BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Izabel Olson was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Izabel is a PhD in Education with a background in the health and wellness sector that includes experience with dance, holy yoga, health coaching, and competitive body building. Izabel has had a lifelong commitment to education teaching for ten years before being admitted to Northwestern University where she earned her Ph.D. in the Learning Sciences. Back in Brazil, Izabel led the IT department for the British School managing a budget of a million reais and developed the bilingual curriculum implemented nationally at Escola Anglo Americano. At Northwestern, she explored the link between culture and cognition with low-income students in Brazil. Unfortunately, Izabel grew disillusioned with academia as she experiences resistance to change. In 2014, upon earning her PhD, she decided that the best way to create an impact was by working at the grass-roots’ level. Having been a lifelong fitness enthusiast, she began teaching holy yoga at the Cook County Jail in 2015. In this role, Izabel found out that 70% of incarcerated women are survivors of trafficking. As she experienced first hand the benefits of meditation and trauma-sensitive holy yoga on the female inmates, she felt the nudge to do something more meaningful using her background in Education and passion for health and wellness. This was the beginning of the Salt and Light Coalition.
Honorable Judge Rosemary Higgins (Ret)
Judge Rosemary Higgins was a felony court Judge at 26th & California. As a judge, Rosemary developed and presided over the award winning WINGS court (Women in Need of Gender Specific Services). Launched in 2011, this intensive two-year program gives women who are arrested and plead guilty to prostitution charges, the opportunity to attend rehabilitation and receive counseling and job training. A spinoff from WINGS, “Prostitution Anonymous” offers courses and mentoring programs so those women who have graduated, can inspire those who are in treatment. She has chaired Saint Xavier University’s School for Continuing Education and Professional Studies Advisory Council leading a team of professionals with fund-raising efforts and developing credit and non-credit programs. She served as the Co-Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee for the Women’s Bar Association and was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the Capital Litigation Bar Screening Committee. Despite her retirement from the courts in 2015, Rosemary continues her advocacy for humanity, serving on the Illinois Juvenile Justice Leadership Council, as an Adjunct Professor at The John Marshall Law School, as a member of Saint Xavier University’s President’s Advisory Council, and now as a board of Directors member for Salt and Light Coalition.
Anna Valencia was sworn into office as the Clerk of the City of Chicago on January 25, 2017. Valencia began her career with the City of Chicago as an Assistant to Mayor Emanuel as a part of the Legislative Counsel and Government Affairs (LCGA) team. Next, Valencia worked as an Illinois political professional in several positions including, serving as Campaign Manager for U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s re-election campaign, Senior Advisor for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign, Deputy Director of the Illinois Senate Democratic Victory Fund, a Communications Staffer for State Senate President John Cullerton, and Field Director for both Mike Quigley for Congress (IL-05) and Gary Peters for Congress (MI-09). Most recently, Anna served as the Director of LCGA. Valencia grew up in Granite City, Illinois and earned her degree in International Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She currently resides in the City with her husband and dog.
Tony Olson has been an integral part of SPINS, LLC since joining in April of 1999. He currently serves as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, in addition to his role as owner. Through his entrepreneurial vision, leadership and more than twenty-five years of experience in the natural products industry, Mr. Olson has led the company’s impressive growth and advancement to become the recognized leader in market measurement services and insights for the natural, organic and specialty products industry as well as the overall health and wellness sector. SPINS has recently been recognized as one of the 100 fastest growing digital companies in Chicago. Over 100,000 retail locations, 1,000’s of brands and hundreds of partners rely on SPINS’s data and insights to make business decisions, contributing to a more vibrant America.
Priscilla Franco Butler is a consultant at Cottingham & Butler, managing and overseeing the international division of the firm. Priscilla’s role consists of advising US-based clients with global operations on international risk management and compliance strategies.
Prior to joining Cottingham & Butler, Priscilla worked at Jones Day in Shanghai, China and in Boston, MA. While at Jones Day, she advised clients on corporate transactions including mergers and acquisitions, cross-border transactions with China, the United States and South America and worked with the firms’ Foreign Corruption Practice Act investigation practice. Priscilla was also the founder of Brazil’s first Chamber of Commerce in China and built a community network of over 3,000 Brazilian’s working and residing in China. Priscilla has been living in Chicago with her husband since 2014 and is a graduate of Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, and Northwestern Law.
Trina M. Fresco is a passionate leader who promotes the idea that what connects us is far greater than that which divides us. Trina brings people together to celebrate humanity through the teams that she cross-functionally leads to over-deliver on corporate missions of being the best in industry and the most impactful in community. In her broad experience within D&I, MarCom, Operations and Sales, she has always used a data-driven, strategic approach derived from a pursuit of learning, humility, and respect. Trina recognizes the tremendous need for simplistic kindness in our lives; and how this small shift in perception can make our corporate culture, and our community , a better place where teams and residents can thrive. After all, honoring our past as a company and a person will only unify our futures. As a strong collective; she believes we can motivate our teams, inspire our community, and win big globally. Having had three children under the age of three at one point in her life, Trina and her husband George, try to keep things calm with their incredible family in Chicago’s Little Italy.
Dr. Almeida joined Birghman and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard University Teaching Hospital in 2017. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and a Psychiatrist at the hospital. Prior to that she was at the University of Illinois at Chicago as the director of the Women’s Mental Health inpatient service, the largest in Illinois and among the largest in the country. She treats women with psychiatric manifestations related to their reproductive cycle, including infertility and pregnancy loss, pregnancy, postpartum events, breastfeeding, and menopause. In addition to her clinical work, she is passionate about teaching her residents and medical students and is involved with research. Marcela won a Fellowship Award in 2010 at the World Association for Social Psychiatry meeting, was instructor of the year at University of Chicago in 2012, and has published many articles in peer-reviewed journals.
OPERATIONS MANAGER/SOCIAL WORKER:
Ashley O'Connor, MSW
Ashley O’Connor earned her Master of Social Work from Dominican University after receiving her undergraduate degree in Sociology at DePaul University. For the past two years, she has found a passion for advocating against human trafficking by working with survivors. As a sexual assault survivor herself, she found that working through her trauma required support, self-care and learning to love herself again. Through these lessons, she hopes to empower others and walk alongside them in their healing journey. She also has a love of traveling and has worked with communities abroad in Colombia and Uganda.