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.

Peter Xu

Peter Xu

Case Manager

Grace Wu

Grace Wu

Parent Engagement Coordinator

Xinyi (Grace) Wu joins us as the new Parent Engagement Coordinator at Project: VISION. After graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in Master of Science in Education, she realized her passion for discovering ways to engage parents more in educating English Language Learning children. Grace deeply recognizes immigrant parents’ significant challenges in educating their children, and she wants to support and engage them as much as possible at Project: VISION. She hopes that more immigrant parents can become interested in volunteering in the CPS schools, helping themselves and their children overcome the various barriers present in their lives.

OUR MIDDLE SCHOOL PROGRAM STAFF

Brooke Williams

Brooke Williams

Youth Program Manager

Dandan Lu

Dandan Lu

Youth Program Coordinator

Gibs Smolsky-Gibson

Gibs Smolsky-Gibson

Youth Program Coordinator

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.
Shawn Wong

Shawn Wong

Youth Program Coordinator

Born and raised in Chicago’s Chinatown and Bridgeport neighborhoods, Shawn has long been searching for a way to serve his community. He earned a BFA in Film Production from DePaul University with the goal of supporting and promoting the work of marginalized communities. Although he has left the film industry, the importance of story-telling continues to inform his approach toward community work. He believes that exploring each other’s personal narratives is critical in developing confident and empathic young minds. At PV, Shawn aims to implement programming that places emphasis on creative expression, exploring self-identity and community building.

OUR HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAM STAFF

Yin-Hsiu Chen

Yin-Hsiu Chen

Youth Program Manager

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

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.

Christina Vang

Christina Vang

Youth Program Coordinator

Born and raised in Minnesota, Christina graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with a BA in Global Studies-Human Rights and Justice. During her high school and undergraduate years, she spent much time helping diverse and marginalized youth like herself in academia success, cultural, and identity exploration. After graduating, Christina moved to Chicago and joined PV in hopes of assisting more diverse youth in self-exploration and academia success. Christina is excited to support PV youth in their journeys of self-growth and success!
Tolga Kesler

Tolga Kesler

Youth Program Coordinator

Tolga graduated from Pitzer College with a degree in Political Studies and was awarded honors for their thesis about social movements and leadership. Tolga has been a mentor at their college for their Asian American community and is passionate about helping and supporting PV youth in their endeavors. Youth empowerment is central to Tolga as they see that the youth have so much potential for change. Tolga is excited to work with the PV team and be a part of the community.
Yan Meng

Yan Meng

Youth Program Coordinator

Yan was born and raised in Beijing and attended college in the United States. She recently graduated from the University of Chicago with a focus on East Asian history, media, and pop culture. Having received higher education in both China and the U.S., Yan is always eager to engage in cross-regional communication and help students with multicultural backgrounds to thrive in their academic studies. As a member of the High School Program, Yan is eager to meet and talk to different people and gain insight from their experiences on the importance of global education

OUR TUTORS

Vuslat Algul

Vuslat Algul

Staff Tutor

Sarah Buchhorn

Sarah Buchhorn

Staff Tutor

Anthony Cai

Anthony Cai

Volunteer Tutor

Jesse Cai

Jesse Cai

Volunteer Tutor

Zoey Cao

Zoey Cao

Staff Tutor

Nim Yan Chan

Nim Yan Chan

Staff Tutor

Adrian Cheung

Adrian Cheung

Staff Tutor

Haley Deem

Haley Deem

Lead Tutor

Han Duong

Han Duong

Lead Tutor

Eli Ginsburg-Marcy

Eli Ginsburg-Marcy

Volunteer Tutor

Christopher Guo

Christopher Guo

Volunteer Tutor

Alessi Horsley

Alessi Horsley

Staff Tutor

Sidney Hotchkiss

Sidney Hotchkiss

Staff Tutor

Marisa Kelath

Marisa Kelath

Lead Tutor

Basma Khazal

Basma Khazal

Staff Tutor

Yelyzaveta (Liz) Kondratyuk

Yelyzaveta (Liz) Kondratyuk

Staff Tutor

Jieyi Kuang

Jieyi Kuang

Staff Tutor

Chikyi Lau

Chikyi Lau

Volunteer Tutor

Kalvin Lee

Kalvin Lee

Staff Tutor

Willie Li

Willie Li

Lead Tutor

Jason Liang

Jason Liang

Staff Tutor

Ivan Liu

Ivan Liu

Staff Tutor

Alisha Lone

Alisha Lone

Staff Tutor

Brian Luu

Brian Luu

Lead Tutor

Billy Mei

Billy Mei

Staff Tutor

Emily Mei

Emily Mei

Staff Tutor

Ethan Nakashima

Ethan Nakashima

Staff Tutor

Christine Ngo

Christine Ngo

Volunteer Tutor

Safiya Ratliff

Safiya Ratliff

Staff Tutor

Kamila Russ

Kamila Russ

Lead Tutor

Nicholas Tam

Nicholas Tam

Staff Tutor

John Wang

John Wang

Volunteer Tutor

Jon Win

Jon Win

Staff Tutor

Porsha Winters

Porsha Winters

Staff Tutor

Rachel Wisniewski

Rachel Wisniewski

Staff Tutor

Darren Wu

Darren Wu

Staff Tutor

Li Wei Xiong

Li Wei Xiong

Staff Tutor

David Yi

David Yi

Staff Tutor

Alexa Yu

Alexa Yu

Staff Tutor