Chicago Poetry Center Ambassadors volunteer their time and expertise in a variety of ways to support CPC’s mission. In combination with our staff, teaching artist team, and board, ambassadors help further CPC’s work across Chicago, from promoting our literary programs and volunteering monthly at our reading series, to providing outreach and event support with our education programs. We’re grateful to these folks for all the ways they support CPC! To learn more about the ambassador program and start volunteering with CPC, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IVY LERNER | Board Emeritus, Org Ambassador
Ivy’s work bio includes many years of operations management with numerous “stints” throughout, including: health program development, systems analyst, real estate sales, technical writer, and marketing consulting. On a personal level she enjoys reading, theater, travel, running, and yoga. Her “happy place:” having a coffee (and often a great discussion!) with a friend or family member. If stranded on a deserted island, Ivy would need to be with people she knows are wonderful human beings in addition to being excellent poets: Elizabeth Metzger Sampson, Helene Achanzar, and Marty McConnell. Ivy is proud to have served on the CPC Board for six years and excited to continue to support the organization, as CPC’s School Poetry Programs and Poets in Residence are exceptional.
KELLY MCGINNITY | Board Emeritus, Org Ambassador
Kelly has lived and worked in Chicago since 1989. She raised 2 incredible daughters, both of whom attended Chicago Public Schools K-12. As an attorney in private practice and an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School, Kelly is uber-organized, pragmatic, and efficient. Kelly’s passion for equity guides every aspect of her life. She actively supports the arts, education, and human rights, with an emphasis on promoting and advocating for those whose lives, stories, and work are not typically centered. If stranded on a desert island with three poets, Kelly would choose to bring Lesle Honore, Eve Ewing, and Timothy David Rey. Kelly is excited to continue to support CPC as Board Emeritus in a variety of ways, including supporting campaigns and connecting more people to the fantastic work of the organization, because she is aligned with its mission, vision, values and core beliefs.
Dipika Mukherjee’s newest poetry collection, Dialect of Distant Harbors, was published by CavanKerry Press in October 2022 and won the Quill and Ink Award. She is also the author of the chapbook The Palimpsest of Exile, and The Third Glass of Wine. Her poetry appears in publications around the world, including RHINO, PostColonial Text, World Literature Today, Asia Literary Review, Del Sol Review and Chicago Quarterly Review and she won the Liakoura Prize for Poetry in 2016. She is the recipient of a 2022 Esteemed Artist Award (DCASE) from the City of Chicago and teaches at StoryStudio Chicago and the Graham School at University of Chicago. If stranded on a desert island with three poets, Dipika would choose to bring Naomi Shihab Nye, Tishani Doshi, and Rabindranath Tagore. Dipika loves the work CPC has been doing, has been a featured reader at Blue Hour and attended many events. She is grateful that there is such a space for the poetry community to connect, and eager to support the ongoing work of our public programming.
Matthias Regan has read, written, studied, and taught poetry all his life. He majored in Creative Writing as an undergraduate at Connecticut College, then went on to earn an M.A. in poetry from Boston University. While there, he fell in love with literary theory, and eventually ended up at the University of Chicago, where he studied modern and contemporary U.S. poetry, especially the writers associated with the city’s rich history of working-class radicalism. Currently, he teaches writing online for the University of Maryland, while tutoring students in the craft. If stranded on a desert island with three poets, Matthias would choose to bring William Carlos Williams, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Kamau Brathwaite. Having worked at CPC as a Poet-in-Residence while in grad school, Matthias has never forgotten the joy creative writing can bring to young people, and is excited to support CPC’s ongoing educational work.
ALENA ROONEY | Archives Ambassador
Alena Rooney (she/her) grew up in Chicago and is currently a junior at Smith College pursuing a major in the study of women and gender and a concentration in archival studies. She is particularly passionate about reproductive justice, and is interested in finding ways to incorporate her love of art and history into social justice work. Beyond her academic pursuits, Alena is a visual artist, a maker, a lover of nature and enjoys playing the fiddle.
CHRIS ZEECK | Blue Hour Ambassador
Originally from Montana, Chris has lived and raised a family in Chicago for the past 20 years. Chris fell in love with poetry as an undergrad when he moved next door to a poet and professor who convinced him to take one of her classes. Although he has a master’s degree in sociology, he is academically restless and is now pursuing an MFA in creative writing. If stranded on a desert island with three poets, Chris would choose to bring George Oppen, C.D. Wright, and Victoria Chang. Chris is immensely proud to be part of the CPC’s outstanding work because CPC —its staff, its volunteers, its patrons – are among the kindest and most dedicated of Chicago’s strong literary community.