Urban Gateways Center for Arts Education


Staff Bios

John W. Adams - Director of Finance and Operations

John Adams is responsible for all facets of accounting, audits, contracts, office logistics, human resources, technical resources and other related duties. Joining Urban Gateways in 2006, he has worked in the non-profit arena for over twenty years. Past positions include Business Manager at the Goodman Theatre, Excecutive Director at Writers' Theatre and Development Manager at Gay Games VII. Mr. Adams has served on the Board of Directors of the League of Chicago Theatres and the Board of the Chamber of Commerce of Glencoe.

Albert Cooper - Program Sales and Community Partnerships Manager

Albert Cooper directs and coordinates all program sales at Urban Gateways. He is also Urban Gateways’ community advocate, and he directs and oversees extended community engagement.  Albert graduated from Roosevelt University in Chicago with a Master of Business Administration in Finance and has served the nonprofit sector for several years in various capacities.

Abby Csanda - Associate Director of Development

Abby began her career in community arts as a Program Associate with Snow City Arts, an organization that provides in-hospital arts education for pediatric patients in Chicago. Following her work at Snow City Arts, Abby served as Director of Marketing and Communications for Green City Market and later as a fundraiser for the Old Town School of Folk Music, building their membership structure and auto-renewal programs as well as raising funds for their Capital Campaign for the new East Building in Lincoln Square.  Most recently, Abby worked for Cannon Design, an international design firm, creating innovative marketing strategies and proposals for their healthcare market. Abby finished her Masters’ thesis on Positive Youth Development and Mentoring Programs and in May of 2010 received her Master's of Arts Management from Columbia College of Chicago.  Before living in Chicago, Abby grew up in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois and received her Bachelor's of Fine Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University in Photography.

Sherre Jennings Cullen - Director of Development

Sherre Jennings Cullen, Director of Development, joined Urban Gateways in 2009.  Prior to Urban Gateways, Sherre led the development efforts at Writers’ Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.  Previously, she was the Vice President of Development and Communications at the Music Institute of Chicago for seven years where she oversaw the campaign to purchase and renovate the new education and performance facility in Evanston.  Sherre currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Chicago Chapter and she is the Co-chair of its Peer Mentoring Committee.  She lives in Evanston with her husband Joe and their son Ethan.  Sherre was a theatre major in college.  She and her family enjoy taking advantage of the many cultural opportunities Chicago has to offer.

Eric Delli Bovi - Executive Director

Prior to joining Urban Gateways in 2012, Eric Delli Bovi served as the Old Town School of Folk Music’s Director of External Affairs where he led its most recent capital campaign and unprecedented growth in fundraising for education and performance initiatives. Mr. Delli Bovi also served as an interim director in 2006, supervised its extensive marketing and retail operations for four years, and directed its education outreach programs until 2004. He is also a professional drummer and worked as a teaching artist for many years. Prior to his career as an arts executive, he was a school teacher in both high school and elementary school settings. Mr. Delli Bovi was named a Chicago Community Trust Fellow in 2010 and was elected to the Emerging Leaders Council for the Americans for the Arts in 2005. Mr. Delli Bovi holds an M.A from the School for New Learning at DePaul University with a focus in directing and developing community arts education organizations, and a B.A. from Ithaca College in Social Studies/Secondary Education.

Erin Dunn - Residency Program Associate

Erin Dunn is a new member of the Urban Gateways staff as one of the Residency Program Associates. Before her time at Urban Gateways, Erin was an art teacher at CICS Basil and a Teaching Artist with the Elmhurst Art Museum. Erin received her Bachelors degree in Art History from Kansas State University and a Masters degree in Art Education from the University of Houston. While receiving her Masters degree in Houston, Erin worked as a teaching artist with Foto Fest and as a docent with the Blaffer Art Museum. Outside of work, Erin likes to travel and go on adventures with her husband, Tim. Her most recent adventures include hiking up Machu Picchu and rock climbing at Devil’s Lake State Park.

Tarah Ortiz Durnbaugh - Performance Programs Manager

Tarah Ortiz Durnbaugh has been part of Urban Gateways since 2007. Her arts background spans many disciplines, including almost two decades of dance training, a Theatre degree from Northwestern University, as well as mastering “Hot Cross Buns” on the flute in elementary school. Her passion for the arts began in the 90s with a backyard Ace of Bass cover band and continues to grow today as an instructor and choreographer for the Kaleidoscope Dance Ensemble; director of the Kaleidoscope Krew youth hip hop group; ensemble member and choreographer for Be the Groove; and company member of the Joel Hall Dancers. Tarah’s work with Urban Gateways includes managing the performance programs with the goal of bringing the best arts experiences to students across the Chicagoland area.

