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Questions about the grant submission process or how to become a NextGen Leaders member? Email Helen Morales, Development Associate, or call
708-848-1560, x105

NextGen Leaders in Philanthropy

NextGen Leaders In Philanthropy is a giving group for emerging professionals and philanthropists in the Oak Park-River Forest area whose mission is to make a positive impact on the community and to develop its members into lifelong philanthropists.

Join NextGen Leaders in Philanthropy to…

  • Collaborate with a diverse network of emerging professionals
  • Engage in social and fundraising events
  • Directly participate in our grant-awarding process

Capacity-Building Grants

Each spring we award capacity-building grants for small organizations or projects with operating budgets of less than $1,000,000 to increase their operational effectiveness and bring them to the next level of growth. View our Past Grants and Grantee Partners.

It is our hope that through organic membership growth, we will expand our Funds and presence in the community as one of its long-standing philanthropic contributors.

2023 Grants & Grantee Partners:

NextGen Leaders in Philanthropy are proud to share that the following organizations were selected in 2023 to receive capacity building grants:

Revolutionary Youth Action League (ROYAL)
Founded in 2018 by Black and Latinx students, ROYAL is a community-based organization led by BIPOC youth organizers that believe taking action is a powerful way to regain agency and heal from oppression. With their capacity-building grant, ROYAL will help youth organizers fulfill their role, responsibilities, and goals of ROYAL’s projects through the purchase of computers.

Wonder Works Children’s Museum
For over 20 years, Wonder Works Children’s Museum has been dedicated to changing lives through creative play. This year, Wonder Works will bring its staff to InterActivity2024: Flourish! In Madison, WI. This conference, hosted by the Association for Children’s Museums, offers transformational tracks for every department, ranging from programming to operations, and Wonder Works is excited to provide this professional development opportunity to their staff.

Member Roles

General Membership

In collaboration with the NextGen Chair, determines overall strategy for group

  • Encourages and welcomes new members
  • Gives or fundraises to support mission, as able
  • Attends social events, as able
  • Volunteers on a committee
  • Elects NextGen Chair and Committee Chairs
  • Approves grant recommendations from the Grants Committee
  • Meets quarterly


Grants Committee

  • Develops criteria for award and selection
  • Completes initial screening of proposals; determines final candidates
  • Reviews previous years’ awardees progress
  • Meets bi-monthly

Membership Committee
In collaboration with the NextGen Chair, sets new membership and retaining membership goals

  • Recruits and welcomes new members
  • Plans social and volunteer events, with support from CF Staff
  • Meets bi-monthly


as of August 2023

Nestor Avendaño
Grants Manager, Polk Bros. Foundation

Julia Callahan
Julia Callahan
Grant Cycle
Program Team, Susan Crown Exchange

Jennifer Convey
Senior Associate Consultant, Giving Tree Associates

Judy Conway
Attorney, Cooney & Conway

Carina Diaz
Director of Sales and Marketing, Acorn Wire and Iron Works

Connor Flynn
Vice President, Alliance Paper & Foodservice Equipment

Alice Geglio
Director, Arabella Advisors

Laura Gutierrez
Senior Associate Program Officer, Builders Initiative

Meridian Herman
Senior Marketing Manager, JLL

Darien Marion-Burton, Chair
Executive Director, Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce

Sarah Najera
Artistic Director, MOMENTA Dance Company

Diana Shea
Customer Success Engineer, UpMetrics


Michael Starrick
Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager, Byline Bank

Anne Tan, Social/Membership
Product Technology Manager, DV360 Connected TV & YouTube, Google

Mark Walden
Program Manager, Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce

Cheryl Wisniewski
Vice President of Development, Chicago Commons

Rhea Yap
Director of Strategic Initiatives, Chinese Mutual Aid Association




1049 Lake Street, Suite 204
Oak Park, IL 60301


 By phone:          Office visit:
 M - F    T, W, Th
 9 am - 5 pm    9 am - 5 pm

On Mondays and Fridays, staff may be working remotely. Please make an appointment in advance or call ahead to verify that someone is available to receive you.

OPRF Chamber of Commerce 
Proud member of the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce

Community Accredited Foundation  AICF Logo
Confirmed in Compliance with National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations