Muriel Baptiste, Executive Director
Muriel brings over 20-years of dedicated work to communities across Chicago with a strong aptitude for building partnerships and leveraging resources. A great team player, she is known for her leadership and coaching skills; and for her project direction, design, and management. She has a keen eye for finding innovative measures that we have no doubt will unfold in her mission for Utopia Connect Foundation. She also believes that the key to getting things accomplished is the ability to pool resources and will rely heavily on collaborative endeavors by seeking out individuals, organizations, corporations and governmental agencies that are effectively getting the job done to ensure communities are well serviced and supported.
Michele Diaz, Treasurer
Michele Diaz brings over 25-years of experience working in the non-profit sector to Utopia Connect Foundation. She specializes in program quality assurance, evaluation, and training. Her work has included the development of quality non-profit programming for “at-risk” youth within the City of Chicago in collaboration with Chicago Public High Schools with a focus on instructor development and external and internal consumer relations. Her position prior to joining UCF was contracted work as a consultant with Urban Policy Development Consulting (UPD) where Michele worked on a project with Chicago Public School’s (CPS) providing structured training and support on CPS’s newly implemented Reflect and Learn System; a tool used for teacher and principal evaluation, classroom observations and providing feedback on effective teacher practice. As a part of that project, she worked in collaboration with True North Logic and CPS to provide project management, system testing, training coordination and implementation as well as on-site training support for Network Chiefs, Principals and Teachers throughout Chicago.
2010 - present
2010 - present
Sterling Goodrich, Secretary
Sterling has worked in the non-profit arena for the last 18-years as a youth worker and as a manager. He has become a trainer for the Youth Program Quality Assessment Tools to help support youth workers improve their program quality. He further became an External Assessor in the Youth Program Quality modules to strengthen his understanding of quality youth program and support direct-service providers with attaining their program goals.
Sterling has also worked as an administrator to select grants and provided support to community-based organizations to enhance the quality of their programs. He spearheads projects with local businesses, Aldermen, and corporations to expand the resources for the youth programs he manages. He has created unique opportunities for youth in the Chicagoland area, such as, he created an improv festival at the legendary Second City Theater for teens across Chicago to perform.
Mrs. Darlene A. Carty Baptiste, MA Ed., R.T.T., E.M.T. was born in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. She graduated from Howard University in Washington, DC with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1992; Radiologic Medicine with a minor in Business Administration, as a Board of Trustees Scholarship Recipient. Mrs. Baptiste obtained a Masters of Arts in Education with a concentration in guidance and counseling from the University of the Virgin Islands in 1998.
In 2003, Mrs. Baptiste was appointed as the first fulltime Health Commissioner in the USVI and was the first non-physician and youngest local female to have held this post. As the Health Commissioner she was responsible for a $67 million budget, provided support and advised the Governor and made recommendations that affected the healthcare system within the USVI.
Olandrian Glasper has long worked to support Chicago schools and communities as a champion for our most precious gifts – youth and children, education and opportunity. Whether serving in an indirect or in-person capacity, she has facilitated and delivered integrated planning and services for young people and their families.
Olandrian brings strong team management skills, sustained partnership development, and a clear understanding of the building blocks of organizational integrity. She joins the Foundation with a vision to leverage connections that not only raises the bar and effect real change, but those which also lift human beings and inspire.
Laura Rice has worked as an art and university administrator for over 20 years. She has been employed by several highly-regarded arts organizations and educational institutions in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles throughout this time.
As the associate director of New York University’s Institute of African-American Affairs, Laura produced numerous conferences, lectures, concerts, film screenings, and festivals, and art exhibitions, including Yari Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writers Dissecting Globalization. This international conference featured over 250 of the world’s leading writers, scholars, and artists, including Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, Maryse Condé, Nawal El Saadawi, Aminata Traore, Ama Ata Aidoo, Edwidge Danticat, and many others.
At Walker International Communications Group, she led the national public relations campaign for the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s 40th Anniversary and the grassroots marketing efforts for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s performance series at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Sheena Shukla has worked with Chicago Public School students for over nine years. She is interested in the intersections between the social services, social innovation and education. Her professional experiences involve after-school programming, mental health counseling, post-secondary counseling, and health education. Sheena brings a keen sense of balance and reasoning to the team and her professional experience lends itself to the holistic endeavors we hope to deliver for our communities. In her spare time, Sheena researches unlikely animal friendships.