Leadership Team

Joshua Hale
President and Chief Executive Officer
Recently promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer, Joshua Hale began at the Big Shoulders Fund as Executive Director in 2005. He previously served as Director of Development and Public Relations for Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, a nationally recognized model for inner-city college preparatory education.
Read Josh Hale’s full biography.

Dan Bennett
Director, Leadership and Scholarship Support
312.751.8337  ✶
Dan will be recruiting and coaching emerging school leaders and supporting academic programming across all of the Big Shoulders Fund network of schools.  He will also be an integral member of the scholarship team, supporting student enrichment programs and scholarship receptions.  Prior to coming to Big Shoulders, Dan was an award-winning principal for nine years at St. Sylvester School in Logan Square, where he more than doubled enrollment and oversaw a dramatic increase in the vitality of the school.  He is excited for the opportunity to support more students and more schools. Bennett was fortunate to receive a high-quality Catholic education at Holy Spirit High School in his native southern New Jersey before moving west and attending the University of Notre Dame.

Eliza Bryant
Director, Academic Programs
312.544.8683  ✶
Eliza Bryant hails from New York but became a proud Maroon at the University of Chicago and has not left Hyde Park since, except when hunting for NY pizza. Eliza holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from the Urban Teacher Education Program (UChicago UTEP) and a Bachelor in History from the University of Chicago. Eliza is a true lover of math and puts her prior teaching in Chicago Public Schools and instructional coaching expertise to work making sure Big Shoulders Fund schools have access to high-quality curricula and professional development.

Amelia “Amy” Drozda
Director, Corporate Partnerships and Outreach
312.751.3850  ✶
Amy Drozda grew up in Omaha, NE, where she was instilled with the drive to serve. This drive brought her to Milwaukee, WI where the Jesuits expanded on it as she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Marquette University with a major in marketing. Upon graduation the lure of Chicago called where she worked for Sentry Insurance and the Hertz Corporation. In 2007 she joined the Big Shoulders Fund team. Amy completed her MBA at DePaul University with a focus in marketing management. It is her drive to serve and provide the chance for a brighter future that keeps Amy here and keeps our service arm growing.

Matthew Katzfey
Director, Alumni Outreach and High School Development
312-544-8692 ✶
At Big Shoulders, Matt is responsible for building and enhancing elementary school alumni outreach efforts, as well as creating and implementing fully-functioning advancement programs within participating high schools. These initiatives progressively improve each school’s viability, not only through financial contributions, but also through active community engagement and volunteerism.

In a former life, he employed his relationship building and fundraising skills in the private sector, successfully selling print and online advertising for the Chicago Tribune and award-winning Chicago Parent magazine. Matt was born in Chicago, lives in Albany Park and holds an undergraduate degree from Millikin University.

Outside of Big Shoulders schools, you can find Matt attempting to learn how to tie a bow tie (it’s not going well), asking his kids if his sock game is “on fleek” (progressing), and cheering on the Cubs (this is the year – again!).

Lea Jesse 
Director, Patrons Program
312.544.8688  ✶
Lea Jesse has over 12 years of business development, marketing, and project management experience. In her role at Big Shoulders Fund, Lea partners with donors to invest in inner-city Catholic schools to make a material impact on the schools’ long-term viability and effectiveness. Before joining Big Shoulders Fund, Lea served as a Vice President with the J.P. Morgan Endowments & Foundations Group, and also traveled the globe as a management consultant. She graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a Bachelor of Science. in Business. As a graduate of one of Cleveland’s inner city Catholic schools, Lea is passionate about using her marketing and consulting background to help change the trajectory of Chicago’s neediest Catholic schools.

Kate LaMantia
Scholarship System Coordinator
312.751.3896  ✶
A product of Catholic education from grade school through college, Kate LaMantia is proud to carry on supporting Catholic education not only with her work at Big Shoulders, but also in sending her children to Catholic school. After graduating from Marquette University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and from IIT with an MBA in Finance, Kate moved up the ladder in different positions for the City of Chicago’s Office of Budget and Management & the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Prior to Big Shoulders, Kate was the Chief Financial Officer for After School Matters, where she caught the non-profit bug.

Sara Lanser
Director, School Advancement
312.544.8684  ✶
Sara Lanser leads the alumni outreach efforts at the Big Shoulders Fund supported elementary schools.  As Director of the Alumni Advancement Program, she works with school principals and marketing directors to design and implement specialized alumni outreach programs to engage alumni with their former schools.  Before joining the Big Shoulders Fund in 2008, Sara was an investment banking analyst at Robert W. Baird, and in 2004 graduated summa cum laude from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance, Investments, and Banking.

