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Our Vision

A Chicago where all can thrive and live free of the fear of gun violence.

Our Mission

To increase the collective impact of community organizations working to stop gun violence, save lives and build a stronger Chicago.

Our Core Values

Empower: We seek to empower organizations working to stop gun violence by creating new opportunities to bring people and resources together to support their work.

Collaborate: We believe all of Chicagoland has a stake in gun violence and that by working together we can stop the violence.

Elevate: We strive to elevate the work and perspectives of those on the frontlines of the violence to inform solution-driven dialogue and highlight impactful programs.

About Strides for Peace

Strides for Peace is a 501(c)(3) organization, founded in 2014 in response to the shockingly high incidence of gun violence that takes place throughout Chicago each year. Our purpose is to identify and financially assist local Community Partners who have achieved demonstrable success in an array of strategies and programs needed to reduce violence and improve life outcomes, including mentoring, sports and recreations, arts, education, job and career preparation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and leadership development. 

Our Community Partners and Affiliates are cornerstones of their communities and share the common goal of ending gun violence. By creating turn-key opportunities that generate unencumbered financial resources, Strides for Peace supports existing programs while building an infrastructure for new collaboration. By deploying capital to those already making a difference in their communities, we can increase the scale of positive impact.

Strides for Peace does not want to reinvent the wheel by creating another not-for-profit competing with existing organizations. Rather, we want to add value by harnessing the resources and goodwill that have not yet been leveraged, providing the fuel that enables our Community Partners to go the distance.

We are on a mission and need your help. We hope you’ll join us, because every stride counts.

Connect. Commit. Contribute. Change.

Be part of building peace in Chicago.

Board of Directors

Maggie Baczkowski

Maggie Baczkowski is the Founder and Board Chair of Strides for Peace, a non-profit organization founded in 2014 to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence in Chicago. Strides for Peace works to uplift nonprofit organizations, supporting community-based programs and collaborations that work to saves lives across the city of Chicago. Since its founding, Strides for Peace has invested in building opportunities for over 40 Chicago-based nonprofit organizations to raise revenue, build capacity and collaborate.

Maggie is an influential leader who works to empower communities by inspiring action while remaining grounded in forming strategic partnerships to fulfill Strides for Peace’s mission. She believes everyone has a stake in stopping gun violence, and that by working together, all citizens of Chicago can be part of the solution to create a stronger, more resilient city.

In 2014, Maggie created the annual Race Against Gun Violence as a platform for nonprofit organizations to highlight their work and raise funds — further bridging the business community and grassroots organizations across the city of Chicago. Since its founding, the race has expanded to include organizations representing a broad spectrum of sectors and strategies that play a vital role in stopping gun violence.

Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Maggie has built a career in real estate in Chicago.  She is currently a top producing real estate agent with @Properties, concentrating in the residential market.  Her commitment to creating and providing equal opportunities is further exemplified by her passion for mentoring young women. She also works for the Bill Nygren Foundation, which focuses on Educational and Microfinance Organizations. Outside of work, she is often with family and friends.

Molly Curley

Molly is an educator with 15 years of experience, working with inner-city youth at the primary level and having taught in Richmond, California, Chicago and London. With a background in fine arts, Molly received a BA from Barat College, followed by studio work in ceramics at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Molly currently lives in Chicago with her husband, Alexander, and their two children.

Jill Gluck

Jill has lived her entire life in the Chicagoland area and has spent the last 11 years as a serious home cook and stay-at-home mom to her twin boys. Having taught at a private preschool in Kenilworth after college, Jill also worked closely with Abby Mandel in the beginning stages of Chicago’s Green City Market.

Jill fervently believes that all kids should feel safe within their own neighborhood and is grateful for the opportunity to help other Chicago moms ensure the safety of their kids through Strides for Peace. 

Meeghan Nemeroff

Meeghan Nemeroff

Meeghan M. Nemeroff is an experienced attorney and business adviser with a concentration in representing financial institutions and corporations in mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, corporate finance, corporate governance and regulatory and compliance matters. Most recently, she held the post of Associate General Counsel and Managing Director for PrivateBancorp, Inc., a NASDAQ-listed company, and its subsidiary, The PrivateBank and Trust Company. Previously, Ms. Nemeroff was Associate General Counsel and First Vice President for MAF Bancorp, Inc., a NASDAQ-listed company, and its subsidiary Mid America Bank. She previously practiced law with Vedder Price P.C., a Chicago-based international law firm, where she represented a broad range of public companies and financial institutions.

Ms. Nemeroff received her undergraduate degree in political science from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota and her Juris Doctorate from DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, Illinois. She is admitted to the Illinois bar and is a member of the American Bar Association.

In addition to her work with Strides for Peace, Ms. Nemeroff is active in various civic and charitable organizations, including the Chicago Children’s Choir and the Chicago HELP Initiative.

