Erica Avant

A native of Chicago’s South Side, Erica has devoted her life to directly serving the communities in which she has lived—communities that she fights for daily because they have too often been forgotten about and where poverty, homelessness, lack of resources, and countless disparities continue to harm so many. Her own experiences of the foster care system and homelessness propelled Erica to focus her work on supporting those harmed by systemic inequities. Erica has spent the last decade supporting individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS, fighting for healthcare equality, providing comprehensive care for the LGBTQ community, and working for housing justice for all. In Erica’s words: “I have been blessed to know my purpose in life is to make sure I do my best to love, understand, give back, help, and make a difference in anyone’s life that is in need. It costs nothing to love and to have compassion for all people.” Most importantly though, Erica wants everyone to know that she is a House Head for life!


Tanka Bradford

Tanka Bradford is a youth advocate who holds an abundance of knowledge and skill in navigating systems that impact young people experiencing poverty and homelessness. Tanka’s patience, wisdom, persistence, incredible organization skills, and sense of humor are among the many traits that make her a valued and reliable resource to young people, her colleagues, and her family and friends. Tanka wants to share with young people that she has experienced homelessness firsthand. She has been where you are. She has been afraid to ask for help but discovered that these people at these programs are great people and want to see you make it in any way possible. Tanka holds a high school diploma from Youth Connection Leadership Academy. She enjoys baking, arts and crafts and laughing, AND has a renowned nail polish collection.


Jerome Davis, Sr

Jerome “The Captain” Davis, Sr. serves as Chief Building Engineer for LYTE Collective. Mr. Davis proudly served for 13 years as an engineer in the United States Army. During his service, he earned several accolades, including the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, and Race Relations Certificate while stationed in Germany. After retiring from the military in 1985, Mr. Davis spent the majority of his career as a Total Maintenance Facility Engineer for Chicago Public Schools until his retirement in 2009. Since then, he has not slowed down a bit! Mr. Davis is the father of 8, grandfather of 10, and has called Greater Grand Crossing his home for over 15 years. He serves as a Union Steward for Service Employees International Union, teaches Sunday School at his church, and actively participates in neighborhood committees. Mr. Davis believes that information is the key to success, and he is excited to share all of his knowledge and pass along his skills and infinite wisdom to young people.


Casey Holtschneider, PhD, LCSW

Casey Holtschneider comes to the LYTE Collective with over 16 years of experience leading programs for youth in situations of poverty and housing crisis. She is the former director of an emergency shelter, transitional living program and aftercare program for unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness in Chicago and is currently an assistant professor of social work at Northeastern Illinois University. Through her research and work at LYTE, Casey spends her days focused on increasing, and improving, the support available for young people who have been excluded from the resources, opportunities, relationships and safety all youth deserve. Casey completed her MSW at the University of Michigan and PhD in Social Work at the University of Illinois, Jane Addams College of Social Work. She has a profound love for youth work, people courageously fighting for systemic change, bringing back lost but not forgotten 90s dance moves, and macaroni and cheese.



Andrea Kaltz

Andrea (aka “Dre”) Kaltz got her professional start in youth work as a high school art teacher on Chicago’s south side, and has since transitioned into a career in programming focused on young people experiencing homelessness.  She earned her BFA in Illustration from College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI, where she also earned her K-12 teaching certification.  With over 11 years of diverse experience effectively helping young people achieve their goals through direct service, advocacy, and community connections, she has been fortunate enough to be able to merge all of her passions into a career.  Andrea’s dynamic experiences in both work and life have reinforced her belief that finding passion and living in truth are the key to not only the success of our youth, but of each and every one of us.  Now if she could only figure out the key to nailing her arm balances in yoga class… Andrea enjoys traveling, family, the arts, her dog Birdie, and puns- particularly those that include “Dre.”



Megan Wickman, LCSW

Megan Wickman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has spent over 11 years working with youth in settings including schools, the foster care system, street and health outreach and housing programs, and served as director of the first drop-in and resource center for youth experiencing homelessness on Chicago’s south side. She believes that relationships and community are the foundation of collective impact and has a passion for developing programs defined by youth leadership, self-care, and developmentally and culturally affirming spaces. She holds a master’s of social work from Loyola University and a master’s of science in child development from Erikson Institute. Megan is immensely grateful to the young people she has met over the last decade for teaching her about strength, courage and living in truth… and for putting up with her mediocre cooking.



Carl Wiley, LSW

For nearly 11 years Carl Wiley has been working with individuals experiencing homelessness and street involved youth in the City of Chicago and rural Illinois. In addition to his direct service experience Carl has worked on larger social justice campaigns including the racial wealth gap and partnered with the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness to promote employment as a pathway out of homelessness. Carl holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, a master of social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a Licensed Social Worker in the state of Illinois. Carl actively works in music recording and live performance and is inspired by supportive services focusing on music based interventions. Carl has a background in sketch comedy and, trust us, is totally not as funny as he thinks he is.