Tag Archives: Chicago

Chicago Non-Profits: Kitchen Possible

Every other Monday, I volunteer some photography skills at a non-profit, Kitchen Possible Chicago. Kitchen Possible strives to teach kids how to make things happen in life through making things happen in the kitchen.

Kitchen Possible is a co-worker’s side hustle, which requires her to spend her week working in brand strategy and devotes her nights and weekends to running all things Kitchen Possible (donations, curriculum, logistics, etc). As an (expanding) weekly after-school program, Kitchen Possible teaches one recipe per session through a consistent five-step process week over week. In this session, Kitchen Possible students made two variations of pasta. Attending nearly four sessions, I am thoroughly impressed by the students’ transformation in confidence, teamwork and culinary skills. Whether chopping vegetables, following a recipe or working as a team, there are amazing things happening in this kitchen.

Hoping to host “A Chance for Conversation: Non-Profits” with my colleague soon. More to come! In the meantime, please consider donating to Kitchen Possible or volunteering at Kitchen Possible in the summer session.

UChicago Campus in the Snow

Snowstorms on the Quad

Nearly two years ago, I graduated from the University of Chicago. Economics degree in one hand and four years of friendships, problem sets and memories to go with it. Specifically, friendships that extended beyond my graduation year. Two days ago, I ventured down to help a younger buddy with his LinkedIn headshot – and experience (fingers crossed) one of Chicago’s last Winter snowstorms at UChicago.

We originally anticipated warm weather and sunny skies but were pleasantly surprised at the snowstorm that unfolded over a few hours. There’s no sight quite like the UChicago campus in the snow. Winter snow storms at UChicago have a magical way of transporting you to an ice-laden Narnia or Hogwarts (which UChicago’s campus strongly resembles). As two California kids, we were ill-prepared for the snow storm. Our glove-less hands spent an hour or so shooting before our fingers became too numb to continue. Props for Matt for braving snow and wet hair for a photo’s sake. More below.

Photos from the Chicago Marathon

On the morning of the Chicago Marathon, the city is buzzing. The energy is unparalleled. We originally intended to watch a few friends at certain miles; however, the fun associated with cheering along strangers and slapping a smile on someone’s tired face made us stay. This fall, the Marathon fell on a brisk yet warm fall day. Some moments below.

Conversations with CPS Teachers

As a brand strategist, I believe in the power of storytelling to inspire empathy, create change and propel action. In my work, I see a huge miss in leveraging storytelling and brand strategy  to tell the stories of the most important social. A Chance For Conversations will dive into social issues to create a community of empathy. A Chance For Conversation: Teachers focuses on the topic of public education and brings stories from inside CPS classrooms to life. Today, I’m happy to share a conversation with a CPS middle school teacher, Matt


Describe how and why you became a teacher.

“It’s been a long, winding journey. I knew I wanted to get involved when I was in high school. I grew up in Columbus and there was this stigma about sending your kids to public school. Once I went to public high school, I absolutely loved it. It was a way better fit. I was inspired by how public education could work because I had this idyllic conception of what public education was.

When I was an undergraduate, I knew I was interested in pursuing education in some way. I wasn’t so sure that I’d go into teaching. After doing ed research, government, non-profit work, I realized I was most happy when I was inside a school, inside a classroom.”

I’ve spoken to quite a few teachers about their struggle with certain local and federal policies. Has policy enabled or inhibited what you were able to accomplish in the classroom?

“We do a lot of standardized tests. With the exception of one, a lot of the tests don’t benefit teachers. Since feedback isn’t immediate and the material isn’t necessarily relevant to the teacher’s curriculum, teacher morale around these tests is really low and really negative. They add constraints to what you need to teach and how you need to teach it.”

It often seems that policymaking is a top-down approach that doesn’t capture the voice of teachers. Do you feel there is opportunity to have your voice heard in the policy arena?

It’s really difficult. There is traditionally a policy route or a teaching route. But, I believe that you can be a teacher and a policymaker at the same time. It’s just a little difficult. The actual job of teaching is pretty stressful. But if you have to have a strong desire for change, you can join unions, outside organizations, community groups to have that impact.

Much of this project was inspired by the negative narrative surrounding CPS: dismal graduation rates, gang violence, etc. rather than the things that are working. What do you think is the biggest misconception about Chicago Public Schools?

“The biggest misconception is about the type of teaching that goes on. I think the instruction is really ambitious and really good. If you go to schools on the South or West sides, you’ll see it. Unfortunately, we use metrics that don’t measure relationship building, pedagogy, social-emotional skills – things that we are doing really well.

The narrative has been too focused on the brokenness of the system, and that gets more acknowledgement than the things that are working to keep it together.”

It’s been a tumultuous year in terms of US politics, national and global issues . How are your students responding to what is happening around them?

“I clearly remember the day after the election. It was report card pick-up so we didn’t get the opportunity to talk about what happened the night before. It felt so solemn. It felt like clouds were looming over everyone. No one wanted to talk about report cards. The kids didn’t want to talk about grades. And the next day, the school advised us not to talk about it.

At my new school, I’m encouraged to talk about those issues. In our morning meetings and afternoon check-ins, students are very vocal and definitely want to talk about it. I feel that it is my responsibility to teach students how to process those feelings and emotions in productive way and direct them in a way that heals. Anger. Frustration. Confusion. How can we direct those feelings to inspire change?

One thing we take for granted is that students know what they’re talking about. That’s a big misunderstanding. They are wise and knowledgeable. They are our future. Now more than ever, it’s important to have teachers that talk about these issues with students. For that reason alone, I feel like I need to be in the classroom.”


*Name has been withheld for privacy