Brian Foster - Director of Marketing & Sales

Brian J. Foster, a Chicago resident, is a graduate of Whitney M. Young High School and Illinois State University with his Bachelor of Science degree in Communications. His previous work in the not-for-profit world has included serving as the Ounce of Prevention Fund's Communications Associate and at the Community Renewal Society as the Manager of Advertising and Promotions. Most recently he has served as the Director of Marketing for CollectiveQwest Entertainment and Marketing, working with such high profile clientele as the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls, and Burger King as well as several local businesses. He has been responsible for Strategic Communications, Program & Campaign Management, Targeted Public & Media Relations, Event & Fundraiser Coordination, and Social Media & Web Content Development. An avid music, film, and sports enthusiast, Brian enjoys traveling, playing and participating in various sports, and taking in all the culture and beauty the city has to offer.

Anna Joranger - Marketing & Sales Associate

As Urban Gateways' Marketing Associate, Anna strives to communicate the organization’s story with all the artistry and heart that it inspires. Having studied Creative Writing (and Anthropology) at Macalester College, she is infatuated with fiction and is currently working on her second novel. She is happy to bring her writerly tendencies to the table in her day-to-day work at Urban Gateways. She has previously worked or volunteered in communications for Macalester College, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, and Chicago’s Neighborhood Writing Alliance. She is also a certified instructor of English as a Foreign Language; she spent a year as an English teacher in Quito, Ecuador and six months as a freelance writer of EFL educational materials. When not working or writing, she loves to cook, explore Chicago’s endless neighborhoods and institutions, and travel any time she can squeeze it in.

Claire Meyers - Performance Programs Associate

Claire Meyers is a recent graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Management. Claire has worked with several Chicago theatre and arts organizations in education and development capacities. At Urban Gateways, Claire assists with all things related to​ the​ performance programs, blending her passion for the arts with her interests in education and administration.​ Outside of work, Claire is a bicycle riding, coffee drinking, wanna be astronaut.

Ellie O’Hagan - Executive Assistant

Ellie O’Hagan is a Chicago native who has been Executive Assistant with Urban Gateways for two years. She has a degree in Philosophy and Painting from Northwestern University, and has had painting exhibitions is Chicago, Ohio, Oregon and California. She has been a waitress, a deli clerk, a short order cook, a flower shop owner, a Marketing & Public Relations Director, a Logic and English tutor, and a bookseller. She has two children and three grandchildren.

Dee Dee Pacheco - Program Manager of Residency and Special Projects

Dee Dee Pacheco is the Program Manager of Residency and Special Projects at Urban Gateways. With thirteen years of experience in both the education and nonprofit sectors, her passion and dedication to youth empowerment through creative placemaking fuels her commitment to developing and managing innovative cross-curricular learning experiences.  She is responsible for expanding and deepening collaborative partnerships while managing and supporting quality assurance of artist-in-residence programs in school and community-based learning environments. Her prior professional experience includes: External Assessor and Trainer of Youth Development Work Methods (David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality), creative curriculum design, facilitating professional development (at local, state and national levels), management of content quality for Community Schools programs, and teaching elementary through middle school youth in Texas and New York. Her “alter ego” is an undercover poet and mixed media artist who will spend the rest of her life studying and performing the art of flamenco dance.

Jill LeCesne Potter - Director of Education

As Director of Programs, Jill oversees the daily operations of Residency and Performance Programs across a diverse sector of school and community-based learning environments. With a demonstrated history of quality program development and implementation, Jill seeks opportunities to activate youth voice and foster dialogue that encourages diversity of thought and advances cultural understanding. As part of the Chicago arts education community, she has represented Urban Gateways as part of the Chicago Arts Learning Initiative, the Chicago Arts Educators Forum, and the Teaching Artist Development Studio at Columbia College, among other initiatives and conferences. Her previous involvement has included the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans, New Orleans Museum of Art, The New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network and Richard Thomas Art Gallery. Jill holds a BA in Fine Arts - Art History from the University of New Orleans.

Karl Saffran - Finance & Operations Associate

Karl Saffran fell haphazardly into a career in non-profit arts administration after becoming Bookstore Manager at Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee, WI, a position he held for six years. After leaving Milwaukee, he served as Managing Director of Flying Object, a non-profit art & publishing organization located in Hadley, Massachusetts. There, he helped the organization secure its first major grants, including support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Karl also worked as Gallery Manager for Milwaukee's The Green Gallery and as a tour manager for indie rock bands, ran a reading series called Salacious Banter, and occasionally does freelance copyediting for a publisher of paranormal romance novels. In addition to his work at Urban Gateways, Karl works as Permissions Coordinator for the Poetry Foundation and as a grant writer for MAKE Literary Productions.

Sarah Schwartz - Grants Manager

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Sarah moved to Los Angeles, CA, where she managed the publicity efforts of numerous TV, film and event entities. She soon realized her passion laid in other fields, and after getting tired of showing up in too many paparazzi photos, she came back home to the Midwest to pursue a Master’s degree in Arts, Entertainment and Media Management at Columbia College Chicago. While completing her degree, she held multiple positions with Chicago based arts non-profits in communications and fundraising. Prior to joining Urban Gateways in the development department, Sarah worked at the Sundance Institute in Park City, UT as the Corporate Relations Coordinator in support of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.