Helping leaders cross
Meet Our Experienced Team
Leading Healthy Futures’ consultants provide an unmatched level of engagement and understanding of our clients’ needs and goals. Our professional backgrounds and considerable abilities in critical thinking and analysis lead to powerful questions and new perspectives from the moment a project begins. Get to know us and how we can help make an immediate positive impact.
Pamela Xichel Cairns, MHA
Pam is known for her ability to define and lead strategies that stand the test of time. She inspires others to reach new heights, and easily connects the big picture to the immediacy of daily operations. She is skilled at facilitation of groups who wish to develop creative, sustainable solutions to complex problems, and is genuinely committed to protecting and preserving community-based social service and health organizations.
Pam has a 35-year track record of success in executive leadership, grants management and fundraising, governance, and operations improvement. She served as President and CEO for Erie Family Health Center – one of Chicago’s largest Federally Qualified Health Centers – where she led growth and collaboration strategies that remain in place today. She has led the formation of multi-organizational collaborations and strategic alliances; mentored executives and managers to higher levels of professional capability; increased revenues; and expanded organizational impact.
Pam has made a lasting impact on the Chicago community through her involvement on numerous boards. She served as the Chair of the Performance Dashboard Task Force while on the Board for the Adler School of Professional Psychology as well as Board Chair of the Chicago Neighborhood Health Centers, the community-based organization that worked in collaboration with the Chicago Department of Public Health for its Federally Qualified Health Centers. Pam earned a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Psychology, Summa Cum Laude, and a Master of Health Administration from The Ohio State University.
Robin Berkson, MA
Robin joined LHF in 2017, bringing her extensive experience in grantmaking, social research, fundraising, and consulting for philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. Robin provides LHF clients with exemplary services in the full cycle of grants acquisition and management, strategic planning, community needs assessments, program evaluation, board development and all aspects of nonprofit management. Robin is also currently on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was a founding faculty member of the Certificate in Nonprofit Management.
Previously, Robin served as Senior Vice President at Donors Forum (now known as Forefront), the Illinois association of grantmakers, nonprofits and their advisors. At Donors Forum, she oversaw grantmaker and nonprofit training, fund development, and research. She also led the strategic expansion of a statewide network of nonprofit organizations based in central Illinois. Robin also previously served as director of United Way's Priority Grants and Needs Assessment Program in Chicago. There, she produced needs assessment reports and managed grantmaking in the areas of education, employment, poverty, family life, and reducing racial discrimination in education, employment, health, and housing.
Robin’s volunteer service has included Independent Sector’s Committee on Networks and Membership; Council on Foundations’ Committee on Family Foundations; and numerous committees related to grantmaker education of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. She served as the chair of the board of directors of Chicago Women in Philanthropy. Robin holds a Master of Arts in Philosophy and a Bachelor of Arts, with Honors, both from University of Illinois at Chicago.
Lauren Knap, MS
Since joining LHF in 2012, Lauren has coordinated complex projects and interfaced directly with organizational leadership to ensure the on-time and on-budget delivery of program planning, grant acquisition and strategic alliance projects. She specializes in data collection and analysis, be that grant prospecting for specific programs or broader organization goals, or analyzing health indicators and demographic trends to inform organizational decision making. Through her work, LHF has successfully changed the futures of dozens of nonprofit healthcare, human services, and education organizations.
Previously, Lauren taught 5th grade in a low-income, underserved school in Charlotte, North Carolina through Teach for America. While there, she served as the Chair of the School Leadership Committee. In her work with a national nonprofit dedicated to creating independence and self-sufficiency among the homeless, Lauren successfully netted more than $100,000 in revenue in the Baltimore and Philadelphia areas. Also in Philadelphia, she designed, coordinated, and trained instructors on an integrated science curriculum for an after school program at 53 public libraries across the city. In Chicago, Lauren enhanced the science education for hundreds of students in the city and neighboring suburbs with In Search of Genius where she served as Program Manager and Lead Teacher.
Lauren graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Philosophy from Illinois Wesleyan University. She completed her Master’s in Nonprofit and Non-Governmental Organization Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
Emily Mudarth, Esq.
Emily first worked for LHF in 2012. After practicing law for three years, she returned to the consultancy, bringing her strong writing, critical reading, and strategic planning skills. Emily spends much of her time writing grant proposals. Her training as a lawyer makes her an ideal grant writer, as she writes clearly, concisely, and persuasively. She works diligently through a strategic plan with each client to ensure success in the new phase of the client’s organization. Emily has strong skills in developing detailed client budgets. She also reviews agency procedures and policies to ensure they are in compliance with local, state, and federal guidelines, including those outlined by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA).
Emily has a strong interest in and commitment to non-profits and public health. While in high school, she was the first youth member of the Oak Park Board of Health. During law school, she volunteered as a Law Clerk at Life Span: Center for Legal Services and Advocacy, a non-profit providing legal services to domestic violence victims free of charge in Cook County, Illinois. After graduating from law school, Emily worked at Life Span for a year and a half as a Staff Attorney.
Emily received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from The Ohio State University. She earned her Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law and is admitted to the Bar in Illinois and Northern District of Illinois. She is fluent in Spanish.
Rachel Sacks, MPH
Rachel joined LHF in 2015 with a strong background in program planning, evaluation, and grant writing. She helps clients to conceptualize, define, and actualize new program ideas for grant opportunities and partnerships. Rachel is adept at translating complex scientific, medical, and policy information into easily understandable language for lay audiences. She is also a skilled facilitator and has presented at national conferences, including the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting and the Zero To Three National Training Institute.
Rachel’s work with organizations and stakeholders across the healthcare field has provided her with a broad perspective on the challenges and opportunities the sector faces. Previously, she worked at the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, where she led a multiyear effort to incorporate the national health promotion initiative Bright Futures into Illinois Medicaid and CHIP policy, culminating in the release of the revised Handbook for Providers of Healthy Kids Services. Prior to ICAAP, Rachel worked with the Chicago Department of Public Health, leading a committee of partner organizations in conducting part of the City’s community needs assessment. She also spent three years at the Center for Jewish Genetics working on community education around genetics, family health history, and reproductive health.
Rachel graduated Cum Laude from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Science in Human Culture, and holds a Master of Public Health from University of Illinois at Chicago.