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

EMILY A. BIENIEK | Board Emeritus, Org Ambassador

Emily is a queer writer and artist based in Chicago. If stranded on a deserted island, one poet Emily would choose for company would be Ross Gay. She is deeply grateful to Ada Limón for these lines from “The Raincoat:” My god,/ I thought, my whole life I’ve been under her/ raincoat thinking it was somehow a marvel/ that I never got wet. Bieniek’s work can be found in SAND Journal, Plain China, Columbia Poetry Review, Ransack Press, The Lab Review and The Garland Court Review. Her superpower is removing dog hair from clothes. She works in marketing and media and is available for freelance work.

ELIZABETH BLINDERMAN | Board Emeritus, Org Ambassador

Elizabeth has a passion for people, development and organization. She is results driven with outstanding general management skills. Her superpower is her sense of direction. One poet Elizabeth would choose for company if stranded on a deserted island is Maya Angelou. Elizabeth’s earliest memory is of her mother, while pushing her on a swing, reciting these lines of poetry from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Swing:” How do you like to go up in a swing, Up in the air so blue? Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing Ever a child can do! Elizabeth pushed her children chanting these lines when they were little and recites them in her head whenever she swings still.



KIM CHAYEB | Board Emeritus, Org Ambassador

Kim Chayeb is the Two-Spirit (they/them) founder/CEO of Wild Tongues as well as a multi-disciplinary artist, holistic healer, activist, and educator originally from San Diego, California via Indian Trail, North Carolina. Kim graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and their spoken word poetry and conceptual performance art experiences explore themes of Environmental Justice, Indigenous Sovereignty, Anti-Racism and Science/Spirituality. Kim has performed at Steppenwolf Theatre, Pilsen Fest, Citlalín Gallery, Steep Theatre’s The Boxcar, DePaul University, Saint Xavier University, at Chicago’s Navy pier during Thawalls , Gallery 400, MCA Chicago, OPEN Center for the Arts, Hairpin Arts Center, & the Chicago Artists Coalition. Kim Chayeb is currently passing the creative torch to future generations as a high school Theater Arts Teacher in their Pilsen community.

ALEX KERBER | Board Emeritus, Org Ambassador

Alex Kerber is super excited to be joining the Chicago Poetry Center’s team as a queer writer born and raised in Chicago. Alex has worked within the Special Olympics Chicago community for the last 10 years. Being fortunate enough to sort through life’s complexities as well as honor its beauty through written word and poetry, Alex looks forward to bringing poetry to many people who haven’t been offered the chance to put their experience into words just yet. A line from a poem that Alex loves is “All of this circumnavigating the earth\was to get back to my life.”




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: B 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  | Literary Life Ambassador

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.

SUSAN OLIVER | Board Emeritus, Org Ambassador

Susan Oliver is a friend, mentor, pet parent and home chef living in Chicago whose superpower is cooking for large groups. She enjoys being outside and any themed activity. If Susan were stranded on a desert island, one poet she would choose for company would be Edna St. Vincent Millay. Susan believes that poetry and the arts are vital elements of humanity, allowing us to fully express and communicate our experiences, feelings and needs and acting as bridges of understanding. Some lines of poetry Susan loves: We sow the glebe, we reap the corn, We build the house where we may rest, And then, at moments, suddenly, We look up to the great wide sky, Inquiring wherefore we were born… For earnest or for jest? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.


MALLARI PEACE | Board Emeritus, Org Ambassador

Mallari is a health care professional who has cared for people in South Side communities of Chicago for the last 10 years. One poet Mallari would choose for company on a deserted island would be Joy Harjo. Mallari loves these lines from Langston Hughes’ poem, “Mother to Son:” Don’t you fall down now–For I’se still goin’, honey, I’se still climbin’… Mallari’s superpower is helping people help themselves, and she is passionate about literacy for children. Mallari believes poetry is a perfect way for children to develop literacy skills and express their humanity. If she were in a band, it would be called The Stellar Travelers.



MATTHIAS REGAN | Education Programs Ambassador

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.




LUIS TUBENS | Board Emeritus, Org Ambassador
Luis Tubens, a.k.a “Logan Lu”, was born in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood and raised in Logan Square. In 2014, he earned a B.A. in Communications, media and theater from Northeastern Illinois University. He is the 2017 Artists in Residence at Oak Park Public Library. Luis has performed poetry across the United States including with the GUILD COMPLEX, Tia Chucha Press, and the National Museum of Mexican Art. He has toured Mexico City in 2016 and 2018 presenting his work at the acclaimed “Show Socrates MX” (2016) and the National Book Fair of Leon GTO (2018) and featured in Puerto Rico at “Poets Passage” and “Gathering of Cities” at Libros AC (2019). He has also held workshops for the residents of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and students in the Chicago Public Schools. On stage, he has opened for notable acts including Saul Williams and Calle 13. He is the author of Stone Eagle (2017) published by Bobbin Lace Press, Chicago. Currently, Luis is the resident poet for ESSO Afrojam Funkbeat (2016 Best New Band and Best International Music Act, Chicago Reader) and represented Chicago in the 2014 and 2018 National Poetry Slam.

SUZETTE WEBB | Board Emeritus, Org Ambassador

Suzette is in the business of lighting and enlightenment. Suzette is the founder and CEO of the LOM Group, LLC, a company that designs and manufactures high-performance lighting systems, and also an author and inspirational speaker. Suzette’s superpower is activating leadership, including powers of persuasion and a talent at getting things started. If she were to be stranded on a deserted island, one poet she would choose for company would be Audre Lorde. Suzette loves these lines from Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise:”

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

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