Staff

We’re a group of passionate individuals working
to help build tomorrow’s workforce.

Jenna Ketchum

Executive Director

Jenna joined Urban Alliance in 2014 after completing an Education Pioneers fellowship with the Department of College and Career Success at Chicago Public Schools. She earned an M.A. from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration in 2014 with a degree focus in Nonprofit Management. During her graduate studies, she completed a two-year internship with the Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation and studied urban poverty abroad at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India.

Previously, Jenna held several roles with Junior Achievement of Chicago from 2006 to 2013, including serving as the Associate Director of Suburban Operations and later as the Director of External Relations. Jenna holds a B.A. in English and Anthropology from Augustana College.

Heather Davis

Program Coordinator

Heather joined the Urban Alliance team in September 2017. She hails from Georgia where she completed her undergrad at The University of Georgia. Following graduation, she moved to South Carolina to serve as a high school tutor, mentor, and women’s basketball coach during her year of service with City Year Columbia. Heather’s time at City Year prompted her return to Atlanta to earn a Master in Social Work from Georgia State University as she continued her career in youth development. While in Atlanta, Heather worked with Covenant House Georgia to manage a Community Drop In Center for youth experiencing homelessness while providing job coaching and life skill development to support Covenant House’s young adults in their journey to independence. Heather believes strongly in the resiliency, power, and strength of young people and looks forward to fostering that belief while at Urban Alliance.

Deldric Henderson

Program Manager - Obama Youth Jobs Corps

Deldric Henderson has over ten years of experience developing and advocating for young people across Chicago. Prior to joining Urban Alliance, Deldric worked with the domestic violence nonprofit Between Friends to educate elementary and high school students on the importance of building and maintaining healthy relationships. He has also facilitated and developed curricula focused on life and work readiness skills, computer literacy, leadership development, restorative justice, and community engagement. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Northern Illinois University.

Vanessa Martinez

Alumni Services Director

Vanessa joined Urban Alliance in 2013 after working with a youth leadership program for at-risk students in the Chicago suburbs. In 2010, she earned her B.A. in Psychology from DePaul University, followed by an M.A. in Education from UCLA in 2011. Her background includes three years of research experience in the field of psychology as well graduate coursework that focused on the role of race in the education system. In August 2016, Vanessa transitioned to the role of Alumni Services. She has worked with every cohort of alumni since 2013 to support their post- secondary needs.

Katie Miles

Director of Employer Partnerships

Katie joined Urban Alliance in August 2016 to establish and cultivate UA partnerships within Chicago’s business and nonprofit communities. Prior to joining UA, she managed fellowships at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, where she designed and executed customized campus experiences for prominent journalists, politicians, and scholars from around the globe. Prior to her role at the Shorenstein Center, Katie led efforts to raise financial aid support within Harvard’s Office of Alumni Affairs and Development. Originally from northern Wisconsin, she brought her passion for people and the transformative power of education back to the Midwest as Urban Alliance Chicago’s Director of Employer Partnerships.

Selena Montelongo

Program Coordinator

Selena earned her B.A. degree in Psychology from Saint Louis University in May 2016. She went on to enroll in the Master’s international partnership of Peace Corps which allowed her to pursue her M.S.Ed. while simultaneously serving for the Peace Corps in Peru. Throughout her service, Selena worked with a focus in Youth Development. She trained local professionals and community leaders to assist youth in strengthening life skills, leadership potential, and employability. She is currently a M.S.Ed. Candidate in the Community and Social Change program at the University of Miami, where she is expected to graduate in December 2018. Throughout her higher education journey, Selena was heavily involved in a variety of service programs both on campus and throughout the cities in which she resided. Some of her involvement includes working with organizations such as Global Brigades, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, Miami Workers Center, New Friends New Life of Dallas, and Kingdom House in St. Louis. In her most recent professional role before Urban Alliance, Selena served as the program coordinator for a civic engagement and service learning program at the University of Miami. Born in the Chicago suburbs, Selena proudly hails from the Midwest but prides herself in her experiences traveling and living in diverse cities.

Ty Nettles

Program Specialist

Ty joined Urban Alliance in September 2016 after working in youth development for four years at an organization on Chicago’s South Side. In her previous work, Ty guided high school students through the holistic college access process, and mentored students in the development of their personal and social well-being. In 2011, Ty received her B.S. in Marketing from DePaul University where she also worked intimately on efforts to enhance retention and success rates for multicultural and first-generation students. Ty is happy to be a part of the Urban Alliance team where she is able to continue empowering and advocating for Chicago youth.

Laura Padilla

Program Associate

Laura Padilla joined Urban Alliance in May 2018 as Program Associate for the Chicago office. Originally from San Francisco, Laura was raised in Chicago and is a product of Chicago Public Schools. Laura attended Stanford University, becoming the first in her family to graduate from college. Before joining Urban Alliance, Laura previously worked at the University of Chicago, and QuestBridge, an education nonprofit that helped her in her own journey to college.

Heather Penczak

Program Manager - High School Internship Program

Heather joined the Urban Alliance team in July 2015. She began her career as an undergraduate at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and upon receiving her Bachelor of Science in Biology, completed her secondary teaching certificate through Northeastern Illinois University. Heather’s traditional classroom experience as a science teacher for three years at Palatine High School inspired her to work more closely with youth on an individual level. Before coming to Urban Alliance, she worked as a general education teacher for an options school called Pathways in Education in Chicago, Illinois. Heather is currently working toward a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy studies through the University of Illinois at Chicago. Heather is dedicated to the empowerment of youth through access and opportunity in a world that desperately needs all voices to be heard.

Eileen Torpy

Program Coordinator

Eileen joined the Urban Alliance team in March 2018.  A native of Chicago’s South Side, Eileen earned her bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education from Loras College, then taught high school social studies as a Teach For America Corps Member in the Oklahoma region.  Her work with high school students extended into the nonprofit sphere as a Program Manager with Future Leaders of Chicago. Eileen is a passionate believer in the power of youth and their ability to be agents for social change.

Anna Treesara

Program Coordinator

Anna joined the Urban Alliance team in March 2018. Born and raised in Avondale, Chicago, she always knew she wanted to make a difference through education. She began her journey as a Golden Apple Scholar and undergraduate at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. Immediately after completing her Bachelor of Arts in English Education, she received a Fulbright to teach English language in Thailand, where she was able to reconnect with her culture. Upon returning to the States, Anna was offered a high school English-teaching position at a Noble Network Charter School, where she created new curriculum every year and founded the Newspaper Club. During this time, Anna also worked toward a Master of Science degree in Language Arts Instruction from Northeastern Illinois University. After three years at Noble, she realized she wanted to create a larger impact outside of the classroom. Anna is most passionate about creating academic and professional opportunities for students from underserved communities through intentional curriculum development and innovative educational technology tools.