Meet the YPB

Holly Lechniak

Holly Lechniak is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with almost a decade of experience providing clinical services in a variety of educational and mental health settings. She holds a graduate degree in social work from the University of Chicago.

Holly began volunteering with Franciscan Outreach at the Marquard Center when she moved to the Wicker Park community in 2012.

“What I enjoy most with volunteering and being a part of the YPB is the opportunity it provides to directly serve the patrons in my community — whether through providing a warm meal at the soup kitchen, raising funds at our annual ‘Hops for the Homeless’ Event, painting at the shelter, or just connecting through their shared stories. I look forward to continuing to be a part of such an amazing organization!”

Melissa McGlynn

Melissa McGlynn is a Chicago native who loves to explore the city like a tourist. Between its history and hidden neighborhood gems, this really is her kind of town. Providing service at St. Genevieve Catholic Church and within her community is very important to her, which is what lead Melissa to serving guests at the Marquad Center. She has introduced many other volunteers to service here and loves that they have just as great of and experience as she has had over the years.

“Franciscan Outreach has been a part of my life for over 8 years, but I was encouraged to join YPB about two years ago. Fundraising, outreach and networking with people who have a passion for service are among my favorite aspects of this organization.”

Kiara Davis

Kiara Davis is a native of the Chicagoland area. She is a supervisor at a technical consulting company. Her work consist of assisting her customer and client base with implementation and maintenance of their cloud based HR services. Kiara’s work with Franciscan Outreach began approximately 6-7 years ago. Initially, she did work with a small group of her peers. They would prepare and serve meals at the west side shelter and also on Lower Wacker Drive. After a few years, members began to relocate and the work eventually ceased. After being inactive for a couple years, she decided to get back out there.

Kiara began looking on the FO website and stumbled upon the Young Professional Board. Kiara finally decided to join the YPB in January 2015. In August of 2016, Kiara stepped into the role of President of the YPB.

“I have learned a lot and enjoyed every minute of it. I have always had the desire to do what I can I to bring awareness and improve certain areas. That is why I chose to get involved with Franciscan Outreach. It is my way of reaching back and blessing others as much as I have been blessed. If I am able to make a difference in one person’s life, then I have done my job.”

Mario Leggero

Mario Leggero is a financial industry professional and Chicago sports fan, proudly supporting the Chicago White Sox. He was introduced to the organization at the Hops for the Homeless event by a friend that is on the Board of Directors. Mario joined the YPB in March 2016 after being drawn to the organization because of its mission to help those most in need.

“I enjoy serving those in need and doing a small part to help the homeless improve their lives. Volunteering gives me a greater perspective on what I have and why I should be helping others.”

Lauren Greenwood

Lauren Greenwood is the President and Co-Founder of YouCopia, a company that creates innovative organization products that help people simplify and enjoy life at home. Lauren serves on the International Housewares Association’s Young Professionals Advisory Council and has traveled with the Community Renewal Society to speak with state legislators about police accountability reform and funding for vital community services. She holds a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia. Lauren initially connected with Franciscan Outreach as a Soup Kitchen volunteer in 2013 and joined the YPB in 2014.

“Because I love living in Wicker Park, I wanted to volunteer with a local organization that truly helps our community. Franciscan Outreach provides critical services for those in need and I’m grateful to participate in that mission.”

Jill Lammers

Jill Lammers is a data analytics professional at a health care non-profit and holds B.S. in Economics and International Relations from Florida International University in Miami, FL. She is a dedicated Chicago Cubs fan and often travels to other ballparks to see the boys in blue play around the country.

Jill began her service with Franciscan Outreach and the Young Professional Board after attending the 2016 Hops for the Homeless event.

“I found I missed being part of an organization with a mission to serve others following a career move. Franciscan Outreach provides me that connection to the community and an outlet to volunteer. As a resident of the Wicker Park neighborhood, I find great joy in giving back to my immediate community in the soup kitchen at Marquard Center. I often bring my mom along to volunteer because she loves interacting with the guests while serving a hot meal.”

Michael Mead

Michael Mead is an attorney and a partner with the Chicago firm Faklis, Tallis & Mead, where he focuses his practice on representing injured persons and their families in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Michael has won numerous jury trials for his clients in highly disputed cases, including several jury verdicts that have been featured in local and national publications and he has recently been named an Illinois Super Lawyer “Rising Star.”

Michael began volunteering with the Franciscan Outreach shelter on the west side of Chicago in 2013.

