Peggy Parfenoff, President
Peggy has been leading WorldChicago since 2001, meeting emerging leaders – young and old – from all over the world and sharing our amazing city of Chicago with them. Citizen Diplomacy has become a way of life for our team, as we welcome over 800 international visitors to Chicago each year. Peggy is a board member for Global Ties U.S., the national network promoting Citizen Diplomacy nationwide. Before joining WorldChicago, Peggy worked at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs as Director of Development. While at the Department of Cultural Affairs, she earned her M.B.A. from J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. International travel is her passion, meeting our visitors back home in their countries within Europe, Eurasia, South America, Russia, Cuba, and China!
Maria Krasinski, Vice President
Maria joined the WorldChicago team in 2012. In her current role she oversees WorldChicago’s portfolio of U.S. Department of State citizen diplomacy exchange programs for emerging leaders and youth from around the world. Her prior experience spans nonprofit fundraising, museum education, digital youth media, and arts policy. A native of Buffalo, New York, her cross-cultural curiosity was piqued as an exchange student in France and expanded while working at a museum focused on the ancient Near East. Since then she has continued to pursue her passions for public diplomacy, global education, civic engagement, and creative storytelling across all seven continents, including as a fellow in the U.S. Department of State Young Turkey Young America program. Maria holds an M.A. in International Relations and an M.A. in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, where she also earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Visual Art.
Donna Sadlicki, Director of Operations & IT
Donna has been with WorldChicago since 1998. In addition to bookkeeping and technology Donna is also program coordinator for Community Connections and Open World Leadership programs. Before coming to WorldChicago, Donna was the Artistic Director of The Opera Factory in Chicago. Her passion for WorldChicago’s mission of citizen diplomacy has led her to travel extensively to international destinations such as Jordan, Israel, Georgia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Turkey to name a few. As a classically-trained singer she performed for the International Committee for Artists for Peace for honoree Carlos Santana. Donna majored in Music Performance at Eastern Illinois University.
Brian joined the WorldChicago in 2016 where he develops U.S. Department of State youth and professional exchange programming. In this role, Brian works closely with volunteers, hosts and students to ensure visitors experience the best of Chicago. Prior to joining the WorldChicago team, Brian taught English in Hokkaido, Japan, advised international students on the admission process at Brandeis University and most recently, interned for the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, one of WorldChicago’s flagship programs. In a volunteer role, Brian also served as the President of the New England JET Alumni Association (NEJETAA) where he oversaw the Boston Chapter of a 65,000 alumni network. Brian developed his passion for intercultural exchange while living in an international dorm while studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. He believes that public diplomacy is a powerful tool for fostering mutual understanding and cooperation across communities and cultures. He has a M.A. in Public Administration and M.A. in International Education Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey and a B.A. in English from Wheaton College (Massachusetts).
Sarah Zhao, Program Coordinator
Sarah recently joined WorldChicago through a one-year University of Chicago Public Interest Program fellowship. She majored in International Studies and East Asian Studies while in college.