Kevin Itima, a first-generation Nigerian-American born in Houston, Texas, was born to Nigerian Delta state immigrants, Helen and Romeo Itima. Kevin spent a portion of his high school tenure in Lagos, Nigeria an unforgettable experience that changed the direction of his life, immensely. He received his undergraduate degree at Jackson State on a track/cross country scholarship and received his master’s in public administration from the University of Houston.
After the completion of his undergraduate degree, Kevin moved to the Metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. where he planted seeds of influence in the field of education. He later became a member of the Baltimore County Fire Department. Upon the passing of his father, Kevin returned to Houston, becoming the co-owner and acquisition specialist of Hestia Homes, LLC. He simultaneously turned to his entrepreneurial wits, founding his company Itima, LLC. Both companies handle a myriad of business opportunities within the realm of real estate ranging from new single-family construction to multi-family properties.
In the fund development arena, Kevin has effectively spearheaded fundraising campaigns building relationships that enhanced donor giving — working with small organizations such as Legendary, Hardly Home, and Aiming High. He has also managed the St Jude pilot program Up Till Dawn at Jackson State helping creating clear goal definition that drove organizational success and growth.
Kevin’s first self-published work, E Ware Mumene (I’m Coming Home) is currently utilized in several different schools as a teaching tool. The largest to incorporate the book into their learning curriculum is Jackson State University’s Department of Criminal Justice. E Ware Mumene, placed as required reading, highlights the fact that one’s past does not dictate their future. His second piece Anthology of the Brothers a collection of short stories about African males came just a year later. He has also begun to dabble in film and produced his first documentary, The Price of a Dream which tells the inspirational story of his father, Captain Romeo.
Though Kevin possesses a broad ability to cross various industries, his passion has always been in the nonprofit development space. He wants to use his experience in fundraising, program management, and business to make a social impact in the community and the world.
Born and raised on the Northside of Chicago, Vanessa McKinney attended Walt Disney Magnet and Abraham Lincoln Elementary’ s gifted learner programs before graduating with honors in the top 10% of her 500+ member class at Lincoln Park High School. Vanessa attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on full academic scholarship as a Chicago Urban League scholar, George M. Pullman Educational Foundation scholar and Helaine & Edgar Strauss Opportunity Trust scholar. She received a Bachelor of Science in Community Health from the University of Illinois, concentrating in Health Administration, Planning & Education. Currently, Vanessa works as the eLMS Analyst for the #1 translational research & rehabilitation hospital in the country. In this position, her skill sets in the areas of healthcare, business, education and technology contribute toward science-driven breakthroughs in human ability.
James A. Mendez III is a native of the Chicagoland area. He attended Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, and then matriculated to the University of Missouri-Columbia for college. He received his bachelor’s degree in History from Mizzou and then went on to receive a master’s degree in Public Administration from Northwestern University.
A member of MetroBoard since January 2019, James quickly got involved with the organization through participation on the Civic Engagement Committee. In April, he successfully ran for and was elected Financial Secretary for the following fiscal year. Professionally, James works as a Policy Analyst for the Office of the Chicago City Treasurer. He supports the office through policy development, researching programmatic initiatives and coordinating external affairs. Prior to his current role, he worked at the Illinois State Capitol as a Policy and Budget Analyst for the Office of the Senate President John J. Cullerton, where he specialized in higher education legislation, along with State appropriation analysis for the operating budgets of nine public universities, and the State’s community college system.
James has a passion for advocacy and using his talents to reach back and serve his community. In his free time, James volunteers as a mentor with an organization called iMentor, where he mentors a rising Senior at Chicago Military Academy in Bronzeville. He is also a proud and financially active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. Additionally, he has served as an advisor and volunteer on various political and advocacy campaigns throughout the state.
When James has some time to himself, he enjoys working out, spending time with friends and family, networking, watching documentaries and staying up to date with the latest events occurring in state and local politics. James is excited to serve the Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League as Financial Secretary for the 2019-2020 year.