Executive Director - Robert Montgomery

Robert is a seasoned and versatile nonprofit leader. He grew up in the Chicagoland area and is excited to move back after living in Wisconsin, Indiana, and southern Illinois for the past several years.

Prior to joining UMMA, Robert was CEO of Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service, a well-respected nonprofit in Peoria, IL. Peoria Friendship House offers many of the same services as UMMA and during his tenure as CEO, Robert became a respected leader in the community and an important voice for Peoria’s under-served community.

Robert has nearly 20 years of nonprofit leadership and development experience for organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs and United Way. He started his fundraising career as a minister for the Chicago Church of Christ where he learned the importance of building and maintaining relationships. From there he used his public speaking and training skills to raise millions of dollars for various charities.

Robert earned his Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his Master of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Director of Operations and Programs - Tameeca Russell

Tameeca N. Russell comes with many years of experience developing and implementing educational programs that allow students to achieve academic excellence. Her passion is helping students identify their individual strengths and providing a menu of opportunities that will enable them succeed in life. Tameeca holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Arts Degree in Business Management from Webster University. Her previous job experiences include program development, staff supervision, grant management, student advising and community collaboration. In addition, she has experience building healthy relationships and coordinating programs as well as workshops that enhance students overall cultural experience, identity development while transitioning students to higher education. Mrs. Russell has participated in many community venture including serving as a Youth Director at her church. She’s very proud to receive the Most Influential African American in Lake County – Community Civic Leader.

Program Manager - Jennifer Castellanos

Jennifer Castellanos joined UMMA in 2018, and has worked in marketing, accounting and logistics management since 2009. A graduate of the Waukegan Public School system. She is passionate about transforming lives through education and empowering the local community. She manages and maintains our social media pages and website and she also evaluates design, development and coordination of projects. Jennifer currently resides in Zion, Illinois and has 3 beautiful children. During her free time she loves to travel and spend time with them.

Administrative Assistant - Vanessa Lara

Vanessa Lara is our newest team member here at UMMA. She graduated from Waukegan High School and has always been an active member in the community. She is currently attending National Louis University majoring in Criminal Justice and minoring in Psychology. She is very passionate to reduce poverty, not only in her community but all around the world. Here at UMMA she updates flyers for upcoming classes and events, develops and helps coordinate projects. Vanessa currently resides in Waukegan. On her off time she loves to spend time with her family.

GED Instructor - Candace Blanton

Ms. Blanton has been teaching GED at UMMA since 2016, and is a tenured public school educator with 18 years’ experience. Ms. Blanton’s educational background includes a Bachelors of Science in secondary education from Eastern Illinois University. In 2004, she earned her M.A in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago Illinois and in 2014 she completed her MBA w/certificate in Organizational Leadership from North Park University.

GED Instructor - Beauty Kirk

Beauty Kirk has been in Higher Education for 14 years as a Director of Admissions and a GED/Math teacher. She also substitute teaches in the local community. She has an Associate degree in Paralegal Studies from Harper College,  Bachelor's in Business with a sales & marketing concentration from DeVry University, and two Masters degrees, one in Public Administration (non-profit concentration) and another in Information Systems Management and has earned two graduate certificates, one in Wireless Communication and the other in Information Security all from Keller Graduate School.of Mgmt. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Education from North Central University with a graduation date of February 2021.

She has enrolled over 103 students that have graduated with their Associates, Bachelors or Masters degree; and went on to promising careers. Four incarcerated inmates have received their GED under her teaching.

She has a passion for assisting under-served communities in reaching their educational goals. 

She is a widow and has the privilege of rearing a toddler relative

Computer Training Instructor - Michael Russell

Michael Russell is UMMA’s Computer Instructor. Mr. Russell has over 20 years working for 2 fortune 500 corporations. Michael is currently employed by the Kenosha Unified School District as an Information Technology Specialist. He matriculated through Waukegan Public School and received his secondary education from Devry and Almeda Universities. Michael completed the Salesforce Instructor Training and has obtained various certifications from both Microsoft and A+ Training.

Mahmood Mohiuddin - Grant Writer

Mahmood Mohiuddin joined UMMA in June 2019. He is a licensed professional engineer with MS(IIT) and MBA (Roosevelt University). He retired from the Healthcare industry, working in different capacities, with core competencies in Technical Innovation, R & D, Regulatory Affairs and Manufacturing. He always wanted to pursue his deep passion for social service and charitable work.  He believes gratitude and generosity go hand in hand. Mahmood is looking forward to writing grant proposals for UMMA that can bring a change in the lives of our neighbors.

Maintenance - Rebecca Gomez

Rebecca Gomez is a Mexican American citizen, born and raised in Puebla, Mexico. At the age of  20, Rebecca along with her husband and child, migrated to the United States in hopes of a better  life. She reunited with her family in Waukegan, Illinois, and for several years worked numerous  temporary jobs. Rebecca works for the UMMA Center part time currently living in Waukegan  with her husband and 4 children.

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Robert Montgomery

Executive Director

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Tameeca Russell

Director of Operations and Programs

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Vanessa Lara

Administrative Assistant

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Program Manager

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Beauty Kirk

GED Instructor


Candace Blaton

GED Instructor

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Michael Russell

Computer Training Instructor

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Giovazkie Perez Cruz

Outreach Coordinator

Giovazkie Perez Cruz is Puerto Rican born and Waukegan raised. His passion is in being creative and helping people in a inclusive way. He holds experience in Health Promotion and producing media. 

Rebecca Gomez


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Product Manager

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