OUR STAFF & HISTORY
MEET OUR STAFF
Erick Correa is a Chicago native, and Gordon Technical High School alumni. He attended Southern Illinois University for college and is a certified personal trainer. He is a professional mixed martial artist and he likes to exercise. He and his family live in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood. Erick enjoys watching Cubs games, and at one point in his life, he enjoyed singing. He has a strong passion for discipleship and joins GRIP as the SLAM Coordinator to reach at-risk youth in Chicago.
"My favorite part of living in Chicago is waiting to see which happens first: Jesus coming back, or Cubbies winning the World Series," Erick shares.
Itohan Osaigbovo is a Chicago native. She is a graduate of Howard University by way of Oak Park & River Forest High School. Ito previously served as a teacher in Chicago Alternative schools, and as a contracted Spoken Word Teaching-Artist with Oak Park Educational Foundation and Breakthrough Ministries. Traveling, beaching, reading, writing are a few of her favorite things to do. She currently lives in the Humboldt Park community and joined GRIP as a Female Mentorship Coordinator. She's passionate about empowering and encouraging GRIP's female mentors to build Christ-centered, Life-on-Life relationships. Ito shares, “Chicago is home for me. I'm originally from the Austin community, moved and attending school in Oak Park, spent weekends in West Garfield Park and Uptown, and grew up involved in Chicago's poetry community (Wicker Park). So my favorite part of returning to Chicago was watching all those things begin intersecting. Places, people, and identities I formerly thought of separately, are connected as intentionally woven patches making life in Chicago what it is. Much of the city holds memories for me. Through them, I witness Chicago's progress and know well its deepest wounds."
As a Houston, Texas native, Karale joined GRIP staff as the Male Mentorship Coordinator to empower and encourage our male mentors to build Christ-centered, Life-on-Life relationships. Karale moved to Chicago to attend Moody Bible Institute and upon graduation became a youth pastor in Texas. If he's not reading Japanese Fantasy Novels, he's most likely enjoying a community activity in his neighborhood of Lawndale in the city of Chicago.
In 1999, Scott served on the launch team of SLAM. As one of the first mentors at SLAM and co-founder of GRIP, his own experience of “walking Life-on-Life” with teens reinforced the importance of Life-on- Life relationships as a foundation for true discipleship. With an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and 13-years of experience in the business world, Scott’s diverse background spans international sales, marketing, project management, and financial analysis. Scott and his wife, Jen, have five children: Kaiya, Josiah, Elia, Kianna, and Zechariah.
As Program Director, Dave is responsible for the direct oversight of GRIP’s outreach programs & staff, including SLAM and GRIP The School. Dave has worked on staff for 8 years, previously having worked with Inner City Impact and a team to plant the church, Lighthouse Christian Fellowship (now Legacy Christian Fellowship). Dave’s passion for outreach & discipleship of young people and intentionally being rooted in the community has been lived out here in Chicago for 20 years—14 years now in Garfield Park. Dave and his wife, Joscey, have 3 children—Mariah, Leah, and Luke.
Josh manages the marketing communications for GRIP’s programs and initiatives. As a graduate of Moody Bible Institute he quickly found his passion in telling stories of impact that move people to take action. He spent 5 years on staff at Park Community Church, and a year helping run a digital marketing agency. He and his wife, Amy, live in Humboldt Park and have a big heart to see the city of Chicago reached with the gospel.
Brian’s passion is to train urban leaders to make disciples. From this, Brian founded the urban discipleship conference—The Legacy—as well as Legacy Christian Fellowship—a network of house churches preaching Christ to Chicago. Living his passion for over the last 16 years Brian and his wife Heidi have had hundreds of young men live in their home to be discipled. Brian joined GRIP’s staff in September 2011 to train and encourage GRIP’s mentors to effectively foster and develop Life-on-Life relationships with youth.
Melody has worked with youth in Chicago for 13-years and speaks to thousands of teens and young adults around the country each year on the benefits of abstinence until marriage. Melody’s heart is to see women set free, living set-apart and victorious in Christ. In September 2015, Melody joined GRIP part-time as one of GRIP’s Female Mentorship Coordinators, empowering and encouraging GRIP’s female mentors to build Christ-centered, Life-on-Life relationships. Melody is married to CD and blessed by her daughters: Jael and Maria.
April is a Waukegan, Illinois native. Her favorite thing about Chicago is that the food choices are endless. She attended both Georgetown College and Trinity International University. Previously, she worked at Northwestern University as a Temporary Coordinator, an Administrative Assistant and as a Financial Coordinator. She lives in the Near West Side neighborhood of Chicago. April enjoys being around friends and family, baking and attending concerts. Trying new restaurants, traveling and listening to music are among other things that she enjoys.
