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Connect Home Visiting Chicago: Meet Our Team


Vanessa Avila, M.Ed., Parent Educator

Vanessa serves as Connect Home Visiting Chicago's Parent Educator. Throughout her career in home visiting, Vanessa has worked in different communities within the city of Chicago and has served families of many different backgrounds. These experiences have allowed Vanessa to be sensitive to the needs of others. With a background in early childhood education, Vanessa believes that advocacy and early education services are key to improving the quality of life of pregnant people, children, and families. Seeing children smile is what motivates Vanessa to continue to do the work that we do.


Elizabeth Gonzalez, MPH, Program Coordinator

Elizabeth serves as the Program Coordinator of Connect Home Visiting Chicago, managing communication with participants as the first point of contact with the program. Her background is in community health education, and her career has focused on public health and social services for children – from early childhood to adolescence. As a mother of twins herself, Elizabeth is an advocate for equitable maternal and child health.


Katelyn Kanwischer, MS, Director

Katelyn leads Connect Home Visiting Chicago while serving as the Director of Maternal and Child Health Initiatives for the Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities. She also serves as the Program Director of Early Childhood Initiatives for the Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership (ICMHP) and the West Side Healthy Parents & Babies Program. She has a background in developmental psychology and has spent her career focusing on the health of families through policy, advocacy and community programming. 


Clarissa Simon, PhD, MPH, Evaluation Consultant

Clarissa is a health scientist with an educational background in epidemiology, child development, social physiology, neuropsychology, and social policy. Her research interests include family health and contexts, parental stress, and biological correlates of parenting behaviors during the transition to parenthood. In addition to fulfilling research roles at Connect Home Visiting, West Side Health Parents and Babies, and Lurie Children's Family Child Health Innovations Program (FCHIP), she is a devoted mother to three children, ranging in age from toddler to teen.