Ellen Sandor

Ellen Sandor is a new media artist, and Founder/Director of the collaborative artists’ group, (art)n with works in the permanent collection of the International Center of Photography, Santa Barbara Museum of Art and The Smithsonian Institution. In 1975, she received an MFA in Sculpture from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is an Affiliate of eDream, National Center for Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Chair of the Advisory Board of the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, on the Board of Governors for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is a Life Trustee of The Art Institute of Chicago. In 2012, she received the Thomas R. Leavens Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts through Lawyers for the Creative Arts, and in 2013, received the Gene Siskel Film Center Outstanding Leadership Award. Ms. Sandor is also co-founder of the Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection, and in 2014, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Lisa Saul

Lisa Saul

Lisa is an attorney who represents clients on residential and commercial real estate transactions, as well as general corporate matters. Prior to starting her own practice, Lisa was in the Real Estate group at Mayer Brown LLP from 2001 until 2008. Lisa subsequently served as in-house counsel at Corus Bank, where she focused on construction lending, and in-house counsel at Mission Measurement, where her focus was on commercial transactions and general corporate matters.

Lisa also serves on the Executive Board of the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation and also as Secretary of the IMD Guest House Foundation Board of Directors.

Donna Thompson

Donna is a Chicago resident and, following years of work in Corporate America, decided to pursue her dream of being her own boss. She now works as a personal organizer, managing and de-stressing the lives of her clients. As such, she never stops moving and finds herself on the go 24/7, helping clients, friends, or neighbors. 

Donna also serves as Board President for her Condo Association. She was born and raised in Michigan.

Elizabeth Vadas

Elizabeth hails from Cincinnati, Ohio but has been Chicago resident for 15 years and currently resides in Lakeview. Selling real estate with @properties for the past ten years, she is currently on the fundraising board for the One Acre Fund and is an active volunteer at the St. Thomas of Canterbury food pantry.

In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading and checking out new restaurants. Elizabeth attended Ohio University and was a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity.

Roopa Weber

Roopa Weber

Roopa is senior vice president and head of institutional client services at Ariel Investments. Prior to joining Ariel in 1997, she worked in the non-profit arena for a Chicago-based fundraising consulting firm and at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Roopa serves on the advisory boards of the Gene Siskel Film Center and the River North Chicago Dance Company, and is a member of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Fashion Committee. In 2012, she graduated from the Fellowship Program of Leadership Greater Chicago, an initiative which educates and connects emerging leaders to support and strengthen the Chicago region.

Roopa is also a children’s book author who has created the Penny the Peacock® series. Her first book, Messy Penny, focuses on how true beauty comes from the happiness in one’s heart. The series is designed to promote and foster self confidence in children of all ages.


Mary Stonor Saunders

Mary Stonor Saunders

Executive Director
(773) 326-5368

Mary Stonor Saunders brings over 25 years of experience from both the profit and not-for-profit sectors.  Her substantive expertise is with program development, project management, fundraising, communications, and collaborative initiatives.

Prior to joining Strides as their inaugural executive director,  Mary served as Director of Strategy and Development for BUILD, a gang intervention, violence prevention and youth development organization in Chicago where she oversaw fundraising, external relations and program development during a critical time of transition.

Mary began her career in Washington, D.C. where she worked in association fundraising and development. In 1990 she joined The Washington Post, where she held several administrative positions including Events Marketing Manager. Coming to Chicago in 1996 to pursue a graduate degree, she has held positions in planning and program development for La Rabida Children’s Hospital, Action for Illinois Children, and the University of Chicago, where she directed the Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy. She has also worked as an independent consultant for a range of human services clients and served as Senior Associate with Antolín and Associates Consulting.

In 2009, Mary launched Granola for Good, a social enterprise that aimed to raise the profile of non-profit partners (Inspiration Corporation). She developed the Grow Chicago Collaborative in 2014 to give emerging food manufacturers a voice around the policy table, and was invited to join RW Ventures as a project partner for the MacArthur Foundation-funded Chicagoland Food Cluster initiative to spur regional economic development.

Mary is passionate about ending gun violence in Chicago, and has been involved with several initiatives since 2010 when 16-year-old DeAntonio Goss, son of a peace activist, was killed on his way home from school. She has been an active volunteer throughout her life, including literacy, domestic and community violence, teen parents, and homelessness. She holds an M.S. from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Health Administration and Policy, and received a B.A. from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.


Anne Renna

Partnerships and Events Manager

Anne brings several years of experience in nonprofit fundraising, event planning, grant writing, and partnerships development. She also draws on her 8+ years of private sector experience focused on technical writing, corporate communications and investor relations, most recently at Citadel Investment Group, LLC.

In March 2015, Anne joined the board of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club (“HPNC”), and later that year, became Board Vice President and Chair of the Development Committee. HPNC is a nonprofit youth center serving children from infants to teens by offering them, their families, and caretakers a broad array of programming.

Since January 2015, Anne has led the grant writing committee of the Friends of Ray School PTO, and in July 2015 became Fundraising Chair. She leads fundraising efforts and builds partnerships with local community organizations offering enrichment opportunities in the arts, STEM fields and languages. In this capacity, she developed three new successful fundraisers for Ray Elementary, a Chicago Public School on Chicago’s South Side, including an annual Walk-a-Thon to raise funds for recess support.

In her community, Anne has seen the effects of violence and trauma on kids and their families. She is committed to working with Strides for Peace to bring additional support to organizations reducing gun violence in our communities so they can have an even broader and deeper impact.

Anne holds a Master’s in Library and Information Science from Dominican University and a B.A. in Biology from Dartmouth College.

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