Darcy L. Evon (she/her), Chief Executive Officer

 

Darcy brings a wealth of experience to the Village, including leadership roles at public and private universities, libraries, medical, technology, non-profit organizations and media companies. She is active in Chicago’s corporate and civic communities and serves on the boards of Ingenuity Inc., The Guild of the Chicago History Museum, The Kalo Foundation, and the Chicago Innovation Advisory Board. Darcy is a member of the Economic Club, Executives Club, and a variety of cultural and business organizations. She is an avid history buff and author who published Hand Wrought, an illustrated history of jewelry and metalwork from the Chicago Arts and Crafts Movement.

Callie Alton (she/her), Director of Membership & Engagement

Callie Alton

 

Callie began as a volunteer for the Chicago Hyde Park Village in 2020 and has previously worked as an educator and writer. As both a team member and volunteer, she is committed to building more equitable communities through developing intergenerational networks of connection and support. Callie received her BA in English from The University of Washington and has a Master’s in Literature from Trinity College Dublin. An avid reader and writer, Callie is passionate about all things literary and also enjoys the visual arts, cycling, and travel.

Laurel Baer (she/her), Director of Strategic Initiatives

Laurel Baerv175x175

 

A founding Village member, Laurel started volunteering for the Village shortly before it opened in June 2009 and became a part time staff member in 2010. She worked in marketing for nearly 40 years, in advertising agencies and as a sole practitioner consultant. In her current role, she helps shape strategy, planning and communications for most major Village initiatives. Her proudest accomplishment was founding Bottomless Closet in 1991, the first nonprofit free business apparel resource for women transitioning from assistance to work.

Betty Dayron (she/her), Social Work Field Instructor

 

When Betty retired from a long clinical and administrative career as a Social Worker at Jewish Child and Family Services the Village was just beginning and so she joined. She remains an active volunteer and member. Since 2009 she has supervised more than 35 Village Interns from Loyola’s School of Social Work. She also enjoys travel, when sensible, spending time reading, doing Sudoko puzzles and is into Folk Music and the Blues.

Niki Fox (she/her), Director of Health & Wellness

Niki Fox

 

Niki joined The Village Chicago in 2015 as a social work intern and, as she’ll tell you, “just never left!” She earned her Master’s in Social Work with a specialization in healthcare from Loyola in 2017. Niki is inspired by connecting members to services, resources, and one another – drawing upon members’ experience and expertise just as they draw upon hers. She appreciates how the Village is adapting, building multigenerational relationships, and finding new ways to support mental and physical well being. In her spare time, Niki can be found reading too many books at once, cutting quilt squares, or cycling.

Emem Obot (they/them), Member Services & Volunteer Manager

 

Emem Obot is a Chicago-raised organizer and activist with a focus on racial justice and community building, now bringing their passion for history, art, and community building to the Village. They pride themselves on creating art and educational material that marries the past and present to show us an alternative future. Emem graduated from American University with a BA in International Studies. Outside of work, Emem loves to create music within the local Chicago arts scene as well as internationally with acts from the UK, Cuba, Colombia, Nigeria, Kenya, and more. They are also an avid archivist and always looking for new stories and oral histories to record.

Julie Reeder (she/her), Director of Development

 

Julie Reeder is a fundraising and development professional with over 30 years experience. She recently served for over eight years as Midwest Director of Development for American Society for University of Haifa. Prior to that, she had a long career as a political fundraiser, working on several Presidential campaigns, as well as numerous Senate and Congressional campaigns. She is a dedicated and passionate professional who is committed to making a difference. She likes live music, sports, and the arts.

Kate Spelman (she/her), Director of Programs and Communications

 

A native of Philadelphia, Kate Spelman earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Chicago, and an M.Div from Yale Divinity School. She is ordained as an Episcopal priest and has served congregations large and small in Chicagoland and on the East Coast. Prior to joining The Village, she worked as the LGBT+ specialist at AgeOptions, the Area Agency on Aging of suburban Cook County. In her spare time, she likes to work out, cook, read good books and watch terrible TV. She and her wife have a small son with a very big personality.

Susan Wakula (she/her), Director of Finance, Administration & Development

 

Having returned to her home town to help her parents navigate their final years, Susan landed at the Village because its mission resonated with her recent lived experience — “I wish my parents would’ve had a place like the Village.” She received her undergraduate degree in Finance and MBA from Drake University and a Master’s degree in Religion and Ecology from Loyola/New Orleans. Susan has a rich and varied background in finance, working for financial institutions and non-profits, including religious organizations, youth services, and higher education.

Ashley Walker (she/her), Finance & Development Manager

Ashley Walker is a native Chicagoan with extensive experience in communications and organizational development with an artistic flair. Ashley discovered her passion for communications and organizational development while working as a marketing manager and customer service representative for EON Dental Clinics. She’s since had a successful career as a non-profit association management leader with organizations like the American Board of Oral Implant Dentistry (ABOI/ID), the American Association of Healthcare Human Resources (ASHHRA), and the International Live Events Association (ILEA). Ashley spends her free time planning and facilitating artistic events in Chicago, performing spoken word poetry, and snuggling with her cat Niyah.