Executive Leadership

President and CEO

Dara Munson is President and CEO of Family Focus, formerly the CEO of Chicago Child Care Society. Dara is a native of Detroit, MI and her previous roles include President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Detroit, past COO of Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, and past Senior Director of United Way of Southeastern Michigan. Munson’s early career and education were in criminal justice and she now serves as a Trustee of her alma mater, Eastern Michigan University Foundation Board. Since coming to Chicago, Munson has been invited to leadership positions serving on the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership Youth Committee, the Illinois Partners for Human Services Board, the Southside Giving Circle for the Chicago Foundation for Women and Vice Chair of Chicago Alliance for Collaborative Effort. She also serves on the Boards of the International Women’s Forum and Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and The Links, Incorporated.

Dara’s particular passion is for serving Black and Brown children, youth and families, to improve their opportunities to reach their highest human potential. She is dedicated to dismantling structural and systemic racism and oppression that creates barriers to education, economic security and freedom to live life in peace
and without fear.

Senior Vice President of People and Culture

Linda Balsamo has served in HR leadership roles at corporate and non-profit organizations for over 25 years. Prior to her role as Chief People Officer at Chicago Child Care Society, Linda was the Chief Administration Officer at NorthPointe Resources, where she helped drive organizational development and strategic change, as well as build human capital through training and development.  Prior to her role at NorthPointe Resources, she worked in the Compensation & Benefits Division at Walgreen Co., managing the Employee Assistance Program and voluntary benefits for the organization of 250,000 employees.  Linda is also an Adjunct Professor at National Louis University and currently teaches Performance Analysis & Management and Organizational Effectiveness & Development at the graduate level. Linda earned her PhD in Human & Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University and an MBA in Finance from Loyola University. She was also the recipient of the 2007 Distinguished Paper Award by the North American Management Society.

Senior Vice President of External Relations

Stephen Majsak joined Family Focus as the Senior Vice President of External Relations in July 2015 and is responsible for fundraising and marketing. He received his M.B.A. in Nonprofit Management from UCLA’s Graduate School of Management and has 25 years of experience in fundraising, having led the development departments at organizations including Gilda’s Club Chicago, The Chicago Academy for the Arts, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and Court Theatre.

Senior Vice President of Partnerships and Engagement

Mariana Osoria previously held the role of Vice President of Centers at Family Focus, managing both the Aurora and Nuestra Famila centers, and was the center director at Nuestra Familia for eight years, overseeing the Hermosa and Cicero centers prior to that. Previously, she was Assistant Director of Nuestra Familia at our Cicero site. Before joining Family Focus in 2006, she was a Program Manager for Project S.T.R.I.V.E. at Youth Guidance. With 15 years of experience in the field, Mariana has been a national trainer and facilitator for nine years. She received her A.M. from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.

Senior Vice President of Programs and Impact

Sherneron Hilliard has held many roles at Family Focus, most recently as the Vice President of Programs. She served as the Center Director of the Lawndale center for seven years, having graduated as the Project Director of Adult Services for eight years also at the Lawndale site. Prior to joining Family Focus she was an individual and family therapist for ProCare Centers. Sherneron has a B.A. from Jackson State University and a M.S.W. form Loyola University. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Education Counseling Psychology.

Senior Advisor

Caterina Varvaro joined Family Focus in 2004 with 32 years of increasingly responsible experience in the area of finance and administration, including seven years as Chief Financial Officer of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She most recently was the Interim President and CEO of Family Focus, having stepped into that role from her previous position as Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration. Caterina is a CPA with an MBA from Loyola University Chicago, and has been involved in almost every aspect of Family Focus, including personnel recruitment and management, day-to-day operations and long-range planning, budgeting, grant applications and administration.