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. Vanessa was introduced to the Chicago Urban League (CUL) over 10 years ago and her interest in their historical mission and commitment for justice, equality and civil rights has continuously grown. A native of the city and a CUL scholar alum, Vanessa is familiar with the mission of the League as well as the socioeconomic and political landscape of the City of Chicago. Vanessa became a member of the Metropolitan Board in 2017 and in the last two years has consistently contributed to the board’s growth. As a general body member she created innovative ways to recruit and engage members. One such effort being the creation of a “Join Cheat Sheet” or quick reference guide that helped facilitate learning more about the Metropolitan Board. In July 2018 Vanessa joined the Executive Leadership Team as Membership Retention Chair. During her time as Membership Chair Vanessa has increased member engagement by over 40% and led the member exclusive #MBMemberPerks program in offering over 10 professional and social event discounts via various local community partners. One of her proudest moments as chair was persevering through the sub-below zero Polar Vortex temperatures this past Join Week 2019. Despite all Join Week programing being cancelled due to the frigid temperatures, MetroBoard still met the NULYP goal of acquiring 20+ new members. In the past year, Vanessa has thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with her peers of the MetroBoard and appreciates the confidence they have shown in her capacity to lead. Vanessa is now looking forward to leading further as the 2019 – 2020 Vice President of the Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League.
Director of Operations
An Arkansas native, and first generation Cameroonian-American, Tessie Ebenja has dedicated herself to a life of service. From participating in community service projects with her church; serving as an AmeriCorps member; and volunteering within the public-school system, helping people has always been a passion of hers.
A love for politics, service, and her “gift of gab,” compelled her to obtain a B.A. in Political Science at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. During that time, she was fortunate to intern in Washington, D.C. where she fell in love with policy. Upon returning to her home state, she immediately joined the campaign trail serving as an organizing fellow for Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign; as well as Bill Halter in his gubernatorial bid for Arkansas; and Sheena Lewis in her representative bid for the Arkansas legislature. After her stint on the campaign trail she decided to enroll in the Master of Public Administration program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Upon completion, Tessie moved to Illinois. She made it her mission to get active with various organizations and was introduced to the Metropolitan Board by Eric Gatlin. She got active with the Civic Engagement Committee and was later called upon to serve as the Advocacy Chair. In that role she was glad to support initiatives and plan events that empowered young professionals to get active with issues that affect African American communities. MetroBoard has really allowed her to combine her love of policy, service, and community while engaging with some of Chicago’s most gifted young professionals. It is Tessie’s goal to help her generation understand that one idea, one voice, one movement— can spark remarkable change.
In her free time Tessie enjoys reading, and spending quality time with family.
Kanteh Kamanda serves as MetroBoard’s Secretary. He is responsible for recording minutes at our General Body Meeting and all ELT calls and retreats; along with corresponding to any and all website inquiries.
Kanteh is a 1st generation Liberian American who has grown up in the Midwest almost his entire life. He works as an Enterprise Contract Specialist in Salesforce’s Sales Operations Department,
where he supports several teams of Account Executives, deal structure questions, order processing, and compensation calculations, while ensuring orders are in compliance to revenue & company policy.
Kanteh is a graduate of Purdue University and Indiana University South Bend, with degrees in Political Science and Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. He is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Some of Kanteh’s hobbies include Menswear fashion, weightlifting, reading self-improvement novels, and watching sports, particularly the NFL and US Track & Field. Kanteh’s passions are imbedded in Professional Development and Mentorship. He is a big proponent of paying it forward and being a guiding light to our youth. Kanteh serves as a high school student mentor in the Chicago Public School system through nonprofit organization, iMentor. Kanteh is ecstatic about joining the MetroBoard’s Executive Leadership Team and having the opportunity to effect change through our organization.
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.
The Community Service Committee is responsible for planning and executing community service projects for membership and the community, and assisting the Chicago Urban League and MetroBoard in achieving its civic goals. Key Signature Projects for the Community Service Committee include, but are not limited to:
Interested in joining the committee? Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Civic Engagement Committee establishes the organization’s platform around specific issues. The committee also assists in educating the body about upcoming laws, legislation and other political action areas of interest.
Civic Engagement initiatives include but are not limited to:
– Voter Registration – Helping to raise awareness and get community members registered to vote in upcoming elections
– Know Your Rights – Programming centered around educating the public of their rights when it comes to involvement with the police and law enforcement agencies.
Interested in joining the committee? Reach out to email@example.com
The Fundraising Committee is the revenue generating body of MetroBoard. This committee is committed to creating purposeful social events and cultivating relationships with corporate and community partners and donors.
Some past fundraising events include:
Interested in joining the committee? Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Membership Committee is focused on retention and growth for MetroBoard. The committee encourages and facilitates new member participation in the organization through planning and executing events which are of interest to members.
Membership initiatives include:
– Wanna’ Rolls – Period social events designed to get members together to enjoy each other and build friendships and connections.
– Membership Recruitment Week – A week dedicated to the recruitment and retention of members. Events are planned out to get members and non-members engaged in the organization and the movement.
– New Members Orientation – An event focused around acclimating new members to the organization. New members and non-members considering memberships are encouraged to attend. This event happens quarterly.
Interested in joining the membership committee? Please send an email to email@example.com
The Personal and Professional Development Committee (PPD) exists to assist MetroBoard members in achieving career advancement and personal development goals. PPD’s mission is to produce programming which will develop MetroBoard members into well-rounded professionals endowed to function as global leaders.
Interested in joining the committee? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
The PR Committee is responsible for promoting all MetroBoard events and information pertinent to the organization through social media outlets and other platforms. This committee is also in charge of managing the brand image and designing marketing material for promotion.
Interested in joining the committee? Please contact email@example.com
Digital Media Content Creator &