We are a team, compassionate and resolved, with a commitment to meeting people where they are and empowering them to become tomorrow's leaders. 


Adar Cohen, Ph.D.

Co-founder and Executive Director of Programs

As Executive Director of Programs, Adar Cohen is responsible for all aspects of CLF's efforts to empower young people for success in school, work, and civic life.

With Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, with gang leaders and correctional officers in Chicago, and with Jews and Muslims in the Middle East, Dr. Cohen has led dynamic change processes in settings defined by conflict and uncertainty. He has investigated human rights abuses at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp; led nonviolence trainings in church basements and community centers across the US; and, at the invitation of the King of Bhutan, lectured and designed curriculum at Sherubtse University, Bhutan’s first institution for higher education.

The recipient of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, and the George Mitchell Scholarship, he holds a B.A. in Conflict Resolution from Wheaton College in Massachusetts, an M.A. and Ph.D. in International Peace Studies from the University of Dublin (Trinity College), and completed a conflict mediation training program with Mediation Northern Ireland.

With Steve Fiffer, Dr. Cohen is the author of Jimmie Lee and James: Two Lives, Two Deaths, and the Movement that Changed America. With Howard Rossman, he is the recipient of the Facing History and Ourselves "Upstander Award," which recognizes individuals who have spoken out and acted in order to make a difference in their communities and their world. He has lectured at Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and DePaul University.


Paul Dean, MS, LCSW, MA

Executive Director of Operations

As Executive Director of Operations, Paul Dean works with CLF’s Board of Directors to craft and implement the organization’s strategic initiatives, and oversees the day to day operations of CLF.

Mr. Dean brings over 25 years of non-profit experience to CLF. He has worked as a certified public middle school teacher, licensed psychotherapist (LCSW), Clinical Program Director, CFO, and as Executive Director for three non-profit organizations. He holds a masters degree in statistics and finance, in education, and in social work from the University of Chicago. Mr. Dean also has experience implementing and directing social-emotional and academic educational programs similar to those offered by CLF, including at the middle school level.

Mr. Dean has published three articles on education in Chicago, is a past member of the editorial board of the American Journal of Education and is the recipient of three Fellowships.

Shannon Dick

Partnerships Manager


David Elias, Ph.D.

Co-Founder and Director, Curriculum and Assessment

David Elias, Ph.D. is a co-founder of the Civic Leadership Foundation, and oversees the organization's curriculum development and assessment.

During his 30 year career, Dr. Elias has taught at Stanford University School of Law, the University of California - Davis, and Santa Clara University. He has worked with a wide variety of students from high school dropouts to law school students, and has mentored graduate assistants as they began their teaching careers. As Coordinator of Developmental English at Eastern Kentucky, he oversaw all developmental writing and reading courses.

An accomplished author, Dr. Elias’ work has been published in journals such as Composition Chronicle and Research in the Teaching of English. He has served as a reviewer for the latter publication and for Written Communication. Interested in the impact of technology on pedagogical processes, he has also published scholarly articles on the subject at  In addition, Dr. Elias has presented at educational conferences from the Netherlands to New Orleans on topics as diverse as “Preparing Creative, Ethical, Effective Leaders” to “The Technological Professionalization of Preservice Secondary English Teachers.”

Dr. Elias has received numerous awards, including an award for Outstanding Tutor from Bronx Community College, an Outstanding Teacher of the Year award from the South Atlantic Modern Language Association, and a Saskawa Fellowship from the American Association of College and University Professors.

He holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. from Rutgers University in English, as well as a Ph.D. in education from Stanford University.

Hazel Flowers-McCabe

Admin - Clerical Assistant

Deonna Hart

Programs Coordinator

As Program Coordinator, Deonna Hart assists with coordinating and facilitating implementer training and support sessions for various CLF program partners across the City of Chicago.

Ms. Hart has worked in non-profit youth programming for the past five years.  Most recently she served as a teaching fellow at the CLE (Civic Leadership Education) program at Mark Sheridan Elementary School. She mentored a cohort of 8th graders, preparing them to become active civic leaders who are ready and equipped for high school. Prior to mentoring, Ms. Hart was the Program Coordinator for the Bridges to Pathways program, an initiative between the City of Chicago Department of Family Support Services and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. She has also served as a program mentor for the Youth Working for Success program. 

Ms. Hart holds a B.A. in Theatre and Graphic Design from Chicago State University of Chicago.

LaVerne E. Mathews, MBA

Director of Development

In July of 2016, LaVerne Mathews joined the Civic Leadership Foundation team as the Development Director.

After a successful career in Government and Corporate America, LaVerne has spent the last 12 years in non-profit management and has held such positions as Director of Advancement, Loaves & Fishes Community Services; Director of Development, Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago (CRFC); Director of Special Events, Holy Trinity High School and Special Events/Corporate Relations Officer, La Rabida Children’s Hospital.

LaVerne holds a BS in Business Administration from Olivet Nazarene University and a MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. 


D-Nick Stockman

Civic Leadership Mentor


D-Nick The Microphone Misfit (born Dominique Stockman) is a Chicago hip hop emcee and teaching artist from Flint, Michigan. A DePaul University graduate, D-Nick works for CLF as a teacher, mentor, and trainer. He taught writing and was a director at Free Street Theater for seven years and was the middle school and high school theater teacher at Perspectives Charter School. In 2010 D-Nick was selected to be a Hip-Hop Diplomat in Algeria as part of the FEW collective. D-Nick has released two solo Albums: "Brace Yourself for The Impact" and "Graphic Novel." With his group The Microphone Misfitz he has released "Escape From Babylon" and "Escape from Babylon Volume II" which come inside a full color comic book of the same title written by none other than D-Nick himself.


Want to Work With Us?

Open positions are always posted at Please check the NPO website if you are interested in employment with CLF. You may also fill our the form below.

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