Rebecca Lindsay-Ryan
Senior Director, Academic Programs and External Affairs
312.751.3851  ✶
Rebecca Lindsay-Ryan started out her career in education at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, then wandered north to Francis W. Parker School before ending up at the Big Shoulders Fund picking up experience in teaching, fundraising, program development and coaching along the way. A Double Demon, she has an undergraduate degree in History and Secondary Education and a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from DePaul University. Using her blend of academic, analytical and development skills, Rebecca is driven to help change lives through access to a quality education for all children.

Michaela Metzger
Director, Data Management and Strategic Communication
312.544.8680  ✶
Michaela Metzger initially got hooked on education as a Teach For America corps member and has learned a lot along the way from her experience at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Chicago Public Schools and now Big Shoulders. A graduate of Northwestern University, she pursed her MBA at Loyola to build her skill base for educational program implementation, evaluation, and marketing. She is passionate about getting the word out about Big Shoulders Fund schools that are producing life-changing outcomes for students all across the city.

John Moran
Senior Director, Patrons Program
312.751.3897  ✶
John Moran is the Patrons Program Senior Director, a position he has served in since 2006. In this role he not only administers the Patrons Program, but also leads Big Shoulders’ efforts to help improve school operations. Prior to joining Big Shoulders, he spent over twenty years in a variety of executive positions in Fortune 500 firms including IBM and AT&T, where he was responsible for both revenue and profitability in a competitive business-to-business setting. John earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and passed the CPA exam after graduating from the University of Notre Dame. He is the proud father of four, and an alumnus of a Catholic elementary school, high school and university.

Laura Nalley
Director,  Mission Advancement Leader at Visitation School and Leadership Incentive Program
Laura Nalley is a Catholic school alumna (Marian Central Catholic in Woodstock, IL) and also a Hawkeye (U of Iowa!) who came to education through Teach For America’s national teaching corps in 1998. After four years teaching within sight of the capitol dome in Washington, D.C., she joined Teach For America’s staff as a member of our national recruitment and alumni teams.  While on staff at TFA, she also became a parent of a Star Wars obsessed son, and in recent years has felt the calling toward Catholic education, which caused her to make the leap to join the team at the Big Shoulders Fund.  Laura works primarily with Visitation School (Go Tigers!) on Chicago’s South Side, and will also be working to recognize and support the efforts of Chicago’s Catholic school principals.

Linda Rossi 
Chief Financial Officer
312.751.5294  ✶
Linda Rossi is a CPA with many years of accounting and non-profit experience. She is a member of the Illinois CPA Society and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, as well as a member of the Not-for-Profit Committee of the Illinois CPA Society.

Nicole T. Wilson
Senior Director, Strategy and Operations
312.566.4402 ✶
Nicole, coming from very humble beginnings on the west-side of Chicago, truly understands and values opportunities provided from receiving a quality education. Nicole credits much of her success to education and organizations like Big Shoulders who believe that all children deserve a quality education regardless of their socioeconomic status. Nicole is a graduate of Alabama A & M University with a MBA from DePaul. After 15 years in manufacturing, Nicole decided she wanted to refocus her career on helping children, first by insuring safe transportation for 10,000 Chicago Public School students with special needs and now with Big Shoulders. Something else you should know is Nicole is a die-hard BEARS fan. She “suits up” and watches every game during the season.

Tom Zbierski
Senior Director, Scholarship Programs and School Relations
312.751.8365  ✶
Tom Zbierski has overseen the scholarship program in his 15 years at Big Shoulders. Originally from Missoura (a.k.a. Missouri) Tom has spent his entire lifetime in Catholic schools. His current challenge is that he wants to build the scholarship program to 10,000 so any fiscal help you can give him to achieve his goal would be appreciated. His favorite phrase is “you are the best” and he considers each of the principals as the “love of his life.” A Golden-Apple Award winning teacher and former school principal, Big Shoulders relies on Tom’s understanding of schools inside and out the classroom to reach students all across Chicago.



Kamilah Anderson
Kamilah Anderson graduated from Butler University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. Previously an auditor for Deloitte and then Northern Trust, Kamilah helped ensure control environments were appropriately developed and implemented and consistently maintained. Today, she brings her passion for travel and accounting expertise to help cultivate a worldly and fiscally responsible Big Shoulders Fund office culture. Kamilah is excited to have an impact on the lives of Big Shoulders Fund schools and students every day.

