STAFF & VOLUNTEERS

Project: VISION’s staff and volunteers are the core of the organization. Their hard work and dedication make it possible to serve our community.

OUR STAFF

Karen Chiu

Karen Chiu

Executive Director | Co-Founder

While taking time off from medical school in 2003, Karen took a part-time job tutoring at-risk teens, an experience that ignited her passion for youth development. Realizing there was a need in the community for a safe place that youth could call their own and get the support and guidance they need, Karen founded Project: VISION with a few fellow volunteers. In 2009, she assumed the role of Executive Director on a volunteer basis, managing many facets of operations including administration, fundraising, and board development. However, her favorite part of this experience continues to be working directly with the students whether it be tutoring, teaching ACT, or doing service projects alongside them. She believes that positive after school programs go a long way in helping kids succeed, and she looks forward to helping PV continue to grow in order to bring these programs to even more students in the coming years.

Sandy Ruan

Sandy Ruan

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Sandy has a degree in Public Relations/Advertising and Psychology from DePaul University. She joined Project: VISION in 2013 as Development Intern and has since taken on the role of Director of Development and now the Director of Strategic Initiatives. She uses her past experiences with the Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations to help Project: VISION secure the resources it needs to support its growing youth programs. Sandy’s role also allows her to watch PV youth develop and grow firsthand, and better tell their stories. She is proud to be able to provide students an important part of growing up: chances to learn something new every day.

Elvina Ng

Elvina Ng

Operations Manager

Elvina graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Chemical Engineering in 2012. During her 4 years working at the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Elvina developed a passion for helping the community. After working at the Chamber, she realized the impact that nonprofits have within the community. She joined Project: VISION in 2018 because she felt that her experience at the Chinatown Chamber was meaningful and that it could be used towards her position as the Operations Manager at PV. Elvina is excited to be able to watch the PV youth not only grow academically, but to become leaders of their generation.

Karen Zeng

Karen Zeng

Office Coordinator

Peter Xu

Peter Xu

Case Manager

Grace Wu

Grace Wu

Parent Engagement Coordinator

OUR PROGRAM STAFF

Brooke Williams

Brooke Williams

Youth Program Manager (MS)

Dandan Lu

Dandan Lu

Youth Program Coordinator (MS)

Gibs Smolsky-Gibson

Gibs Smolsky-Gibson

Youth Program Coordinator (MS)

Gibs graduated from Chicago’s own UIC with a BS in Mathematics and completed 1 year of Graduate studies toward the Science of Teaching Mathematics with a focus on multimodal methods of teaching. When the pandemic hit, Gibs shifted to working for Connected Camps an online-only non-profit that teaches STEM and SEL through Minecraft to kids aged 8-15. Discovering this passion for non-profit work Gibs shifted to building equitable, local pathways of enrichment for Chicago Kids through working with Project: VISION. He loves challenging kids’ understanding of educational pathways asking them to consider why they learn what they do. As a proud first-generation student, he is passionate about activism and equality, thriving to provide as much support to students as possible. Gibs is excited to watch youth grow to learn, serve and lead the diverse Chicago community that inspired and provided him with everything he needed to grow.
Yin-Hsiu Chen

Yin-Hsiu Chen

Youth Program Manager (HS)

Yin-Hsiu believes children are the future. During her undergraduate years, she joined the Indigenous Culture Volunteer Club to hold summer camps for rural elementary schools and found a passion for philanthropy. Afterward, she worked as a program specialist at World Vision Taiwan and Hondao Senior Citizen’s Welfare Foundation for over three years. During her free time, she has volunteered tutoring services to disadvantaged children and interned at the Boys & Girls Club Bloomington and Ascend Indiana. Yin-Hsiu recently graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a master’s degree in Public Affairs with a concentration in nonprofit management. Yin-Hsiu is excited to join PV and make an impact on youth!

Lena Wu

Lena Wu

Youth Program Manager (HS)

Lena graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She is currently completing her master’s degree in School Counseling at Northeastern Illinois University. Lena has spent most of her time working with high school students and families to support the student’s academic and postsecondary needs. She is passionate about promoting college and career awareness and readiness to help students work towards their postsecondary goals. She also has experience mentoring undergraduate students to increase college success. Lena is excited to work with PV youths to support their postsecondary and career development.

