About Us

Our Team

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Rukiya Curvey Johnson

Rukiya Curvey-Johnson serves as Director of the Rush Education and Career Hub (REACH).  In addition to leading Rush’s community-based education and career outreach, Curvey-Johnson collaborates with internal and external stakeholders to reduce inequities caused by social, economic, and structural determinants of health.

Previously, Curvey-Johnson served as Executive Director of STEM & Strategic Initiatives at Chicago Public Schools.  She led the development and execution of the district’s K-12 STEM strategy and the design of the CPS STEM Standards for Success, benchmarks to define and measure STEM-focused schools.   As a champion and architect of a strategy to increase awareness, readiness, and success for under-represented students in STEM-related fields, she led the district’s Early College STEM High Schools to its first graduates with associate’s degrees in IT.

In prior positions, Curvey-Johnson managed large-scale federal school improvement grants to address the unique needs of students in under-performing schools and led a nonprofit social enterprise focused on promoting the arts from the African diaspora and improving literacy.  With a commitment and passion for providing equitable access to high-quality education and career opportunities, Curvey-Johnson believes in the power of collective action to make a difference for our youth and the communities we serve. She is a member of the West Side United Education Steering Committee and several advisory groups for Chicago Public Schools.

Curvey-Johnson earned her MBA from the University of Michigan-Ross School of Business and her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia.

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Natalia Gallegos

Program Manager, Strategic Initiatives

natalia_a_gallegos@rush.edu

Natalia Gallegos serves as Program Manager of Strategic Initiatives for the Rush Education and Career Hub (REACH). She also serves as a community engagement liaison as well as oversees research and evaluation of the REACH programs.

Prior to joining Rush last year, Natalia was the Manager of Community Engagement at Loyola MacNeal Hospital. Where she was responsible for leading and coordinating all hospital public relations, community-wellness and education initiatives. She was also responsible for managing and coordinating over 150 hospital volunteers of diverse ages and ethnicities in the operation of community, hospital, and support activities.

Natalia earned a Master of Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago-School of Public Health and a Bachelor in Healthcare Management from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She is a member of Rush’s Immigrant Health Working Group and Disability Employee Resource Group. As well as a board member of UIC’s School of Public Health Alumni Board.

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Alli Weidman

Program Coordinator

allison_weidman@rush.edu

Alli began working at Rush University Medical Center in December 2018 as the Program Coordinator for REACH. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in August 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and a Global Health Certificate. She is passionate about community health and engaging communities to improve the sociocultural factors that contribute to health and well-being.

Having grown up in the Chicago area, she is very excited to start her career with REACH and working with the West Side communities. She looks forward to providing students with the opportunities and experiences necessary to have successful career in STEM and healthcare by supporting day-to-day REACH operations.

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Olayinka Mohorn-Mintah

Community Education Associate

olayinka_mohorn-mintah@rush.edu

Olayinka coordinates the STEM programming for middle-school and high-school aged youth that is sponsored by Rush. Prior to joining Rush, Olayinka served Chicago Public Schools in several capacities during her tenure- high school science teacher, science department chair, science and math curriculum specialist and instructional coach. Olayinka holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a Master of Science in Education in Science and Environmental Education from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from American College of Education. Currently, Olayinka is a PhD candidate in Curriculum Studies/Science Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

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Kimberly Bailey

Community Education Associate

kimberly_d_bailey@rush.edu

Kimberly is a lifelong resident of Chicago and attended elementary and high school in the Chicago Public School system. She decided to pursue a career in education and working with families, so she earned her Bachelor of Science in Human Resources and Family Resources from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While teaching for the Chicago Public School system, she attended Loyola University / Erikson Institute and earned her Master’s Degree in Education. After nearly 20 years of passionate service educating Chicago students, Kimberly is now a part of the Rush Education and Career Hub. She hopes to continue to educate, inspire, and transform lives in the spirit of the Rush Mission and Values.

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Nia K. Benton

Program Development Associate

nia_k_benton@rush.edu

Nia is the program coordinator and site supervisor for the REACH MedSTEM Pathways and College Career Pathways programs. Nia began her experience at Rush as a high school student and is an alumna of the SAME Network program, Rush’s original education outreach program. She began her career in youth education and career development during her junior year of college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received her Bachelor's of Science in Sociology.

Since the discovery of her skill and passion in youth work, she has instructed countless students in Professionalism and Improved Communication in the Workforce courses and mentored several students in college and career readiness.

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KanDace Curtiss

Community Education Associate

kandace_curtiss@rush.edu

KanDace Curtiss is the primary program instructor for the Vitals for STEM Success Program (formerly CPEP), and for our Future Ready Learning Lab.  Since a young age, KanDace has always had a passion for healthcare and science. She brings with her a wealth of experiences in science and health careers exploration as she holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in chemistry and a Master’s Degree in Health Education and Public Health from Chicago State University. Prior to joining Rush, she taught at the University of Chicago Charter School Network and worked as a chemist and in healthcare for several years. Many life experiences have motivated her to help different communities throughout Chicago in the field of science and healthcare, which she will continue to do at Rush.

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Ellen Vigil

Community Education Associate

ellen_vigil@rush.edu

Ellen Vigil has been affiliated with Rush University Medical Center since 1982. Her career began at Laurance Armour Day School, where she worked as a Teacher, School Age Services Coordinator, Assistant Director for Program Operations, and Educational Consultant. While raising her children, she was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Early Childhood Education, an Accreditation Facilitator at Oakton Community College, and she worked for the Office of Catholic Schools at the Archdiocese of Chicago. In 2006, Ellen returned to Rush as a Community Education Associate in the Department of Community Affairs.  She continues to support the work in the community through the Rush Education and Career Hub (REACH).   

Ellen earned her Bachelor of the Arts in Early Childhood Education from the National College of Education and her Master of Education in Advanced Studies and Child Development from Erikson Institute. She is grateful for her journey and is honored to be a representative of Rush University Medical Center.

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Our Legacy

Reginald "Hats" Adams
1940-2015

In 1990, Reginald “Hats” Adams, who led Rush’s Department of Community Affairs, developed the Science and Math Excellence (SAME) Network in response to the low science, math and reading test scores in public schools surrounding Rush on the West and Southwest Sides of Chicago.

In 2017, SAME transitioned and transformed into the Rush Education and Career Hub (REACH) as part of Rush’s broader strategy to be a catalyst for community health and economic vitality.  The newly created REACH would serve as the strategic lead for PreK-16 education and career outreach across the Rush University Medical Center System.

Our Legacy

Reginald "Hats" Adams
1940-2015

In 1990, Reginald “Hats” Adams, who led Rush’s Department of Community Affairs, developed the Science and Math Excellence (SAME) Network in response to the low science, math and reading test scores in public schools surrounding Rush on the West and Southwest Sides of Chicago.

In 2017, SAME transitioned and transformed into the Rush Education and Career Hub (REACH) as part of Rush’s broader strategy to be a catalyst for community health and economic vitality.  The newly created REACH would serve as the strategic lead for PreK-16 education and career outreach across the Rush University Medical Center System.

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Our Mission

The mission of REACH is to support education from cradle to career by providing innovative, hands-on STEM learning to underrepresented youth so they can reach their academic and professional potential; increasing postsecondary education and interest in health care and STEM careers.

Our Vision

We are developing a diverse talent pipeline for the healthcare workforce of the future.

Our Mission

The mission of REACH is to support education from cradle to career by providing innovative, hands-on STEM learning to underrepresented youth so they can reach their academic and professional potential; increasing postsecondary education and interest in health care and STEM careers.

Our Vision

We are developing a diverse talent pipeline for the healthcare workforce of the future.

Our Approach

We connect with students, parents, educators, and staff to spark and catalyze STEM learning in and outside the classroom; to design solutions and address challenges in their communities and beyond; improving overall community health. Through academic enrichment, mentoring, and internships; We are building a best-in class pipeline for STEM and healthcare fields.

Our Approach

We connect with students, parents, educators, and staff to spark and catalyze STEM learning in and outside the classroom; to design solutions and address challenges in their communities and beyond; improving overall community health. Through academic enrichment, mentoring, and internships; We are building a best-in class pipeline for STEM and healthcare fields.

School Partners & Supporters

Rush University Medical Center partners with elementary and high schools on Chicago's West Side to provide enrichment, community engagement, and career exploration opportunities for youth.  Whether collaborating with Pre-K teachers on lessons to explore the five senses, bringing nutritionists in for healthy eating and nutrition lessons, or hosting career panels for high school students; we connect with students, parents, educators, and staff to spark and catalyze STEM learning in and outside the classroom.

Current School Partners

Helen M. Hefferan STEM Elementary School

Robert Nathaniel Dett Elementary School

Washington Irving Elementary School

Genevieve Melody STEM Elementary School

Josiah Pickard Elementary School

Michele Clark Magnet High School (Early College STEM)

Instituto Health Sciences Academy

Benito Juarez Community Academy

Richard T. Crane Medical Prep High School (Early College STEM)

We also serve as a community resource for West Side area schools.

Schools interested in learning more about the healthcare field or field trips to Rush, please submit an inquiry form.

Communities We Serve

Austin

Belmont Craigin

East Garfield Park

Humboldt Park

Lower West Side

Near West Side

North Lawndale

South Lawndale

West Garfield Park

West Town

Program Partners

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