Meet the Team
Our people are what make CME great. Our members, mentors, and volunteers share our passion for social and academic needs of our youth through Experience, Mentoring, and Exposure, and we couldn't do what we do without them!
Check out what our mentees have to say about CME and their experience by clicking the button below.
Bernard Lilly, Sr.
Founder & Board President
Write a bio for each team member. Make it short and informative to keep your visitors engaged.
Yolanda A. Wells is a “start-up member” of the CME family. She has served as a mentor, parent of a mentee, and a member of our board of directors since our inception. Currently she serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for College Mentoring Experience. She is a born and raised resident of the Austin community and a product of the Chicago Public School System. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Social and Criminal Justice from Central Michigan University.
Ms. Wells serves on her townhome board as secretary with 4 years of service to her fellow owners. She enjoys a career with a large insurance defense firm in Chicago, as a seasoned HR professional with 20+ year’s work experience. An active and long-term member of her church, she serves as the Director of the Missionary Ministry and a bible study teacher.
Ms. Wells adores her CME family and believes whole heartedly in our mission statement of making a difference in the life of a student one family at a time. It is her heart felt desire to be of service to family, friends, neighbors, and her community at large.
Erika Orr is an Illinois, Cook County Circuit Court Judge where she presides over a Domestic Relations calendar in the Markham, Illinois courthouse. Prior to coming onto the bench, Erika was a solo practitioner of the Orr Law Group, Ltd. in Chicago, where she specialized in domestic relations law. She has worked extensively in litigation matters involving allocation of parental responsibilities involving decision making, parenting time, child support, and adoption, as well as evictions. In addition, her practice included contracts related to surrogacy, real estate sales transactions, franchise agreements and entertainment agency agreements. Prior to establishing the Orr Law Group, Ltd., Erika practiced international tax law where she specialized in international acquisitions and dispositions, accounting for income taxes of publicly-traded and private equity portfolio companies, including dealing with complex income tax matters such as undistributed earnings of subsidiaries. She also has significant experience with international, federal, state and local tax preparation and planning, accounting and more in-depth services such as single audits and program-specific audits and financial statements.
Erika has written and lectured on legal topics relating to income taxation, corporate formations and domestic relations law. Erika volunteers regularly and is on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Mentoring Exchange in addition to participating in local mentoring activities such as conducting “Posse” interviews for graduating seniors in underrepresented communities seeking financial scholarships through the Posse Foundation.
Erika earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois-College of Law. She received her Master of Business Administration in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. In addition, Erika graduated with a B.A. in English Literature and Language with an emphasis in Spanish from the University of Chicago in 1995. Erika Orr was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1998.
Patrice Morris, Chicago Native, born and raised in the heart of the westside of our beautiful city. I am the proud mother of two incredible daughters and an educator of many. A graduate of John Marshall High School, I set my sights on higher education, securing a Bachelor's of Science in Electronic Engineering Technology while minoring in Aeronautics. After working as a computer technician for 5 years, I found myself yearning for something more fulfilling; desiring to do more by way of education. Knowing first hand the challenges faced by inner city students, I wanted to be the bridge that minimized the gap in educational growth and skill development. This prompted my return to school, proving its never too late to change careers. Focused on the goal, I pursued a Masters in Elementary Education and a Teaching Certification from Chicago State University. I didn't stop there. I also obtained a Masters in Administration Leadership, not wanting to limit myself to helping solely by way of the classroom. After 15 year of teaching, the motivation and drive continued to push me forward. As STEM made its presence , so did the need for knowledge in the field. Inspired yet again to ensure our children were versed on the subject, I returned to my roots in engineering and earned a degree in STEM Leadership from American College of Education. I am currently serving as a Science Support Specialist and celebrating 20 years of educational instruction. I am also honored to serve as a Board Member of an organization as esteemed as College Mentoring Experience. CME affords me the opportunity to continue to aid and encourage students to strive for excellence in academics and pursue secondary education. My unyielding passion for education and the learning of others continues to lead my charge in exposing students to the limitless possibilities that education can provide.
Sacella Smith has more than 20 years of nonprofit, and public sector leadership experience. For nine years she served as the Executive Director of the Youth Job Center of Evanston, (YJC) a thirty-eight year old nonprofit organization that provides job placement, training and employment support to approximately 1,500 youth each year. Under her leadership and direction, the YJC launched multiple employment and training initiatives, created regional partnerships and increased its annual operating budget from $485K to $1.5 Million.
In 2014, Sacella was hired by the President of Triton Community College to restructure and expand the institution’s advancement office. During her tenure at Triton, she centralized grant operations, formalized and streamlined college grant processes while also increasing the institution’s grants portfolio from $2.7 Million to over $6.5 Million. Additionally, she is the Founder & CEO of Synergistic Strategy & Development, LLC (SSD). SSD is a small boutique consulting firm that offers a wide range of services that include: strategic planning, fundraising, leadership coaching, board development, program design and evaluation.
