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Our Team

Our team is comprised of a broad array of evaluators, researchers, community psychologists, and community activists, who are passionate about creating a socially just world. As community transformation catalysts, we seek to confront injustice and inequity that may exist at all levels within and around communities. We firmly believe that the community must be at the heart of identifying the solutions to address their challenges and create their desired reality. By building trust and authentic relationships with our partners, we help communities see the big ideas and also help them implement those ideas to achieve their dream or vision. It is our greatest joy to participate in this work and spread hope and healing to all.

Dominica McBride, PhD, Founder and CEO

Dr. Dominica McBride a leading thinker on how we evolve beyond the current racial-equity paradigm, a champion of Culturally Responsive Evaluation, and a grassroots advocacy strategist. 

Dr. McBride founded BECOME in 2013 from a belief that communities should be at the center of creating the reality they want and need and that culturally responsive evaluation can be a tool for social justice and thriving communities. Previously she conducted program development and evaluation projects in Arizona, the Chicago area and in Tanzania, Africa. Dr. McBride has worked as a consultant, program director and adjunct faculty member in the field of community psychology and has provided adult, child and family therapy as well as substance abuse counseling. She is a sought-after speaker and trainer for communities, coalitions, and organizations nationally. Her published articles and chapters discuss including culturally responsive evaluation, cultural competence, and prevention and other topics.

Awards and honors Dr. McBride has received for her work include the The Chicago School of Professional Psychology Supervisor of the Year Award, Ed Marciniak Bright Start Award from the Bright Promises Foundation, American Evaluation Association Marcia Guttentag Promising New Evaluator Award and ARK of St. Sabina Dream Maker Award. She also served on the Board of Directors of the American Evaluation Association. She has a PhD in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Consultation from Arizona State University.

Jen LoPiccolo, MSW, Operations and Systems Advocate

Jen is driven by the power of combining evaluation and grassroots work to make socio-political change.

Jen joined BECOME in 2018. Originally from Detroit, she began her career implementing national family-engagement initiatives throughout the Detroit Public Schools, counseling high school youth, and engaging in coalition building for educational justice. As a graduate intern in Strasbourg, France, Jen focused on culturally responsive evaluation while developing a refugee youth counseling program with the Council of Europe’s Pompidou Group. She has also worked as a counselor, writer-in-residence and communications director. 

Jen brings her background of program management, evaluation, youth development, community organizing and policy advocacy to the discipline of culturally responsive evaluation. She holds a Master’s Degree from Syracuse University. 

Gabriela Garcia, PhD, Evaluator Advocate

Gabriela is driven by a commitment to advocate for and nourish communities that have been affected by poverty and injustice. 

Gabriela joined BECOME in June of 2020. She has over 10 years of experience in evaluation and research design, qualitative methods, project management, theory of change and logic model development, and culturally responsive evaluation. She has led or co-led various mixed-method evaluations for a variety of federally- and foundation- funded STEM and health education initiatives. Some of her areas of evaluation, research and technical assistance work have included: curriculum development, after-school programs, diversity and equity-focused initiatives, and broadening participation in STEM projects. 

She is active in presenting her research and evaluation work at professional conferences (e.g., American Evaluation Association, Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment, National Latino Psychological Association) and recently co-published the article “Situational Awareness and Interpersonal Competence as Evaluator Competencies” in the American Journal of Evaluation. She has a PhD in Educational Psychology with a Program Evaluation specialization from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is fluent in Spanish and English.

Casey Solomon-Filer, MA, Evaluator Advocate

Casey’s passion for Culturally Responsive Evaluation stems from interest in how distributions of power influence the everyday lives of individuals and communities, and how evaluation can serve as a tool to help redistribute power towards a more just world. 

She joined BECOME in 2018 as a graduate intern and became a part of the team upon graduating. Her background is in program evaluation, international development and education, teaching, social anthropology, and visitor studies. Her evaluation experience includes programs on civic engagement, training, informal learning, STEM, and conservation. Much of her evaluation projects have focused on youth programs. After living in Senegal, Gabon, France, and Yemen, Casey is delighted to currently reside in the Chicago area.

She has a Master of Arts in Program Evaluation from Michigan State University and another in Arab Studies with a concentration on Culture and Society from Georgetown University.

Keisha Farmer-Smith, PhD, Senior Partner Advocate

Keisha has partnered with organizations dedicated to supporting safe, healthy spaces for youth for 18 years. 

In addition to consulting on culturally responsive evaluation and other projects for BECOME since 2016, she has extensive youth development experience. Her work experience includes supervising program outcomes and impact at Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago, serving as Director of Programs at Family Focus Inc., managing gender-specific after school programs at Alternatives, Inc., and coordinating educational and vocational services for Illinois Department of Child and Family Services youth at UCAN. 

Keisha has won awards for her Outstanding Service to Children including as a 2018 University of Illinois 2018 Civic Engagement, Community Service, and Community Organizing (CECSCO) honoree. She has graduate degrees in Counseling and Urban Planning, and a PhD in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Illinois.

Adriana Trajkovski, Executive Assistant

Adriana could not be happier to support a passionate and resolute team of people dedicated to social justice and community development. 

An actor who hails from Indiana, she joined BECOME in summer 2020, looking to bring her many years of administrative experience in the travel and advertising industries to a purposeful organization.

Cassandra Boyd, MSW, Evaluator

Cassandra is passionate about combining the areas of social work and program evaluation to influence data-driven change within nonprofit organizations.

Cassandra joined BECOME in 2020, bringing an interest in organization/community development and program evaluation. Other primary areas of interest include youth physical and nutritional well being as well as social emotional learning. Cassandra has delivered oral and poster presentations at the North American Association of Christians in Social Work and American Evaluation Association. 

She holds an MSW from the University of Michigan.

Yvette D. Castaneda, MPH, MBA, PhD, Evaluator Advocate

Yvette is a practice/research hybrid: a community-engaged scholar with extensive experience in mixed-method research design, implementation, assessment, and evaluation as well as data collection and analysis. 

She brings more than 10 years of experience developing evaluations and measurement within community-based participatory research in ethnic enclaves and disadvantaged communities. She has a special focus on Latino immigrant health with projects in the areas of: cancer prevention research, geriatric mental and physical health, social-contextual antecedents to chronic disease, precarious employment and labor marker disparities, pelvic bladder and uterine health in women, population health of immigrants and the undocumented and violence prevention.

Yvette holds MPH and MBA degrees from University of Illinois at Chicago as well as a PhD in Kinesiology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

 
Dara Lewis, PhD, Evaluator

Dara is guided by the principle of using research and evaluation as tools for building capacity within communities and increasing knowledge by drawing on cultural strengths.

Dara joined BECOME in 2020. She also serves as the Assistant Director for Loyola University’s Center for Research on Self-Sufficiency and adjunct faculty member for Loyola University Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago, teaching research methods courses. She has worked extensively in and with community organizations as a Family Prisoner Re-entry Program Developer and Director, Director of Supportive Housing programs for homeless women and children,  program evaluator, consultant, advocate, mentor, and volunteer. 

She has written and collaborated on numerous publications on topics including mass incarceration and father identity, fatherhood and self-sufficiency, and employment pathways among the incarcerated.She received her PhD in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago.

 
 
Phillippa Paisley, Graduate Intern

Phillippa’s hope is that the work she does not only helps others but inspires others to do the same. She brings to BECOME her interest in International Policy and Development, Program Evaluation and Social Policy. 

Her internship with BECOME began in spring 2020, as part of her studies in the Master of Public Policy program at University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. Originally from Jamaica, where she studied International Relations at the University of the West Indies, Phillippa worked in the international NGO sector. She then moved to Florida in 2015 to be with family, finding work as an AmeriCorps Public Ally in Miami and, later, in the community organizing nonprofit sector.

Nicole Wilson, Graduate Intern

As a Chicago native, Nicole was eager to intern with BECOME because of her devotion to the most vulnerable communities in Chicago. She aspires to start a nonprofit organization that provides young women with the necessary tools to succeed.

She is a graduate student in the Master of Public Policy program at University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. She has also worked with UChicago Urban Labs, Erikson Institute, Public Allies and Chicago Public Schools.

As a student at Roosevelt University, she founded the school’s first Multicultural Inclusion Center to promote cross cultural exchanges and experiences. Outside of work, Nicole loves to travel; recent adventures have taken her to Dubai and will soon include travels to South Africa.