28, she became one of the youngest executive directors in Chicago, appointed to lead the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), one of Chicago’s oldest grassroots organizations. As executive director of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Jay played a pivotal role in the renaissance that returned organizing to the forefront of KOCO’s organizational agenda. Jay Travis has worked to highlight the intersection between housing and education issues throughout Chicago. A proponent of equitable education opportunities, affordable housing and youth investment, Jay is a recipient of the Community Renewal Society with the 35 leaders under 35 leadership award. Jay is currently a Program Officer at the Woods Fund of Chicago, and she is a graduate of the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Social Service Administration.
Board of Directors
- Patrick M. Sheahan, Ph.D.
- Board Chair
Dr. Patrick M. Sheahan is an expert at the intersection where business, nonprofits, and government meet. He is an executive with more than 15 years experience advising Fortune 500
CEOs, an academic with a keen interest in politics and public policy, and a tireless committed supporter of civic affairs and public good.
Recently, he was Head of Community Affairs and Corporate Responsibility for UBS, a global financial services firm with nearly 70,000 employees and operations for over 50 countries. In this role he led the firms' corporate giving program, employee engagement activities, executive board placement program and corporate responsibility initiatives for 30,000 employees in the Americas. Dr. Sheahan has positioned UBS as a national and local leader through high-profile civic involvement in educational programs and community enrichment and regularly advised senior management on key areas of corporate social responsibility including climate change, human and labor rights, and environmental issues.
Prior to joining UBS, Dr. Sheahan was Director of Public Affairs for Sara Lee Corporation, a global consumer packaged-goods company with operations in 40 countries. He was responsible for local, state, and national government relations and was a liaison to trade and business groups. He regularly created internal and external message strategies.
During his employment at Sara Lee, he was also Deputy Director of the Sara Lee Foundation, at which he was responsible for the nearly $10 million grant program that supported almost 250 nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. Dr. Sheahan created and produced biannual reports that the Council on Foundations recognized as outstanding communications pieces. He developed new grant guidelines and internal grant making processes, served as Assistant Secretary for the Sara Lee Foundation Board of Directors, and successfully nominated Sara Lee CEO John Bryan to receive the National Medal of the Arts for his work in supporting arts institutions throughout the country.
Dr. Sheahan's experience in nonprofits started when he was 14 and served on an organization's board. his interest continued in a more intensified form as a graduate student when he worked full-time as a research associate at the Spencer Foundation, a $450 million private foundation that funds education projects. He regularly undertook research for board meetings, conducted extensive research on the asset growth of peer foundations, and helped design and implement a three-year longitudinal study of doctoral students.
Dr. Sheahan has a longstanding commitment to civic involvement. Since 1998, he has been active with the Center on Halsted, the country's most comprehensive gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender center and chaired the $20 million capital campaign for the building, which opened in 2007. He is a member of the Contributions Counsel of the Conference Board and the Economic Club of Chicago. He serves or has served on the boards of several nonprofits including Center on Halsted, Woods Fund of Chicago, Goodman Theatre, Harris Theatre for Music and Dance, Civic Federation of Chicago and the Nathaniel Mission. The Chicago Sun Times called him one of the best nonprofit fundraisers in the City of Chicago and he has raised over $250 million for nonprofit organizations as a volunteer.
His business work has won such recognition as the Circle of Humanitarians Award from the American Red Cross, the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from the Foreign Policy Association, the Special Olympics of Chicago Corporate Award, and the Chicago Council of Urban Affairs Diversity Award. Dr. Sheahan has personally won the Human First Award from the Center on Halsted. The State of Kentucky made him a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels and the Mayor of the City of Chicago inducted him in to the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.
Dr. Sheahan received his Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also holds an M.S. in Policy Studies from the University of Kentucky-Lexington and a B.A. in Business Administration from Asbury College. He currently teaches nonprofit management at Northwestern University and has taught at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies and Loyola University.
