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.
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.
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.
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.
Our Fellows, volunteers, employer partners and university partner work together to make Chicago an even playing field for all.
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.
LinkedIn has hosted networking events, recruited hundreds of volunteers, sponsored our Summit, donated product, and opened up their API, enabling us to track our Fellows’ job success over time. Braven is a proud member of LinkedIn’s Network Gap Coalition.
Salesforce is an anchor partner committed to the idea that the next generation of leaders needs to emerge from everywhere. The company was a seed funder of Braven NYC. They have also hosted student events in NYC, Chicago, and the Bay Area and sponsored the Career Booster nationally.
Generous investments from our supporters fuel our model and complement the financial support we receive from our university and employer partners
Dania is responsible for Chicago regional operations and event planning. She serves as right hand person to the Chicago Site Director to create partnerships with companies and organizations.
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.
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
Juneteenth serves as a day of reflection and reminder that we must continue to right the systems that allow racism and inequities to exist today.
Braven applauds the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Dreamers to continue to pursue their lives and work in our country.
As an organization, Braven stands in solidarity with the Black community against racism, oppression, and the violation of human rights. As a country, we need to do better — we cannot allow ourselves to become numb to the injustice that disproportionately affects the Black community daily. Read our Founder and CEO’s letter here.
Braven — Chicago
171 N Aberdeen St, Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60607
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.
In addition to the weekly class Thursdays from 4:30-6:30 PM, the following activities are a part of the Accelerator:
By the end of the course, students should be able to:
Thursdays from 4:30pm – 6:30pm
Dr. Natasha Kohl, Manager of Career Development
The course takes place on the NLU campus (122 S. Michigan). The final room location will be on your schedule and sent via email before the course begins.
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:
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.