Linnette Acosta, Case Manager
Linnette is currently a Case Manager at ALSO for our Communities Partnering for Peace (CP4P) Program. As a case manager, she works with participants to assist them in their journey towards becoming a productive, active member of the community, working alongside our Outreach Team to ensure engagement of in-risk and at-risk individuals in Humboldt Park. Previously, she served as ALSO’s resident coordinator for the Humboldt Park People Power program funded by Get IN Chicago. As resident coordinator, she recruited participants to promote resident empowerment to reduce violence in the Humboldt Park community, working alongside other community organizers to ensure engagement and full participation of disconnected youth and adult residents. She received her Bachelor in Criminology, Law and Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012. She resides in the Humboldt Park area and is grateful for the opportunity to help empower her fellow community residents. She is excited to work with an agency that is inclusive and strives to provide services both locally and nationally.
Orlando Cintron, Violence Interrupter
Lori Crowder, Ph.D., Executive Director
Lori has worked for over two decades on both local and national initiatives to end gender-based violence. Lori joined ALSO in 2007. As Executive Director, she designs and manages efforts to prevent and intervene in both community violence and gender-based violence for in-risk populations through training, technical assistance and community-building, both locally and nationally. Lori started her career in New York City, managing an initiative designed to address prisoner reentry and domestic violence for the Vera Institute of Justice. While there, she oversaw training, technical assistance and research to build the capacity of jurisdictions around the country to provide cross-sector support for returning prisoners and their families. Prior to this, she managed social services for public housing residents in Queens.
Her research focuses on the impact of correctional supervision on intimate partner relationships. Lori’s selected publications include “Managing Ties and Time: Men’s and Women’s Reports of Relationships during Incarceration and Reentry” (dissertation, 2018); and “Prisoner reentry and intimate partner violence in the African American community: The case for culturally competent interventions.Journal of the Institute of Justice and International Studies,” (2004, co-author with Oliver, Williams, and Hairston).
Lori has taught social work courses at the City University of New York and at the UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work. She currently teaches social welfare policy courses in the MSW program at Governors State University. Lori received a B.S. from the University of Texas at Arlington, an M.S. from Columbia University’s School of Social Work, and a Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work.
Phone: 773-235-5705 ext. 233
Cristina Damiani, MA, Director of Safe Homes
Cristina is the Director of Safe Homes at the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO), and an advocate with over 15 years of experience working for nonprofits and government agencies on anti-violence and social justice issues. In this role, Cristina oversees programming that provides training and consultation to organizations serving survivors from underserved communities (Underserved Technical Assistance Project) and those working to reduce the effects of violence on children, youth and their non-offending caregivers, and engaging men and boys as allies (Consolidated Youth and Engaging Men Technical Assistance Project). Cristina also supports ALSO’s S.T.O.P. Technical Assistance Resource (STAAR) Project which assists state and territory administering agencies in their implementation of the STOP Formula Grant Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women.
Before joining ALSO in 2015, Cristina was co-director of the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center (OCVLC), providing direct advocacy and bilingual services to crime victims statewide and overseeing all the organization’s administrative and fiscal matters. From 2005 to 2010, Cristina worked for Puerto Rico’s Office of Courts Administration developing programming to enhance system responses to domestic violence which included the implementation and subsequent expansion of the first specialized domestic violence court in Puerto Rico.
Cristina started her professional career in New York City working at the Vera Institute of Justice on two national technical assistance projects, including the Judicial Oversight Demonstration Initiative (JODI), both funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. Cristina holds a B.A. in Law and Society from the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington D.C., and a M.A. in Anthropology from the Hunter College of the City University of New York.
Christine Escalera, Outreach Worker
Christine is an outreach worker at ALSO. She also works with the organization’s national team to build a bridge between ALSO’s work on street violence in the community and domestic violence. Christine, who grew up in Alabama and then New Orleans, LA, later moved to the Logan Square and then the Humboldt Park community in Chicago. Her experience includes working in administration for a funeral home in Chicago. Before coming to ALSO, Christine was a participant in the organization’s programs. Christine was featured in an article and video about her life and work on July 18, 2018 in the Chicago Tribune.
Marisol Giraud, Event Manager
Rachel Hastings, Program Coordinator, Underserved Technical Assistance Program
Jayla James, Program Assistant, Serving Our Youth & Underserved Technical Assistance Program
Courtney Kutauskas, MSW, Program Specialist, STAAR Project
Courtney is the Program Specialist for the STAAR Project. Courtney began her career as an advocate by responding to local hospitals to accompany sexual assault survivors during their medical exams and interactions with police. Courtney graduated with her Bachelor's in Psychology from the University of Colorado and completed her Master's of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Courtney has previous experience in mental health crisis intervention, legal aid case management, and was most recently with the Chicago Department of Public Health's Office of Violence Prevention and Behavioral Health. Courtney's interests include reducing reliance on the justice system, survivor-centered solutions to addressing harm, and community engagement.
Zarena Leblanc, MA, Training and Engagement Manager
Zarena Leblanc is the Training and Engagement Manager at ALSO. In this role, Zarena supports technical assistance efforts by creating content for trainings, researching and engaing with key consultants for trainings and supporting the programmatic and administrative activities associated with the Underserved Technical Assistance Grant. She also manages internal training for new staff and partners increasing agency capacity and is involved in growing ALSO's niche area, the intersection between community violence and domestic violence. She is also a lead facilitator for ALSO’s Your Life is my Life Bystander Intervention Training.
Prior to her work at ALSO, Zarena taught English as a Second Language to migrant/immigrant professionals and youth for over 5 years. She also worked at various YMCA’s as an after school counselor, tutor and fitness instructor. Zarena received her Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from the University of South Florida and her Master of Arts in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Florida International University. Her studies focused on representation of culture within Afro-Latin and Latin populations.
Zarena believes in relationship building as the foundation of meaningful interactions and positive change. She believes that connecting with others, no matter their background, and offering an ear, shoulder or hug to engage in deep connections is an unidentified form of public health. She asserts that when individuals are able to listen and connect on deeper levels with a variety of people, healing occurs. When Zarena is not working she teaches and attends dance fitness classes, spends time with her family, drinks copious amounts of tea and travels any chance she gets.
Bridget Massey, Program Coordinator, Policy Team
Bridget is the Program Coordinator for the Policy Team. Prior to starting at ALSO, Bridget worked on St. Norbert College's Title IX and VAWA Grant team where she designed a peer advocacy program accessible to St. Norbert College students who have experienced sexual assault/harassment. She also researched and co-authored a proposal to implement an Emergency Survivor Assistance Fund available to the students, faculty, and staff at St. Norbert who have suffered financial hardships after experiencing sexual trauma. Bridget is a graduate of St. Norbert College's Sociology program (BA).
Rolando Otero, Outreach Worker
Rolando is currently the Outreach Supervisor for the Safe Streets Violence Prevention Program at ALSO. He has been with ALSO since 2010, and first joined the team as an outreach worker. Rolando has completed a restorative justice training, and will hold peace circles for in-risk and at-risk youth. He supports ALSO’s local violence prevention initiative, and it is his great pleasure to work for an organization that provides great services to the community. Rolando is a lifelong resident of the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago, and is happy to work in and give back to his neighborhood.
Tony Raggs, Outreach Program Manager, Safe Streets
Tony is the Outreach Program Manager at the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO) and has more than 20 years of experience working in various capacities for nonprofit organizations in Chicago. In the last 20 years, his experience has included many years of violence prevention work in the city. He has served as a volunteer outreach worker and outreach worker in West Humboldt Park and West Garfield Park, and, later, an outreach supervisor in West Humboldt Park. Most recently, he worked as a Program Coordinator at Breakthrough Urban Ministries. Over the years, he has also worked as a community activist for Bethel New Life. Tony’s background includes a dynamic creative side; he once worked as an illustrator and short story writer for Windy City Word, which was published on Chicago’s West Side. At ALSO, Tony says that “This work is about changing minds and saving lives.”
