Utopia Connect Foundation
Leadership Advisory Board
Dr. Folasade Adekunle
Dr. Folasade Adekunle believes in the transformative power of a quality education. Her mission is to support and develop strong teachers who in turn develop strong students. She currently serves the principal of Sayre Language Academy where she works with various stakeholders to provide a high-quality educational experience for students. Prior to her principalship, she served as Resident Principal at Walt Disney Magnet School where she supported 2nd-8th grade teachers in strengthening their instructional capacity through robust data analysis protocols and improved professional learning systems.
Lea Prevost-Casimir is a graduate of Springfield College, MA, with a master’s degree in Organizational Management and Leadership and a BA in Human Services. She is a Board Certified Human Service Practitioner and a licensed minister in North Carolina and is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Christian Counseling.
Lea is a second time breast cancer survivor. She has worked in the HealthCare Field for over twenty years in various leadership roles which are often manifested in her ability to connect the academic, personal experience, volunteerism, and professional work experience for the greater good of mankind.
Gregory Traphagen is a retired attorney, successful businessperson, mentor and consultant. His experience comprises senior executive and consulting roles in the manufacturing, distributing and service industries, working with world-class companies such as General Electric, AMP, Akzo and Delco, at operations in the United States, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mexico, Japan and the European Union. He is uniquely qualified to assist companies in addressing the complex quality, culture, supply chain, profitability and logistics issues of performance improvement, acquisition due diligence and integration, out-sourcing, off-shoring and on-shoring.
Dr. Mary Trujillio
Meet Dr. Mary Trujillio, a Professor of Intercultural Communication and Conflict Transformation at the Department of Communication Arts at North Park University. Mary brings unique insights to the organization that will help us frame our work and dialogue around conflict resolution approaches, social change, and cultural competencies.
She has served as presenter and consultant for many churches and organizations on matters ranging from: Survivors of Historical Trauma; Diversity Issues for Health Care Workers; Culture and Conflict; and Interracial Marriage.
Dr. Martha Joseph-Watts
Dr. Martha Joseph Watts is an English teacher, a teacher trainer, educational consultant, author, and writer. She is best known for her Writing to Respond (WTR) process—an approach for improving students performance in writing. She has published several educational resources to include books, workbooks, classroom charts, student and educator wheels. Dr. Watts’ newest work is her publication of children’s fiction.
As independent education consultant she conducts professional development sessions to support schools with strengthening their literacy needs. Dr. Watts served as elementary teacher in her home country of Dominica, as an English middle and higher school teacher in the US Virgin Islands, as adjunct writing instructor with the University of the Virgin Islands, and currently as Literary Coach in Florida.
Leaders are not born when they walk into office. Instead, leadership is cultivated and nurtured along the way. At the Utopia Connect Foundation, we recognize the strengths that young adults bring to our city and our Young Executive Impact Board (YEIB) taps into those strengths with purpose to help rally our Chicago community to take action. We'd have it no other way but to have the YEIB team sit alongside us to help us identify challenges, innovate, create change, and develop strong leadership traits while helping us serve our city.
Meet some of tomorrow's leaders who have stepped up to work alongside us, giving us the pleasure and opportunity to learn and grow together.
My name is Makayla Betancourt and I am an undergraduate student at DePaul University. In my studies I aim to focus on disparities in the health care community that impact women and POC communities.
My name is Joel Fajardo and I am an undergraduate student at Columbia College Chicago. I am majoring in Music Business and Minoring in Entrepreneurship. I am currently interning at After School Matters where I have been able to apply my knowledge as well as develop my professional career in the Music, Non-profit, & Entrepreneurship industries.
Alexis is working towards becoming an elementary teacher.
Amanda Jules *AJ
Amanda Jasmine Jules is working towards become an animator, focussing on storytelling and connecting concepts. She is a 21-year old communications student with a concentration in marketing. Amanda's work as a young filmmaker extends beyond the film industry, she has a passion for social media development and public relations.
As a Chicago born 23 year old, I have gained lots of experience growing up in different areas around the city. After being involved with the birth of Utopia’s vision, I have been passionate about how best we can continue to shape ways to connect people from all areas and allow for opportunities to help rebuild, improve and inspire people and areas of the city.
Helen Perez Rodriquez
My name is Helen Perez Rodriguez and I am an undergraduate student at DePaul University. I am majoring in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. I hope to combine my academic interests with community-based work and social justice.