Kara Kalnitz has been working for Cluster since September 2009. Prior to serving as the Thursday Program Manager and now Executive Director, Kara was a volunteer tutor with Cluster for four years. She has a Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Reading Specialist (Tuesday)
Tabitha is a Certified Reading Specialist and a 3rd grade teacher in the Chicago Public Schools system, with seven years of experience at Title I schools. She was a teacher in Cluster’s first-ever summer reading program. Tabitha has a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree in teaching, with a specialty in reading education, from Concordia University.
Reading Specialist (Thursday)
Bernadette is a veteran teacher now specializing in helping students with reading issues in the Chicago Public Schools through the nonprofit organization Reading in Motion. Bernadette has a bachelor's degree in history from Boston College and a master of education degree in teaching and curriculum from Harvard University.
Sarah is a longtime volunteer in many fields who decided to make a switch from volunteer tutor to tutoring staff. While her own children were in elementary school, she aided teachers in the classroom, often helping struggling readers. Sarah has a bachelor's degree in communications from the College of Wooster. She enjoys gardening, reading, and spending time in the outdoors in her free time.
Program Coordinator, Project Next Step
Erin was a volunteer at Cluster for more than two years before she joined the staff as the program coordinator for Cluster's Project Next Step program. Project Next Step is aimed at those in high school as they look to the future. Students will get help as they think about both colleges and careers. Erin has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis.
Cathy Lazuka joined Cluster in May of 2016. She is passionate about helping organizations grow and thrive to best fulfill their mission. In her professional and volunteer roles, Cathy has raised millions of dollars from all forms of philanthropy, designed and managed programs, recruited and trained board members and staff, led multi-year strategic planning efforts, and worked with diverse populations on a variety of community issues. Cathy holds her M.A. and B.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Sher Watts Spooner
Sher Watts Spooner has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years on one national weekly and three daily newspapers. Now a freelance writer and editor, Sher handles social media and marketing for Cluster. She also writes mysteries and a weekly political column for a national website, Daily Kos. Sher has a degree in speech communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Joseph is a member of Pine Avenue United Church and has been working for Cluster for the past four years. He greets everyone at the door as they arrive for Tuesday tutoring and is responsible for ensuring that students and tutors safely arrive and leave after tutoring is over. Joseph, or Mr. Owens, as everyone calls him, is otherwise retired after serving as head of maintenance for a downtown Chicago firm for 28 years.