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- Amina J. Dickerson
- Dickerson Global Advisors
Leadership Coaching, Philanthropic Partnerships, Succession and Scenario Planning
Amina J. Dickerson incorporates a wealth of diverse experience in her consulting practice, Dickerson Global Advisors, founded in 2009 as an outgrowth of leadership experience over a 35 year career in the nonprofit, corporate and philanthropy sectors. As a consultant, professional coach and strategist, she works with the philanthropic community, nonprofit organizations, senior leaders, business professionals and social/civic organizations. She is especially committed to the advancement of the next generation leadership, coaching through organizational tranisitions and the development of the global NGO community. The focus of her consulting practice is on leadership advancement, succession planning, program development and strategic partnerships. Previously she headed multi-national philanthropic programs in hunger relief, the arts and education at Kraft Foods and held executive posts with the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Chicago Historical Society and DuSable Museum of African American History.
Dickerson studied theater at Emerson College, holds a certificate in arts management from Harvard University, and a M.A. in arts management from the American University in Washington, D.C. More recently she has pursued training for her coaching practice through the Center for Creative Leadership, Coaches Training Institue and the Leadership Circle and is a member of the International Coaching Federation. her current board service includes the Woods Fund of Chicago, the Women's Funding Network, Harris Theatre for Music and Dance, the Legacy Fund of the Chicago Community Trust and the Leadership Advisory Council of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Her work has been recognized with many awards, including from the Association of Black Foundation Executives as the James Joseph 2009 Lecturer, Chicago Women in Philanthropy, Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy's Handy Lindsay Award, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals Grantor of the Year. In 2009 she was added to the History Makers' national video archives of outstanding African American leaders and was named to The Network Journal's Class of 25 Influential Black Women in Business. Previously, she served as Distinguished Visitor with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and a Newberry Library Fellow.
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- Ricardo "Ric" Estrada
- President and CEO
Metropolitan Family Services
Ricardo "Ric" Estrada was named President and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services, one of Chicago's first and largest human services agencies, in March 2011.
Estrada has more than two decades of leadership experience in social services/human services, philanthropy and government. Prior to joining Metropolitan, Estrada served as First Deputy Commissioner of the City of Chicago's Deparment of Family and Support Services (DFSS). Before that he served as Executive Director of Erie Elementary Charter School.
His civic and community involvement includes appointment to the Chicago Early learning Exectuive council, University of Illinois Board of Trustees, Board of Directors of Leadership Greater Chicago, Board member of the Woods Fund of Chicago, and member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Selection Committee, and Emerging Leaders Program.
Estrada's awards include being named an American Marshall Memorial Fellow and the Loyola University Chicago Latino Alumnus of the Year, as well as receiving the City Club of Chicago John A. McDermott Award for Distinguished Social Leadership, and the University of Illinois at Chicago City Partner Award. He received a Kellogg CEO Perspectives Fellowship in 2009. He also was selected as one of Crain's Chicago Business' "40 Under 40" in 2002.
Estrada's educational background is grounded in social services and business, includuing an MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago, an M.A. in Social Service Policy and Administration from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, and a B.A. in Psychology from Loyola University of Chicago.
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- Jesus "Chuy" Garcia
- Cook County Commisioner
7th District County Building
Jesus "Chuy" Garcia is a dynamic and progressive leader who has fought selflessly to improve the lives of his neighbors on the southwest side of Chicago and the neighboring Cicero and Berwyn communities. First elected to the Chicago City Council in 1986 as a reformer and supporter of mayor Harold Washington, Jesus Garcia helped give Mayor Washington a majority in the City Council to enact progressive legistlation. He was among Mayor Washinton's most trusted allies. Chuy's fight for justice did not stop after the Mayor died.
In 1992, Jesus Garcia was elected and served two terms as State Senator. At the first-ever Mexican-American elected to the State Senate, Chuy pushed forward a broad range fo legislation to benefit the working families of his district.
On November 3, 2009, Jesus Garcia announced his candidacy as a Cook County Commissioner for the 7th District to usher in a new era of reform, accountability, transparency and efficiency in government for the benefit of working people. His campaign theme: Clean it up, make it work.
