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.
Dan Baron, Communications Coordinator
Dan Baron is the Communications Coordinator at the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO). He is a writer who has written about violence prevention, education, economic development, health and many other issues for nonprofits and other organizations over the years. His experience includes more than 15 years of working as a strategist, communications consultant and grant writer in the Chicago region. Dan’s work is about telling impactful, compelling and targeted stories about people, communities and systems and often features interviews and first-person stories about people who are striving to overcome challenges on key social issues. Over the years, he has written and managed dozens of projects including strategic communications plans, annual reports, newsletters, brochures, media kits, case studies and federal and foundation grant proposals as well as research on funding prospects. He has also worked as a journalist and columnist for various newspapers and other publications as well as a writer for numerous universities, including the University of Illinois at Chicago and DePaul University; he has written for the Steans Center at DePaul, a leading service learning organization, for more than a decade. His work also includes developing and writing communications projects for various state agencies, including the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority and the Illinois Department on Aging. Dan is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism (MS) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (BA). In his free time, Dan works on a couple of book projects, runs, reads and spends time with friends and his kids.
Elias Barrow, Program Assistant
Elias is the Program Assistant on the Children Exposed to Violence Initiatives at ALSO. He provides technical assistance to all of the Consolidated Youth grantees, including robust administrative support, marketing and communications across various channels, including the Consolidated Youth and Engaging Men Program's weekly resource newsletter, virtual trainings, and website platform support. Elias grew up in New England, and is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in marketing at the University of DePaul.
Tara L. Campbell, Program Coordinator
Chicago native, Tara Campbell, has sown into countless social justice endeavors and empowerment causes throughout her city. Her career has centered around the nonprofit sector, where she has demonstrated the importance of research, planning, execution and evaluation. Tara brings a body of work expanding over twenty years to her role as Consolidated Youth Program Coordinator. At ALSO she integrates local and national work coordinating initiatives with Outreach and providing technical assistance for grantees nationwide.
Holding a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia College Chicago in Communication and a Master of Science in NonProfit Management from Spertus Institute, Tara creates ways to infuse her formal education with her passion of arts and entertainment. She is committed to enhancing the work of Outreach as a facilitator within the Metropolitan Peace Academy in partnership with ALSO through the Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P). The Academy, convened by Metropolitan Family Services, is a framework that provides a comprehensive, long-term approach to reducing violence and gang activity. This work is rooted in nonviolence, trauma-informed care, hyper-local collaboration and restorative justice practices. Additionally, Tara co-facilitates a grief support group, Hope After Loss, on Chicago’s west side for survivors of homicide victims.
Her personal mission is to assist others with resources and opportunities to perform at their highest potential. Learning from others who have paved the way in areas of philanthropy and advocacy has propelled her to tailor make a satisfying career path.
Orlando Cintron, Violence Interrupter
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 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.
George is a caseworker at the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO). He works with youth and young adults in the community to help them obtain gainful employment, get back into school and address other needs they have. His work also involves going into the community to engage with program participants. George, who has been at ALSO since 2018, speaks, reads, and writes English and Spanish. George was born and raised in Humboldt Park. Prior to coming to ALSO, he worked as a truck driver for five years.
Yunuen graduated from Benito Juarez High School in Chicago. Her career began in accounting and financial management, and she was employed by two money transfer firms between 1999 and 2008. Her work later took her to Milwaukee where she served as branch supervisor of a TCF Bank for five years. Yunuen returned to Chicago in 2013 and joined the staff of ALSO soon after. She is currently Accounting Coordinator and focuses on programmatic and fiscal aspects of the STAAR Project, particularly through the LINK (Locally Implementing National Knowledge) travel assistance program. Yunuen’s fluency in English and Spanish has been a positive asset to both her local and national work at ALSO.
Myasar Ihmud, Program Specialist
Myasar is a Program Specialist at the Alliance of Local Service Organization (ALSO). In her role as Program Specialist for the STOP Technical Assistance to Administrators Resource (STAAR) Project, Myasar supports technical assistance efforts by coordinating national technical assistance opportunities, contributing to the planning and convening of national events, and disseminating resources to STOP Administrators and subgrantees. Prior to joining ALSO, Myasar worked as a court advocate in Cook County, Illinois, assisting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in filing for and obtaining criminal and civil orders of protection. In that role, Myasar primarily worked with Arab and Muslim immigrants providing services in both Arabic and English. She received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Governors State University. As a daughter of Palestinian immigrants, Myasar values strong community ties and a commitment to justice and anti-violence work here and abroad.
Zarena Leblanc, MA, Program Coordinator
Zarena now serves as Program Coordinator for the Underserved Technical Assistance Project. She began at the Alliance of Local Service Organizations in December 2015 as Program Assistant. She is responsible for assisting with the programmatic and administrative activities associated with planning, coordinating and facilitating national technical assistance engagements for the STAAR Project and the Underserved TA Project. She is also responsible for helping manage ALSO’s online presence and working with the Associate Director to evaluate technical assistance engagements. Zarena received her bachelor’s in Humanities from the University of South Florida in 2011 and received her master’s in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Florida International University in 2014. In her free-time, Zarena teaches and attends dance fitness classes, spends time with family and friends and travels any chance she gets.
Jenna Musselman-Palles, LCSW, Administrative Director
Jenna has focused on community building, grounded in the expressed need of survivors for the past 15 years. Currently, Jenna serves as Administrative Director and is focused on strengthening processes and capacity across the Alliance of Local Service Organizations. Prior to her role as Administrative Director, Jenna served as Associate Director to design and lead responses for federal and state governments, and many non profit agencies including grantees of the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women STOP Formula Grant Program, Consolidated Youth Grant Program, Underserved Grant Program, and Supervised Visitation Grant Program. Throughout her time at ALSO, Jenna has also developed and managed trainings along with coordinating resource support and system advocacy across disciplines for a wide range of audiences. She is also one of the developers and trainers for ALSO’s Your Life is My Life Bystander Intervention Training and ALSO’s Intersection of Domestic Violence and Community Violence Training: Red Flag Relationships.
Jenna began her social work career working at Hephzibah Children’s Association. She is a licensed clinical social worker who works from a justice centered, trauma informed framework and believes in the power of relationships to support growth and change. She received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Master of Social Work degree from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Jenna has also completed a three year fellowship specializing in providing psychotherapy in partnership with survivors of trauma at Womencare Counseling Center.
In her free time, Jenna enjoys reading, walking her dog Chewie, and sharing meals and stories, especially when done with family and friends.
Rolando Otero, Outreach Worker
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.”
Maribel Romero, Lead Case Manager
Maribel supports ALSO’s local and national violence prevention initiatives. She joined ALSO as a Re-entry Case Manager with the NRI (Neighborhood Recovery Initiative) and then transitioned over to the CVPP (Community Violence Prevention Program) as a supervisor to the Re-Entry component. She was promoted to become supervisor for the Ceasefire/Humboldt Park/Hermosa Communities where outreach played a big roll. She’s currently a State Mandated Reporter with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Before becoming a Case manager, Maribel worked as a family advocate for a program called “Cradle to Classroom” at Foreman High School for pregnant teens. Currently, she is the Lead Case Manager at ALSO for our CP4P program which consist of providing services for in-risk and at-risk youths. Maribel was born and raised in the Humboldt Park Community and graduated from Roberto Clemente High School. She is fluent in English and Spanish. It is her great pleasure to work for such a great organization that provides for the community and an even greater pleasure for her to be able to give back to her community.
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.
Wyanet Tasker, Program Manager – Sexual Assault, STAAR Project
Wyanet (Lumbee, Eastern Band of Cherokee) has been working with survivors of trauma since 2005 in a variety of settings. She is a graduate of Colorado College, where she majored in Neuroscience. She has direct service experience in a residential treatment facility, school setting, shelter, and transitional/permanent supportive housing program. She has been providing culturally specific training and Technical Assistance since 2015 and has developed expertise with special survivor populations such as American Indian and Alaska Natives, children/youth, male, Two Spirit/LGBT, and survivors with disabilities. She enjoys training on topics including: Trauma Informed Care, crisis prevention and intervention, program and curriculum development, confidentiality and mandatory reporting, and suicidal ideation. She authored Creating a Safe Space to Grow: A Guide for Tribal Child and Youth Advocacy and served as a co-trainer for Red Wind Consulting’s Sexual Assault Tribal Advocate Trainings and Domestic Violence Tribal Advocate Trainings (40-hour trainings).
Wyanet formerly served on the Board of Directors at One Nation Walking Together, an agency that “is committed to making a positive difference in the lives of Native American Indians living on reservations as well as providing programs for urban Indians.” She participates in the Native American Advisory Council through the El Pomar Foundation, which utilizes the Emerging Leaders Development program to help “cultivate diverse leadership potential” through community involvement and civic engagement. Wyanet contributes as a guest writer/blogger for Wings Foundation, Inc. on topics related to childhood sexual abuse, and volunteers for Inside Out Youth Services, which empowers, educates, and advocates for LGBTQ+ youth.
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 Assistant
Topher Williamson is the Program Assistant for the STOP Technical Assistance to Administrators Resource (STAAR) and Underserved Technical Assistance Projects. He works on both the STAAR Project and the Underserved Project teams to assist with the development, completion, and dissemination of products and other technical assistance activities. He 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. He is an active volunteer for causes and campaigns he cares about. Additionally, Topher is a professional theatre artist working as a director, actor, and writer. He holds a BFA in Theatre from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Topher is interested in exploring the intersections of equity, identity, and civic engagement.
Nancy Cline, LCSW, 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.
Jennifer Rose, MSW, Consultant
Jennifer Rose has been working as an advocate & activist to end violence and promote healing for women, children and families for the past 25 years. Jennifer is the co-founder and co-director of Inspire Action for Social Change and is currently working as a consultant, locally, nationally and internationally, to provide training and technical assistance on the issues of violence against women and children, supervised visitation and safe exchange, engaging men who use violence,coordinated community response, oppression, and community organizing. Jennifer has provided leadership to numerous anti violence organizations over the years. When working at the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center, she worked to build a program that provided both crisis intervention and long-term advocacy and support for women and their families. In this role she opened a supervised visitation center that was part of a national demonstration initiative funded through the Office of Violence Against Women. Jennifer works as a consultant for Futures Without Violence, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, ALSO and the Full Frame Initiative. Jennifer received her BA in Anthropology and Women’s Studies from Fort Lewis College and her MSW from San Jose State University.
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.