President and CEO
Edgar Ramirez joined Chicago Commons in 2010 as Associate Executive Director before being named CEO in 2013. As a community organizer in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood prior to joining Chicago Commons, Edgar led significant campaigns at Enlace Chicago and Erie Neighborhood House. He worked on issues such as leadership development, green space improvement, anti-violence campaigns, childcare income eligibility, immigration reform, and youth job development. Edgar has served on Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle’s Latino Advisory Committee and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s ad-hoc committee focusing on the reopening of early education centers in light of COVID-19. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and the Latino Policy Forum. Edgar also serves on the Mayor Lightfoot's Every Child Ready Chicago Working Group. Edgar is a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow (2016) and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. 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.
Chief Financial Officer
Dottie Johnson was appointed Chief Financial Officer in 2018 and oversees all aspects of the finance department and facilities management for Chicago Commons. She joined Commons in 2012 and served as its Controller for five years prior to her appointment as CFO. Dottie has over 25 years of experience as CFO in the nonprofit sector. Previously, Dottie served as the VP & CFO Director of Finance and Administration at the Lawndale Business & Local Development Center where she established a Small Business Development Center and business incubator program. She has also served as the CFO and Director of Financial Consulting Services for Lumity and the Nonprofit Financial Center. She has published articles in trade journals, provided training, and consulting services to nonprofit professionals, on various topics in financial management throughout the country. She is a certified public accountant (CPA), and is a member of the Illinois CPA Society. Dottie earned her B.S. degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting from Murray State University.
Chief Development Officer
Julio Paz joined Chicago Commons in 2018 as Chief Development Officer and works closely with the executive team in driving the organization’s fundraising and communications strategies. 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 member and co-founder of the St. Ignatius College Prep San Ignacio Society and is 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 graduate of the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy and Georgetown University’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative New Strategies Program.
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 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.
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.
Senior Vice President of Senior Care
Cary Crawford joined Chicago Commons in 2011 as the Vice President of Senior Care, before being named Senior Vice President in 2018. In his role, he oversees both Senior Home Care and Adult Day Service programs and over 550 employees. Prior to Chicago Commons, Cary held various leadership roles in the field, including Vice President of Operations for Home Care Personal Services in Naperville, Illinois. He is a board member and past Vice President of the Illinois Association of Community Care Programs Homecare Providers, an Advisory Committee Board Member and former Board of Trustees member for the Community Care Program, and a former trustee of the SEIU Healthcare Illinois Home Care & Child Care. Cary is also a fund member of the American Society on Aging. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis on healthcare administration from Benedictine University, where he also earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
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 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.