COFI’s Board of Trustees is composed of activists, educators, and civic leaders, and includes four representatives of POWER-PAC IL, the statewide parent group.

Organizations listed are for affiliation purposes only.

A photo of Veronica Anderson

Veronica Anderson, Chair Emeritus

Communications Consultant, PenUltimate Group

Veronica Anderson is a communications and planning strategist with expertise in education, media, and public policy. As the principal and founder of the consulting firm PenUltimate Group, she works with leadership teams at school districts and education nonprofits that aim for equitable access, robust engagement, and overall student success. During her career, she has been an education reporter and editor, and has served as a member of the steering committee for the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. She has a bachelor’s in economics and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University, and she was John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University. (Credit: Just Equations)

A photo of Chanelle Brown

Chanelle Brown

Vice President (Out of Chicago) and Elementary Justice Campaign Co-Chair, POWER-PAC IL and Parent Leader

Chanelle Brown is a Vice President of POWER-PAC IL, the Co-Chair of the Elementary Justice Campaign, and a member of the POWER-PAC IL Evanston Branch, PEACE-POM (Parents of Evanston Advocating for Children and Education – Parents on a Mission). She is also a member of Evanston’s Mental Health taskforce and a staff member at the YWCA. Chanelle is proud to have been a single mother for ten years and continues to use her voice to advocate for single mothers and children of single mothers.

A headshot of Tonantzin Carmona

Tonantzin Carmona

Fellow, Brookings Institution; former Policy Director for City Clerk of Chicago

Tonantzin Carmona is a Rubenstein Fellow at the Brookings Institution and has served on COFI’s board since 2021. Tonantzin is no stranger to COFI, however, as she was introduced to the organization during her work to reform Chicago’s fines and fees. Tonantzin’s professional background includes roles in public policy, communications, community outreach, politics, and philanthropy. Fun fact: Maria Saucedo, a Chicago Public School, is named after Tonantzin’s aunt.

A photo of Jennifer Cossyleon

Jennifer Cossyleon, Secretary

Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager, Community Change

Jennifer E. Cossyleon, PhD is a sociologist and policy-informing researcher. She currently works in policy and advocacy at Community Change where she supports grassroots campaigns focused on racial and economic justice. Jennifer is also a co-principal investigator of the nationwide Parent Power and Leadership Study aimed at uncovering how community organizing and leadership shapes the learning of families, broadly defined. Jennifer has been on COFI’s Board since 2022 and has held a deep respect for COFI and POWER-PAC IL since 2014 when she first began learning from and working in partnership with staff and parents on several community engaged research efforts.

A photo of Diane Fager

Diane Fager, Co-Chair

Retired Director of Policy and Program Development, Chicago Public Schools

Diane Fager became interested in COFI when it first started. Formerly the Director of Policy and Program Development for the Chief Financial Officer of Chicago Public Schools, she helped develop programs and obtain funding streams that addressed the non-traditional educational needs of low-income students. As a grandmother, she is very concerned about the impact of climate change, particularly in low-income communities where the worst pollution always occurs. She is active in the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and played a key role in the passing of the Clean Equitable Jobs Act in Illinois. Diane loves to dance and recently participated in a flash mob at the Climate Strike in Downtown Chicago!

A photo of Rosazlia Grillier

Rosazlia Grillier, Co-Chair

Co-President Emeritus, POWER-PAC IL and Governing Council Leader, United Parent Leaders Action Network

Rosazlia (“Ms. Rose”) Grillier is the mother of two now-adult daughters, a longtime activist in her South Side Englewood community, and President-Emeritus of POWER-PAC IL. She is the former co-chair of POWER-PAC’s Stepping Out of Poverty Campaign. As a COFI Parent Peer Trainer, she has traveled the country, providing trainings in The COFI Way and serving as inspiration to hundreds of other low-income parent leaders. In 2021, Ms. Rose was honored by the Chicago Foundation for Women with the Founders Award. She also serves on the national Governing Council of the United Parent Leaders Action Network (UPLAN).

A photo of Jacky Grimshaw

Jacky Grimshaw

Vice President of Policy, Center for Neighborhood Technology

Jacky Grimshaw joined CNT in 1992 and has since developed its capacity to engage in public policy advocacy and transportation planning, transportation research, environmental justice, public participation tool development, GIS mapping, community economic development, and air quality. Jacky advocates for and provides expertise to increase transit in the Chicago region. She created and led CNT’s transportation and air quality programs and led CNT’s Transit Future campaign in the fight for mass transit reform and dedicated funding in the Chicago region. Since 2005, she has led CNT’s policy efforts at all levels of government. (Credit: CNT)

A photo of Dr. Nia Heard-Garris

Dr. Nia Heard-Garris

Pediatrician, Instructor and Researcher, Lurie Children’s Hospital/Northwestern University Medical School

Dr. Nia Heard-Garris is a pediatrician and a physician-investigator at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and in the Department of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She examines the influence of social adversities experienced in childhood and subsequent child and adolescent health. Dr. Heard-Garris is also interested in the factors that contribute to a child’s ability to thrive despite these experiences. Dr. Heard-Garris, her husband, and 9-year-old son live in Chicago and as new Chicagoans they better understand the phrase “winter is coming.”

A photo of Felipa Mena

Felipa Mena

Co-President Emeritus, POWER-PAC IL

Felipa Mena is Co-President Emeritus of POWER-PAC IL. She is a Mexican immigrant mother and grandmother who has long mentored immigrant, Spanish-speaking mothers to become policy change leaders in Chicago. She is a key leader in both the Elementary Justice and Early Learning Campaigns. Felipa is also a Lead Head Start Ambassador, going door-to-door each summer to help connect low-income and immigrant families with early learning resources. In 2013 Felipa was awarded the Chicago Foundation for Women’s Impact Award. She has served on the Board of West Town Leadership United and has organized with the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative, a day labor organizing group.

A photo of Liliana Olayo

Liliana Olayo

Health, Food, and Recess Campaign Co-Chair, POWER-PAC IL and Parent Leader, Padres Líderes Activos de Aurora

Liliana Olayo is the Co-Chair of the Health, Food, and Recess Campaign of POWER-PAC IL and an active parent leader in Aurora, Illinois with Padres Lideres Activos.  She is also a COFI Peer Trainer and a COFI Teambuilder supporting Aurora parents to bring their voices to policymaking tables. Locally, she serves as the President of the Oak Park School Neighbors group and President of the Bilingual Parents Advisory Council of District 131. In 2021 she was selected as one of five Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap national fellows, working on economic security issues for families of color.

A photo of Henrietta Saunders

Henrietta Saunders

Retired Certified Financial Advisor

Henrietta Saunders (“Hank”) is retired from a career in finance, education, and non-profit management. She volunteers full-time, mostly for environmental and social justice causes and says that COFI leaders always inspire her to do more. Henrietta has a husband, two sons, and a dog named Stanley.