STAFF & VOLUNTEERS

Project: VISION’s staff and volunteers are the core of the organization. Their hard work and dedication make it possible to serve our community.

OUR STAFF

Karen Chiu

Karen Chiu

Executive Director | Co-Founder

While taking time off from medical school in 2003, Karen took a part-time job tutoring at-risk teens, an experience that ignited her passion for youth development. Realizing there was a need in the community for a safe place that youth could call their own and get the support and guidance they need, Karen founded Project: VISION with a few fellow volunteers. In 2009, she assumed the role of Executive Director on a volunteer basis, managing many facets of operations including administration, fundraising, and board development. However, her favorite part of this experience continues to be working directly with the students whether it be tutoring, teaching ACT, or doing service projects alongside them. She believes that positive after school programs go a long way in helping kids succeed, and she looks forward to helping PV continue to grow in order to bring these programs to even more students in the coming years.

Sandy Ruan

Sandy Ruan

Director of Strategic Initiatives

Sandy graduated in 2012 with a degree in Public Relations/Advertising and Psychology from DePaul University. She joined Project: VISION as Development Intern and has since taken on the role of Director of Development and now the Director of Strategic Initiatives. She uses her past experiences with the Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations to help Project: VISION secure the resources it needs to support its growing youth programs. Sandy’s role also allows her to watch PV youth develop and grow firsthand, and better tell their stories. She is proud to be able to provide students an important part of growing up: chances to learn something new every day.

Elvina Ng

Elvina Ng

Director of Operations

Elvina graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2012 with a degree in Chemical Engineering. During her 4 years working at the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Elvina developed a passion for helping the community. After working at the Chamber, she realized the impact that nonprofits have within the community. She joined Project: VISION in 2018 because she felt that her experience at the Chinatown Chamber was meaningful and that it could be used towards her position as the Operations Manager at PV. Elvina is excited to be able to watch the PV youth not only grow academically, but to become leaders of their generation.

Emily Mei

Emily Mei

Operations Coordinator

Emily graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor’s in Operations Management and in Information Systems and then a Master’s in Management. Growing up in the Chinatown and Bridgeport area, she has always felt connected with her Asian American culture and hopes to be a positive influence on the community that raised her. Emily has many years of experience in childcare and teaching with various age groups, which inspired her to continue her involvement with the youth in the Chinatown area!

Lisa Huang

Lisa Huang

Operations Coordinator

Lisa grew up in Chinatown, went to Haines School, and studied nursing at Malcolm X College. Lisa studied very hard, and when she had difficulty with homework, she always wished there was a place where she could go for help. However, 25 years ago, there wasn’t a place called Project: VISION yet or any place for youth where they could get help with homework and grow better character. She knows this organization is very important to our Chinatown community, especially to the youth and immigrant families that don’t speak any English like her own family before. Lisa likes PV’s vision and mission, and she hopes to be a part of it to help more children and families have a better future.

Jesse Gong

Jesse Gong

Operations Coordinator

Yuen Liu

Yuen Liu

Development Coordinator

Yuen is a Chicago-based artist with a BFA in Studio Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Growing up in Chinatown and Bridgeport, she discovered her passion for youth development through her involvement with Project: VISION from 2013 to 2016 as a student. By combining her passion for art and youth development, Yuen actively collaborates with community organizations and other creative initiatives to integrate art into after-school programs. With her artistic skills and commitment to empowering young people, Yuen aspires to help students navigate their academic and personal journeys confidently and creatively.

Hsin-Ju (Dori) Tung

Hsin-Ju (Dori) Tung

Case Manager

Dori earned her BA in Sociology with a minor in Educational Psychology from McGill University in 2019 before relocating to Chicago. Her passion is informed by her Master’s degree in Art Therapy and Counseling from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and years of experience providing mental health services to students, immigrants, adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and older adults. Dori is excited to build meaningful collaborations with youth and provide support that centers on wellness, empowerment, and community building.

Ben Xing

Ben Xing

Parent Engagement Coordinator

Ben graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with degrees in Psychology and Criminology and is currently pursuing a master’s in Mental Health Counseling at DePaul University. With a background as a classroom tutor and a year spent working with at-risk youth, Ben is dedicated to serving back his community. He’s excited to channel his passion into his role as Parent Engagement Coordinator at Project: VISION. Ben eagerly anticipates being an integral part of the community’s growth and progress.

