Dr. Kara Allen Soldati Named Chief Executive Officer


Dear Friends,  

The Umoja Board of Directors is pleased to announce that we have hired Dr. Kara Allen Soldati, an experienced leader with a history of working with children, families, and communities to become Umoja's next CEO.

Dr. Kara Allen Soldati comes to Umoja after serving as the President & CEO of United Friends of the Children, where she has been leading a team of 61 staff to support young people in foster care and alumni of care on their journey to self-sufficiency. She has more than 10 years of executive management and strategic development experience in addition to her time as a teacher and social worker.

Prior to her current role, Kara served as Executive Director of CoachArt, where she now serves on the Board of Directors and as a member of the Executive Committee. Kara was also the Chief Operating Officer of a large out-of-school time provider in Southern California, served as a Graduate School Fellow with Education Pioneers before joining the Education Pioneers team in Los Angeles and was the Founding Program Director of C5 New England. Kara now serves on the Board of Directors of Black & Brown Futures, an organization utilizing technology as a public servant to equity and is an alum of the Pahara NextGen Fellowship.

Kara completed her Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice at Loyola Marymount University. Prior to LMU, Kara graduated with her Masters of Social Work at the University of Southern California, completed coursework for her Masters of Education, and obtained her Bachelor's degree from Purdue University.   

We believe Kara is a great leader to work with our exceptional Umoja staff. Kara’s professional journey and academic background have been focused on ensuring access to equitable educational opportunities while centering education as a top social justice issue of our time.

She has a proven track record of developing and executing strategic plans and building teams and organizations. Most importantly, Kara shares Umoja’s commitment to equitable educational opportunities for all students, regardless of who they are or where they live. She will continue Umoja’s mission-driven focus on students, including building capacity with adults in schools through coaching and training as we recognize their critical role in impacting school culture and students.

Like Umoja, Kara believes in young people and education equity, stating “It is an immense honor to step into this city as a learner and a leader of Umoja. I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to harness the organization's unwavering commitment to educational equity for all as we plan for and deliver on our next chapter of justice and impact together."

The Board is grateful that Ilana Walden, Umoja's Chief Operating Officer, has served and will continue to serve in the Acting CEO role until Kara joins us on May 1st. Once Kara begins, Ilana will utilize her deep expertise of Umoja and Chicago to be a key partner with Kara to ensure a smooth transition. 

We are excited about Kara returning to her roots in the Midwest and joining Umoja. On behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you for your ongoing support of Umoja!

In partnership,


John Heiberger

President - Umoja Board of Directors