Meet our team
We share a deep commitment to making Chicago a more equitable city where all children, particularly Black and Latinx youth, can thrive. Our shared values are reflected in our relationships with each other, with our grantees and stakeholders, and with our community.
Elizabeth (Beth) Swanson is the CEO of A Better Chicago. In this role, she leads the organization’s work to change how Chicago fights poverty by investing in organizations and leaders that are creating opportunity for youth. Upon taking the helm at the venture philanthropy nonprofit in May 2019, Beth expanded the team, inspired new major donors to invest in A Better Chicago’s work and launched the development of the organization’s updated strategic direction.
Prior to joining A Better Chicago, Beth was vice president of strategy and programs at the Joyce Foundation. At Joyce, she helped guide an annual grant portfolio of $50 million, providing strategic direction to all programs and working on foundation-wide innovation initiatives. She also directed the Special Opportunities Fund and the Education & Economic Mobility Program at the foundation.
Before her position at Joyce, Beth served as deputy for education in the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, working collaboratively with education and community leaders to define the city’s education policy agenda from birth through college. She served as the Mayor’s point person in expanding early learning opportunities, achieving a full school day, bringing quality school options to families and launching the city’s Summer of Learning initiative. Beth also worked closely with Chicago’s business community to ensure that City Colleges of Chicago, a network of seven community colleges, helped students learn skills relevant to the local job market.
Beth had previously served as executive director of the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, and worked for Chicago Public Schools with CEO Arne Duncan, serving as director of the Office of Extended Learning Opportunities and then leading the District’s Office of Management and Budget.
Beth is currently vice chair of the City Colleges Board of Trustees, board chair for The Partnership for College Completion, and was appointed to the Illinois P-20 Council. In 2014, she founded Thrive Chicago—a collective impact initiative working to align efforts by service providers, city agencies and funders to help children succeed from cradle to career—and serves on the organization’s board. Additionally, Beth was the first and only female board chair for City Year Chicago (2009-2011).
Beth was a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow in 2006 and Crain’s Chicago Business named her to its list of 40 Under 40 in 2013. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and American Studies from Amherst College, and a master’s in public policy from the University of Chicago. Beth, her husband, and their three children live on Chicago’s North Side.
Nataly serves A Better Chicago as Portfolio Director. She has worked for several years in the non-profit sector at the intersection of organizing, policy, and advocacy on issues related to educational equity and economic and reproductive justice. Nataly is skilled in exploring strategic and thoughtful ways of ensuring the voices of those directly impacted are informing an organization’s programs, policy, and social change efforts. Nataly has a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College and a Masters’s Degree in Social Work from Loyola University.
Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer
Becky Betts is the chief marketing and external affairs officer at A Better Chicago. In this role, Becky leads the organization’s marketing and communications, strategic partnerships, and development work. She seeks to elevate A Better Chicago’s brand at the local and national levels while maintaining and cultivating relationships across sectors to garner the resources required to achieve A Better Chicago’s mission to fight poverty with opportunity.
Becky’s track record for developing and implementing innovative social impact initiatives includes launching Chicago CRED—a foundation focused on reducing gun violence through philanthropy, direct service programs, community engagement, and advocacy—with former United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. As chief of staff, Becky led the creation of a direct service, anti-violence program and established collaborative partnerships with city agencies and community-based nonprofits to enable rapid expansion, including employment of more than 5,000 high school students each summer through the One Summer program. On the advocacy side, she led initiatives to engage young adults from Chicago’s South and West side neighborhoods in local and national conversations around gun violence prevention. Prior to her time at Chicago CRED, Becky provided strategic guidance to a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies as a management consultant with PwC and A.T. Kearney.
Becky is on the board of directors for Advance Illinois, a nonprofit policy and advocacy organization that works towards building a healthy public education system for Illinois. She also serves on the board of Fishtank Learning, a national nonprofit focused on providing high-quality instructional content for K-12 educators. Becky holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a master’s of business administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Investments and Impact Manager
Brian manages A Better Chicago’s work of strengthening its data capacity and infrastructure to conduct rigorous diligence, support grantee operations, and understand portfolio impact. Brian started his career as an investment banking analyst and private equity investor. In these capacities, he partnered with and advised healthcare service organizations to develop strategies to accelerate growth and maximize impact. Most recently, Brian served two terms of service with Americorps VISTA, where he helped youth development nonprofits on Chicago’s West Side build capacity and improve their fundraising and communications infrastructure. Brian is currently a Master of Public Policy candidate at the University of Chicago and holds a BS in Economics from the University of Illinois.
Chief of Staff
Emily joined A Better Chicago as the external relations coordinator in 2019, she now supports our organization as the special assistant to the CEO. Previously, she served as deputy campaign manager for Derek Lindblom’s 43rd Ward Aldermanic campaign. Prior to joining the campaign, Emily was a special education aide at Oak Lawn Community High School. She has spent most of her life being a part of a nonprofit children’s theater in her hometown in the southwest suburbs. At the theater, she helped mentor low-income and first-generation students from elementary school through college. She was the first in her family to graduate from college, earning a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University, majoring in Spanish and Psychology as well as a minoring in Latin American and Latino Studies.
Director of Development
Chelsea joined A Better Chicago in January 2022 and serves as the Director of Development. In her role, Chelsea oversees the full continuum of fundraising activities including annual giving, major gifts, and foundation and corporate giving. Over the past eight years, Chelsea has worked in Development in health and human services in Chicago, most recently serving as the Director of Major Gifts and Strategic Philanthropy at Sinai Chicago. During her time at Sinai Chicago, she helped grow the organization’s philanthropic revenue more than five-fold. Previous to her work in health and human services, Chelsea worked in museums throughout New York City and Chicago. She holds a BA from Loyola University Chicago and a MA from New York University.
