The Cara Connects team hails from the hospitality, software sales, and education industries – all sharing a common tug towards mission-based work. Their goal? Build partnerships, not sell transactions, so that as relationships deepen, so does the opportunities for all Chicagoans to get back to work.
Sasha Ongtengco graduated from DePaul University with a business degree in Economics. Post-graduation, she devoted time to cross-cultural immersion and service abroad, followed by several years in hospitality sales. Starting off her nonprofit career as a member of Cara's Recruitment and Admissions Team in 2011, Sasha cultivated a rich network of resource, community, and company relationships that she continues to develop at Cara Connects. With a deep commitment to excellent customer service delivery while doing right by our workers and employers, Sasha's efforts and expertise have led to Cara Connects' most successful years of operation thus far. She continues to work diligently on making the best possible employment connections through strategic staffing development and strives to improve both daily operations and long-term goals for the company.
Sasha's first gig: "My first job was babysitting my neighbors’ kids."
Mary brings a valuable and dynamic breadth of experience to the Cara Connects team. With a Master’s Degree in Social Work, Mary spent several years providing assessments and direct case management to under-served populations, eventually overseeing quality improvement measures of these services. Switching career pathways, Mary expanded her suite of skills to encompass business analysis and project management. Upon joining Cara, she supported our mission through the solicitation and management of public revenue sources. Mary provides a significant contribution with her exceptional suite of skills, eye for detail, creative thinking, and passion. With her unique experience as a needs identifier, seasoned relationship builder, and business acumen, Mary is energized by the possibilities to expand her reach while supporting our partners and participants alike. Mary’s first gig: “I was beyond thrilled to move on from sibling babysitter to earning $2/hour taking care of the children across the street.”
Mariel began her non-profit career 13 years ago at St. Augustine College where she worked for a federally-funded, TRiO-Student Support Services program serving under-represented, under-served, first-generation, low-income, and/or students with disabilities. After nine years she moved on to UIC where she managed the Occupational Therapy Doctorate including planning and implementing research-related conferences, developing and implementing recruitment strategy and marketing plan and materials. Furthermore, Mariel has served as adjunct faculty at St. Augustine College since 2015. It is through her deep commitment to helping individuals from diverse and challenging backgrounds that she’s helped people reach their academic goals, and through this same dedication, Mariel is eager to help people achieve their employment goals. Additionally, Mariel will spearhead our Cara co-location at Northwest Side Housing Center. Mariel holds a Bachelor’s in Communication, Media & Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University.
Mariel's first gig: "I was a store associate at a women’s clothing store called The Answer."
As a senior sales professional with over three decades of business experience, Pat joins Cara Connects from his most-recent job at Schwarz Supply Source. His main focus at Schwarz was servicing many large, established national retail accounts. His responsibilities included the continual assessment of client needs, managing the scope of service to address those needs, and directing the performance of the client account team. Pat is eager to utilize his “customer first” skills within the framework of a social enterprise. He is particularly energized to join the Cara Connects team and to mine business development opportunities with prospective employment partners who work within a temp-to-hire model. Pat earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Pat's first gig: “I scooped ice cream at the Beverly 31 Flavors on 95th St. My right bicep was pumped that summer!”
After six years of for-profit experience in supplemental education and sales, Joe began his nonprofit career in 2006 as a Corporate Account Manager at Cara, responsible for securing and building relationships with major employment partners such as ABM, Northwestern Medicine, and the CTA. He has served in various capacities and roles including leading Cara’s Admissions/Recruitment, Training, and Career Coaching divisions before settling into his role of Chief Business Development Officer. He currently focuses on the growth of strategic employment partnerships and Cara Connects, Cara’s alternative staffing firm. Under Joe’s leadership, Cara expanded its portals of entry allowing for quicker routes to services and employment, won a prestigious Chicago Innovation Award, and gained acceptance into the REDF National Portfolio of high-performing social enterprises. Joe earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan.
Joe’s first gig: “I filed medical records for my mom’s pediatric patients at the old Resurrection Medical Center's Professional Building.”
Business Development Director
Corporate Account Manager
Corporate Account Manager
Senior Corporate Account Manager