Meet the Board

Bhaskar Manda

Bhaskar S. Manda is a community leader in Logan Square, particularly in the area of affordable housing. He is active in actions, policy-making, and zoning and development processes in the 35th and surrounding wards. He's on the boards of Somos Logan Square and the Unity Park Advisory Council. He has been CASA of Cook County's technical support volunteer for over 12 years. Bhaskar lives in Logan Square and works in the edtech & books industry. He is also an amateur runner, and has run in several Chicago Marathons.

Natalie Zayas

Natalie has been a staff member of the Center for Changing Lives Team since 2005 and in 2021 became the Director of Program Operation & Strategy. She has been a HUD approved housing counselor for 10+ years and been offering financial coaching for over 13 years. Natalie earned her Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 2006 from Devry University. She was born and raised in Logan Square, and loves her community. She is committed to the work of CCL as a Financial Opportunity Center and is living out her values in work to create a community where everyone thrives.

Kathy Tholin

Kathy is a long-time resident of Logan Square, where she has worked with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (Palenque LSNA) and other groups on a wide range of housing and community issues. She was formerly the CEO of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the founding director of CNT Energy (now Elevate Energy). She is also a founder and board member of the Chicago Community Loan Fund and serves on the board of the Chicago Community Land Trust.

Emilio Carrasquillo

Emilio Carrasquillo serves as Program Manager for the north side office of Spanish Coalition for Housing. He brings with him 15 years in retail management, a background in real estate sales, mortgage loan origination and has 15 years’ experience as a Director in the nonprofit housing management field.

He has served as Co-chair of the Midwest Region for HomeOwnership© Center Managers as well as the National Homeownership© Center Managers National Advisory Committee with NeighborWorks© America. He is on several other community boards and has been appointed to the Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund board by Mayor Lightfoot. A lifelong resident of Humboldt Park, Emilio is passionate about creating housing opportunities for families all over the Chicagoland area.

Lissette Castañeda

Lissette Castañeda is the Executive Director of LUCHA. Given Lissette's innate leadership, proven track record, and unquenchable passion for affordable housing, she became the President of Logan Square Neighborhood Association's (Palenque LSNA's) Board of Directors. During her tenure, Lissette was a leader on many campaigns around affordable housing and co-chaired the Housing and Land Use Committee.

For over ten years, Lissette worked at Center for Changing Lives. She was a housing counselor and eventually part of the administrative team, leading the organization's efforts around community engagement and individual donor cultivation.

Joseph Lopez

Joseph Lopez serves as Executive Director and CEO of Spanish Coalition for Housing (SCH). Joseph has been instrumental to secure over $10 million to support programs and operations of SCH over the past 4.5 years. Lopez has over 17 years of knowledge and experience in community and economic development field, strategic resource and program development, including fund development, fundraising, marketing, communications, operations, nonprofit capacity building and public policy; leveraging public and private partnerships that led to a direct investment of over $250 million across Chicago and Illinois communities. Lopez is active in Chicago’s civic community and has served as guest lecturer/speaker to the University of Illinois School of Public Health and Jane Adams College of Social Work.

Julio Pensamiento

Julio was born and raised in Hermosa and currently serves as the Strategic Partnership Coordinator at Center for Changing Lives where he manages all of the external relationships with quality partner organizations that wish to collaborate with CCL and its programs. Before his role at CCL, Julio spent two years performing constituent services at a local aldermanic office where his passion for community-based organizations originated and grew. He enjoys working towards helping empower the people in his community through quality social services.

Janece Ortiz

Janece is a native Chicagoan and proud resident of the Northwest side of Chicago. Janece fell in love with nonprofits and quickly developed a deep passion for community base work that serviced underserved communities. This all led her to receive a B.A. from Dominican University and M.A. in Public Policy and Administration from Adler University. Over 15 years later Janece has had the great opportunity to work for several health initiatives and programs. Her focus has been to promote, educate and empower Chicago residents. Leading each program and each day with the heart.