Origami Works Foundation seeks to help Chicagoland's most impoverished citizens overcome barriers to earning a living. We remove obstacles to employment and make opportunities more visible. We work with community-based organizations, educational institutions, employers, and government agencies to identify opportunities to enable people to work. Then we partner with appropriate organizations, and fund and often staff and execute projects to meet our mutual goals.
Dani's commitment to addressing workforce issues across Chicagoland is palpable and it inspires the people around her.
January Miller, Embarc
Dani (she/her) is the Executive Director and Managing Trustee of Origami Works Foundation. Dani spent most of her career as a management consultant, helping organizations of all kinds and sizes enhance the performance of their employees, through learning initiatives, change management efforts, and process improvements. Now she applies those skills to enhancing opportunity for Chicagoans seeking to overcome barriers to employment, opportunity youth, and first generation college students.
A first-generation college graduate herself, Dani has a degree in Public & International Affairs from Princeton University, and a Masters in Instructional Technology from Columbia University. She also completed doctoral level coursework at Northwestern University's School of Education and Social Policy.
Tami (she/her) is the Program Officer at Origami Works Foundation providing support and direction on a variety of projects both past and present. She has spent her career in a diverse set of roles and sectors, including Office Management, Human Resources, and was the creator and proprietor of a small online crafts business for several years. Tami's unique career path has given her an ability to adapt and innovate, and she now uses that skill to help Origami Works Foundation succeed in its partnerships with Chicagoland workforce organizations.
Tami is a first-generation college graduate with a BA in Theatre & Dance from The University of Texas at Austin. In addition to her work with Origami Works Foundation she is a writer, performer, and advocate for the empowerment of girls and women.
Allison (she/her) is the Operations Manager for Origami Works Foundation. Allison is responsible for many critical tasks that, when done well, often go unnoticed. Her responsibilities include human resources, bookkeeping, payroll, benefits, compliance, grants administration, website maintenance and general operations. Allison is both a people person and a numbers person; she is creative and consistent, reliable and thorough.
Allison earned her Associate in Arts from William Rainey Harper College and completed additional coursework in psychology, sociology & criminal justice. Allison has years of experience working behind the scenes making sure organizations run smoothly for employees, clients, and business partners. Allison is also a certified yoga instructor.
As Director of Operations, Ann (she/her) helps to foster a positive and productive culture at Origami Works Foundation. She works with individual employees and project teams to help incorporate our vision, mission, and beliefs into everything we do.
Early in her career, Ann was a counselor at a group home for justice-involved teenagers. There she saw the many barriers they faced in education, (trying to enter) the workforce, and life in general. Ann returned to school to study how people and groups learn and develop. For over 25 years, Ann applied her knowledge and experience to software programs and more recently to workforce development programs. Ann is a steadfast advocate for accessibility, inclusion, and equity for all - especially people who face barriers.
Ann B. Brownell
Director of Operations
Project Management Fellow
Austin (he/him) is the Project Management Fellow at Origami Works Foundation and is engaging and assisting with several strategic projects over the next year, including the blog, a new contact management system, the 2023 Workforce Development Symposium and others.
As a first generation student, Austin received a BA in Chemistry from Princeton University and conducted research on microtubules. He is also a rock climbing enthusiast, a film fanatic, and a sneakerhead. His favorite movie is Te Llevo Conmigo and plans to continue developing his rock climbing expertise and expanding his sneaker collection.
Austin volunteered as an ESL instructor at El Centro in Trenton, New Jersey and worked as a Rock Climbing Wall Coordinator for Princeton University’s Climbing Wall. Both of these experiences have contributed to Austin's professional skills and cultivated his passion for the empowerment of marginalized communities.
Abigail Islas (she/her) is the Project Management Summer Intern and is planning, managing, tracking, and supporting strategic initiatives such as our contact management system and partner communications. Abby is also a student leader for The CAFÉ LEAD Summer Internship Professional Development program.
Abby is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign majoring in Psychology. Her favorite class thus far has been Psychopathology. As a first-generation college student, Abby has faced many obstacles during her educational journey and, as a result, has learned to be resilient and adaptable. Abby is an Access to Success member of Bottom Line and part of the I-Promise council at UIUC where she focuses on forming a community on campus.
Abby loves sports, especially baseball - Go Cubs! Her favorite hobby is dance where Abby embraces her Latin heritage through Latin dances like Salsa and Bachata.
Project Management Summer Intern
Denisse (she/her) is a first generation college senior and will graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Economics and a minor in Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Denisse has held a number of professional and customer service positions - her favorite being a Starbucks barista where her work rewards her avid coffee drinking.
As part of her own experience, her studies, and as a member of the Association of Latino Professionals (ALPFA), Denisse is learning the direct and indirect impact of systemic barriers in her community. Using her knowledge and experience, she plans to teach other first-generation students how to overcome those barriers.
Denisse is the Communications summer intern where she helps develop, implement, and execute strategic communication initiatives. Denisse is a leader, listener, and a go-getter with the CAFE LEAD Summer Internship program. She balances productivity and collaboration with exercise - working out to stay healthy, relax, and unwind from the caffeine consumed throughout the day.