Chicago Management Team
Maria Ptouchkina - President
Maria has been involved with Minds Matter’s Chicago Chapter since 2012 when she joined as a mentor. She enjoys her involvement with the organization because it is an incredible opportunity to work together with students to help realize their full potential. Maria received her BA in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Northwestern University. She currently works in technology consulting at Isobar.
Parth Patel - Director of Senior Program
Parth Patel has been involved in the Chicago Chapter of Minds Matter since 2014, and has helped run the Senior Program since 2015. Being first generation himself, Parth appreciates the value of education as a means to tackle challenges, to break down barriers, and to elevate oneself. After graduating from Hope College in Michigan with a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Mathematics, Parth moved to Chicago to work in the real estate investments. He is a Founding Principal of the real estate development firm, Fanchon Group.
Caitlin Gillis – Director of Senior Program
Caitlin joined Minds Matter in 2014 as a mentor and transitioned to the role of Director of Senior Program in 2016. As a graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, she’s an avid Tar Heels fan and lover of all things from the South. Outside of Minds Matter, Caitlin works in marketing at a startup and is also an Affiliate Board Member of the Ounce of Prevention Fund.
Victoria Stroz - Director of Senior Program
Victoria is thrilled to be a part of the Chicago chapter of Minds Matter! Prior to her move to Chicago in 2012, Victoria volunteered with Minds Matter New York for three years. As a mentor, she worked with one student through his high school graduation. Victoria currently works at IMC Financial Markets in Human Resources. Victoria earned her Bachelor degree in Finance from Villanova University. In her spare time Victoria enjoys exploring the Chicago food scene and skiing wherever she can find mountains and snow!
Greg Voutsos – Director of Junior Program
Greg joined Minds Matter as a mentor in 2015 and in 2016 moved into the Director of Sophomore Program role. He's passionate about the program and enjoys seeing students progress and excel. He graduated from University of Michigan with a degree in Economics, and he currently works as a Management Consultant at Point B.
Isaac Stern - Director of Junior Program
Isaac joined minds matter last year as a mentor after he had heard about the program from friends in his office. He was lucky enough to have coaches and mentors as a student in high school, and he hopes to give back by helping students overcome obstacles and achieve new heights. Isaac double majored in physics and economics at the University of Chicago, and he currently works as a trader at Peak6 Investments. .
Rupa Ramadurai – Director of Sophomore Program
Rupa is a Chicago native and has been a part of the Chicago chapter of Minds Matter for two years. She attended law school at Loyola University Chicago School of Law where she was a Child & Family Law Fellow. Rupa has been an attorney, practicing in the area of education law, for 2.5 years here in the Chicagoland area. Currently, she serves as Assistant General Counsel at the Illinois State Board of Education. Prior to being an attorney, Rupa was a high school Intensive Reading/English teacher in inner city Miami, Florida through Teach for America. During this time, she also got a Masters in Education & Social Change from the University of Miami School of Education. Rupa earned her Bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science from the University of Michigan.
Michael Miller – Director of Sophomore Program
Michael began volunteering for Minds Matter as a mentor in 2014. He now serves as a Director of the Sophomore Program in Chicago. Michael believes strongly in Minds Matter's mission of helping students achieve their full potential. Michael graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Economics and works as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch.
Andrew Khalifa – Director of Sophomore Program
Andrew was born and raised in Chicago and joined MM in 2014 as a mentor before moving to Team Lead and PD in 2017. He earned his undergrad degree in health sciences from Iowa and is currently waiting to find out where he matches for residency while finishing up medical school. He enjoys team sports, disaster relief, traveling and helping people whenever he can.
Brent Troxell– Director of Summer Programs
Brent is now working with Minds Matter Chicago after serving as a mentor with Minds Matter Twin Cities in 2013-2014. Brent is a graduate of Wofford College and received his Master of Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill. He currently works as the Deputy Director of Public Works for the Village of Glenview, IL.
Meredith Crawley – Director of Summer Programs
Suoyang Hou – Director of Data & Analytics
Suoyang joined Minds Matter in 2014 as a mentor. She now serves as a Director of Data & Metrics for the Chicago Chapter. She believes strongly in the mission of Minds Matter and the importance of creating opportunities through education. Suoyang works as a product manager at Uptake and has earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northwestern University.
Austin Nafziger – Director of Data & Analytics
Austin joined Minds Matter in 2018 as a Co-Director of Data & Metrics for the Chicago Chapter. He earned his Bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan and after starting his career in Management Consulting moved into the start-up world, following a passion for data management and analytics. Austin hopes to bring this experience building an analytics practice to bear, advancing Minds Matter’s work and mission.
Leo Bekerman – Director of Volunteers
Leo Bekerman is a consultant at ZS Associates, where he's helped clients in a wide variety of industries realize profitable sales growth. He holds Bachelor's Degrees in Finance and Business Administration from the University of Illinois.
