Edgar Ramirez, President and CEO, joined Chicago Commons in 2010 as Associate Executive Director. Edgar has experience as a community organizer in the Little Village neighborhood, working on issues such as youth and parent leadership development, green space improvement, and anti-violence campaigns. In 2008, Edgar became the Advocacy and Leadership Director at Erie Neighborhood House, where he was instrumental in organizing agency staff and participants on behalf of issues such as child care income eligibility, comprehensive immigration reform, and job development for youth. He is the current chair two neighborhood community organization planning committees: Smart Communities oversight committee in Humboldt Park and the Early Childhood Roundtable in Pilsen. Edgar holds a master’s degree from the School of Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University.
Dhiren Shah, Chief Financial Officer, joined Chicago Commons in 2001 and has been in the financial sector since 1987. Dhiren began working in nonprofit management as the Chief Financial Officer for Bethel New Life, Inc. in 1991. From 1998-2001, Dhiren led the financial team at Francis W. Parker School as the Chief Financial Officer. His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Bombay received in 1979 and is also a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant. Dhiren is a member of the Illinois CPA Society and a committee member for H.O.M.E. and the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Association. He volunteers for CPAs for the Public Interest, and the Independent School of Association of Central States.
Cary Crawford, Vice President of Senior Care, began his career in senior care administration in 1994, as a branch manager for Home Care Personal Services, Inc. in Naperville, Illinois. He has held various leadership roles in the field, joining Chicago Commons in 2011 as the Director of Senior Care. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis on healthcare administration from Benedictine University, where he also obtained a Bachelors of Business Administration degree. Cary is a board member and past Vice President at Illinois Association of Community Care Programs Homecare Providers, an Advisory Committee Board Member and former Board of Trustees member for the Community Care Program, and a former trustee of the SEIU Healthcare Illinois Home Care & Child Care. Cary is also a fund member of the American Society on Aging.
Sarah Frick, Vice President of External Affairs, oversees the organization’s communications and fundraising efforts. Prior to joining Commons, Sarah was the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, which in partnership with United Way World Wide, is part of a global system of change in more than 40 countries. In her role, Sarah led the organization in creating community awareness to the issues surrounding income, education and health. She was responsible for brand stewardship in marketing, advertising and public relations. Sarah has developed and executed outreach plans for year-round communications with traditional and social media outlets, securing media placements valued at more than $700,000. She has secured partnerships with the NFL’s Bears Care and Play 60, Israel Idonije Foundation, Paramount Pictures, the City of Chicago, Crain’s Chicago Business, The Chicago Tribune, ABC, NBC, White House Strategies and Celebrated Chefs. Sarah has guest lectured on branding, advertising and non-profit management at college campuses including Loyola and East West University. Her volunteer work includes serving as Team Captain for the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk, Fundraising Chair for Texas A&M University Alumni Association, Chicago Children’s Museum Volunteer and is an active member of the Women’s Leadership Council of United Way. In 2012, Sarah was announced as Today Chicago Woman’s Top 100 Women to Watch. Sarah graduated from Texas A&M University with her bachelor’s in Communications and a minor in English.
Cassandra Wright, Director of Human Resources, began a career in human resources in 1990 with Chicago Commons. She attended Columbia College and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, as well as a member of the Greater Chicagoland Not for Profit HR Directors Group. She regularly attends the Human Resource Best Practices group, Linked HR, and Time Star for nonprofit organizations.
Eric Woods, Director of Facilities and Procurement, provides facilities oversight and general management for Chicago Commons Child Development and Senior Services portfolios. Eric has been with Chicago Commons since 2011 and has 20+ years of experience in business and facilities management with extensive background in facility design, construction, energy management, operations and maintenance while working for nonprofits and the private sector. Eric specializes in: Emergency preparedness, business continuity planning, administration management, space planning, real estate management, corporate relocation management, cost containment and internal client facilities-related service. Eric is currently affiliated with International Facility Management Association (IFMA); Corporate Real Estate Group; Building Owners and Managers Associations (BOMA); Association for Facility Engineering and Nonprofit Professionals. Eric attended Rock Valley College – Business Administration (1989) and is a Facilities Management Professional (FMP) with Technical knowledge ensuring safe work environment through compliance with regulatory agencies and standards (EPA, OSHA, ADA, etc).
Janice Woods, Masters in Educational Leadership and Child Development Program Director at Chicago Commons, has been part of the education community for 35 years. Janice has a Masters in Educational Leadership from Argosy University and a bachelor’s degree in General Studies from Roosevelt University with concentration in Early Childhood Education. She began teaching at the University of Chicago Laboratory Nursery School in 1978, and became Director of the Parent Cooperative School in Hyde Park. Janice came to Chicago Commons in 1998 as an assistant director and became the Program Director in 2005. Janice has worked with her team to produce a book entitled “Chicago Commons Adaptations of the Reggio Emilia Approach Deeply Rooted in Theory & Practice.” The book provides insights into the award-winning Reggio Emilia Approach, based out of Italy. Janice provides leadership to four “Reggio inspired”, nationally accredited sites through the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She also leads an initiative to provide consulting to 16 partner head start schools in Chicago. Janice is an active member of the Chicago Coalition of Site Administered Child Care Programs, the Illinois Head Start Association and a chosen participant on the Mayor’s Early Childhood Task Force.