Anita Das

Anita Das

Youth Program Coordinator (HS)

Eva Nip

Eva Nip

Youth Program Coordinator (HS)

AJ Reinhardt

AJ Reinhardt

Youth Program Coordinator (HS)

AJ graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Creative Writing from DePaul University. Working throughout high school as a counselor and intern at Lake Erie Ink in Cleveland, Ohio, she developed a passion for youth third-spaces and the power they can have in a community. She has served as a tutor with Project: VISION since 2019, working with both middle and high schoolers. She loves watching PV students develop their skills, interests, and identities, and looks forward to helping them realize their full potential.

OUR TUTORS

Celoa Adriatico

Celoa Adriatico

Staff Tutor

Raunel Albiter

Raunel Albiter

Staff Tutor

Ernesto Angulo

Ernesto Angulo

Staff Tutor

Jasmine Benitez

Jasmine Benitez

Staff Tutor

Will Blodgett

Will Blodgett

Staff Tutor

Erin Boyle

Erin Boyle

Staff Tutor

Alexis Cain

Alexis Cain

Staff Tutor

Ashley Cain

Ashley Cain

Staff Tutor

Zepei Cen

Zepei Cen

Staff Tutor

Nim Yan Chan

Nim Yan Chan

Staff Tutor

Zoe Cheever

Zoe Cheever

Staff Tutor

Haley Deem

Haley Deem

Staff Tutor

Aware Deshmukh

Aware Deshmukh

Staff Tutor

Angel Estrada

Angel Estrada

Staff Tutor

Heidi Friedeck

Heidi Friedeck

Volunteer Tutor

Tim Gietl

Tim Gietl

Volunteer Tutor

Eli Ginsburg-Marcy

Eli Ginsburg-Marcy

Volunteer Tutor

Monica Gomez

Monica Gomez

Staff Tutor

Evelyn Gutierrez

Evelyn Gutierrez

Staff Tutor

Jake Hoang

Jake Hoang

Staff Tutor

Alessi Horsley

Alessi Horsley

Staff Tutor

Ilona Huang

Ilona Huang

Staff Tutor

Michelle Ji

Michelle Ji

Volunteer Tutor

Hongjie Jiang

Hongjie Jiang

Staff Tutor

Basma Khazal

Basma Khazal

Staff Tutor

Zoe Knight

Zoe Knight

Staff Tutor

Jenny Lee

Jenny Lee

Staff Tutor

Jerry Lee

Jerry Lee

Staff Tutor

Willie Li

Willie Li

Staff Tutor

Alice Liu

Alice Liu

Staff Tutor

Samuel Long

Samuel Long

Staff Tutor

Ethan Nakashima

Ethan Nakashima

Staff Tutor

Christine Ngô

Christine Ngô

Staff Tutor

Geovanni Pallares

Geovanni Pallares

Staff Tutor

Emily Park

Emily Park

Staff Tutor

Christopher Powell

Christopher Powell

Staff Tutor

David Ren

David Ren

Volunteer Tutor

Kamila Russ

Kamila Russ

Staff Tutor

Kevin Saalwaechter

Kevin Saalwaechter

Staff Tutor

Adhira Shanmuganathan

Adhira Shanmuganathan

Staff Tutor

Gibs Smolsky-Gibson

Gibs Smolsky-Gibson

Staff Tutor

Johanna Taylor

Johanna Taylor

Staff Tutor

Emma Troy

Emma Troy

Staff Tutor

Tanmayee Vegesna

Tanmayee Vegesna

Staff Tutor

Dean Welby

Dean Welby

Staff Tutor

Rachel Wisniewski

Rachel Wisniewski

Staff Tutor

Darren Wu

Darren Wu

Staff Tutor

Fu Kang Wu

Fu Kang Wu

Staff Tutor

Yesha (Alexa) Yu

Yesha (Alexa) Yu

Staff Tutor

Ying Yue

Ying Yue

Staff Tutor

Lisa Zhou

Lisa Zhou

Staff Tutor

David Zhu

David Zhu

Staff Tutor

Shannon Chan

Shannon Chan

Volunteer Tutor

Elliot Choi

Elliot Choi

Volunteer Tutor

Jieyi Kuang

Jieyi Kuang

Staff Tutor

YaoTing Li

YaoTing Li

Volunteer Tutor

Liren Liang

Liren Liang

Staff Tutor

Emma Lynch

Emma Lynch

Staff Tutor

Sara Lynch

Sara Lynch

Staff Tutor

Joseph Minardi

Joseph Minardi

Volunteer Tutor

ZiBin Tan

ZiBin Tan

Staff Tutor

Catherine Tang

Catherine Tang

Staff Tutor