Our Dynamic 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

Dr. 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.

Shemeka Woodson, CHW, Growth and Operations Lead

Shemeka, a nonprofit management professional, and a collaborative community change agent with a passion for people empowerment, human capital and serving marginalized populations. She carries eight plus years of administrative and managerial experience with a versatile skill set ranging from data entry, project management, program management and evaluation, grant writing, branding/marketing and social media management. 

A Houston, Texas native, she began working in the non-profit sector as an affordable housing advocate in social services management for low-income residents and families in South Texas. In 2016, she served on the City of San Antonio’s Community Action Advisory Board as a Private Representative. Shemeka is also the owner of Colorful Conscience LLC, a socially conscious business branding purposeful work to IGNITE change, INSPIRE communities and IMPACT the next generation using collaborative alliances within the public and private sector. Her mission is to address the Social Determinants of Health by creating bridges for people powered solutions that ignite social equity and change.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from St. Mary’s University (San Antonio, TX), a Community Health Worker certification from the State of Texas, a Non-Profit Leadership and Management graduate certificate and pursued her Masters of Public Administration from The University of Texas in San Antonio.

Ivette Aguirre-Beck, Collective and Organizational Care Lead

Ivette “Eva” gained a love for people at a young age and learned early on that leading others and helping them discover their own passions, while becoming a Chef, restaurant manager, and director, came naturally for her. After years in the kitchen at various restaurants, she moved to a career in Human Resources and helping others develop their own talents. She learned sharing knowledge is an important skill and without it you cannot expect others around you to flourish. She continues to share her skills and grow her experience while giving back to those who have pushed her to be who she is today as she firmly believes she owes this to her parents. In her free time, you can find her volunteering on the alumni board at National Louis University, hanging out with her husband and dog, and buried in a great book! She is currently pursuing her Masters in Human Resources from the University of Illinois Springfield and recently became a recipient of the 2023 National Hispanic Scholarship Fund.

Gabriela Garcia, PhD, Capacity Building Partnerships Lead

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

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.

Anna Marin, Phd(ABD), Community Advocate and Co-Creator

Anna has almost two decades of strategic thinking, planning, and problem solving within communities and in the nonprofit social impact sector. She has done changemaking and movement building in the Chicago area, southern California, Texas, and Brazil. As a leader in her own community, she worked to raise the issue of police racial profiling, served as a campaign strategist for a slate of progressive aldermanic candidates, dispersed Covid aid to neighbors, and served as the co-chair of the United Way of Metro Chicago Neighborhood Network in Cicero (Cicero Community Collaborative). Anna attended the University of Texas at  Austin in a PhD program (ABD) and received multiple fellowships to study language and  social movements in Brazil and Egypt. She received an MA in Comparative Literature at  San Diego State University and a BA in Secondary English Education at DePaul  University. She is bilingual English/ Spanish and has professional fluency in Portuguese.

Casey Solomon-Filer, MA, Community Advocate and Co-Creator

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. 

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.

Tatiana Cortes, MA, Community Transformation Coordinator

Tatiana Cortes (she/they) is a civic and cultural organizer who values advancing racial equity and holds a lifetime commitment to social work, art, and justice among LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities. Tatiana has benefited from the support of social service systems and communities of care. Tatiana believes that when policies, systems and behaviors are rooted in care for everyone, all of society will thrive. Tatiana loves Chicago and the long standing tradition of fighting to make the city more equitable for everybody.  

Tatiana holds a background in philanthropy, community organizing, public policy and non-profits. As a practitioner, Tatiana is enthusiastic about planting and watering seeds for individual and communal growth. Tatiana believes the problems we have are all of ours, and we are capable of having humanistic relationships, institutions, and the world. On their journey at BECOME Tatiana aims to bring a steward-of-care approach to the entire ecosystem, fortifying community networks. Tatiana sees herself co-leading a movement of both the mind and the heart, that has started generations before this moment and drawing on the latest research and experience to make systems more responsive, accountable and rooted in policies that ensure racial equity and inclusion for those most marginalized.  

Larry Washington, MA, Community Advocate and Co-Creator

Larry Washington is a doctoral candidate in Education Policy Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Illinois in 2015, and a master’s degree in Education policy in 2017. During his graduate career, Larry has worked with Dr. Stafford Hood, Dr. Rodney Hopson and Dr. Cherie Avent on various evaluation projects. His work has been presented at professional conferences such as the American Evaluation Association (AEA), Emergent Voices in Evaluation (EViE), and Scholarly Consortium for Innovative Psychology in Education (SCIPIE). Beyond research, he has volunteered as an External-Evaluator for Champaign Community Unit School District 4, helping social workers and parents with logic models, data collection, and analysis.

Larry Barrett, Community Advocate and Co-Creator

Larry, raised on the South Side of Chicago, has a deep passion for social justice. As a self taught Python user, he helped to develop and maintain a Python/SQL library database during his internship at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group. Over the years, he continues to pursue his interest in data science. This journey led him to volunteer at the Invisible Institute, a nonprofit journalism production company on the South Side of Chicago that works to enhance the capacity of citizens to hold public institutions accountable. While volunteering  at the institute, he participated in Code Review, a community where individuals who want to learn about data science come to learn the new skillset. This was the catalyst that trained him up on the ins and outs of data science as it applies to criminal justice reform. He believes Principled Data Processing has given him the tools to be a professional data scientist. He worked on an Invisible Institute project called Beneath the Surface, which uses data science to investigate gender-based violence at the hands of the Chicago Police Department (CPD). His latest contribution was looking at CPD’s handling of cases of people who went missing, to investigate systemic racism and sexism. 

He also refined his skills in git/Github, Pandas, Python, Bash (and other command line tools), and learned to work in Linux and iOS environments. In addition to these technical skills, he has also taken an interest in learning a lot about team leadership, organization, and workflow. 

Shantell E. Jamison, MA, Marketing and Outreach Specialist

Hailing from Chicago’s South Side, Shantell E. Jamison, MA, has witnessed firsthand not only the disparities that exist in the city regarding race relations, but also the many voices that continue to go unheard. So in 8th grade she decided to do two things: 1) be active in ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to speak regardless of how loud, how poor, how passive their voice was and 2) be heard herself.  

Shantell has committed her life to ensuring that marginalized communities aren’t forgotten. Upon earning her BA from The Missouri School of Journalism, Shantell joined NPR’s Vocalo 90.7FM where she worked for a number of years. There, she profiled community members living in underserved communities, providing a platform for their issues to be heard.

She moved on to work for EBONY Magazine, serving as Senior Editor of Love, Relationships and Lifestyle. As a Gottman Level 1 Certified Life Coach, Shantell has appeared on various media outlets and panels throughout the country. Shantell currently serves as BECOME’s interim Community Transformation Marketing and Outreach Specialist and holds a Master’s degree in Psychology from APUS.

Scott Christian, PhD, Senior Partner Advocate

Dr. Scott Christian is an outspoken advocate for equity and social justice.  He has served on research, evaluation and documentation teams for grants and projects supported by the US Dept. of Education, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Dewitt Wallace Foundation and the Annenberg Rural Trust, among others.  His research background is weighted towards qualitative and mixed methods research. Recently, he has participated in evaluation projects with BECOME for the Chicago Foundation for Women, Black Men and Boys and Public Allies. His recent dissertation (2017) presented a sequential explanatory design mixed methods study regarding “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Student Self-Efficacy in Alaskan Middle School Classrooms.” He has served as the primary editor and/or writer for reports, articles and publications, mostly related to public education.

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.

Dara Lewis, PhD, Senior Partner Advocate

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.

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.