Open Communities Board

Our service and advocacy programs are backed by the energy and vision of our Board of Directors and officers.

Open Communities Staff

Staff members provide direct housing services to individuals, community education and grassroots organizing in north suburban Chicago. Some members of the staff speak Farsi, French and Spanish as well as English.

Individual staff can be accessed via e-mail by [firstname]@open-communities.org.

Our main phone number is (847) 501-5760

Board Members

Dr. Liliana N. Fargo

President
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Bio >

Liliana emigrated from Mexico and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago. Dr. Fargo is on the faculty at DePaul University and is a researcher with other academic institutions. She has lived in Skokie with her two children for over 15 years and is active with diverse local community organizations.

Kourtney Cockrell

Vice President
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Bio >

Kourtney dedicated her career to increasing access and opportunity for young people from traditionally overlooked backgrounds. She has expertise in working with first generation college students, career advising, diversity facilitation, nonprofit management, talent management, and organizational change. She is currently the Director of Student Enrichment Services at Northwestern University. Prior to NU, Kourtney spent over seven years with The Posse Foundation. She is a member of the Diversity Council at Northwestern University and was honored as the Young Woman of Promise through the YWCA YWomen’s Awards Dinner in October 2014.

Anita Zawodniak

Secretary
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Bio >

Anita works as an Administrator for NorthShore University HealthSysytem. She relocated to the North Shore from the western suburbs and has been a resident of Evanston for the past 8 years. She participated in the Leadership Evanston class and has stayed on as a volunteer for the steering committee. She has a passion for community involvement and looks forward to dedicating her time to serving north suburban communities.

Tom FitzGibbon

Treasurer
Pronouns: he/him/his

Bio >

Tom is an independent consultant in the community development industry after serving as the Managing Director Corporate and Community Development for Talmer Bank and Trust. He has served on numerous boards including serving as chair of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, The Rogers Park Business Alliance, Woodstock Institute, and ACCION-Chicago. He lives in Glenview.

Emily Love

Board Member
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Bio >

Emily is an immigration lawyer based in Evanston. She has represented clients from countries all over the world in family-based and deportation defense cases, including asylum and other protection-based forms of relief. She also represents employees and companies throughout the U.S. in employment-based petitions. Throughout her career, she has been a passionate volunteer with various immigrant organizations and has handled many pro-bono cases. In late 2015, she spent a week in Dilley, Texas as a volunteer attorney representing detained mothers and children who had fled violence in Central America. Emily lives in Highland Park.

Kaney O’Neill

Board Member
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Bio >

Kaney is a US Navy veteran who served on the nuclear aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz during the ship’s overhaul in Newport News, Virginia. Kaney was paralyzed from a spinal cord injury on September 15, 1999 when a hurricane struck the East Coast. Kaney founded O’Neill Contractors, Inc., headquartered in Glenview, in August 2007. She enjoys speaking to schools to raise awareness of disability acceptance. Kaney, who lives in Des Plaines. earned a BS in Education and Social Policy in 2005 and MA in Learning Sciences in 2007 from Northwestern University.

Loretta Sortino

Board Member
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Bio >

Loretta is a Retail Banking Officer with First Bank of Highland Park. She is also committed to serving her community through active involvement in the Community Reinvestment Act. Loretta is constantly expanding her knowledge base through continuing education courses specializing in retail lending and speaks fluent Italian. She lives in Deerfield.

Dilnaz Waraich

Board Member
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Bio >

Dilnaz Waraich, M.S.Ed. from Northwestern University is an educational consultant with Northwestern University’s Education Department and also has her own business, Envision Education Consultants. She also is Vice President of Winnetka Interfaith Council and is passionate about community activism and interfaith collaboration. She lives in Winnetka with her family.

Elizabeth Corrado

Shared Housing Specialist
Pronouns: she/her/hers
elizabeth@open-communities.org

Bio coming soon

Kevin Duffy

Research Associate
Pronouns: he/him/him
kevin@open-communities.org

Bio coming soon

Tom Gonzalez

Housing Intake Specialist
Pronouns: he/him/his
tom@open-communities.org

Bio coming soon

Laura Kochevar

Manager of Comm & Development
Pronouns: she/her/hers
laura@open-communities.org

Bio coming soon

David Luna

Executive Director
Pronouns: he/him/his
david@open-communities.org

Bio coming soon

Fariduddin Muhammad

Landlord/Tenant Liaison

farid@open-communities.org

Bio coming soon

Neda Nozari

Director of Fair Housing
Pronouns: she/her/hers
neda@open-communities.org

Bio >

Neda Nozari is the Director of Fair Housing at Open Communities. She is an attorney and mediator with a passion for civil rights and conflict resolution. Neda received her Bachelors degree in Political Science from Northwestern University and her Juris Doctorate degree from The John Marshall Law School. She has done extensive research and has written about the nexus between housing, education and opportunity. She is a skilled negotiator and advocate for justice. Neda enjoys music, dancing, art, travel and exercise in her spare time.

Venus Perez

Finance Manager
Pronouns: she/her/hers
venus@open-communities.org

Bio coming soon

Liliana Salcido

Bilingual Housing Liaison
Pronouns: she/her/hers
liliana@open-communities.org

Bio >

Liliana Salcido is a Mexican immigrant who moved the Chicagoland 12 years ago. With a Bachelors degree in Biochemistry, she made the transition to nonprofit service to fulfill her passion to help others. As an outreach worker she connects people with needed resources. Her love is her 9 year-old daughter. Liliana enjoys hugging her and kissing her daughter whenever she lets her. During her free time, she pretends to cook, bake and reinvent meals… always with a glass of wine.

Maria Starck

Testing & Education Coordinator
Pronouns: she/her/hers
maria@open-communities.org

Bio coming soon

Ted Smukler

Senior Organizer
Pronouns: he/him/his
ted@open-communities.org

Bio >

Ted has worked as a community organizer, organizational consultant, teacher, labor union researcher and organizer of community/labor partnerships, public policy director, and Uber driver. He lives in Skokie with his wife and two young adult children. He is a member of Beth Emet Synagogue in Evanston. When not obsessing about politics, Ted loves music, reading, camping, and a good poker game.

Michael Stumpf

Housing Counselor
Pronouns: he/him/they/them
michael@open-communities.org

Bio >

Michael Stumpf is passionate about social justice issues. He worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing in downtown Chicago for two years, researching the foreclosure crisis’ effect on renters. He also assisted with efforts to organize tenants in buildings affected by foreclosure and/or gentrification. Michael received a Bachelor of Arts in International Political Science at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He is a Packers fan, has a twin brother named Patrick and a younger sister named Megan. Michael enjoys cycling, running, and electronic music.

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