UtmostU Staff

Meet Our Staff

Shayna Balting | Data Narrator | sbalting@utmostu.org

Shayna oversees the collection, analysis, and explanation of data that is collected in support of young adults. She turns UtmostU’s data into action.  Shayna received her BA in Developmental Economics at Taylor University. Prior to UtmostU, she worked as a Data Visualization Expert for SGA Youth and Family Services in Chicago, where she was able to create a powerful network of support and accountability. Shayna is a member of the American Evaluation Association. 

David Bennett | Associate Executive Director | dbennett@utmostu.org

David oversees staff priorities and strategic direction for UtmostU and its post-secondary network. He searches for opportunities for collaboration to build systems of support for young adults coming from low-income communities. Prior to joining UtmostU, he was Director of College Counseling at Legal Prep Charter and Director of Admissions at Lake Forest College. David received his BA in the Philosophy of History from Lake Forest College, an MA in Comparative History from Brandeis University, and an MA in Public History from Loyola University-Chicago.

Jakaria Burge | Partnership Support Specialist | jburge@utmostu.org

Jakaria “Kari” Burge supports UtmostU’s communications channels, from email marketing, social media management and more to support the UtmostU network. Kari attended Columbia College Chicago and received her BA in Multimedia Journalism. She is currently a part of Americorps/Public Allies which partners young professionals with social impact organizations like UtmostU.

Valerie Charles | Manager of Career Services | vcharles@utmostu.org

Valerie manages UtmostU’s career and professional experiences to assure that young adults, no matter their path, are prepared for the career world.  Valerie is a doctoral student at DePaul University, where she is studying Educational Leadership. She also obtained her MA in Education from DePaul University and her BS in Social Work from Grambling State University.  In addition, Valerie is an adjunct instructor with National Louis University, where she teaches Career Development and Human Services courses.   

Max Ebacher | Manager of Partnerships | mebacher@utmostu.org

Max Ebacher provides day-to-day support to staff at UtmostU affiliates, manages mass communications, and develops strategic partnerships to provide valuable services and resources to our fellows. Prior to joining UtmostU, Max served as the Assistant to the Executive Director of the Comer Education Campus. That followed his time teaching first grade as a Teach for America corps member in Indianapolis. Max received a BA in Political Science from Assumption University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he spent several years working in communications at a small business membership organization.

Autumn Jackson | Fellow Support Specialist | ajackson@utmostu.org

Autumn is an alumna of UtmostU and currently supports a cohort of Fellows on their post-secondary journey.  She also oversees UtmostU’s young alumni board and develops programming to professionally grow UtmostU Fellows.  She is currently a part of Americorps/Public Allies which partners young professionals with social impact organizations like UtmostU.  Autumn received her BA in Women’s Gender and Sexualities Studies and Sociology from Wake Forest University. She is currently earning her MA in Sports Administration at Northwestern University. 

Lydia Lara | Enrollment Support Specialist | llara@utmostu.org

Lydia supports UtmostU’s efforts to enroll and support new high school graduates into UtmostU.  Lydia is a graduate from Augustana College with a BA in both Political Science and Spanish, and a minor in Latin American Studies. She is currently a part of Americorps/Public Allies which partners young professionals with social impact organizations like UtmostU.   

Jasmine Nelson | Alumni Coordinator | jnelson@utmostu.org

Jasmine currently serves as an Alumni Coordinator, supporting a cohort of young adults on their post-secondary journey, as well as overseeing the Peer Mentoring and Persistence Funding programs. Jasmine received her BA in Business Administration and Human Resources at Ashford University. She went on to receive her MA in Education from Marquette University. Before coming to UtmostU, Jasmine worked as a Residence Hall Director and Academic Advisor at several different universities including the University of Dubuque and the Milwaukee Institution of Art and Design.  

Xavier Todd | Assistant Accountant | xtodd@utmostu.org

Xavier is an alumnus of the UtmostU program and currently oversees the UtmostU’s accounts receivable and payable. Xavier, attended the University of Illinois at Springfield and received his BA in Accounting. Prior to joining UtmostU, Xavier worked with the Illinois Department of Revenue and Upright Law, a bankruptcy law firm.

Christine Witnik | Controller | cwitnik@utmostu.org

Christine oversees the financial well-being and sustainability of the organization, as well as other areas of operational support.   Prior to her role at UtmostU, Christine was the Controller at the Comer Education Campus and also spent several years in public accounting serving non-profits throughout the Midwest.  Christine is a graduate of Purdue University with a BS in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant.