About Us

We first launched in 2021 with the goal of elevating the voices of Chicago’s youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to help them see themselves as the incredibly special generation of kids that they are – kids who were able to meet the changes and challenges of the time and emerge stronger. 

In partnership with 40 organizations, including Chicago Public Library, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Lurie Center for Childhood Resilience, MyChi MyFuture, and Multiple, we helped kids from all corners of the city contribute their stories to a citywide time capsule.

We are now thrilled to be working with kids and leaders from across the country to grow Once Upon Our Time Capsule from a pandemic response project to an organization that provides a platform for kids to document, share, and amplify their stories. 

Our Team

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Zeeshan Ali
Program Designer and Educator
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Mariana Gallegos
Teaching Artist
Photograph of CoFounder Stacey Gillett
Stacey Gillett
Board of Directors
Photograph of Co-Founder Stephanie Hodges
Stephanie Hodges
Board of Directors
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Cayla Jones
Teaching Artist
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Lizzy May
Lead Curriculum Designer
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Sarah Kinn
Teaching Artist

Our Board of Advisors

*Asterisks denote Board of Directors Membership

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Steve Au
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Daphne Birdsey
Chief Advancement Officer
Clark Art Institute
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Aditi Chokshi*
Community Mental Health Practitioner
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Cecily McLeod Elgart
Attorney and Historian
Georgia State University
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Laura Ensler
Consultant in early childhood education
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Amy Gale*
Sr Program Officer, Education
Kauffman Foundation
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Gabriel Gillett
Jenner and Block
Christina Hachikian
Clinical Associate Professor
University of Chicago
Booth School of Business
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Jennifer Hodges*
VP of Whole Child Fund and Community Impact
KIPP Chicago
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Carmen Holley, LCSW
Mental Health consultant
Lurie Children's Hospital
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Anne Marie Hoxie, Ph.D.
Head of Education Research
Teachers Pay Teachers
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Sarah Miyazawa LaFleur*
Founder and CEO
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Robecta Ma
Global Marketing Communications
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Rachael Mizuno*
Swanzuno Strategies
Michael A. Nutter
Former Mayor of Philadelphia
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Michael Preston, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop
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Toni Sargeant
Head of Product
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Rhonda Swails*
Financial Planning and Analysis Manager
Kauffmann Foundation
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Karen Walls
Beethoven Elementary
Chicago Public Schools


Our partners at Green Vision Media lead our design and web development. Jenner and Block is providing us pro bono legal counsel. We are grateful to our partners at Scribble for printing books with kids’ time capsule submissions for our partner classrooms to enjoy. 

We are grateful to Chicago Children’s Theatre for all of their support incubating the organization in 2021 and to the creative agency Multiple for generously developing our brand.