Advocacy of justice and equal opportunity led Jesus Garcia to work as a paralegal, as a community organizer and at a community-based housing organization. He was the Founding Executive Director of Enlace Chicago (a leading non-profit community development organization in Little Village, formerly known as LVCDC). Chuy served as a Fellow at De Paul University and as adjunct professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Deparments of Political Science and Latino and Latin American Studies. Chuy serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations including the Latino Policy Forum, a public policy and advocacy center, where he was the Founding President. He recently became Chairman of the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago whose goal is to increase opportunities for less advantage people and communities.
Emigrating with his parents from Durango, Mexico at the age of ten, Jesus Garcia has lived since then in the communities of Pilsen and Little Village. After earning a Bachelors degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago, he went on to acquire a Masters degree in Urban Planning. He has two adult sons, Jesus and Samuel, and one grandchild.
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- Lerry Knox, PE
- CEO - Hilco Innovation Partners
Lerry Knox has over 20 years of experience as an engineer, venture capitalist and investment banker leading national organizations that provide solutions at the complex intersection of business, technology, infrastructure, innovation and public policy. Lerry’s diverse background allows him to creatively develop unique solutions to some of the most complex engineering, business and financial challenges that many organizations are facing.
As a senior executive of The Hilco Organization, Lerry leads two important business practice areas of the firm. Hilco Innovation Partners is an asset management company that is building an active market for invention, bringing together expertise, capital, and intellectual property (IP) for investment in the next generation of infrastructure assets in the agriculture, water, energy and informatic sectors.
Lerry also leads our Governmental Solutions practice area which helps governments, governmental agencies and not-for-profit organizations assess their asset value and maximize value through various asset monetization solutions.
Lerry is a former Naval Officer and nuclear engineer with the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program (Naval Reactors) and a former public finance investment banker with Loop Capital Markets and Goldman Sachs.
Lerry is a licensed Professional Engineer and received his B.S. in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering (with honors) from the Illinois Institute of Technology, M.S. equivalency in Nuclear Engineering from the Navy’s Postgraduate Bettis Reactor Engineering School, M.B.A. from the University of Illinois and a Law degree from the University of Illinois.
Lerry is a Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and a Marshall Memorial Fellow with the German Marshall Fund.
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- Josina Morita
- Executive Coordinator
United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations
Josina Wing Morita is a the Director of the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations - a grassroots-led multiethnic human rights alliance in Chicago. Josina is a leading redistricting mapper and advocate for racially equitable policy. In 2011, she led a 50-organization multiracial redistricting coaltion successfully advocating for more racially equitable maps. In 2010, she authored Illinois' first Grassroots Human Rights Policy Guide for Racial Equity engaging over 1,000 grassroots leaders - across racial and religious communities - in developing shared policy prinicples and priorities.
From 2002 to 2008, Josin was a Senior Research Associate for the Applied Research Center's Chicago office where she authored the Illinois' Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity reports. Josina's human rights and racial justice work has been recognized by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Japanese American Citizens League. In 2007, she was named one of the top 35 leaders under 35 fighting racism and poverty in Chicago by the Community Renewal Society.
Josina holds a B.A. in Sociology and International Race Relations from pitzer College and a Masters in Urban Planning and Public Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently serves on the boards of the Woods Fund of Chicago and the Asian American Action Fund of Greater Chicago. In 2012, Josina was elected a Nominating Delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention and appointed to the City of Chicago's Commission on Equity.
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- Phillip Thomas
- President/CEO, eta Creative Arts Foundation
Thomas is president and CEO of one of the oldest and most prominent African American cultural institutions in the city of Chicago. A son of eta, Thomas served as its development director from 1996 to 2000. Most recently, he was a Senior Program Officer of Community Development at the Chicago Community Trust. Prior to that, he served as a program officer at the Woods Fund of Chicago.
Mr. Thomas received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political from Morehouse College and Masters of Arts in Public Policy Studies from the University of Chicago.
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- Lucia Woods Lindley
- Board Member Emerita
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