Barry A. Benson joined 826CHI following nearly a decade in the not-for-profit world primarily as a fundraiser and champion of literacy causes. Prior to that, Barry had incarnations in publishing, the visual arts, and higher education--and he remains tethered to those areas through a variety of affiliations. Barry's undergraduate education happened at the University of Michigan, and he received his M.A. in psychology and men's studies from Norwich University/Vermont College. He has spent much of his life in New Orleans but has lived in an ample handful of states and overseas in France and Denmark. He lives for adventure travel and stays relatively sane through regular doses of swimming and making ceramics.
Director of Education
Zach volunteered at 826CHI for over two years as an exceptional workshop instructor before joining the staff. Prior to coming to 826CHI, Zach received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a major in English and an emphasis on Creative Writing. Zach’s fundraising experience includes three years as the Grants and Communication Manager at Perspectives Charter School, and as Development Director at Street Level Youth Media. Zach taught in public schools for more than three years, two of which were in Chicago Public Schools through Teach for America, where he taught second and third grade at Yale Elementary School, in the Englewood community. In his spare time, Zach plays the guitar, flexes his photography muscles, and loves to cook (but hates to follow recipes — you can’t fence this guy in).
Director of Volunteer Services
Kendra became involved at 826CHI as a volunteer tutor immediately upon her arrival in the Windy City, and has since co-invented Chicago-specific handshakes with students. Kendra has spent more than a decade involved in educational programming at arts organizations and museums, including work in Mexico and Honduras, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and for the Chinati Foundation and Artpace in Texas. A native Mainer and honorary Texan, Kendra is also an artist who rather obsessively draws, paints, and animates clouds. She earned her BFA in sculpture from the Maryland Institute, College of Art and her Master’s in Art Education from the University of Texas at Austin.
Boring Store Head Agent
Molly Walsh discarded her prior life in order to assume the life of a secret agent and take the helm at The Boring Store. Had you encountered her before, it might have been while receiving fervent book recommendations in shops across the country or, perhaps, while playing frisbee on the North Lawn at Sarah Lawrence College. She got her alternate identity training at the iO theater and on improv stages everywhere. Now, while not manning The Boring Store desk, she's busy learning the skills necessary to survive an apocalypse--baking bread, brewing beer and building furniture with the rest of the DIY tribe.
Programs Assistant [AmeriCorps member through Public Allies]
Sandy Moy grew up in Chicago but spent a semester abroad in Hong Kong. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in Spring 2011 with a B.A. in International Studies. Sandy is currently doing a year of service with 826CHI through AmeriCorps's Public Allies program. Her favorite things are warm cookies, hugs, doodles, and cloudwatching.
Communications and Outreach Coordinator
Prior to joining 826CHI’s staff as the Communications Coordinator, Abi tried her hand at steaming milk in coffee shops, writing an opinion column, nannying five wonderfully insane children, and even lunch lady-ing. She will receive her B.A. in Communication Arts at North Park University in the spring and hopes to receive an honorary Art degree for all the doodles she’s drawn in her notebooks over the years. When she’s not utilizing thesaurus.com (which may or may not be a permanent fixture on her Bookmarks bar), you might find Abi listening to slam poetry, incorporating Fergie lyrics into everyday life, or squealing at small puppies as she bikes around Chicago.
Prior to joining 826CHI, Angie spent over three years successfully infiltrating Chicago Public Schools on the south side, working with both in and out-of-schooltime programming. Throughout the course of that classified mission, Angie met all types of powerfully trained experts (otherwise known as "students") in the Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, Little Village, and Pilsen neighborhoods. Together, Angie and this league of extraordinary students completed various top-secret projects that dealt with the realms of social justice, art, and music, all while managing to complete their homework on time. Angie received her Bachelor's degree from DePaul University, majoring in Political Science, and is currently working on a Master's degree in Women's Gender Studies. A native Chicagoan, Angie also enjoys playing the guitar and going to the dog beach with her two pit bulls, Mila and Hendrix.
Boring Store Assistant Agent
In an effort to accumulate as many part-time jobs as possible, Anna is eager to join the ranks of 826CHI's illustrious Boring Store. When she's not slinging rear-view glasses and invisible ink pens, Anna is gaining intel from some of Chicago's most curious "regular Joes" -- including Second City box office employees, non-profit communications departments, and a few cutesy toddlers. On the off chance she is not at work (or riding the bus to work) you can find Anna cutting out obsessively-detailed paper crafts, defending pop punk, and ironically promoting her own LinkedIn.