Often referred to as a “visionary and change maker,” Sacella is committed to social justice and empowering youth from under-resourced communities to reach their full potential. She is a highly effective business leader, skilled in change management, strategy development, fundraising, social justice, board engagement, legislative affairs and operations planning. Sacella’ s prior experience includes positions with Bethel New Life, Inc., Uptown Habitat for Humanity, Safer Foundation and Crossroads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training. She has been recognized as a nonprofit “trailblazer” and was awarded the “Woman to Woman Making a Difference in Illinois” by the Illinois State Treasurer’s office. She has also received the Family Focus, Inc. Community Leader Award, and the NAACP Evanston/North Shore Community Impact Award.
She is a proud military veteran and an active member of the NAACP (Chicago Westside Branch), Chicago African-Americans in Philanthropy, Chicago Women in Philanthropy, and the League of Women Voters (IL). Moreover, Sacella serves on the boards of the College Mentoring Experience (CME) and Unity Parenting & Counseling, Inc. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago where she majored in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration and Management.
Shacarra Westbrooks has over ten years in marketing and sales experience. Before joining UnitedHealth Group, she led marketing initiatives, campaign launches, strategy planning, content writing, and data analytic reporting for all lines of service at PwC. She was responsible and successful in managing and reducing multimillion dollar budgets and nonprofit/ sponsorship requests for the Midwest region. Shacarra spent two years in Europe and Asia leading events and marketing campaigns at Reuters News while pursuing her master’s degree.
She is passionate about real estate and is currently a licensed real estate broker in Illinois in which she focuses on properties in the south, west, and north sides of Chicago. Her real estate investments have been featured in mainstream media outlets in the news.
Shacarra enjoys working with children and is on the board of directors for College Mentor- ing Experience. CME is a nonprofit organization that is focused on fostering relationships and education for children in low-income families around the Chicagoland area.
She has her Master’s in International Business Marketing from St. Mary’s University in London and her Bachelor's in Marketing. She currently resides in Chicago her family.
Dr. Rodrick Terry
Rodrick Terry is an educator, leader and innovator with over 20 years of progressively qualifying experience. Dr. Terry has served in various leaderships roles with executive level responsibilities within non-profit organizations, higher education and the private sector. His dossier illustrates a progressive leadership style focused on advocacy, assessment, continuous improvement and a results-driven approach to facilitating organizational success. Dr. Terry has earned a reputation as a high-performance team builder who embraces collaboration, transparency, inclusion, diversity and a commitment to data-informed decision making. Dr. Terry’s professional contributions have directly focused on the intersection of education, training and advocacy to create equitable outcomes for underserved communities. His list of skills includes strategic planning, fiscal oversight, developing fundraising strategies, grant writing, enhancing community relations, securing partnerships, establishing board governance structures, facilitating professional development and training.
Dr. Terry is an active member of the business community. Terry has successfully engaged community stakeholders by securing external funding and helping with resource development to support diverse members of the community. Also, Dr. Terry has been successful at facilitating collaboration between colleges and employers to create pathways to high demand, high paying careers for students. Additionally, Dr. Terry has leveraged corporate partnerships to support diversity hiring initiatives that provided minority students with paid internships that created a pipeline of diverse and skilled employees for many Fortune 500 companies. He has served on the board of directors with various business councils, chambers of commerce, non-profits and civic organizations. Recently, Dr. Terry was recognized with the “Rising Star” Service Award for exceptional leadership in directing initiatives to support small business growth and economic development within the community.
Terry received his PhD & M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from Auburn University (AL); a MA degree in Leadership from Shorter University (GA); and a BA degree in History from Kent State University (OH). Recently, he was selected for inclusion on the list of Who's Who in North American Education. Terry is a graduate of the Emerging Leaders Institute, the Walter Bumphus Leadership Institute and the League of Innovation for Community Colleges Executive Leadership Institute. Dr. Terry is married with two children.
“Make It Happen is the mental blueprint that I follow in my daily walk in life.” In Darion’s current role as Program Manager for College Mentoring Experience he focuses on the day-to-day organizational operations, community liaison, program development and driving the organization’s efforts to make an impact in the lives of the young people in the Chicagoland area. He has held board positions focused on diversity and inclusion (African American Associate Resource Group National Board and Midwest Chapter President), over 20yrs of leadership experience within a fortune 500 company in the capacity of product implementation and technical support. Darion was born and raised in Chicago, grew up in the Austin and Lawndale area, He has been married for 20yrs and has two childrenDarion studied Graphic Arts at Triton College prior to starting his professional career in 1995.
College Mentoring Experience is mentoring organization whose purpose is to give every at-risk or underserved minority student an opportunity to have a college education and to be prepared for college by their senior year of high school. We are a Chicago non-profit organization that provides resources to help youth enter into college and graduate via college tours, scholarships, tutoring and mentorship; we prepare students with academic and soft skills needed to succeed in the 21st century academic and workplace environments. It is our belief that when students are supported; families and communities are impacted. We currently provide mentoring in the following capacities:
School based group mentoring
o We host virtual and in-person mentoring sessions in Chicagoland area Schools. Our trained staff mentors a group of students that school administration identifies that will benefit from mentoring.
We match a youth with a mentor that supports the student 6th – 12th grade and onto College