Elizabeth Bartley
Lead Instructional Coach, Data Analysis
312.751.8337 ✶
Originally hailing from Portage, Indiana, Elizabeth Bartley (also known as Liz) always knew two things: she wanted to be a teacher and she wanted to live in Chicago. After earning her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, she fulfilled her first dream by joining the Waukegan Public Schools team as a fourth grade teacher. She realized her second dream when she moved to Chicago and began teaching at the LEARN Charter School Network. During her time in Chicago, Liz became an Assistant Principal and earned her Master’s in Educational Leadership. She joined Big Shoulders Fund to assist schools in using data to improve instruction and elevate student achievement.

Colleen Dugo
Assistant Director, Next Generation and Events
312.544.8691  ✶ 
Originally from Bloomington, IL, Colleen Sprague comes from a big family. A graduate of the University of Kansas with a degree in Applied Behavioral Sciences, Colleen works closely with Big Shoulders Fund’s Next Generation Boards: the Auxiliary Board and Chairmen’s Advisory Council. She absolutely loves children and had the wonderful opportunity to work with children with autism for two years. Now she works for the benefit of children. Colleen believes every child should have access to a quality education.

Khyla Jackson 
Assistant Director, Scholarship Programs
312.544.8682 ✶
Originally from the “Cheese State “ Khyla earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. Khyla then moved to Chicago to pursue a  career in infectious disease prevention where she grew a desire for helping others. This dedication has led her to volunteering with Catholic schools. Recently, she served on the transition board of St. Columbanus and St. Dorothy to merge the schools seamlessly into Augustus Tolton Academy.  Khyla’s passion for Catholic education has prepared her to join the Big Shoulders Fund team as Assistant Director of Scholarship Programs.

Tammy LoVerde 

312.751.8394  ✶
Tammy LoVerde has been keeping the books in check at Big Shoulders Fund since 2007. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University. A graduate of Chicago Catholic schools herself, Tammy understands the importance of a values-based, quality education.

Rebecca Schmitt
Gift Processing and Database Coordinator
312.751.3895  ✶
Born and raised in a small town in Colorado, Becky received a Bachelor of Art in History from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Art in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. She previously worked at Seton Academy in the Advancement office, working on both the student recruitment and donor databases. She loves cross-country road trips to visit family in both Colorado and Oklahoma as well as family vacations in Hawaii.

Samuel Rodriguez
Development and Events Coordinator
312.751.8404  ✶
Born and raised in Chicago’s southwest side, Samuel or “Sam” attributes his academic success to a strong foundation provided by Catholic School, for he attended St. Nicholas of Tolentine here in Chicago from Pre-K to 8th grade.  After going to one of Chicago’s charter high schools, Sam went on to graduate from Oberlin College, as a Posse Scholar, with a degree in Sociology.  Today, Sam enjoys exploring Chicago and playing pick-up soccer when he can.

Natalie Sullivan
Executive Assistant to Joshua D. Hale, President and Chief Executive Officer
312.751.3898  ✶
Natalie Sullivan graduated from Elmhurst College with a degree in Interdisciplinary Communications with an emphasis on Public Relations and Advertising. During Natalie’s last two years of college she worked part-time at a residential facility for children with physical disabilities. It was during her time there that she realized she wanted to work in the non-profit world. Natalie is grateful for finding such a wonderful organization, Big Shoulders Fund, to be a part of!

Christine Sweeney 
Assistant Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations
312.566.8693 ✶

Christine Sweeney has spent most of her life within a 90 mile radius of Chicago. She grew up in South Bend, IN and later traveled north to Milwaukee where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications at Marquette University. She gained fund development experience in the service of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, Habitat for Humanity, and finally, COA Youth & Family Centers. Her passion for the nonprofit sector led her to pursue a Master in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.  She is thrilled to be in Chicago and excited to be part of Big Shoulders Fund’s mission and the larger effort to provide high-quality, values-based education in Chicago.

Danielle Tubbs
Assistant Director, Academic Programs

312.566.4401  ✶
Originally from Miami, FL, Danielle fell in love with Chicago on a service trip during her sophomore year of college at the University of Florida. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, she moved to Chicago and completed a year working as a tutor and mentor in a school in North Lawndale through City Year. Danielle then served as a Program Coordinator with The Posse Foundation in Chicago. Today, Danielle is the Assistant Director of Academic Programs at Big Shoulders and looks forward to supporting inner city Catholic school students and academic programs from behind the scenes.