Alumnae/i Leadership Council
The Alumnae/i Leadership Council (ALC) is a group of dedicated alumnae/i leaders who provide oversight for the Alumnae/i Association and the Office of Alumnae/i Relations. Members of the ALC serve as ambassadors for the university, and as advisers for engagement strategies and alumnae/i communications. The ALC strives to advance Dominican University and its alumnae/i by developing and strengthening lifelong relationships.
Vanessa Jackson ’03
Chair of the Alumnae/i Leadership Council
As The Lemon Ad Stand’s Vice President of Sweetness, Vanessa knows how to pack a punch for her clients. Her keen eye for detail, creative vision, and powerful gift for understanding her clients' needs make her a superhero for The Stand —and for all of the organizations they serve.
Vanessa began her career in commissioned sales, transitioned to higher education, then joined her husband (and college sweetheart!), Calvin Jackson ’01 at The Stand. Together, they have built a dynamic agency that helps organizations build their brands, messaging, web presence, and more. In addition to her client responsibilities, Vanessa also manages all of The Stand’s own marketing initiatives, including strategy, email, and social media.
When she’s not at The Stand, Vanessa is still heavily invested in education and community leadership—serving as the chair of the Alumnae/i Leadership Council at her alma mater, Dominican University; a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association for Women Business Owners’ Chicago Chapter; and an alumnus of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program. She is a mom to two daughters and a chocolate lab. She and her family love to travel as often as possible.
Evelyn “Gigi” Benitez ’00
Evelyn Benitez is a relentless advocate and public servant for youth, families and communities for the City of Chicago. A native of Chicago, Evelyn's cultural background is Mexican and Puerto Rican. She studied sociology and criminology at Dominican University, which led her to serve as an Apostolic Volunteer working at the Westside Employment Education Center serving residents of the ABLA Housing Development. She lived at House of Connections for two years with Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters in North Lawndale. Then, she spent several years as a counselor/social worker at Latino Youth, Inc. in Little Village, which eventually led to city-wide social service contracts and services for youth in care (DCFS) and justice-involved youth. During her time at Latino Youth, Inc. she enrolled at Northeastern Illinois University as an ENLACE Fellow.
The mission of Northeastern Illinois University's ENLACE Fellowship is to invest in the preparation of leadership in higher education that will create transformative change responsive to the educational needs of an increasing U.S. Latinx population in colleges and universities. The ENLACE Fellows initiative funds the tuition of selected students for enrollment in the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership with a Higher Education concentration. The selected candidates must demonstrate a strong interest in pursuing or maintaining careers in higher education and in the development of leadership for the Latinx community through education and civic engagement.
As an ENLACE Fellow and graduate, Evelyn became a Youth Services Coordinator for the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) which allowed her to bridge education and social services programming for all young people in the City of Chicago in 2006. Through her years at DFSS, she has designed, implemented and managed youth programs for Out of School Time, Juvenile Justice and currently manages the second-largest youth employment program in the country—One Summer Chicago. This past year, the City of Chicago hired over 20,000 youth through the DFSS portfolio and the sister agency partners! In addition, Evelyn has supervised numerous interns and when the opportunity arises, she meets with the elected officials in Washington D.C. to advocate for youth programs.
Not only is it important to Evelyn to advocate and create programs, but she mentors various young people from high school and college as well as community-based organization members. Evelyn believes in building and supporting a socially and civically conscious citizenry for young people, families, and communities that have been disproportionately marginalized. Lastly, she is a proud member of the Multicultural Leadership Academy through the Latino Policy Forum class of 2017–2018!
Romney Cirillo ’08
Romney Cirillo graduated from Dominican University in 2008 with a major in business administration (marketing) and a minor in corporate communications.
After learning the path of entrepreneurism through his studies, he decided to incorporate a business during the spring of 2008 while finishing his degree. Fast-forward 13 years, and his company has grown into a successful business within the aquatic services industry. Something Fishy Inc. designs, installs, and maintains aquariums and various water features within commercial and high-end residential settings. Recently, the company has designed and implemented an exciting new product within the healthcare setting called Mobile Aquatic Therapy (MAT). MAT provides a state-of-the-art medical-grade aquarium that can travel to wherever it is needed most within complicated healthcare settings. In 2018, Romney received the "Graduate of the Last Decade Award," for his professional work and time spent volunteering within various business programs at Dominican.
Romney is excited to offer his time and experience to any good causes at Dominican. He thoroughly enjoyed his time there and looks forward to connecting back to the university.
Richard Clegg MLIS ’12
Rich graduated with a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from Dominican University's Graduate School of Library and Information Science, now the School of Information Studies (SOIS) in 2012.
In 2013, he returned to Dominican, working full time as a faculty librarian for three years. And during that time, also taught as an adjunct instructor in the computer science department.
Today, he is an AWS- and GCP-certified Senior Data Engineer at AmpliFI Loyalty Solutions, in the financial technology space, specializing in server-less data lake architecture.
