Helping Local Talent Thrive

Braven launched in Chicago, our Founder Aimée’s hometown, in 2018 and is working with partners across the city to ensure that all local talent thrives.

Braven Summit

The Work Ahead

In the last 10 years, through concerted efforts across education institutions, nonprofits and the philanthropic community, the percentage of Chicago Public School 9th graders completing 4-year college degrees rose from a bleak 8% to 18%. While this is encouraging progress, the reality for far too many local students is that college still isn’t translating into completion and success beyond graduation.

Braven is proud to be joining city-wide efforts to ensure all Chicago students maximize their talent.

An Innovative University Partnership

We embarked on a founding partnership with National Louis University’s Undergraduate College, formerly known as the Harrison Professional Pathways Program, and will become a systemic career-acceleration approach for all sophomores. National Louis University’s forward-thinking leadership and commitment to better preparing underrepresented students for careers make it an ideal founding partner. Students earn their Bachelor’s for $40,000 and choose one of six career pathways. The student body is 95% people of color and 85% Pell Grant eligible.

Employers Fueling A New Generation Of Local Leaders

The talent and engagement of local companies fuels the Braven experience. Over the next three years, local employer partners will engage in hundreds of professional development opportunities through Braven as well as have access to more than 1000 career-ready individuals.

In Chicago, with a diverse economy, our employer partners reflect a balance of for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that span multiple sectors and sizes.

The Chicago Braven Community

Our Fellows, volunteers, employer partners and university partner work together to make Chicago an even playing field for all.

312

Braven Fellows

63

Leadership Coaches

10

Employer Partners

Chicago Area Schools

National Louis University Undergraduate College

  • Dates: Winter 2020-2021 Academic Year (January 13 – March 18, 2021)
  • Braven Accelerator Course Enrollment Deadline: December 11, 2020

Chicago Employer Partners

Our employer partners encourage their employees to participate in Braven’s professional development and engagement opportunities, sponsor events and learning experiences, provide access to externship, internship and full-time opportunities, and offer critical financial support.

Lead Partners

Anchor Partners

Keystone Partners:

Innovation Partners

Impact Partners

Access Partners

Chicago Supporters

Generous investments from our supporters fuel our model and complement the financial support we receive from our university and employer partners

$100,000+

$50,000 – $99,999

Anonymous

Finnegan Family Foundation

Paul M. Angell Family Foundation

 
 

$20,000 – $49,999

Osa Foundation

Square One Foundation

The Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation

 

$10,000 – $19,999

Anonymous

Paula Sneed & Lawrence Bass

Siragusa Family Foundation

 
 

 

Our Chicago Team

Alexis Rodriguez

Alexis Rodriguez

Product Support Manager

Alexis Rodriguez is a proud first-generation, low-income college graduate from Nashville, TN. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, and eating her way through Chicago’s amazing food scene. She is passionate about her family, voting rights, Rhode Island, and cats. An avid explorer, Alexis hopes to visit all the U.S. national parks during her lifetime!

LinkedIn

Boseong Yun

Boseong Yun

UChicago Applied Data Fellow

Boseong joins Braven as a UChicago Applied Data Fellow. He performs modeling, evaluation, and analysis to help Braven make informed decisions.

LinkedIn

Eric Morales

Eric Morales

Program Manager, Recruitment and Workforce Strategy
Chicago, IL

Eric oversees all student recruitment for BravenX and National Louis University, as well as managing Post-Accelerator Fellow workforce strategies for the Chicago region.

LinkedIn

Jess Greenfield Hillesland

Jess Greenfield Hillesland

Human Assets Operations Manager & Accounting Generalist

Jess supports the People & Operations Team on a variety of projects that support employee satisfaction and communication around payroll, benefits, leaves of absences, policies and procedures.  She is focused on improving the team experience through process improvements in finance and human assets.  Jess also manages accounts payables and receivables for Braven.

LinkedIn

Jonathan Chaparro

Jonathan Chaparro

  • Site Director, Chicago
  • Chicago, IL

Jonathan oversees Braven’s efforts in Chicago and program implementation at National Louis University. Jonathan ensures the successful execution of the Accelerator course, recruits and trains volunteers, and builds and supports partnerships with universities, employer partners, and other stakeholders.

LinkedIn

Lauren Kee

Lauren Kee

Manager of Instructional Design

Lauren is responsible for the instructional design of Braven’s innovation products, including BravenX, Braven Online, and Schwab InternPro. She collaborates with designers, engineers, regional team members, and external stakeholders to deliver and constantly improve the Braven Accelerator for new audiences.

LinkedIn

Marthe Leach

Marthe Leach

  • Program Manager, Chicago
  • Chicago, IL

Marthe oversees all student recruitment and the overall student experience of Braven at National Louis University. She runs operations and logistics for Learning Labs and Braven events, as well as overseeing the Post-Accelerator experience (student club and e-board).

