Mike Holzer, Executive DirectorMikeHeadShot

Mike joined the New City YMCA LEED Council (now known at North Branch Works) in 1988 as an intern while finishing his Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He rallied support from industry and nearby residents to help create the city’s first Planned Manufacturing District (PMD), the Clybourn Corridor PMD in 1988 and then subsequently for the Elston Corridor, Goose Island and Chicago Halsted PMDs.

He worked on the development of the 30-acre Goose Island Industrial Park, involving himself in everything from environmental studies and site planning to property appraisal and recruitment of business users for the park.

He negotiated a ground-breaking hiring agreement between Fed Ex, a tenant in the Goose Island PMD, and the Cabrini-Green community, in which LEED Council trained and placed 100 community residents in jobs using Tax Increment Financing. He worked with Vienna Beef, residents of Lathrop Homes, the Logan Square Neighborhood Association and the Church of Good News on redevelopment of the former Cotter site located at Clybourn and Diversey, landing a Costco warehouse store as lead tenant. He helped negotiate a hiring agreement between Costco and Lathrop residents resulting in 65 jobs for community residents, utilizing Tax Increment Financing to pay for the training.

He worked with LSNA, then 1st Ward Alderman Manny Flores to address the plant closure of the Cooper Lamp factory, assisting in obtaining additional worker retraining resources and placing laid-off workers in jobs at neighboring firms and then on the redevelopment of the 274,000 sf bldg into the Green Exchange. He worked with developer David Baum to help obtain a HUD 108 loan, TIF support and helped obtain a federal grant to create a micro loan for tenants of the Green Exchange.

He is currently working on a brownfield redevelopment plan to create a modern advanced manufacturing industrial park for the former A. Finkl and Sons steel mill with partner, the Delta Institute, with a grant funded by the US EPA.


Krista Kahle Elam ,  Director of Sustainable Economic DevelopmentKrista

Krista lends her considerable community planning and development expertise to the North Branch Works. She worked as a consulting urban planner for over ten years, with projects all over the country, before entering the non-profit world. At North Branch Works, she oversees much of the business outreach; interacts with other organizations, public and elected officials to promote business growth and retention; and provides management and support of our local economic development efforts. Krista received her BA from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI and a Masters of Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati, OH. She is excited about the opportunity to work on implementing economic development plans and watching as these projects transform lives and the community.


Froi Nunez, Director of FinanceFroi

Froi provides assistance to the Executive Director in the financial management of the organization. In addition, he serves as our computer network administrator and tech support specialist. Previously, he held accounting positions with other non-profits and in the health care industry. He received his Associate Degree in Accounting from Daley College in May 2011.


Misty LeBlanc, SARFS Program Manager Misty LeBlanc's Bio picture

Misty joined North Branch Works as a computer skills trainee in January 2011. Upon successful completion of four Microsoft Office certification classes, she was hired on under a transitional jobs program to assist the Director of SARFS, which later developed into a permanent full time position. She has proved a vital part of the Workforce Development side of NBW. She currently works on Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors Program (SARFS) and the Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Program (BACP). Some of Misty’s administration responsibilities include marketing, intake, assessment and site visits to enroll seniors into the SARFS Program. She also plays a supportive role in field coordination, payroll and the vouchering processes of the program. Misty is an alumni of the LEEDers for Training group.


Lauren Hollasch, Business Outreach Coordinator screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-8-12-12-pm

Lauren started as Business Outreach Coordinator with North Branch Works in September 2016. As part of our LIRI (Local Industrial Retention Initiative) contract with the city’s Department of Planning & Development, Lauren reaches out to area companies about city resources, incentives, and opportunities. She works with the economic development unit to organize on-going community meetings, workshops, and events. She also composes the weekly e-news letter (The NB_Connector) and reaches out to NBW members. Lauren is originally from Buffalo, NY and moved to Chicago after graduating SUNY Geneseo in May 2015 with a degree in Mathematics and Business Administration. Lauren has held two internships with urban and economic development in NY and looks forward to learning more about Chicago!