Office Team

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.

Tamara Draper (she/her), Volunteer Manager

Tamara has over a decade of experience in DEIB strategy (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging), corporate social responsibility, community engagement, and program development. Holding a DEI certification from Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Tamara’s mission is to introduce modern approaches for creating community and belonging. She actively volunteers for My Block, My Hood My City; Minorities in Cybersecurity; Healthy Hood; Youth Services of Glenview; and the Moran Center. In her leisure time, she indulges her love for travel, camping, forest bathing, Ravinia, and exploring diverse cuisines as a dedicated foodie.

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 & Wellbeing

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.

Kelly Leiseca (she/her), Development Manager

Kelly is a longtime Chicagoan with a passion for her community and her city. The Village’s mission resonates with her own experience of caring for her dear friend during her final years and Kelly’s commitment to fostering an environment in Chicago that is  welcoming to older residents as well as younger inhabitants. She has extensive experience in fundraising and office management and holds a degree in Communications from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In her free time, Kelly enjoys gardening, taking long walks along the lakefront, listening to live music and when possible accompanying her husband, Chris, a United Airlines pilot on work trips.

Brooke Nanni, MPH, Brain Health & Memory Loss Program Manager


Brooke is a social service and public health professional who has obtained undergraduate degrees in psychology and speech pathology as well as a graduate degree in public health. She recently became a certified dementia practitioner (CDP) through the NCCDP. Brooke started her career in the intellectual disabilities field and began working with older adults within a senior living community, from there moving into legal guardianship and program management. Most recently, Brooke has been working with the Alzheimer’s Association as part of a lifestyle intervention research study aiming to protect brain health in older adults. She is looking forward to finding ways to apply her experience to help establish better brain health and to navigate cognitive changes.

Susan Wakula (she/her), Director of Finance


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.

Jessica Zipkin (she/her), Director of Communications & Programs

  With a BA in English from Kent State University and an extensive background in nonprofit management, healthcare, and the arts, Jessica strives to bring quality programming and exceptional experiences to the Village community. She embraces the notion that it takes a village to make the world a better and more beautiful place, and is excited to be a part of that process.  Jessica is an experienced glassblower and potter and is always up for a new artistic challenge.