Jantae Spencer is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Communities Creating Change. Ms. Spencer is a member of the Riverdale community, and was recognized and awarded by the Village of Riverdale in 2009 on behalf of Mayor Dean. In 2012 she completed her Masters/MFA combined degree program in Creative Writing/Teaching Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, where she also received her BA. She has won scholarship awards and has had her work published in Cobblestone and F6 Magazine. She has also won writing competitions in such events as Windy City Story Slam as well as completed her thesis, novel, Love Child and pedagogical thesis titled, Public School System VS. Story Workshop Method. Ms. Spencer has received a certificate in music business from the West Side Music boot camp, certifications in STEM education from NASA, as well as certificate from a program called Wisdom Teaching. Her past endeavors include working for Columbia College Chicago’s Story Workshop High School writing program, and Act/Write program (writing/theater program for youth) as well as Still Point Theatre Collective, Chicago, IL (writing with women in prison). From 2015-2017, Ms. Spencer worked as a high school Humanities teacher at Chatham Academy High School.
Dave Kaczmarski is currently the Operations Manager for Acme Continental Credit Union in Riverdale. He spent his undergraduate years in Champaign Urbana attending the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he studied history. Dave started working at Acme in 2005 as a seasonal teller when he was on breaks from U of I. In 2009 He accepted a full time position and became a loan officer. In 2014 Dave became the operations manager and am currently sharing responsibilities with the Vice President as she is looking to transition into retirement. In his free time he enjoy spending time with his wife, Stephanie and their dog, Scooter. He also enjoys cooking for his family and friends.
Joseph Kohli is a Financial services professional with over 35 years of experience providing consumer and business services to a wide range of individuals, businesses, and nonprofit entities. Consulting experience includes projects with private and nonprofit entities. Accounting experience includes time in both public and private accounting environments. Banking experience includes 17 years in commercial lending environments, 5 years in sales and 6 years in management positions.
Past Board Members
Paul Kuttner is a co-founder and previous board member of Communities Creating Change. He is currently finishing his doctoral studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research looks at the intersection of youth organizing and the arts, a topic which he blogs about at culturalorganizing.org. Paul is one of the co-authors of, A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform, and a co-editor of Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline. He is also a former co-chair of the editorial board of the Harvard Educational Review. He is currently working on a year-long qualitative study with Project HIP-HOP, a youth cultural organizing group in Boston, MA. He is a former theater educator as well as a graphic designer and cartoonist.
Don De Grazia is a full-time Fiction Writing professor at Columbia College, where he also earned his BA and MFA. After completing his master’s thesis, American Skin, DeGrazia decided to send it off to London’s prestigious publisher, Jonathan Cape, who had worked with Irvine Welsh and the Scottish Beats he so admired. Cape offered him a contract, and in January 1998, American Skin was published in the U.K. Hailed as an American classic, the book was so highly acclaimed by critics that it caught the attention of publishers around the world, and in April 2000, American Skin was released in the U.S. by Scribner. A flood of positive reviews appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. It is now in its fourth printing and is being translated into other languages. Plans are underway for a feature film. DeGrazia is also the editor of tMagazine, a journal devoted to new fiction. He resides in Chicago, where he is at work on his second novel. He officially became a board member of CCC in 2009.
Tanya Watkins attended Columbia College Chicago as a Fiction Writing Major and has been a Board Member for Teens Acting in Community since 2010. In addition to the work she has done as a Board Member, Tanya has been an avid hands-on volunteer for TAlC and has assisted in leading workshops for youth as well as planning events. She has been published in several literary magazines, including Columbia’s own Hair Trigger. After having worked for the Village of Riverdale Clerk’s Office from 2007-2009 and the Riverdale Community Resource Center from 2009-2010, Tanya felt that it was time to take her passion for her community to the next level. In April of 2011, Tanya was elected to the Board of Trustees in Riverdale. Today, Tanya is the co-owner of the administrative and marketing firm, VisioNext Business Solutions and is the Program Director for Hire Learning Career Development Academy.