Board of Directors

Erika Dudley – President

Erika Dudley is the President of the Board of Directors for Urban Growers Collective. She is with the Civic Leadership in the Office of Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago. A historian, artist, community organizer, and chef, her particular interest is the intersection of humanities, access, and food.  Her academic focus is French History and Italian.

In addition to serving as President of the Board of Urban Growers Collective, she is a member of the Healthy Chicago 2025 Food Access Work Group, a member of the Chicago Food Policy Council, a trainer for Dismantling Racism in the Food Systems, and a board member of the Sunflower Project nonprofit. She also serves on the Faculty Advisory Board of the University Medical Center’s Comprehensive Care, Community, and Culture Program. She is the architect of the Museum Educators Program, a paid engagement program for Odyssey Project graduates and University of Chicago undergraduates at the university’s Smart Museum of Art begun in 2014.

She served as the 2015-2016 Interpreter in Residence at the Smart Museum with a focus on equity in the arts. She is a member of the museum’s education committee. Erika has also served on the Hyde Park Art Center’s Board of Directors since 2011 and is currently its Vice Chair. Additionally, she chairs: Education Committee, Public Programs Committee, and Community Accountability Committee. She serves as a co-chair of the Development Committee and Anti-Racism/Equity Committee. She has been a reviewer of the Center Program for the last four years. 

She is a board member of the Chicago Art Department, chair of its Development Committee, and a reviewer of its CORE Residency. She serves on the Engagement Committee of Experimental Station. Erika was educated at Harvard University (French History) and Le Cordon Bleu Paris.

Margot Pritzker – Secretary

Margot Pritzker is chair of the Zohar Education Project Incorporated, established in 1995 to translate the Zohar, the mystical canon of Judaism, into English. This 20-year,12-volume project was completed in 2017. Oversight of this project continues today as the Zohar translation meets the digital world.

Pritzker was the founder and president of WomenOnCall.org, an online meeting place for skills-based volunteering. WomenOnCall successfully merged with Chicago Cares in 2018.

Pritzker is a Trustee of the Aspen Institute, where she chairs the Leadership Programs Committee, and is a seminar moderator for the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Margot is a member of the Board of Directors for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and is a member of the Advisory Board of America Abroad Media. 

Pritzker is a Director of the Urban Growers Collective whose mission is to support vulnerable neighborhoods by developing community-based food systems. Margot is co-founder of a startup called the Food Resource Navigator that will become a collaborative hub and useful tool for growers in the Chicago region. This exciting project has a social justice and racial equity lens and is being co-created with the communities it intends to serve.

Margot and her husband, Thomas J. Pritzker, direct The Pritzker Architecture Prize which is considered the profession’s highest honor. 

Margot and Tom reside in Chicago, they have three sons and four grandchildren. Their extensive travel and knowledge of South Asia has resulted in one of the foremost collections of South Asian art. Margot holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and an M.A. from the University of Chicago.

Melissa Clark – Treasurer

Melissa Clark is responsible for the overall financial well being of Chicago-based Primera Engineers. She leads all aspects of the corporate accounting and finance functions with a primary focus on strategic planning, budgeting, financial analysis, process improvement, and cash management. She also mentors
and leads the team responsible for the day-to-day accounting and finance efforts including invoicing, accounts receivable, and accounts payable.

Melissa’s expertise is the result of more than 25 years in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry and over 20 years as a Controller. Prior to Primera, she served as Controller for two Milwaukee-based architectural and engineering firms.

An advocate in the community, she serves as Treasurer of the Primera Foundation, sits on the Board of Directors for Green City Market as Board Treasurer, and is an active member of Chicago United. She also is the recipient of FEI’s 2021 Chicago CFO of the Year for Small Private Companies.

Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting Management and an MBA from Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Carrie Schloss 

Carrie Schloss is the Director of Donor Travel & Engagement for the National Geographic Society. She also serves as an expeditions and logistics leader for group and VIP expeditions. Previously, Carrie worked in the finance industry as an Emerging Market Strategist in the US, Mexico, and the UK, and as a Chef, Instructor, and Culinary Consultant in the Chicago area, including publishing a cookbook.

Carrie has a BS in Finance from Miami University, an MBA in Finance and International Business from the University of Chicago, completed coursework, exams, and submitted her thesis for an MA in Art History at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and has an AAS in Culinary Arts from Kendall College.

Carrie has been on the Board of Urban Growers Collective since 2018. She was a Board member of Slow Food Chicago from 2012-2015. Carrie has also been actively involved with a number of Chicago theaters, including Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Gift Theatre Company, and The Factory Theatre. Carrie has mentored students through volunteer work with PEAK and the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago.

Carrie is passionate about travel and food culture globally. She has traveled to 99 countries on all 7 continents and can read and speaks both Spanish and French.

Norma Sanders 

Norma serves as the Director of Special Initiatives for the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC). She began her work at GAGDC as the Smart Communities Manager for the Southwest Smart Communities Partners. She directly managed the Auburn Gresham and Chicago Lawn, two of the five digitally underserved neighborhoods, part of the City’s broadband adoption initiative. Her work has expanded to overseeing the organization’s catalytic economic development initiatives, small business support and communications. She leads the Auburn Gresham Invest South/West neighborhood investment initiative and the United Way Neighborhood Network, where her team engages partners and institutions around local strategies and priorities, as outlined the Auburn Gresham community driven quality of life plan.

In her over thirteen years at GAGDC, Norma has worked on development, technology and community organizing, engaging and uplifting residents and business assets, advocating on issues related to the digital divide, access to healthy food, youth STEAM programming, and leading strategic efforts to help increase equitable access to training, jobs, reducing barriers to public and private investments and promoting patient capital.

