President & CEO: Susan B Benton 312.676.0999

Susan has worked with libraries and local governments for over twenty years. Her professional career has been dedicated to assisting city and county executives initiate and manage change in their organizations so that citizens and businesses are receiving the strongest possible services. She comes to ULC from her position as Research, Development and Strategic Partners Executive at the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

Project Manager, Edge: Lourdes Aceves 312.676.0961

Lourdes comes to ULC from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), where she was a Compliance Analyst. In this position, she was instrumental in successfully launching Illinois’ Hardest Hit Fund Program (HHF), a federal foreclosure prevention program for the development of locally‚Äźtailored programs to assist struggling homeowners.  Prior to joining IHDA in August 2011, Lourdes was a Research Assistant for Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in Chicago where she honed her skills as a community activist and organizer.

Finance & Administrative Executive: Katherine Behrens 202.572.1032

Katherine comes to ULC from Educational Research Service (ERS), where she was the Chief Operating Officer. As COO, she directed all accounting and finance activities, prepared the annual budget, developed personnel policies and procedures, created marketing plans, managed library services, and monitored annual contracts. Katherine’s career has been focused on non-profits and helping educators use research to improve student achievement. She is dedicated to managing internal operations to allow the organization to provide the highest level of service to clients.

Project Manager: Mary Colleen Bragiel 312.676.0955

Colleen comes to ULC after being in both the consumer and medical marketing/public relations sector. She volunteers at the Albany Park Community Center as an adult literacy tutor. Colleen's interest in Library Science brought her to ULC where she’s responsible for media and marketing and conference planning and logistics.

Senior Program Manager, Edge: Jake Cowan 312.676.0954

Jake comes to the Urban Libraries Council with a passion for strengthening libraries as essential anchor institutions in communities across the country. He has spent over ten years in research and community development organizations, where he led and expanded national community development projects at The Urban Institute and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. Jake is also a proud patron of the Chicago Public Libraries and an active member of the Board of Directors of Chicago's North River Commission.

Program Leader for Education: Amy Eshleman 312.676.0958

Amy served as Chicago Public Library's (CPL) Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Planning and Partnerships and was responsible for the implementation of long-range planning and the public/private collaborations and resource sharing partnerships. She led efforts to create programs such as One Book, One Chicago; Chicago Book Festival; the Kraft Great Kids program; Computer Smarts @ CPL; CyberNavigators and Chicago Matters. Amy led the CPL team in the creation and expansion of YOUmedia.

Strategic Initiatives/Program Development Executive: Angela Goodrich 312.676.0957

Angela has dedicated her career to sustainable communities. Since joining ULC in 1999, she has helped to create national initiatives to advance learning and youth engagement, strengthen technology in libraries, develop emerging library leaders, promote and spread innovation and communicate the value of the public library in the 21st century.  Prior to her current position, Angela was ULC's Finance/Administration Executive and managed ULC's financial and internal growth.  Angela began her career focused on the power of story and community as the founding business director of two nationally recognized Chicago theaters - Lookingglass Theatre Company and Redmoon Theater.

Member Services & Support Manager: Jodi Lazar 312.676.0962

Jodi was drawn to ULC for its focus on communities and the elements libraries gather to bring success to our cities. She comes to ULC after fifteen years’ experience running a high-end, leisure travel business. With a background in Fine Arts and English from the University of Michigan, Jodi brings her artistic vision, love of words and strong customer service skills to ULC’s members, communications and website. To round things out, Jodi sits on a local theatre board and is a passionate advocate for animal rights.

Finance Manager: Christine Merzazada 202.572.1023

Christine comes to ULC from Educational Research Service (ERS) where she was the Office Manager. She has over 15 years of experience working for a non-profit handling most of the accounting and financial activities for the organization. Prior to her last position, she was responsible for the publication fulfillment process as well as membership invoicing.

Program & Communications Manager: Sheila Murphy 312.676.0959

Sheila is a lifelong patron of public libraries and a professional whose career has been deeply enriched by working with libraries. She comes to ULC with extensive experience as a nonprofit program manager. Prior to joining ULC in 2011, Sheila was a Senior Program Officer with the Wallace Foundation where she designed and managed numerous multi-year initiatives in the areas of youth services/out-of-school time; adult/family literacy and the literary arts.

Senior Communications Manager: Alison Saffold 312.676.0953

Alison served as Director of Communications for the Chicago Climate Action Plan at Global Philanthropy Partnership. In this role, she managed all aspects of promoting the City of Chicago’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and highlight its achievements to stakeholders, key officials, partners and the public. Prior to moving to the City of Chicago in 2008, Alison lived in South Florida where she spent 14 years doing communications and public relations for the City of Hollywood, the City of Fort Lauderdale and the City of Opa-locka.

Senior Executive Assistant to the CEO: Danuta Sawicki 312.676.0960

Danuta comes to ULC having refined her administrative skills working at various law firms, consulting firms and associations. She experienced the dot-com boom working as a project manager for two start-up tech firms. Earlier, she developed marketing strategies based on doing first-hand, qualitative market research. Her prior not-for-profit work experience includes managing the out-patient pediatric clinics of a major research hospital in Chicago. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago.