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Our Staff


Ilana Zafran Walden
CEO & Founder

With over two decades of experience in the nonprofit, public, and education sector, Ilana is known for her ability to solve problems; develop collaborative and people centered solutions; and manage complex, high stakes projects and initiatives.  She is also a nationally recognized restorative justice practitioner, having developed a school based restorative justice model that decreased out-of-school suspensions by 35%. She has facilitated thousands of school based restorative practice interventions and supported districts across the country in establishing restorative justice programs. ​Prior to launching her business, Ilana served as the Director of the Chicago Student Success Initiative (CSSI) for Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  In this role she led a $9M district wide collaboration with University of Chicago Education Lab to identify how CPS could best serve students who face significant barriers towards high school graduation.  Ilana has catalyzed transformative change for students by identifying and scaling promising academic, engagement, postsecondary, and mental health interventions; developing policies and systems to support students who are highly mobile; and reenvisioning the infrastructure and support of the district’s 38 alternative high schools which serve approximately 10,000 students per year.   She previously served as the COO at Umoja Student Development Corporation, where she was responsible for organizational strategy, human resources, financial oversight, and business operations.  During Ilana’s tenure as COO, Umoja nearly doubled its programming, staff, and budget.  Her innovative approach to talent management and organizational culture led to a 35% increase in staff satisfaction and 20% increase in both staff of color hired and serving in management roles. Prior to assuming the role of COO, Ilana led the development, implementation and expansion of Umoja’s restorative justice programming. Under Ilana’s leadership, Umoja’s restorative justice initiatives gained national attention for their cutting edge approach to the national school pushout crisis and the school-to-prison pipeline. Throughout her career, Ilana has participated in numerous leadership development opportunities including Bonfire Women’s Leadership Program and The All-State Foundation Greater Good Nonprofit Leaders Program.  She received a B.A. in Sociology from the College of Wooster and an Executive Scholar Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management. Ilana has served on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Freedom School and Girl Forward and currently sits on the Board of Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps.  While she grew up in Boston, Ilana has for the past 15 years lived in Chicago, where she currently resides with her husband, 9 year old son, and 6 year old daughter.  She loves Peloton, Barre3, cooking, reading, and making spreadsheets to organize her personal and professional life! ​Forest Zafran Consulting LLC is is a tribute to Ilana's roots and all the people and experiences that have impacted her throughout her life. Forest, honors Ilana's first name which means "tree" in Hebrew. Zafran is Ilana's maiden name.


Daniela Schiazza
Principal of Impact, Evaluation, & Learning 

Daniela has a Ph.D. in Research Methodology from Loyola University Chicago and 15 years of experience in the research, evaluation, and social impact field. Past projects include developing logic models, evaluation measurement frameworks, data collection tools, dashboards, and impact reports for nonprofits and philanthropic foundations. Additionally, Daniela  has expertise in developing and implementing data-driven continuous improvement cycles.

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