Our Team


Cosette Ayele, Director of Advocacy and Workforce Initiatives


Cosette is a policy advocate, data analyst, community investment strategist and grassroots organizer whose values center care and transformation over punitive responses to systemic racism and inequity. After completing her Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School, Cosette paired her analytical skills with her own lived experience of housing instability to increase reporting transparency and improve supportive services as a Planning Analyst at Chicago Housing Authority. Amid momentous calls for police accountability in 2020, she joined Community Response Works as their Organizing Director where she founded the Patch Network, a nationwide collective of more than 85 mobile crisis teams and community service organizations who were in the beginning stages of building alternative responses to people in crisis. In addition to these roles, Cosette brings a wealth of experience in research, data and spatial analysis, and program evaluation from working with the Georgetown Center on Poverty & Inequality, UChicago’s Inclusive Economy Lab, and the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100).

In her role at Illinois Partners, Cosette hopes to create brave spaces for people in the human services field to inform policy and create innovative intervention strategies and solutions to solve workforce problems across Illinois.  Cosette was born, raised, and is currently living on the Southside of Chicago with her husband, daughter and doggy. She enjoys checking out the local farmers’ markets and attending community events with her friends and family.

Adela Carlin, Senior Director of Training and Community Partnerships

Adela has more than 20 years of experience working with individuals, families and community groups in the Chicago area. She enjoys working collaboratively to build and sustain partnerships that meet the needs of people impacted by poverty.  Adela is a community lawyer with a passion for and a commitment to advancing equity, inclusion, and racial justice. Prior to joining Illinois Partners for Human Service, Adela served as the Director of Community Engagement at the Legal Assistance Foundation (LAF) and as the Director of the Legal Services Program at Catholic Charities Legal Assistance.  Adela grew up in Little Village, a neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago and is bilingual in English and Spanish. She  obtained her law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law at Urbana Champaign.

As the Senior Director of Training and Community Partnerships, Adela focuses on building strategic, dynamic and strong relationships with community based organizations and grassroots groups serving communities with a history of disinvestment.  In addition, she leads the development of reframing and other equity focused trainings to support our coalition partners across the state. Adela is a member of the Illinois Partners Executive team. She serves on the Healthy Illinois steering committee and represents Illinois Partners on the Illinois Skills for Good Jobs Agenda, the Illinois Family Caregiver Coalition and more.  Adela is a 2022 Racial Justice Institute fellow and was recently selected as a national facilitator for Reframing Aging. In addition to her role at Illinois Partners, Adela serves on the board of directors for Chicago United for Equity and Solutions for Care.

Katherine Cavanaugh, Training Manager

Katherine began her career in human services working as a sexual assault survivor advocate and behavioral health counselor with children and families. After a few years working in direct service, she was drawn to work on a systems level towards upstream solutions, and went to Baltimore to get her Masters in Social Work focusing on Community Action and Social Policy. During that time, she learned the power of community organizing and listening to the people most affected. Her work in Baltimore and later, nationally was focused on organizing with people experiencing homelessness in health care organizations and systems towards more effective services and health care justice.

As the Training Manager (based in Central Illinois), Katherine hopes to foster environments where people can take time and space to reflect on how we approach our work and more effectively create relationships, community, and momentum for equity and justice. In this role, she will support the launch of Illinois Partners statewide training initiative for health and human service professionals focusing on reframing conversations about aging and older adults. Katherine is excited about the opportunity to ground this knowledge in the expertise of the Illinois human service community and discuss how these topics incorporate intersectionality, equity, and social determinants of health.

Kate Fakhoury, Southern Illinois Community Organizer and Data Manager

Kate believes in getting things done from the ground up. She has experience in leadership and community service and is actively involved in volunteer work, including service as a Board Member for both Giant City School and Saluki Swim Club in Carbondale, Illinois. Kate previously served as the President of Giant City School Progress Association. She is an alumna of Purdue University with both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science.

Evan Finamore, Senior Manager of Development and Strategic Communications

Evan joined Illinois Partners in 2018 and, as Senior Manager of Development and Strategic Communications, she is responsible for grant writing and reporting, graphic design, and assisting the entire team in achieving streamlined, targeted, and strategic messaging in all our communications

Jasmine Steele, Communications and Operations Coordinator

Jasmine has been in the Human Services field since 2015 beginning their service in direct service. After graduating from St. Xavier University with their BA, Jasmine has worked with several populations including, elders, youth, infants, pregnant persons, domestic violence survivors, individuals with mental illness, individuals battling addiction, and individuals experiencing homelessness. Jasmine found a passion in organizational and community development so, pursued a Master of Social Work degree with a macro focus to expand their reach in the Human Service sector. Jasmine completed their Master of Social Work at University of Illinois at Chicago’s Jane Addams College of Social Work in May 2020, is a Licensed Social Worker in Illinois, and was honored to become a part of the Illinois Partners of Human Service team as the Communications and Operations Coordinator.

Lauren Wright,  Executive Director

As Illinois Partners Executive Director, Lauren is driven to create a more equitable future for all Illinoisans. Her vision and experience with building global coalitions, cultivating relationships with community stakeholders and creating new opportunities for growth and advocacy are at the core of the Illinois Partners mission. Lauren holds a Master of Arts in Sustainable Development from SIT Graduate Institute and a Master’s Degree in International Policy and Practice from George Washington University. Lauren represents Illinois Partners as a member of the State Health Improvement Plan Committee, the Responsible Budget Coalition, the 211 Advisory Board, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Pretrial Practices Implementation Task Force, and the 2022 Cohort of the Racial Justice Institute.

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Human services matter to ALL of us.