Tameka Lawon was named #SHEINSPIRESME in the April 1 match. Tameka is a nonprofit leader and a grassroots organizer that constantly advocates for Black women and girls on the south and west sides of Chicago. She goes above and beyond to make sure that they have access to mental health and wellness opportunities. She also trains other leaders on how to provide mindfulness practices for their population of women and girls.
Jesseca Rhymes was named #SHEINSPIRESME in the April 15 match. Over the past 8 years, Jesseca has worked tirelessly, through personal endeavors, her sorority, and professionally, to ensure all people have equitable access to basic necessities. She went from collecting 50,000-period products in her parent’s living room to distributing over a million diapers annually out of Share Our Spare’s warehouse. Since the start of her time at Share Our Spare 3 years ago, they have doubled the number of agencies served, which ensures thousands more Chicago area children have access to the basic items they need to support a strong start to life.
Cheryl Knecht was named #SHEINSPIRESME in the April 29 match. Cheryl is the founder and owner of Schoolhouse Kitchen + Studio and has been inspiring kids through their hands-on cooking camps, birthday parties, family classes, and field trips for over 7 years in River Forest. Cheryl believes in the transformative power of the family dinner, and the incredible capacity of kids to do more than what they think is possible. She does this all while creating spaces that are inclusive, welcoming, supportive, and just plain fun.
Cheryl received the Golden Beet Award from the Illinois Stewardship Alliance for Community Food Development in 2015 and has three times been named to New City Chicago’s “Big Heat” list of Chicago’s “movers and shakers” in the Chicago food scene. This year, Cheryl has opened two new locations of Schoolhouse Kitchen + Studio to serve the communities of Portage Park and Wicker Park with her unique, hands-on programming.
Sarah Spunt was named #SHEINSPIRESME in our May 7 match. Sarah has over 15 years of experience working in the public sector and has spent the past nine years working for LIFT-Chicago. Sarah currently serves as the executive director. LIFT-Chicago’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty by investing in parents with young children to build families’ well-being, financial strength, and social connections to lift two generations at once. In addition to one-on-one coaching, LIFT provides back-to-school supplies, winter coats and gear, and baby items to over 200 Chicago families!
Bridget Kurkamp was named #SHEINSPIRESME in our May 27 match. Bridget is a special education teacher in Joliet, IL and is running a new program to help students who typically struggle with traditional school to successfully graduate. She has devoted her career to making a difference in peoples’ lives and is an inspiration to her peers and students. Bridget attributes her drive and determination to her mom and continuously strives to be the best person she can be for her daughter and family.
Aimee Mayuga was named #SHEINSPIRESME in our May 31 match. Aimee has exemplified compassion in her role as a physician helping patients with complicated and painful medical diseases. She has shown fortitude as a breast cancer survivor, and she has been unfailingly generous with her time and resources, championing causes like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, the Prentice Women’s Hospital Neonatal ICU, the March of Dimes foundation, local museums, zoos, the arboretum, and more. A recent endeavor has been to create ways for neurodiverse children to have positive experiences.
Lesley Ryder and Emily Anderson were named #SHEINSPIRESME in the June 10th match. They founded Gal Pal Sports in 2019 with the goal of making women’s sports coverage more fun. They have worked tirelessly to combat discrimination and bigotry in women’s sports, while staying true to themselves and their communities. Their coverage of athletes, teams, and games is respectful, honest, and inclusive. Through the couples’ philanthropy, media coverage, and leadership, they have inspired others to be more passionate and engaged in the women’s sports community.
Lydia Mercer was named #SHEINSPIRESME presented by Rush Hospital in the June 18th match. Lydia founded the (Un)Learning Space to heal her own racist trauma and support others as they examine theirs. She has influenced the Chicago educational landscape for the past sixteen years as a coach, creator, facilitator, and trainer. She has designed Social Justice and Healing workshops, revised curriculum and resources to be more culturally relevant, and actively engages in her own antiracist journey.
Sarah Douglas was named #SHEINSPIRESME presented by Rush Hospital in the July 1st match. Sarah has forged a path for women in project management, construction management, engineering, and other male-dominated fields. She has been on the Women’s Energy Network board and continues to lead women, girls, and future generations to break gender barriers.
Dili Yang was named #SHEINSPIRESME presented by Rush Hospital in the July 29th match. Dili is a nurse with a strong passion for helping people. She is president of a Premier League team supporters’ group and has raised money for local charities such as Block My Hood My City, America SCORES: Chicago, RAINN, and other charitable organizations + disaster relief. She worked really hard to increase the number of female supporters in her group and create a welcoming and diverse community away from the toxic masculinity in sport.
Sany Nguyễn was named #SHEINSPIRESME presented by Rush Hospital in the August 5th match. Co-Founder and Director of Celebrate Argyle – a community initiative that focuses on highlighting AANHPI businesses, individuals, and organizations throughout Chicago, Founder, and President of Family Style RC – the first and only AANHPI-centric run community that promotes AANHPI athletes, providing them resources and opportunities in the health and fitness world, all while showing the world that AANHPI athletes exist too!
Katia Orozco was named #SHEINSPIRESME presented by Rush Hospital in the September 17 match. Soccer Director for Urban Warriors and one of the youngest Chiefs of Staff in the State of Illinois for Representative Gonzalez.Jr. Katia helped begin the all-girls soccer program in Little Village in hopes of empowering young girls in her community while creating safe spaces for inner-city kids. She refuses to let economic and social barriers be the reason girls in her community can’t enjoy the most beautiful sport in the world. Katia contributes to soccer by allowing her to pursue higher education and receive the tools to do the job that she is privileged to do now.