Thomas Applegate • Executive Director
Thomas is excited to be working with our team of staff, volunteers and community stakeholders for the betterment of life on the northwest side, where he is also a resident. He is committed to strong community and economic development through active engagement that fosters equal access to opportunities for all residents.
Prior to NRC, he was the Executive Director of Hostelling International-Chicago where he oversaw the $3.5m hostel facility operation with 36 full time employees. Thomas started his professional life as a litigation attorney in Chicago and also owned a fine Asian antique store with his spouse Athene.
Alexa Schutz • Economic Development Coordinator & Special Service Area (SSA60) Manager
Alexa is excited to work on responsible community and economic development with North River Commission communities and stakeholders. She applies her MA in Public Administration from Illinois Institute of Technology, where she worked prior to joining NRC. Alexa is a committee member in the Eckhart Park Advisory Council, active foster parent with PAWS Chicago, and former board member for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) Chicago chapter. Alexa grew up in Northwest Indiana, where she always felt connected to the vibrant communities of Chicago. Her love for exploring Chicago’s many neighborhoods has led inextricably to a career in community development. She lives in Noble Square/West Town.
Dalia Aragon • Economic Development and Housing Organizer
Dalia is deeply involved in the communities served by North River Commission as both a resident and activist. She founded Israel’s Gifts of Hope Foundation that partners with Moms Demand Action and Parents for Peace and Justice. A native Spanish speaker, Dalia spent her 5 month internship prior to starting on staff full time working in the business districts bringing essential resources for growth to our many family businesses. She is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University in Justice Studies and Psychology. Hablo español.
Carson Poole • Community Organizer for Parks, Recreation, Open Space, Arts and North Park Village
Carson is excited to work with the North River Commission to support equitable, responsive, and resilient community development. He applies his Masters in Urban Planning and Policy (MUPP) from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he focused on community development, and his experience as a planner and community practice professional in Chicago. Carson brings a passion for ethical urban practice, resilient urban ecosystems, and dynamic arts and cultural opportunities as ways to improve quality of life. He has previously worked with Place Lab (at the University of Chicago Arts and Public Life Initiative), the Chicago Botanic Garden, Openlands, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Carson grew up on a third-generation family farm in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University. In his spare time, you can find him biking, working in his community garden, playing 16" softball, baking bread, or talking about the finer points of maple syrup production to anyone who will listen.
Elizabeth Rice - Education Community Organizer
Liz is also excited to join the North River Commission as the Education Community Organizer. She believes that everyone should have access to a quality education and strives to use her experience and the resources at her disposal to do that. She was previously the School Programs Coordinator for the Goodman Theatre, where she partnered with over 30 Chicago Public, Charter, and Archdiocese of Chicago schools and their teachers. She recently graduated from the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) at the University of Chicago. She hopes to bring her experience in private and public schools to her work at the NRC.
Liz is also a company member and teaching artist at 2nd Story, a personal narrative theater company located in Albany Park. In her free time, when not rolling dice/slaying dragons or learning about dystopic futures, she likes to feed people, cook, and eat. Always in that order.
Marisabel Pozo • Economic Development Organizer
Marisa is thrilled to work with North River Commission and help small business owners and entrepreneurs achieve their goals through the Regional Business Center program. She is looking forward to applying all of the knowledge she gained in her Masters in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
After working in the private sector for a couple of years, she is happy to get back into economic development and use the experience she has working in nonprofits and government agencies in Chicago and abroad. Born and raised in Ecuador, she moved to Chicago for college and lived almost 15 years in Albany Park, where her parents still reside. This background gives her a sense of belonging and understanding of the identities in these neighborhoods and their potential. She is excited to continue to build strong relationships with businesses in order to achieve a thriving, inclusive and equitable community. Hablo español.
Benjamin Corpuz • Economic Development Organizer
Growing up in Riverside, IL, Benjamin soon discovered the subtle and remarkable differences the built environment can have on one’s day-to-day experiences. Following this path, he has pursued a career in helping communities achieve their goals through collaboration, engagement, and empowerment. Benjamin looks forward to putting plans into practice by supporting local businesses through the Special Service Area program at NRC. Benjamin has heard stories of his grandparents emigrating from Mexico and the Philippines to start their own small businesses in Chicago. Their triumphs and struggles are a source of inspiration for Benjamin to help ensure the NRC service area is healthy, prosperous, and locally owned.
Benjamin previously worked as an architectural designer, an intern at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, a graduate research assistant at the Great Cities Institute at University of Illinois - Chicago, and as a planning consultant across the U.S. In his free time, Benjamin enjoys walking his dog, cooking a pot of gumbo, rock climbing, or a combination of the three.