Ultimately, her expertise and joy is to lead the neighborhoods’ strategic journey to connect businesses and families to equitable resources that builds a level of sustainable wealth all Chicago neighborhoods need and deserve. Directing the winning 2020 inaugural Chicago Prize Always Growing Auburn Gresham team was a welcomed recognition that helped validate the work of GAGDC, its partners and greater community who collectively are working to help catalyze neighborhood and regional level change.

A native of Chicago’s South Side, Norma graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Electrical Engineering, worked as a senior director for Motorola, Inc. and has extensive experience managing cross-community and global program initiatives.

Camille Kerr

Camille promotes workplace democracy through her firm, Upside Down Consulting. She specializes in designing innovative worker-centered legal structures, cooperative development with members of marginalized communities, policy advocacy and drafting, and supporting existing businesses to become worker-owned. Her clients are academic institutions, field-building nonprofits, labor organizations, social enterprises, and community groups promoting economic democracy.

Upside Down is currently supporting the development of a worker-cooperative food service contractor, ChiFresh Kitchen, which is owned and determined primarily by formerly incarcerated folks living on the South & West Sides of Chicago.

Camille is also currently a board member of the Interaction Institute for Social Change, a steering committee member for the Cooperative Professionals Guild, a member of the Council of Cooperative Economists, an executive fellow with the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, and serves on the boards for EG Woode, Staffing Cooperative, and Certified Employee Owned.

Before starting Upside Down Consulting, Camille served as the Associate Director of The ICA Group, the Director of Field Building at the Democracy at Work Institute and the Director of Research at the National Center for Employee Ownership. She has a law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law where she was awarded a human rights fellowship and graduated cum laude.

Jessi Pérez

Jessi Pérez is a people-centric professional, with experience developing and managing projects and programs for nonprofits with an inclusive lens, honoring the intersectional identities people hold. Jessi was a Founding Partner for The Culture Consulting, LLC, an equity and culture shift firm that works with employers across the country on improving culture practices around anti-racism. Jessi’s work serving non-dominant communities continues to fuel her dedication to creating sustainable equitable change in systems and organizations.

Jessi is fluent in Spanish, and has over 15 years of experience as a rape crisis counselor. She is passionate about social justice and reproductive rights and justice. In her spare time, Jessi enjoys theater, baking, playing poker, and kayaking.

Janelle St. John

Janelle St. John

Janelle St. John is the Executive Director of Growing Home, appointed after being the Chief Fund Development and Communications Officer of Growing Home for over a year. Since her start at Growing Home, Janelle has helped form Growing Home’s essential 3-year working plan that includes initiatives geared towards deepening Growing Home’s commitment to the Englewood community through workforce development and food access. One of such initiatives included increasing Growing Home’s food distribution in Englewood, a goal which has been achieved and surpassed in 2020 by donating up to 90-100% of the first farm harvests in Englewood and continuing weekly and bi-weekly delivers at no cost to neighbors throughout the year.

Prior to Growing Home, Janelle spent five years as the Chief Development and Communications Officer and later Chief Strategy Officer for Edgewater Health, a Community Mental Health Center located in Gary, IN. She is a dynamic senior level professional with over 20 years of superior performance within the nonprofit industry. She holds a master’s degree in Public Service Administration from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Screenshot_20210322-111110_Facebook

Desireé Sanders

Desiree’ D. Sanders is the founder, owner and sole proprietor of Scrybes N’Vybes, a new brand and concept that is the successor to her former Afrocentric Bookstore, the first African American-owned bookstore established in downtown Chicago. The highly successful and beloved store, formerly situated on historic Bookseller’s Row, and then relocated to the historic Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago’s south side ceased operations years ago, but has now been reborn in this, her latest venture. The store stood unchallenged for years as the leading retailer of African and African-American literature throughout the Midwest region, stocking by far the most extensive selection of fiction and nonfiction books by authors of African descent. It also emerged as a must-stop in the Midwest for notable black authors, with important literary figures regularly walking through Sanders doors for special appearances, book signings and, community discussions.

Upon closing Afrocentric bookstore, Desiree decided to help her parents with their business Sanders Landscaping Incorporated. She was in charge of marketing and sales. It was there at a suggestion from her mother Helen that she considered taking a 9-month course of sustainable Urban agriculture offered by the Chicago Botanic Garden “Windy City Harvest” program. Having no prior experience in gardening or Landscaping she was a bit skeptical at first. Once she enrolled in the course in 2012 she got the urban ag “bug”. Learning the various crops, planting styles, and numerous agriculture techniques, she knew this was something she wanted to do as more than a hobby.

After receiving her certificate in Sustainable Urban Agriculture, she was employed through Windy City Harvest to teach community gardening in Bronzeville and the West Side of Chicago for several years. interacting in the community and teaching residents how to grow their own food had a profound impact on her. She even volunteered and shared resources of her own to help others start their own Gardens. In the years since, Sanders has devoted herself to the trials, joys and triumphs of motherhood, successfully raising two lovely daughters; one who is a student at one of the Seven Sisters, and the other who is the celebrated hip-hop artist “Noname”. Noname (i.e Fatimah) clearly learned her lessons well, and leveraged her mother's time-honored love of literature and inspiring entrepreneurship story to create an established national book club, Noname Reads, which serves to encourage the next generation to embrace reading and books.

Questions?

Contact us at info@urbangrowerscollective.org or (773) 376-8882.