Seomara Sanabria, Accounting Coordinator
Seomara Sanabria joined the Finance Team in June of 2019 as a part-time Fiscal Assistant and has rapidly grown into a full-time Fiscal Coordinator. Seo has worked in the non-profit sector for 20 years. She is Project Management Essentials Certified (PMEC) and a Certified Business Office Manager (CBOM). Before joining ALSO, Seo was the Director of Finance of a non-profit organization and held that position for over 10 years. She is able to apply her knowledge of non-profit accounting principles and professional work ethic, to her current role. Seo’s expertise and experience has expanded the growth and foundation of the already strong Finance Department at ALSO. Seo has become an asset to the agency through her leadership of financial reporting requirements for the Safe Streets Program and providing support to manage private, government, and non-government grants. Seo enjoys spending time with her family and watching shows like Gilmore Girls, Six Feet Under, and American Horror Story.
Antonella Santostefano, Program Manager
Mary Malefyt Seighman, Director of Policy and Justice Initiatives
Mary Malefyt Seighman is the Director of Policy and Justice Initiatives at the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO), and an attorney who has devoted over twenty years to improving systemic and victim service responses to violence. Mary manages the STAAR Project, an OVW cooperative agreement-funded project that provides guidance to all 56 states and territories on using VAWA’s STOP Formula Grants Program to improve responses to survivors of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Locally, she works on policy issues affecting residents of Chicago’s Humboldt Park and Logan Square neighborhoods. She is currently developing and piloting ALSO’s Expungement Project, which employs a pro se accompaniment model to assist community members with petitioning for record expungement and sealing. Keeping the goals of survivor safety, autonomy, and restoration at the center of her work, Mary has led the National Center on Full Faith and Credit as Senior Attorney to promote multidisciplinary policy and systems change related to protection orders and firearms; served as grants administration director for a state violence prevention agency; conducted dozens of trainings and consultations with policy-makers, law enforcement, attorneys, judges and court staff, and advocates; and developed policies and guidance on making services and systems accessible to survivors living with trauma. Mary is a graduate of The George Washington University Law School (JD), an alumna of the first Domestic Violence Community Legal Clinic at GW Law, and a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (BA). In her free time, Mary plays violin in local orchestras and chamber groups.
Nelson Torres, Outreach Worker
Silvia Villeda, Finance Director
Silvia has worked at ALSO since 2007, first as the Accounting Manager, and now as the Finance Director. She graduated from the Universidad Michoacán de San Nicolas de Hidalgo (UMSNH) in Mexico with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in July 2000. Before joining ALSO, Silvia worked as an Administrative Assistant at Pemex, a petroleum company in Mexico and as an Accountant for a travel agency for 6 years in the United States. At present, she volunteers as member of the financial council of a religious organization and is seeking a master’s degree in religious education.
Topher Williamson, Program Coordinator, Serving Our Youth
Topher Williamson is the Program Coordinator for the Serving Our Youth Project, serving Children Youth and Engaging Men as Allies (CYEM) grantees. Previously at ALSO, Topher served as the Program Assistant on the Serving Our Youth Project, the Underserved Technical Assistance Project. and the STAAR Project. Topher works to assist with the development, completion, and dissemination of products, trainings, and other technical assistance activities. Topher previously served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, working with LGBTQ+ young people with a focus on building the capacity of the organization and its youth organizing programs. Additionally, Topher is a professional theatre artist working as a director, actor, and writer. Topher holds a BFA in Theatre from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and received an Executive Program in Arts & Culture Strategy Certificate from the University of Pennsylvania and National Arts Strategies. Topher is interested the intersections of equity, identity, and civic engagement.