LinkedIn

Mohsin Abdulla

Mohsin Abdulla

Data Analyst

Mohsin is a Data Analyst who supports data collection, analysis, and reporting for program operations and continuous learning.

LinkedIn

 

Chicago Board of Directors

David Cohen

David Cohen

Vice President North America, Talent Solutions, LinkedIn

David Cohen is a business leader, father, husband, teacher, mentor, and permanently curious learner. He currently leads the LinkedIn Talent Solutions business in North America which helps companies of all sizes and candidates find one another at a massive scale. In his current role, he oversees a team that helps tens of thousands of companies hire millions of LinkedIn members every year.

In 2008 David opened LinkedIn’s Chicago office and was one of the company’s first 250 employees. In 2012 he moved to London where he was responsible for the Talent Solutions business in the UK, Northern Europe, and emerging markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He returned to Chicago in 2015 to take on his current role and renovate a 95 year-old house. David is an active advisor and investor in high-growth companies in Chicago and technology companies more broadly.  He’s been interviewed by the Financial Times, Management Today, and is a speaker on the topics of Chicago tech, talent and sales leadership.

Before joining LinkedIn, David served as a management consultant for Accenture and worked with JB Pritzker as a venture capital investor.  He also started his own management consulting and investment company.

David received a BA in Psychology from Emory University and has an MBA in Strategy, Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.  He lives in the northern suburbs of Chicago with his dazzling wife and three mostly delightful children.

Joan Evans

Joan Evans

Director, Prosper Road Foundation

Joan Evans is the Director of the Prosper Road Foundation, based in Chicago.  The foundation is committed to the idea that all students deserve access to a high quality education and mental health supports.

Joan currently serves on the boards of OneGoal (Chicago), Youth Guidance (Chicago) and Braven (Chicago).  Joan is also active at the University of Michigan, her alma matter, where she sits on the Literature, Science and Arts and the School of Education’s Dean’s Advisory Councils.

Prior to joining Prosper Road, Joan worked as a School Psychologist in Skokie Public Schools.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in Education from National-Louis University.  She resides in Chicago with her husband, David and welsh terrier, Floyd.  In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors, playing piano, and traveling.

Kelly Mannard

Kelly Mannard

Executive VP | Northern Trust’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

Kelly Mannard is an Executive Vice President and Northern Trust’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. She is responsible for the global positioning, direction and management of Northern Trust’s brand, marketing, communications and philanthropic efforts.

Kelly oversees teams in Analytics, Advertising and Creative Services, Conferences and Events, Digital Marketing, UX Design,Internal Communications and Public Relations. She also oversees Community Affairs, which defines and manages Northern Trust’s philanthropic activities. During the past five years, Northern Trust has contributed more than $100 million tocharitable organizations worldwide and Northern Trust partners have volunteered nearly 100,000 hours annually to charitable organizations.

Prior to her current role, and running concurrently with her position as Chief Marketing Officer, Kelly was Chief Strategy Officer from 2014 to 2018. In this role, Kelly worked with the Board of Directors, Chairman and CEO, and other executive leaders to define and align strategy across business units and functional teams. She monitored trends and industry changes, managed corporate strategic planning processes, and led executive and Board strategic review meetings.

Before joining Northern Trust in 2002, Kelly served as Senior Vice President of Financial Development, Marketing and Communications at the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. Prior to joining the YMCA, she was the Director of Communications for Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.

Kelly received a B.A. degree from the University of Kansas.

Liz Thompson

Liz Thompson

President, Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education

As President of the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education (The CAFÉ), Liz is deeply engaged in the nonprofit community and passionate about youth development and education.

She began working with nonprofits in 1993 as founding Executive Director of City Year Chicago, a national service organization that was the template for the AmeriCorps Program. Then in 1995, Liz served as Executive Director of a Montessori school in Denver, where she led a $5 million expansion. In 1998, she became active with boards in the San Diego area, which further fueled her interest in philanthropy and education.

Prior to her work with nonprofits, Liz had a ten-year career with Ameritech Corporation, culminating in her role as special assistant to the CEO of Ameritech Illinois and director of a three-state region for Network Field Operations.

Liz serves as a Trustee for the University of Chicago, is Chairman of the University of Chicago Charter School Board, and serves on the Steering Committee of the University of Chicago Women’s Board. She is a director for the Museum of Science and Industry and serves as Vice Chair of the Partnership for College Completion. She is an alumnus of the Non-Profit Leadership Program of Denver and of the Leadership Greater Chicago Program where she currently also serves as a Director. Liz loves spending time with her family and friends, and cherishes her title of ‘Queen of Useless Facts’.

