The Playmakers Board supports the overall mission and programs of Playworks Illinois. The Playmakers Board membership is comprised of professionals in the Chicago area community who are seeking philanthropic experience beyond basic volunteering. Members will gain hands-on experience in leveraging their individual expertise to effectively support the efforts of Playworks—cultivating and practicing skills that make a successful nonprofit board member.
Jenna Horton, Chair
Development Operations Coordinator, U.S. Soccer Federation
Jenna is the Development Operations Coordinator for the U.S. Soccer Federation. In her role, she handles all logistics surrounding VIP Travel Programs to the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team games, Youth Fantasy Camps, and other fundraising events. She graduated from Portland State University with a degree in child and family studies.
Throughout her various professional and philanthropic work, one goal is constant: to provide youth a chance to lead a holistically healthy lifestyle! Soccer was initially introduced to Jenna as a first grader during recess, which fostered a deep love for the sport. Because of this experience, she strives to give back to her community’s youth by providing them with innovative opportunities to lead happy and healthy lives. She is excited and honored to continue her path with Playworks.
Outside of work you can find Jenna playing a number of sports, grooving to live music, giggling her way through movies, and exploring new areas of Chicago.
Traci Saiz, Vice Chair
Associate Marketing Manager, TRANSEARCH International
Traci wears many hats in her role at TRANSEARCH ranging from client relationship building, recruiting, social media, to the creation of marketing materials and more. She is a creative professional with strong interpersonal and problem-solving skills. She continues to use these same skills to benefit Playworks through brand awareness and the power of play!
She has always given back to her community through various non-profits and coached AYSO soccer. Originally from California, she has made Chicago her home since graduating from Loyola with a bachelor’s degree in business and a concentration in marketing. In her free time, she loves traveling, watching sports, and enjoys being outdoors either running or hiking.
Mary Beth Johnson, Recruitment
Philanthropy Officer at Spark Ventures
Mary Beth is the Philanthropy Officer for Spark Ventures where she manages donor relationships and services, insuring that donors experience high-quality interactions that foster long-term engagement and investment. Prior to Spark, Mary Beth’s career path took her to Egypt where she co-founded an international service-learning organization, then to Evanston where she developed Rotary International’s first global strategic partnerships, and on to Chicago where she followed her passion for good food and community engagement at Whole Foods Market. You can find Mary Beth riding her bike around Chicago, experimenting in her community garden, and teaching yoga throughout the city. Having been an athlete and on teams most of her life, Mary Beth strongly believes in the power of play and is thrilled to support Playworks’ mission as a Playmaker.
Almira Goethe, Events
Assurance at CDH
Almira grew up on the closed military base in the very center of Russia. Growing up in a very small community environment, school was very important to every kid in town. The teachers, school friends, and subjects were all that they knew. Almira spent her whole day at school since it offered a lot of activities before and after classes. She thinks her teachers realized that kids could not really get outside the borders of the town, and besides a little park and a school there was nothing else for kids. In school, Almira was in track and field team for seven years, the basketball team for three years, and also drama classes (she even went to the regional and international competitions for the performances). She also took extra classes on algebra and English, along with biology and physics research teams, and participated in various academic competitions. Almira’s younger sister took another route, and she learned how to play an accordion, drums, guitar, piano, she was in several bands. Almira had very interesting school years, and it’s only because the school’s efforts allowed her to do that. She strongly believe that kid’s character evolves while in school, not only academically, but more importantly socially.
Mike Heaton, Events
AVP Commercial Banking at MB Financial Bank
Mike has been involved with sports his entire life and believes the skills and habits he developed from years of playing on several teams have translated to success in his professional career. He is excited to join the Playmakers Board to help kids throughout Chicago stay active and form good habits and life skills in the process.
Mike is a Commercial Banking Officer at MB Financial Bank and has been with MB since January of 2014. He is responsible for managing the banking needs of privately held businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout Illinois and the Midwest. He graduated from Illinois Wesleyan with a concentration in finance while playing football for four years and served as a co-captain his senior year.
In his free time, Mike enjoys checking out local restaurants with family and friends, training for the upcoming Chicago triathlon, and following his favorite sports teams.
Training and Talent Manager for Common Threads
Allie knows the benefits of Playworks firsthand, as she was a Playworks Coach in Chicago for almost three years. Being able to teach her students important social skills through play, like cooperating with peers, self-regulating emotions, and problem-solving, was the most rewarding part of the job. Currently, Allie is the Training and Talent Manager for Common Threads, where she oversees many of the HR people functions.
Allie grew up in Skokie, Illinois and went to Beloit College where she majored in sociology and was a student-athlete and a captain of the women’s basketball team. She continues to play today in a co-ed, adult basketball league. When she’s not on the court, she’s reading books for her book club, playing word games, and watching her beloved Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers.
Organizational Solutions at McKinsey & Company
Libby Baker is an Expert on the OrgSolutions team at McKinsey & Company, working closely with clients on a variety of organizational issues, including organizational health, organization design, and change management. She is passionate about helping companies realize the value of their human capital and achieve sustainable performance through organization health, as well as helping employees thrive and succeed in their workplace. Before joining McKinsey, Libby worked for six years as an ERP implementation consultant, assisting clients in their implementation of new PeopleSoft Financials systems. She graduated from Northwestern with a bachelor of arts in economics and French and has an MBA in international business from Georgetown University.
Steven B. Walker
Finance Director, Instituto Del Progreso
Steven has more than seven years of experience in financial management, with a focus in nonprofit organizations. He is currently the finance director for Instituto Del Progreso, a nonprofit whose mission is to prepare the next generation for a successful road ahead.
As a former high school athlete, Steven knows the positive effects that play has on the development of self-confidence and leadership skills. He experienced first-hand the development of self-confidence through play and the comfortable nature of leadership, creating a foundation that fostered positive social interactions and emotional stability. He believes the organic nature of play provides kids with a platform to be their true- selves.
Steven is excited to play and in his spare time enjoys big bowls of vanilla ice cream topped with whip cream and bacon.
Joya M. Knox
HR Associate Labor Relations Specialist
Joya Knox is currently on special assignment to HCSC’s Labor Relations Group as an associate labor relations specialist. Prior to November 2016, she served as executive administrative assistant to Karen Atwood, EVP for HCSC’s Information Technology and Service Delivery and Operations divisions.
Joya is graduating from Chicago State University in the spring of 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and continuing in the fall of 2017 with her studies for her master’s degree in liberal arts & science at the University of Chicago.
She loves roller skating, hiking, and she is a professional camper. Twice a year, she and her husband take at least ten kids camping with them to Indiana Beach Campground for the weekend to experience the joys of camping, cooking outdoors, and old fashion fun. She is hoping to bring similar experiences of enthusiasm and fun to Playworks!
Account Manager at Google
Ashani works as an Account Manager for Google where she works with marketing agencies and businesses to manage day-to-day operations and build client relationships. She attended Cornell University with a degree in Government. Education has always been important to her, and she is grateful for the opportunities that she was given through education and extracurriculars in South Carolina. She was encouraged to join Playworks to support their mission of healthy play and do her part to bring leadership opportunities to young people in Chicago, as she was lucky to have growing up. Outside of work, she enjoys finding new ramen restaurants, dancing, and Chicago’s famous architecture boat tours.
Want to make a difference? Join our Playmakers Board!