Our Story

Friends of the Children - Chicago

Over the last few years, local and national media attention about Chicago has been about gun violence and gangs. Challenging that narrative, a group of concerned citizens came together around the belief that with the right support, every child can achieve greatness.

Bringing Friends of the Children to Chicago started as a whimsical dream. However, through their passion, persistence and commitment, our early champions obtained the enthusiastic support of the Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, the Steans Foundation, the Good Heart Work Smart Foundation and many other individuals deeply invested in the children who need it most. Launched in January 2018, Friends of the Children - Chicago is proud to serve children in the Austin and North Lawndale communities.


Taal Hasak-Lowy

Executive Director

Seth El-Jamal

Program Director

Leslie Levy

Director of Operations


Tom Abrahamson

Board Chair

Executive Counsel, Lipman Hearne

Oak Park, IL

Linda Filler

Vice Chair

President – Retail (Retired), Walgreens

Northfield, IL

Jeannie Affelder


Actor & Philanthropist

Oak Park, IL

Ruth McLaren


Senior Vice President, Community Bank of Oak Park and River Forest

La Grange Park, IL

Larry Ettner

Professor of Management Practice, Atkinson School of Management, Willamette University

Salem, OR

Elayne Granger

Director External & Legislative Affairs, AT&T

Chicago, IL

Jackie Hairston


Chicago, IL

Kristina Mourlot

Director, Vista Equity Partners

Chicago, IL

Bart Moy

Area Coordinator, Chicago Police Department

Chicago, IL

Aletra Nicholson

Director, Social Solutions Global

Oak Park, IL

Cara Pavlicek

Village Manager, Village of Oak Park

Oak Park, IL

Darnell Shields

Executive Director, Austin Coming Together

Chicago, IL

Jason Stiehl

Partner, Loeb & Loeb LLP

Chicago, IL

Kirstin Wells

Economist, Federal Reserve Board

River Forest, IL

Stacey Williams


River Forest, IL

Caren Croland Yanis

Principal, Croland Consulting LLC

Chicago, IL


Friends of the Children is committed to the communities we serve, to equal employment opportunity, and to diversity in our workplace.

We are not currently hiring. Please check back for more information in late October for our next round of recruiting for the Professional Mentor position.