Collective Leadership Structure
Project Fierce Chicago operates with a collective leadership model consisting of a nine-member volunteer leadership board and a 30-hour a week paid Project Administrator. Our leadership board is structured into four teams: Operations, Stewardship, Programs, and Community Relations and Communications. PFC is also advised by a consulting Youth Advisory Council of young adults that have experienced homelessness.
Leadership Board Member Bios
Dion L. Beatty is an Associate in the Chicago office of Vedder Price and a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment practice area. Mr. Beatty represents employers in a variety of labor and employment and employee benefits matters. While in law school, Mr. Beatty received a certificate in Labor and Employment law, was a five-time CALI Award recipient, served as student editor of the Employment Rights and Employment Policy Journal, and was a member of both the Moot Court and Trial Advocacy teams, where he won two awards as a top oral advocate, and led the trial team to a third place victory in the National Black Law Students Association trial competition. Also, he was a Teaching Assistant for courses in Legislation and Property. In addition to his J.D., Mr. Beatty has earned a Master of Science in Human Resources and an M.B.A. from DePaul University, as well as a Master of Social Work and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology degrees from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining Vedder Price, Mr. Beatty was a judicial extern for The Honorable Ann Claire Williams at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Prior to, and during law school, Mr. Beatty acquired over ten years of experience as a human resources professional including experience as a Human Resources Director and labor and employee relations professional while employed in several businesses and was a Presidential Management Fellow while working for the Social Security Administration for several years. Mr. Beatty is fluent in Spanish and holds PHR certification and SHRM-CP designation.
Maria has over 16 years of social and human service work with marginalized urban populations. Her current doctoral research explores the reported wellness for LGBT seniors and people of color. She has served on the board for Affinity Community Services in Chicago and currently serves on the board of Project Fierce Chicago. Maria is a current blogger and facilitator for Diverse Elders Coalition and continues to actively work with other organizations that fight for adequate services and fair treatment of marginalized populations across this country. Annually volunteering with The National LGBTQ Task Force, the American Society on Aging (ASA), and countless other opportunities to facilitate diversity training and serve her church family and community. She is currently employed as a Residential Treatment Specialist II with UCAN. She is married to Cynthia Wallace and they have 6 children and 3 grandchildren.
Sarah is a clinical social worker and psychotherapist practicing from anti-oppressive, trauma-informed, and body-centered frameworks who is passionate about providing conscious and affirming care to people across a spectrum of identity and experience in LGBTQIA communities. In their therapeutic practice, she has been a companion to children, teens, and adults who have histories of complex and developmental trauma, who have experienced sexual and intimate partner violence, and who have confronted challenges related to living with chronic medical illnesses. They have passionately supported the development and evolution of LGBTQIA competence in therapists and providers across disciplines through the provision of clinical supervision, lectures, and training. At the heart of her work, Sarah believes in listening to and harnessing the wisdom of every person’s unique and dynamic body, as it helps people tell their stories and uncover new pathways to healing and wholeness. Through their passionate participation with the Project Fierce community and board, Sarah is dedicated to honoring, uplifting, and living in solidarity with the beautiful and fierce lives and identities of queer and trans young people who are experiencing homelessness and housing instability in Chicago.
Christopher is a Chicago-based young professional with a passion for civic engagement. He believes strongly in the potential for progressive, evidence-based public policy to positively impact the quality of life for a community and an individual, and he has been building his career advocating for and advancing such praxis. Professionally, Christopher has worked in research and evaluation roles across a variety of sectors, including higher education, government, and philanthropy. Most recently he serves as Research and Evaluation Partner at the Rotary Foundation where he designs and manages impact assessments for a portfolio of more than $100 million annually in international grant-making activities. Originally from the Washington, DC area, Christopher began his career as a paralegal at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee (WLC), a nonprofit civil rights law firm in the District. In this capacity, he worked primarily with the firm’s undocumented, Spanish-speaking clients in class-action lawsuits involving unpaid minimum and overtime wages as well as discrimination in employment and housing. He also served as the WLC’s community outreach liaison, leading bilingual “Know Your Rights” presentations in venues throughout the city.
Val graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Sociology and Criminal Justice. They currently work as a Resident Case Manager at Chicago House Social Service Agency. Val has been in Chicago for a little over two years and moved here from Oregon. Val is certified as a street medic and legal observer. Some of their interests include harm reduction, housing, and disability justice. They have been a dog walker and pet sitter for 13 years and they love to travel.
Carrie is a queer femme, physically disabled, anti-Zionist Jewish activist and artist. She received her BA in psychology from Depaul University and her ongoing social and political education from organizers in Chicago and across the country. She joined PFC as a fundraising volunteer in 2014 and a board member in 2015. She previously served on the board of the Chicago Freedom School for a term of two years. She has worked at Access Living and Howard Brown Health. Carrie is also an artist and writer, and speaker on topics related to and sex/uality and disability. She is a member of the Chicago chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. She envisions a world without police and prisons and believes that healthcare and housing are human rights.
Laura is a neuroscientist with more than 6 years of experience in research and data analysis. She is a native Spanish-speaker, and as a first-generation Mexican-American she has been heavily involved in promoting young Latinas to pursue STEM careers. She is currently preparing to graduate with her PhD in Neuroscience from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and is passionate about ending LGBTQ+ homelessness. She currently serves on the board of Project Fierce Chicago, and has previously co-founded the graduate chapter of Society for Advancements for Chicanos and Native Americans (SACNAS) at UIC. Born in California, and raised in Georgia, she is a graduate of Agnes Scott College, a private liberal arts women’s’ college in Decatur, GA.
Danny is an activist, data analyst, and program evaluator committed to advancing social justice initiatives. Danny currently serves as the Manager of Data Systems at Chicago Scholars, a leadership and college access program for first generation and low-income students. Prior to that, he was the Evaluation and Innovation Manager at North Lawndale Employment Network and its social enterprise, Sweet Beginnings, a fellow with the City of Bloomington Planning Department, and a two-year AmeriCorps volunteer. Danny is also an advocate for queer and transgender young people and is currently on the collective leadership board of Project Fierce Chicago, a facilitator with Youth Outlook, and previously volunteered with the Indiana Transgender Rights and Advocacy Alliance Speaker’s Bureau and Chicago’s Broadway Youth Center. Danny earned a Master’s Degree with a concentration in Policy Analysis from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and a Bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan University.
Robert is an activist, arts administrator, and curator leveraging the power of art and memory to build a more just society. He currently serves as Associate Director of the National Public Housing Museum, set to open on Chicago’s Near West Side in 2019. NPHM is the only cultural institution devoted to telling the story of public housing in the United States. Its mission is to preserve, promote, and propel the right of all people to a place where they can live and prosper — a place to call home. Robert has held positions at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Art Center, the Minnesota Historical Society, and OutRight Action International. He serves on the Board of Project Fierce Chicago, a grassroots response to LGBTQ youth homelessness, and previously served on the Board of PFund Foundation, an LGBTQ community foundation based in Minneapolis. Born and raised in South Florida, he is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Minnesota.