Loren La Luz
Loren is a native of Chicago—born and raised in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. A musician at heart, Loren directed his first band at age 16, and experienced great success as a Chicago musician. Loren joined GRIP's staff to help launch Streetlights—the world's first urban audio Bible and multimedia curriculum. He’s married with four children, and serves as the full-time drummer at his church, Chicago Tabernacle.
With years of urban ministry experience in Logan Square and Englewood and nearly a decade of involvement with Chicago's music scene, Aaron joined GRIP's staff to help launch Streetlights—the world's first urban audio Bible. In addition to managing all the producers, vocal talent, and engineers involved with Streetlights, he is also the drummer and producer for the Chicago hip-hop band ALERT. Aaron and his wife, Susana, are members at New Life Community Church in Tri-Taylor. In his spare time, he is an avid collector of vinyl records and a "rookie" cook.
As a result of his own 3-year Life-On-Life relationship with Clifton and Jimmie, John’s trajectory was ever changed. An active SLAM volunteer and a 2014 graduate of Moody Bible Institute, John quickly realized his passion for these 2-young men, education, and being a light in the Chicago Public School system. John joined staff at GRIP in fall of 2015 as GRIP The School Coordinator. John encourages and equips volunteers to engage the youth at Al Raby High School and build Life-On-Life relationships. John is married to his beautiful wife, Kari.
Dusty was born and raised in the “Field of Dreams” (Iowa), and received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. He spent four years working for the Caterpillar Corporation before he was given the opportunity to serve with a ministry in Kenya, as the finance manager for Africa Hope. Dusty moved to Chicago in February 2011 and joined the staff at GRIP that March. He loves sports (both playing and watching), dancing, outdoor scenery puzzles, and going to bed by 10:30.
On staff with GRIP since 2011, Shawn is dedicated to recruiting volunteers and equipping them to serve Chicago’s underresourced, public schools on a practical level in order to walk Life-On-Life with students. A graduate of Moody Bible Institute and a former musical theater actor, Shawn previously worked as program director for What's Good—exposing lies and revealing truth about sex, drugs, and violence through abstinence, character-based education in Chicago schools. Shawn and his wife, Pamela, have been blessed with a daughter, Annemarie Grace.
Esteban is a Chicago native called to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus through creative outlets and preaching. He is a musician, MC for the band ALERT, and serves as GRIP’s Streetlights Project Director. With a passion to see all engage the Scriptures, Esteban joined the GRIP staff in 2009 overseeing the production of God’s Word through the Streetlights Urban Multimedia Bible, an urban tailored, word-for-word Scripture, multimedia resource. Esteban, his wife, Iris and son attend Edgewater Baptist Church and pray their family will be a genuine light of the redeeming hope of Christ in their neighborhood.
A jack of many trades, Mike worked at a production company for 12 years as a sound engineer, video editor, graphic designer, and production manager. He has been the production manager for the Legacy Conference since 2009, and joined GRIP's staff in August 2011 with the desire to use his creative talent in full-time ministry. Born and raised in Chicago, Mike is an avid Chicago sports fan. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Diane, and they have two handsome sons, Michael and Noah.
A longtime volunteer and donor with GRIP, Christina joined staff to spearhead GRIP's upcoming fundraising gala. Growing up an army brat, she started forging her Chicago(land) roots at Northern Illinois University, and with a B.A. in accounting, she worked for years in public accounting and the alternative investment industry. After a two-year stint in sunny California, Christina’s affinity for the people and city of Chicago beckoned her to return in April 2012. Christina loves food, riding her bike to work, the color green (closely rivaled by ocean blue), ice cream, and the company of her close friends.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Vice President, Access Search
Senior Pastor, Philadelphia Church
Retired Principal, Lane Tech College Prep High School
Real Estate Broker, Baird & Warner
Pastor of Compassion Ministries, Harvest Bible Chapel
Program Director, E.L.C.A. Strategy on HIV/AIDS
Teaching Pastor, Park Community Church
Executive Director, GRIP Outreach For Youth
Executive Consultant, Rodan + Fields
Business Owner, State Farm Insurance
Wealth Management Advisor, Northwestern Mutual
Since its founding in 2004, GRIP has introduced a Life-on-Life relationship and the hope of Jesus Christ into the lives of hundreds of at-risk teens who desperately need someone to love them
and walk life alongside them.
SLAM is created and launched
GRIP officially incorporates as a 501(c)3 organization
SLAM impacts 800+ at-risk youth!
GRIP begins running The Miracle Basketball League
GRIP The School launches at Marshall High School
The launch of Streetlights
Wells High School opens its doors to GRIP The School
Vision Nehemiah merges with GRIP bringing with it the Legacy Conference and the UYN
1st Streetlights box set released: Divine DNA
For the 1st time, Legacy Conference sells out
GRIP programs have impacted 5,000 students since inception
Have a question, or need to contact us? Send us an email below and we'll get back to within the next business day.