Lisa Gilmore, LCPC, M.Ed, Consultant
Lisa Gilmore is Principal & Founder of Illinois Accountability Initiative (IL-AI), which strives to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in their self-determined efforts to create and sustain accountability practices in local communities, among individuals, and within systems and institutions. IL-AI believes that community accountability practices can increase safety and reduce harm in the lives of LGBTQ people, transforming communities and directly challenging social conditions that support oppression and violence in many forms.
Previously, Lisa served as Director of Education & Victim Advocacy at Center on Halsted, Chicago’s LGBTQ community center. While at the Center from 2005 – 2013, Lisa provided victim services and guided the work of the Anti-Violence Project, the Legal Program, professional training and technical assistance, and the implementation of the Center’s formal systems-level advocacy efforts—all aimed at reducing the impact of bias in the lives of LGBTQ people.
Lisa has served on the Governance Committee of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs since 2010. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and has provided individual psychotherapy, group support, or crisis counseling to hundreds of survivors and witnesses of domestic, sexual, hate, police, and HIV status-related violence.
In March 2012, Lisa was honored as one of four “Women of Distinction” by Lisa Madigan, Attorney General of the State of Illinois, during the inaugural year of this Women’s History Month event. Before dedicating herself to LGBTQ-specific anti-violence efforts, Lisa worked for several years with adults dually diagnosed with developmental disabilities and mental illness.
Robin H. Thompson, JD, Consultant
Robin Hassler Thompson consults with a wide range of clients including universities, state and national public policy and human rights advocacy groups, and international law firms. She was the executive director of the Governor’s Task Force on Domestic and Sexual Violence for the State of Florida from 1994 – 98 and in that position she served as Florida’s first STOP Grant Program State Administrator. Later, she supervised Florida’s STOP Grant Program until leaving state government. Since 1998 to the present, she has provided technical assistance to STOP Grant Program state administrators, subgrantees and the Office on Violence Against Women. She began her work as a consultant with the STOP TA program, the first technical assistance program created by the Department of Justice to assist STOP Grant Program fund recipients. She has also worked directly with the Office on Violence Against Women on STOP Grant Program policy issues AND has served as a peer reviewer for a number of grant programs administered under the Violence Against Women Act. On the local level, she has volunteered for and served as president of the board for the local domestic violence and rape crisis program and helped found the Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center (STAC), an anti-trafficking and trafficking survivor support non-profit organization. At the request of the U.S. Department of Justice, Robin served on the National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women.
Robin holds a law degree and an M.A. from Florida State University and a B.A. from American University in Washington, D.C. Robin is well grounded on law and policy matters related to domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking and dating violence, having worked in this policy arena on local, state, national and international levels for over two decades.
Quenette L. Walton, PHD, AM, LCSW, Consultant
Dr. Quenette L. Walton joined ALSO as a consultant in 2015 and has worked with the STOP Technical Assistance to Administrators Resource (STAAR) Project and the Underserved Technical Assistance Project. In this capacity, Dr. Walton does work that focuses on the intersection of race, social class, gender, mental health, community violence, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault. In addition, Dr. Walton is a contributor of ALSO’s Administrators’ Corner, a publication focusing on substantive and administrative topics related to the Violence Against Women Act STOP Formula Grants Program.
Dr. Walton’s prior work experience has spanned across multiple systems—child welfare, schools, and community mental health facilities—where she provided mental health services to children and families. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Westside Domestic Abuse Project which is now called the Center for Advancing Domestic Peace, Inc. from 2005-2007.
Furthermore, Dr. Walton is a licensed clinical social worker and is completing her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Health Services and Society where she is expanding her research skills within the context of mental health disparities and the social determinants of mental health. Dr. Walton’s research focuses on understanding the complex interaction of race, social class, gender, and cultural context as factors in behavioral and mental health disparities among middle-class African American women. Dr. Walton earned her Ph.D. in 2016 from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work. Her dissertation was entitled, “The Experiences of Depression Among Middle-Class African American Women: A Mixed Model Study.” She holds an A.M. in social work from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.