Manager of Development
Melanie is A Better Chicago’s manager of development. In this role, she manages a growing portfolio of donors and helps drive overall donor engagement strategy and analytics. Before joining the A Better Chicago team in 2019, Melanie was a senior consultant in Deloitte’s Business Risk Advisory practice. At Deloitte, she also served as the operations and logistics lead for the Deloitte Education Consulting Cooperative. Melanie received her bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Chief Finance and Administration Officer
Rob joined A Better Chicago as its Chief Finance and Administration Officer in 2021. For more than twenty years, Rob has managed the fiscal stability of civic organizations in Chicago. Over that span, he has served as the senior financial officer at several high-performing organizations with missions attuned to urban policy, workforce development and equitable access to educational opportunity. He specializes in directing both strategic and operational financial matters in mission-driven settings, with a particular focus on institutions operating at the intersection where the public, nonprofit and private sectors collaborate.
Rob earned a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He was a member of the 2018 cohort of the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy.
Megan Mineau joined A Better Chicago after nearly a decade of experience in the Chicago social service sector, most recently at Heartland Alliance. Megan holds an M.A. from The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and a bachelor’s in psychology from Beloit College in Beloit, WI. Megan has spent most of her career in fundraising, building capacity for organizations seeking to achieve equity and opportunity for all Chicagoans. A social worker at heart, Megan is passionate about advancing social justice and creating sustainable change in Chicago communities. Originally from Wisconsin, Megan currently lives in North Center with her partner (Noah), toddler (Hugo), and dog (Winnie). Her free time is limited these days, but when she has a spare moment she enjoys cooking, doing yoga, spending time outdoors, and daydreaming about travel.
Ashley joined A Better Chicago as a Development Associate in 2022. In this role, she supports office operations, project planning, and development outreach. Prior to joining ABC, Ashley worked with OneCause to manage galas and fundraisers for local and national non-profits in Chicagoland. Before that, she was a top salesperson for Atlanta United FC during their record-breaking championship season. Originally from Detroit, Ashley is a first-generation college graduate who holds degrees in Marketing and Managerial Sciences from Georgia State University.
Marshana Roberts Pace
Director of Investments
Marshana Pace leads the critical work of growing A Better Chicago’s portfolio of grantees that help create equitable opportunities for Black and Latinx youth. Marshana has spent nearly a decade in the education and youth development nonprofit field. She most recently served as Impact Director at City Year Chicago where she implemented strategies aimed at supporting student attendance, social-emotional learning skill development and academic progress for a cohort of Chicago public schools. Marshana holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from DePauw University, is a proud 2021 Surge Institute Fellow, and home décor enthusiast. A Chicago native from the beautiful neighborhood of Bronzeville, Marshana is fiercely dedicated to her city and creating sustainable change for youth and communities of color.
Wesley Quevedo joined A Better Chicago in 2022 as the Portfolio Growth Associate. Wesley has served over five years as an educator, researcher, and evaluator in the non-profit space in Chicago. He most recently served as Research and Evaluation Coordinator at Urban Initiatives where he supported the development and implementation of program-aligned evaluation strategies. Wesley holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental analysis from Pomona College. A Chicago native from the south side, Wesley is passionate about serving Chicago, its people, and its communities in recognizing and reaching their potential.
Impact and Innovation Associate
As an Impact and Innovation Associate, Gabe supports the evaluation of candidate, grantee, and portfolio impact, as well as strengthening A Better Chicago’s organization-wide data-related capacity and infrastructure. Before joining A Better Chicago in 2021, Gabe was a communications and marketing consultant at Vested where he supported financial services clients with strategic media planning, market research and content development. Prior to his time as a communications consultant, he interned at Morningstar within their Indexes department. Gabe graduated from Yale University earning his B.A. in both Sociology and Economics with a rigorous background in quantitative and qualitative academic research. He currently holds a position in the Emerging Leadership Council at Matriculate.
Sarey is A Better Chicago’s Portfolio Associate. She joined A Better Chicago in 2018 and has held several roles supporting the executive team, office operations, and program team support. Prior to joining A Better Chicago, Sarey spent three years as an AmeriCorps member at Girls in the Game, working with elementary, middle, and high school girls to help them find their confidence through fun and active sports, health, and leadership programs. Sarey holds a CNP certification and a BS in Nonprofit Management from North Park University. Sarey is also a former member of the Noble Alumni Association board.
Investment Operations Coordinator
Perla is the Investment Operations Coordinator for A Better Chicago. In this role, she supports the organization’s grant-making efforts by ensuring seamless grantmaking operations across all stages of the investment pipeline. Perla provides logistical and analytical support for due diligence, executes investment agreements, and enables grant payments.
Previously, Perla worked in higher education administration at both Northeastern Illinois University and the University of Illinois and in youth development at City Year of Chicago. Perla approaches youth development with a holistic view of students’ needs and advocates for a positive relationship between students, teachers, administrators, and any stakeholders that touch students’ lives. Whether its addressing unstable housing, complex transportation, or any other obstacles to student success, she is driven to resolve student challenges to ensure all students have an opportunity to be their best selves.
Perla holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a minor in Integrative Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was born and raised in Chicago and enjoys listening to horror audiobooks (ask her for a recommendation) and Latin dancing in her free time.