Eric Mintzer – Director of Volunteers
Eric has been a mentor for Minds Matter Chicago since 2014. He joined the management team in 2017 after his first mentee went off to college. Eric studied Economics at Williams College and is now a trader at Gelber Group.
Christina Boesler – Director of Volunteers
Christina joined the Management Team in 2017 after attending the Spring for the Students Gala where she found herself inspired by the organization and the members within it. Christina graduated from Saint Mary’s College with a degree in Accounting and works in recruiting for Baker Tilly. She is also the co-founder of FitCityBlonde, a health & fitness blog, and has a passion for building community in Chicago.
Stephen Ni – Director of Test Prep
Stephen joined Minds Matter as a senior mentor in 2014, where he saw firsthand how Minds Matter opens opportunities for our high potential students. As Director of Test Prep, he looks forward to maximizing that opportunity by providing students the necessary tools to succeed. Stephen graduated from Northwestern University with a BA in Mathematics and now works in marketing strategy and analytics at Capital One.
Ryan Evans – Director of Test Prep
Ryan began his tenure with Minds Matter as a test prep instructor in 2014. He graduated from Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in business and earned his J.D. from DePaul University. When not helping Minds Matter students maximize their standardized testing potential, Ryan is a trial attorney in Chicago specializing in medical malpractice and health care defense.
Jennifer Walker – Director of Finance
Jennifer joined Minds Matter as a mentor in 2011. After her mentee graduated and went on to college, she took on a new role as a Director of Summer Programs in 2013, and then in 2014 moved on to the Director of Finance role. Jennifer graduated from Arizona State University with a dual degree in Finance and Economics and is currently working as a Financial Analyst at Morningstar.
Erica Whelan – Director of PR
Erica joined the management team in 2016 after hearing about Minds Matter from colleagues that had been involved in the program across the span of several years. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame where she studied Biochemistry. Erica currently works at APCO Worldwide where she is a healthcare communications specialist.
Mariah Cowan – Director of Social Media
Mariah joined Minds Matter as a mentor in 2015 and has been a part of one student's academic journey for 3 years. After obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from Illinois State University, she went on to earn a Master of Arts in Digital Communication & Media Arts from DePaul University. She currently works as a Digital Marketing Analyst at Pangea Properties where she manages social media, public relations, and internal communications.
Jonathan Weiss – Director of Technology
Jonathan joined Minds Matter as a math tutor before deciding to jump on board the management team. Jonathan has a BS and MS in Industrial Engineering and specializes in automation within healthcare information systems.
Clara Tse – Director of Alumni
Clara joined Minds Matter after learning about this organization from a friend who mentored at the New York chapter. In her six years with the organization, she has served as a mentor, Director of Senior Program, and Director of Alumni. She graduated from Northwestern University and received her Master in Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She currently works at a healthcare consulting firm, specializing in revenue cycle improvement.
Stew Kerr – Director of Corporate Fundraising
Stew Kerr joined Minds Matter in 2014 as a Director of Fundraising, and helps oversee the chapter’s fundraising strategy for corporate, charitable foundation, and individual donors. Stew worked previously in fundraising capacities for several other local organizations, but was sold on Minds Matter’s mission and unique approach to serving its students—he is constantly impressed with the intelligence and poise of mentees in the program in addition to the dedication of volunteers. Stew currently works in Axiom Law’s Healthcare practice, and graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont. In addition to Minds Matter, Stew enjoys playing lacrosse, listening to live music and seeing new movies.
Thomas Paras – Director of Corporate Fundraising
Thomas joined Minds Matter in 2014 and served on the Associate Board during the 2014-2015 school year. He is continuously impressed with the success of our students and with the passion of the organization’s volunteers. Thomas earned his BA from the University of Michigan and his Master of Accounting from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. He currently works in the Deal Advisory practice at KPMG.
Eliza Wood – Director of Events
Eliza joined Minds Matters in 2015, serving on the Associate Board from 2015-2017. She is continually inspired by the passion and dedication of all those involved in the organization – from the students to the volunteers. Eliza currently works in experiential marketing at Legacy Marketing and earned a BA in Communications and Psychology from the University of Michigan. In her spare time, Eliza enjoys travel, cheering on the Wolverines, and trying out new restaurants around Chicago.
The Associate Board oversees the fundraising efforts of Minds Matter of Chicago and is comprised of two committees: Corporate Fundraising and Event Planning.
Corporate Fundraising Committee
Stew Kerr - Co-Director of Fundraising
Thomas Paras - Co-Director of Fundraising
Max Needle - Subcommittee Head
Eliza Wood - Director of Events
Derek Siadak - Subcommittee Head
Brendan Griffin - Subcommittee Head
Becky Sulentic - Subcommittee Head