Meredith Daw

Meredith Daw

Associate Vice President of Enrollment and Student Advancement and Executive Director of Career Advancement, UChicago

Meredith Daw first joined University of Chicago Career Advancement in 2003 and has led the office since 2006. As Associate Vice President of Enrollment and Student Advancement and Executive Director of Career Advancement, Meredith directly manages UChicago’s undergraduate career services and is a key member of the undergraduate admissions and financial aid leadership team. During her tenure, UChicago has increased paid internships tenfold, achieved a 93% placement rate for the graduating class, and implemented a first-of-its-kind early engagement model designed to help students start preparing for their career from the moment they arrive on campus. Meredith holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Robin Lavin

Robin Lavin

Osa Foundation

Robin Lavin is the co-founder and President of The Osa Foundation, a family foundation focused on improving opportunities for Chicago’s youth through education and career preparation.

Robin takes an active role in the philanthropic community, serving as a board member and advisor to numerous non-profit organizations, as well as playing a leadership role in funder collaboratives. Robin serves on the board of directors of One Million Degrees, Spark (Chicago), and Braven (Chicago). She is also a member of the Leadership Council of The Chicago Public Education Fund, the Advisory Council for Embarc, and the Civic and Business Advisory Council for Healthy Schools Campaign. Additionally, she is the co-chair of the Progressive Pathways Fund of the Chicago Workforce Funders Alliance.

Prior to founding The Osa Foundation, Robin’s professional experience was in the financial services industry in the U.S. and London. She began her career at the New York City based money management firm, Jennison Associates, then later in cash management for both Maryland National Bank and Bank of America.Robin then joined Dun and Bradstreet in NYC and London, where she was responsible for managing internal treasury activities and later directing the marketing of international credit services for D&B, Europe.

Robin has a Bachelors of Arts in Economics from American University. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Jack, and enjoys spending time with her three adult children.

Ron Sonenthal

Ron Sonenthal

Partner, Deloitte Tax LLP

Ron is a partner with Deloitte Tax LLP and has over 34 years of experience in all aspects of U.S. taxation.

He currently leads a restructuring organization within Deloitte Global, supporting Deloitte member firms around the world. For the last decade, Ronhas held leadership positions in the U.S. Tax practice helping drive national operational strategy and client and business growth. Ron has also served as a member of the Deloitte U.S. Firm Board of Directors and on the Risk and Regulatory Committee and the Strategic Investment Committee.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his graduate degree in Taxation from DePaul University in Chicago. He is a certified public accountant and a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Illinois CPA Society.

Ron currently serves on the Chicago Advisory Board for Braven. For his entire career, Ron has been active within the community, with a focus on education and youth organizations.Although he has served on many non-profit boards, he currently serves on the boards of Working in the Schools and Beber camp.He has also been awarded the Outstanding Leadership in Advancing Diversity Award from the Illinois CPA Society, the Alter and Stone Volunteer Award from WITS, and the Deloitte Community Impact Award.

Sandy Reynolds

Sandy Reynolds

Sandy Reynolds

Sandy Reynolds

Global Sales Director and COO, Kendall Miles Designs

Since co-founding Kendall Miles Designs, LLC in 2015, Sandy Reynolds has been serving in numerous capacities for the emerging luxury women’s footwear company. Working closely with her daughter, who is both CEO and Design Director, her current roles as Global Sales Director and COO involve the planning and execution of all direct-to-consumer marketing events, global coordination and logistics of all product deliveries and inventory management in their Chicago-headquartered distribution center. Prior to this latest entrepreneurial venture, Reynolds served as Senior Vice President of Business Development at Intralink Global, a content marketing firm located in Chicago, IL.

Reynolds holds an M.M. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, a B.A. from Stanford University and Chartered Financial Analyst designation. While specializing in fixed income sales at First National Bank of Chicago (now JP Morgan Chase), she covered many of the largest global institutional portfolio managers in the insurance, mutual fund and hedge fund industries. Her goal to provide superior value, expertise and results propelled her to co-found Loop Capital Markets in 1997.

At Loop Capital, Reynolds performed virtually every function in the global investment bank, servicing corporate, governmental and institutional entities to build a track record of success and assist it in becoming one of the fastest-growing firms in the financial services industry. Combining state-of-the art quantitative analysis and technical customization, she was able to enhance the revenue growth of the complexly structured municipalities while forging relationships with key public finance executives and government officials. She is still active as a Partner at the company, which recently partnered to close its first Infrastructure Fund in 2017.

Reynolds currently serves on the boards of the Navy Pier, Chicago’s number one tourist attraction; Braven, a not-for-profit addressing the education-to-employment gap in higher education and the University of Chicago Women’s Board. She previously served on the boards of the Goodman Theatre, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Court Theater, Choose Chicago and After School Matters. Sandy and husband, Jim Reynolds, have three adult children.

Sarah Berghorst

Sarah Berghorst

Executive Director, OneGoal

Sarah Berghorst is Founder and Principal of August Impact Partners, a social impact consulting firm.  She is Special Advisor and former Chicago Executive Director and Leadership Group member at OneGoal, an innovative national organization that works to close the college degree divide and create a more equitable future. OneGoal partners with high schools in low-income communities as well as school districts and postsecondary institutions to equip educators with the training, tools, technology and partnerships to ensure Fellows (students) realize their postsecondary dreams. Under Sarah’s leadership, OneGoal grew over 300% in Fellows served and 3x in revenue raised.  She also managed and grew both the team and the Board of Directors and played a key role in the development and expansion of the national organization.

Prior to joining OneGoal, Sarah served for over two years as a consultant at Bain & Company, where she worked with clients in private equity, healthcare, financial services and technology.  Before joining Bain, she led Ashoka’s Global Development team and served as the Director of the Entrepreneur-to-Entrepreneur Program in Latin America, launching a program to engage business leaders with social entrepreneurs. Sarah also worked at DAI, an international development consulting firm, where she managed multi-year economic development projects across Latin America.

Sarah began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama, where she led the effort to establish the area’s first rural information technology center and ran a national women’s education initiative. She holds a BA in economics from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where she was an F.C. Austin Scholar. She is an associate of the Prison Creative Arts Project based in Ann Arbor, and a partner with Social Venture Partners, Chicago. Sarah also serves as a member of the board of directors of Braven and of the Erie Elementary Charter School.  She is an Alumna of Leadership Greater Chicago, and is a member of Kellogg’s Pete Henderson Society and Alumni Council.

Chicago Stories

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Higher education has a responsibility to help students, especially underrepresented students, support themselves financially post-graduation. Using leadership coaching, sharing of networks and mentoring, schools can help their learners get on the path to economic mobility.

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The Braven Accelerator arms students with hard and soft career skills, the opportunity to solve real-world problems, one-on-one mentorship, and valuable networking opportunities.

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Braven: Fueling A Generation Of Diverse Leaders Through Higher Education

Aimeé Eubanks Davis was recognized as one of five Luminaries by the 1954 Project, a Black-led education philanthropy initiative to fund diverse leaders, and shared Braven’s future plans in an interview with Giving Compass.

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Contact the Chicago Team

Braven — Chicago
100 N. LaSalle Street, Ste. 310
Chicago, IL 60602

Braven Accelerator: Spring 2022

National Louis University

Eligibility:

  • Sophomore at National Louis University
  • In good academic standing
  • Can commit an average of 4-5 hours a week (2-3 hours pre and post-work, 2 hours in-person) for the 20-week course over Winter and Spring Quarters of the 2021-2022 school year
  • Can attend the course Thursdays from 4:30pm – 6:30pm
  • Able to attend Storytelling as Leadership Workshop on a given Saturday

Course Description

This is a foundational course, designed to begin preparing students for the increasingly competitive, globalized job marketplace. It is aimed at students in their sophomore year who have a hunger to attain a strong post-grad opportunity. Through online and peer learning, interactive experiences, and reflection, students will build meaningful networks, discover their innate leadership, and cultivate the “hard” and “soft” skills and habits of mind needed to thrive in twenty-first-century workplaces and make a positive impact through their careers upon graduation.

This course will require your commitment. Nothing good comes easy, but this course will be equally rewarding as it is challenging. What you get from this course will depend on what you give, and you need to want to give to this course to get the most out of it.

Additional Events

In addition to the weekly class Thursdays from 4:30-6:30 PM, the following activities are a part of the Accelerator:

  • Date TBA (all day): Storytelling As Leadership Workshop

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Exercise habits to persist through and thrive beyond college
  • Know and demonstrate the skills and mindsets for which employers hire
  • Navigate the workplace
  • Build a record of achievement and apply skills to land a career-accelerating internship or research opportunity
  • Expand personal and professional networks
  • Lead with their assets and values

Dates/Times

Thursdays from 4:30pm – 6:30pm

Enroll Now

NLU Staff Contact

Dr. Natasha Kohl, Manager of Career Development
nkohl@nl.edu

Location

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Braven is prepared to execute the course in a fully virtual setting. Should National Louis University return to in-person instruction, the course will take place on the NLU campus (122 S. Michigan). The final webinar link or room location will be on your schedule and sent via email before the course begins.

Volunteer in Chicago

We are looking for professionals from all fields who are willing to share their career experience, personal stories, and unique talents with our diverse and driven Fellows.

All volunteer opportunities will be virtual while social distancing orders are in effect. To receive alerts about upcoming volunteer opportunities:

SIGN UP FOR THE BRAVEN NETWORK


Please contact jonathan@bebraven.org with questions.

LEARN MORE ABOUT BRAVEN’S VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES