President and CEO
Edgar Ramirez, Chief Executive Officer joined Chicago Commons in 2010 as Associate Executive Director. As a community organizer, Edgar led significant campaigns at Enlace Chicago and Erie Neighborhood House prior to joining Chicago Commons. He worked on issues such as leadership development, green space improvement, and anti-violence campaigns. Edgar was instrumental in organizing issues such as childcare income eligibility, comprehensive immigration reform, and youth job development. He earned a master’s degree from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago in Policy Analysis and Community Organizing, and a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University. Currently, Edgar serves on Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle’s Latino Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors at the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, the Illinios Association of Community Care Homecare Providers (IACCPHP), and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He has been named to the Illinois Racing Board by Governor Bruce Rauner. Edgar is a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow (2016), a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, and has been given the role of Employer Trustee with the SEIU Healthcare IL Home Care & Child Care Fund.
Chief Human Resources Officer
Dr. Erica M. Collins joined Chicago Commons in 2021 as our Chief Human Resources Officer. In this role, she serves as a strategist, thought leader, change agent, and cultural leader to help move our strategic vision forward. Erica brings over 15 years of experience in Human Resources to our organization. Over the last 5 years, Erica has been a leader in the community health sector where she served as a member of the Senior Leadership Team responsible for leading all aspects of human resources including alignment of best practices and organizational strategy. In the past, she has also served in various human resources roles for Cook County Government and the private sector. She is certified in Change Management as well as Diversity and Inclusion. Erica earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana in Educational Policy & Organization Leadership and master's degree in Human Resources Education. Erica also holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from Dillard University in New Orleans.
Chief Strategy Officer
Nyla Diab joined Chicago Commons in 2020 with 15 years of experience in project management, nonprofit community development, and supporting and leading transformational projects. In her current role, Nyla leads the organization’s growth efforts to deepen impact, increase program and operational span, and form strategic partnerships to increase Chicago Commons’ visibility throughout Chicago. Prior to joining Chicago Commons, Nyla worked for the nonprofit Concordia Place as Director of Strategic Initiatives, where she led the launch and scale of the organization’s early childhood social enterprise, doubling the organization’s operational span. She earned her BA in political science from Loyola University and currently serves on the Board of Esperanza Health Centers.
Chief Operating Officer
Beth Lakier joined Chicago Commons in 2019. In her role, she leads operations of Senior Services, Early Education, and Family Hub programs, as well as IT systems. She partners with Finance and Human Resources departments to develop strong systems to create efficiencies. She also develops strong partnerships with staff, funding partners, our clients, and the community. Prior to joining Chicago Commons, Beth was President of B. Lakier Consulting LLC, utilizing her extensive experience in early childhood to consult with a number of local Chicago nonprofit organizations. In her most recent role at an organization, Beth was the Executive Vice President for Child Development and Early Learning at One Hope United. She had oversight of the agency’s 12 child development programs, and the Healthy Families, Doula, Wings, and Success by Six Programs. Beth earned a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University in Early Childhood and Adolescence Development and a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago, School of Social Services Administration. Work-life balance is important, and when not at work you can find Beth with friends on the lakefront biking, running and swimming to prepare for a half iron man or iron man race, or grilling with her husband and enjoying family time. Beth serves as a committee member with Illinois Action for Children.
Chief External Affairs Officer
Julio Paz joined Chicago Commons in 2018 as Chief Development Officer and works closely with the executive team in driving the organization’s strategies for fundraising, communications and marketing, and government relations. Prior to joining Chicago Commons, Julio served in leadership positions at The Resurrection Project, Mercy Housing, and Project Exploration. Julio and his teams have generated more than $41 million in philanthropic and public support to expand the missions of innovative and entrepreneurial 501(c) (3) organizations. Julio is passionate about community development, philanthropy, and partnerships as tools to achieve social justice. He is a co-founder and member of the St. Ignatius College Prep San Ignacio Society, board member of the Chicago Mariachi Project, and a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He holds a BA in English from the University of Chicago and an MBA from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. Julio also is a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow (2022) and University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy Fellow (2016).
Vice President of Family Hub
Vikki Rompala is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience working in social service, child welfare, and health settings. She received her education from University of Maryland with a master's in social work with a focus on Clinical and Community Organizing and her PhD training from University of IL at Chicago with a focus on program evaluation and public policy. She has helped develop programs with staff and the community in Chicago and co-Chaired a Partnering with Youth and Families Committee for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network where she partnered with families and youth to elevate their voice at organizational, local, state, and federal levels for change. She is a Peer Reviewer for the Council of Accreditation and helps provide training on family systems, continuous quality improvement, and trauma-informed education and interventions.
Vice President of Human Resources
Melinda Sabido joined Chicago Commons in 2014 as the Senior Human Resource Manager and in 2020 was promoted to Vice President of Human Resources. Prior to joining Chicago Commons, Melinda partnered and worked in hospitality with hotel chain brands including Holiday Inn, Hilton, and Doubletree. In 2005 she had the opportunity to join a human resources team, working as an HR Generalist and later moving into the role of HR Manager. Her areas of expertise include recruiting, employee relations, staff training and development, payroll, compliance, employee benefits, and human resource information systems. Melinda received the Star of the Industry Award, Manager of the Month, and Employee of the Month awards. In 2010 she began working at LEARN Charter Schools an HR Manager and was promoted to Senior Human Resources Manager in 2013. Melinda currently holds a B.A. in Business Administration and Tourism. She completed the De Paul University Human Resources Certification Course in 2018.
Vice President of Early Education
Karina Slaughter joined Chicago Commons in 2019 as the Senior Director of programs before being promoted to her current role as Vice President. Karina oversees programs at Chicago Commons’ four early education centers and 10-12 community partner sites which serve children 0-5 years of age, as well as our Youth Program for ages 5-12. Prior to joining Commons, she was director of programs in Early Learning and Child Development for One Hope United. In this role, Karina supported the unique needs of dual language learners and strengthened early math practices through participation in Erikson Institute’s Early Math Collaborative. Under her leadership the center achieved ExceleRate Illinois’ Gold Circle of Quality and participated in NAEYC’s school-age accreditation pilot program. Prior to that, Karina directed a privately-owned childcare center. Karina earned her B.S in Marketing in 2004 from Hampton University. In 2007, she earned an entrepreneurial program certificate from the Joseph School of Business in Forest Park, Illinois and in 2010, she earned a Master of Science in Child Development and specialization in Administration from Erikson Institute. Karina serves as a committee member with Illinois Action for Children.
Chief Financial Officer
Dana Thomas joined Chicago Commons in 2021 as the Chief Financial Officer. In this role, she drives our financial strategy to support our growth and development opportunities. She brings a decade of executive leadership as well as over 20 years of experience in planning, budgeting, analyses, reporting, and extensive managerial experience within public accounting for profit and nonprofit industries. During her career, she guided senior management and Boards of Directors on key business decisions, policymaking, and long-term strategic development. She has also provided strategic direction on financial and technological decisions at various organizations. In addition, she has developed, recommended, and implemented innovative solutions to ensure the success of operational and financial goals. Dana holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is currently completing her MBA.
Vice President of Facilities and Procurement
Eric L. Woods joined Chicago Commons in 2011. In his role, he focuses on facilities management, contracts planning, integrity and compliance, budget management, safety and risk management, personnel developing, and overseeing the execution of maintenance policy, procedures, plans, programs and the contracting of major construction projects while also interacting with volunteer leaders and building relationships with other like-minded industry associations. Prior to joining Chicago Commons Woods previously served as procurement, facilities, and operations leader in the Corporate and Not for Profit sectors to include grounds maintenance, disaster preparedness, construction management, facilities maintenance engineering, safety and risk management, and energy conservation. Eric is an accomplished executive with more than 30 years of experience in Facilities Management, Fleet Operations, and Strategic Planning. He is passionate that Facilities Executives have an impact on the quality of our lives and have an increasing impact on our environment. He wants to increase the connection between the Facilities Management profession and policy makers through education and influence. Building bridges between all stakeholders and sharing experiences are his tools; leveraging the Facilities Management profession is his driver.