Sarra Alpert headshot

Ilana Zafran Walden

Board Chair

Ilana Walden is the Chair of the Board and serves on the Chicago Advisory Council at Avodah. 

Ilana Zafran Walden is a public sector and nonprofit executive leader with over 15 years of experience in developing and leading programs, initiatives, and strategies designed to alleviate poverty and increase educational equity. Most recently, Ilana served as the Director of the Chicago Student Success Initiative (CSSI) for Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  In this role she lead a $9M district wide collaboration with University of Chicago Education Labs to identify how CPS could best serve students who face significant barriers towards high school graduation. 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.  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.

Ilana has served on the board of directors for the Chicago Freedom School, and Girl Forward, was a 2014 American Jewish World Service Global Justice Fellow. She was an Avodah Chicago Corps Member (‘06-’07) and currently lives in Chicago with her husband, daughter, and son.