Vivian He

Vivian He

Workforce Coordinator

Vivian earned a master’s degree in Law from Washington University in St. Louis. After graduating from university, Vivian worked closely with representatives from different fields in capital markets. However, she has always been interested in working with youth while she was in school. Putting together this interest and her experience in the private sector, she is dedicated to serving youth using her unique insight into job seeking and considerate career advice. Vivian is excited to help youth discover and transition into new long-term careers and instruct youth on professional ethics and legal protection for employees at work. Vivian can speak English, Cantonese, and Mandarin, and she is happy to work with the immigrant community in Chicago’s Greater Chinatown.

OUR MIDDLE SCHOOL PROGRAM STAFF

Chi Ho

Chi Ho

Youth Program Manager

Dandan Lu

Dandan Lu

Youth Program Coordinator

Gibs Smolsky-Gibson

Gibs Smolsky-Gibson

Youth Program Coordinator

Gibs graduated from Chicago’s own UIC with a BS in Mathematics and completed 1 year of Graduate studies toward the Science of Teaching Mathematics with a focus on multimodal methods of teaching. When the pandemic hit, Gibs shifted to working for Connected Camps an online-only non-profit that teaches STEM and SEL through Minecraft to kids aged 8-15. Discovering this passion for non-profit work Gibs shifted to building equitable, local pathways of enrichment for Chicago Kids through working with Project: VISION. He loves challenging kids’ understanding of educational pathways asking them to consider why they learn what they do. As a proud first-generation student, he is passionate about activism and equality, thriving to provide as much support to students as possible. Gibs is excited to watch youth grow to learn, serve and lead the diverse Chicago community that inspired and provided him with everything he needed to grow.
Shawn Wong

Shawn Wong

Youth Program Coordinator

Born and raised in Chicago’s Chinatown and Bridgeport neighborhoods, Shawn has long been searching for a way to serve his community. He earned a BFA in Film Production from DePaul University with the goal of supporting and promoting the work of marginalized communities. Although he has left the film industry, the importance of story-telling continues to inform his approach toward community work. He believes that exploring each other’s personal narratives is critical in developing confident and empathic young minds. At PV, Shawn aims to implement programming that places emphasis on creative expression, exploring self-identity and community building.

OUR HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAM STAFF

Anthony Cai

Anthony Cai

Youth Program Coordinator

Anthony graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Human Health and Diseases and Neuroscience. During his time at Northwestern, he served as President of the Northwestern Emergency Medical Organization, where he co-taught 150+ undergraduate students to obtain their EMT-B licenses. This experience ignited his passion for mentorship and education. As a Project: VISION alum, he initially returned to the Project: VISION team as a high school tutor. He now looks forward to supporting the youth of Chinatown and Bridgeport in their endeavors in high school and post-secondary education, just as Project: VISION has done for him when he was a student. He hopes to empower our youth to explore their passions and to excel in every opportunity open to them.

Andrea Chen

Andrea Chen

Youth Program Coordinator

Andrea holds a degree in Communication and Education from Columbia University. She possesses a deep commitment to nurturing the potential of young minds. With a background in serving various non-profit organizations in New York, she is ready to harness her creativity and communication expertise to empower youth, enabling them to thrive, learn, and make a lasting impact in her role, while also contributing to the vibrant Chicago Chinatown community.

Tolga Kesler

Tolga Kesler

Youth Program Coordinator

Tolga graduated from Pitzer College with a degree in Political Studies and was awarded honors for their thesis about social movements and leadership. Tolga has been a mentor at their college for their Asian American community and is passionate about helping and supporting PV youth in their endeavors. Youth empowerment is central to Tolga as they see that the youth have so much potential for change. Tolga is excited to work with the PV team and be a part of the community.

Sabrina Woo

Sabrina Woo

Youth Program Coordinator

Irene Wong

Irene Wong

Youth Program Coordinator

Annie Xia

Annie Xia

Youth Program Coordinator

Annie, a licensed K-12 Illinois Music and TESL Educator, has a degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Currently pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration for Human Resources, she recognizes that learning is not linear. She understands that every student brings unique knowledge and cultural backgrounds, inspiring her to cultivate interdisciplinary curiosity rooted in the interconnectedness of human experiences. Wearing many hats as a public school educator, HR professional, and service industry worker, she strives to use her experiences to connect with her community. In her free time, Annie enjoys learning about languages, spending time with her cats, and watching anime. I-L-L!

Ricky Cai

Ricky Cai

Student Support Specialist