Daniel De La Cruz ’01
Class of 2001 Liberal Arts BA; Organizational Psychology
First Generation Mexican American; I was born and raised in Bensenville, a suburb of Chicago. Upon finishing Fenton High School, I enrolled at the College of DuPage and transferred to Dominican University. Senior year I studied abroad in London, UK.
Professionally, became an auto adjuster for State Farm Insurance and then an assistant to the sales executive for State Farm, where I drove marketing and sales for the Oakbrook, Illinois territory. In 2009 I opened my first State Farm Agency in Villa Park, Illinois and in 2018 I opened my second State Farm Agency in Niles, Illinois. I was recently invited to MDRT and am currently serving as the president of the National Agents Network.
Outside of work, I am a theatre judge for the Jeff Committee covering equity and non-equity performances in Chicago Metro. I am also a board member of the Raven Theatre and an active volunteer for Junior Achievement, where I was given Volunteer of the Year in 2018. Additionally, I enjoy public speaking, boating, and mountain climbing as well as backcountry hiking. I am married to my college sweetheart Lizet De La Cruz, we have two wonderful young adults and one of whom we will be wishing off to university in the fall of 2021.
I am very excited to be a part of ALC and look forward to connecting with my extended DU alum family.
Bronwyn McDaniel ’01
Bronwyn McDaniel is an education writer, editor, and communications strategist. She graduated from Dominican in 2001 with a double major in English (creative writing) and sociology. She was honored to receive the St. Catherine's Medal and the Mulroy Award. While a student at Dominican, she was active in theater and is grateful to have had the opportunity to start and run a tutoring program for grade school students in Pilsen through the Honors Program.
Since graduating, her professional work has focused on writing and education, with an emphasis on communicating education research findings to inform policy and practice. At the center of her work is the belief that when educators, families, and the public have high-quality research and information about what helps students succeed, they can change the world. Prior to starting her own writing and communications business, she served as the communications director for the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. She has also worked in communications for the City University of New York's collaborative programs with the New York City Public Schools, and for Chicago Parent magazine in Oak Park.
Her commitment to Dominican is deeply rooted in being a scholarship recipient; she understands the power of being given the opportunity and the support to succeed. Bronwyn also holds a master's degree in playwriting and sociology from New York University and is a produced playwright. She lives in Chicago with her family.
Angela Solis Sullivan ’08
Angela Solis Sullivan, a 2008 graduate of Dominican University, has worked in the human resources space for the past 10+ years. She currently is a district human resources manager for The Home Depot, serving 10 stores in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. Prior to The Home Depot, Angela worked in various human resources roles with Walgreens as well as having worked in higher education at institutions such as Northwestern University and her alma mater Dominican University.
As part of leading human resources initiatives, Angela has worked hard to drive a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture throughout her roles, and currently serves as the diversity and inclusion captain for The Home Depot's Central Region. Angela is an active member of her community, particularly the Latino community having graduated from the Mujeres de HACE Latina Leadership program, teaches Zumba classes, choreographs Quinceañeras, and mentors many first-generation Latino students.
Angela grew up in Berwyn, and currently resides in the western suburbs of Chicago with her DU college sweetheart Rich Sullivan, her two-year-old son Frankie, and her Morkie fur baby, Chloé Chanel.
Ardella Anderson Wosnesck ’01
Ardella is a proud 2001 graduate of Dominican University. Since graduating, she has worked in the retail industry, working in-store operations for Macy's, and in procurement for Sears Holdings, and H-E-B grocery stores in San Antonio, Texas. She currently works as a pricing analyst for Phoenix-based grocer Sprouts. Aside from work, Ardella enjoys volunteering, cooking, and hiking with her husband Adam in Phoenix, Arizona.
Dr. Lisette Rodriguez-Cabezas ’06
Always proud of her Puerto Rican roots, Dr. Lisette Rodriguez-Cabezas ’06 was born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago. A recipient of numerous academic and service awards, Lisette distinguished herself at both of her Sinsinawa Dominican schools—Queen of Peace High School and Dominican University. She graduated summa cum laude from Dominican with a major in biology-chemistry and minors in math and physics.
After graduating, she continued in science working as a research assistant at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) for two years. She then moved on to pursue her dream of becoming a physician and helping those in underserved communities by enrolling in the UIC College of Medicine. Completing her psychiatric residency at her top choice, Northwestern University, she stayed on there for a fellowship in Women’s Mental Health. Her primary research during this fellowship was on psychiatric emergencies in pregnant women. She has presented at numerous conferences and published several papers.
Lisette has always been committed to educating the public about psychiatry and decreasing stigma, especially in Latino and other minority communities. She has also taught medical students and residents about perinatal psychiatry and plans to continue doing so in her newest role—staff psychiatrist at the Hines VA.
Jay McNichols ’93
Biography coming soon.