“For me, volunteering with the YPB has been a great way to give back and serve some of the members of the community who are most vulnerable and most in need. I have always been impressed with the way Franciscan Outreach is able to provide so many services to the community in such a compassionate and efficient way and I really appreciate being involved with this organization.”

Rob Yanku

Rob Yanku is originally from Rhode Island and settled in Chicago in 2011. Rob attended the University of Rhode Island where he earned a BS in Marketing which he has applied to an IT sales career within Schneider Electric’s IT Division.

Rob was first introduced to the Franciscan Outreach through his work as the volunteer coordinator for a monthly dinner at the Marquard Center arranged by St. Mike’s Church in Old Town and as a result has become passionate with the Franciscan Outreach’s mission.

“I have a deep connection with the idea that the organization keeps paramount the long term improvement of the life of the guests as much or even more than the day to day needs. The goal is to preserve the dignity of the guests and get them to the point of being self-sufficient through the necessary steps to build that person up. Building people up personally and professionally is something I always try to do in my life as I live the power of positive thinking.”

Natalie Lau

Natalie Lau is a Corporate Responsibility Manager for Molson Coors, where she helps drive the sustainability, responsibility and community investment strategy for the company. Natalie holds an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and graduated with a BBA from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. At Kellogg, Natalie was the President of Net Impact for the part-time program, where she provided opportunities for the student community to use their skills in business to drive positive social change.

Natalie has been a volunteer at the Marquard Center with Franciscan Outreach since August of 2013. She began her service with the Young Professionals Board in late 2016.

“Having volunteered and been part of the work at Marquard Center for the past three years, I’ve personally witness the tremendous work that is done day in and day out by the volunteers to support and service the homeless and those that are at-risk. I joined the board because I believe everyone should have their basic human needs met with a warm meal, a shelter over their heads and a safe place to stay – Franciscan Outreach provides that essential support for many members in our community.”

Erin Laser

Erin Laser is an IT Consultant at a management and technology consulting firm. She holds an MBA from Indiana University and a BS in Applied Science and Technology from George Washington University. Erin lives in Wicker Park and began volunteering at the Marquard Center in October 2015, joining the YPB in January 2016.

Erin began volunteering and eventually joined the YPB to become more involved in her community, support those in need, and lend her skills and network to further the great work of Franciscan Outreach.

“FO’s mission to serve guests with dignity and respect really resonates with me, and is one of the reasons I really enjoy volunteering. The warm and welcoming atmosphere FO has created at the Marquard Center makes guests feel like they are part of a community, and interacting with guests during service makes the experience so much fun. I love getting to know the guests and being a friendly face.”

Markita Edwards

Markita Edwards is a current graduate student studying social work at DePaul University’s MSW program. Markita’s interests include research, spiritually and ending homelessness which includes creating fair and equitable housing for all.

Markita joined YPB during the Summer of 2016 and has enjoyed the experiences the YPB provides as young non-profit professional.

“Franciscan Outreach is a place where we can coexist together and work to alleviate hunger and homelessness.”

Carly Calkins

Carly Calkins is a marketing professional with nearly a decade of experience in professional services marketing. She currently works for Skender Construction in downtown Chicago. Carly holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Illinois Wesleyan University where she also played soccer. She will begin graduate school this fall to earn a Master of Science in Communication from Northwestern University.

Carly has been volunteering at Franciscan House on Harrison Street periodically since 2014 through St. Clement Parish in Lincoln Park.

“I am very excited for the chance to make a greater impact on Franciscan Outreach. The volunteer experience at Franciscan House is always incredibly gratifying and I want to give back in more ways than simply serving meals. I can’t wait to get more involved with YPB and increase the ways I help this important organization.”

Amanda Phraner

Over the past 15 years, Amanda has inspired people to care about their health, building communities of support by harnessing digital channels in new ways to reach diverse audiences that transcended geographies and social circles. Currently focused on the transformation of the commercial capabilities and platforms to optimize digital marketing globally with in the healthcare industry, Amanda continues to see and deliver on the incredible potential in digital to deliver new connections and support for those living with rare disease around the world.

Upon moving to Chicago, Amanda sought ways to be a part her new home and make a positive impact for the community. She found this in the Franciscan Outreach and became a volunteer at the shelter on W. Harrison in November 2016, later joining YBP in 2017 to continue to support the organization’s mission.

“Privileged are we who have the opportunity to humbly serve our community, to make a positive impact, and to ensure that others have access to the basic necessities we so often take for granted. Being a part of the Franciscan Outreach is to know that each of our small gestures and work can help to transform someone’s life and our community overall.”