Aurora’s socially conscious cafe. Pay it forward with food, service, sustainability and kindness.
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thegoldfinchcafe@gmail.com
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Our Team

Director of Communications

Nicholas Richard- Thompson

Nicholas Richard-Thompson, is a Communications Coordinator for the City of Aurora, serves on the Board as a member and is a civically engaged individual in the Aurora community. 

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He possesses experience in digital marketing, public and internal communications, and video production. He wishes to support the Cafe in its growth and messaging to the community. Nick believes in being a person of service to others and working alongside the most marginalized and vulnerable, and the Goldfinch Cafe reflects these beliefs. Nick strives to ensure Aurora is a place of generosity, inclusion, and unity by supporting local advocacy groups that share in this goal and work towards this aim. The Goldfinch Cafe is a manifestation of these values with their mission of sustainable community, food, and kindness-creating a place where people can gather, eat, and share a meal as One Aurora.

Secretary

John Bell

John Bell, M.Div. is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church where he has served for over 25 years and is a faculty member for the Center for Family Consultation. 

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After completing a masters of divinity from Duke University, John finished a three-year post-graduate program in Bowen Family Systems Theory and Its Applications at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family.  In addition to his work in his local church, John’s efforts focus on research, writing, blogging, teaching, conferences and coaching individuals, congregations and organizations. John is married with three children and is currently serving Wesley United Methodist Church in Aurora, Illinois.

Executive Director

Sheli Massie

Sheli Massie is a twenty-two year resident of downtown Aurora after graduating from Aurora University. She grew up food insecure most of her childhood in western Michigan.

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She began working for a nonprofit and in social services immediately and continues and continues to spend  her life serving people living on the margins. Sheli has a passion to build a longer table where dignity is restored and relationships are healed.  She has a heart to serve, a desire to always be inclusive, and a passion for loving people. She is ready to see relationships forged and community being created around the table. Sheli believes within her core that we belong to each other, sometimes we just forget.

Board Director

Jennifer Smith

Wife and mom of four children Jennifer Smith brings 30 years of business experience spanning sales, marketing, operations, learning & development and customer service.

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In her current role as Vice President Global Services Operations at a leading SAAS company, Jennifer’s team focuses on driving operational efficiency, service delivery, and customer satisfaction within Global Services. 

With a degree in Communications and a passion for people Jennifer brings to the table a unique ability to lead teams through change, implementation of new processes and procedures and Leadership Development. 

Jennifer also serves as a Session Elder at Fox Valley Presbyterian Church as a board committee leader of The Growing Place Preschool and has a passion for youth ministries serving as a leader on high school youth group service trips. Additionally Jennifer serves on the service trip committee for Love Takes Root, whose mission is “The charitable, education and humanitarian support of children of the developing world for a sustainable future”. 

Jennifer believes everyone should have access to quality meals while having the opportunity to have a place to dine where they can build a community of support. No one should be excluded from the table.

Regional Director

Travis Christopherson

From as far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to run a great restaurant. 24 years ago, my passion for hospitality and service came to life in a small, family owned bar and grill

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in Iowa City, Iowa. Over the years, I have had the privilege of opening multiple restaurants with a few different companies. A consistent occurrence in those restaurants was “family meal” before service. Family meal created sense of community that came from cooks, servers, hosts, and managers sitting together, breaking bread, telling stories from their lives both in and out of the restaurant. For some, this was the best quality and possibly only meal of the day. I am proud to support and advance the vision of The Goldfinch Cafe to bring this same sense of community, dignity, and inclusion to those in search for a seat at the table in Aurora.

Board Member

Thew Elliott

Thew Elliott is a musician and story-maker who has worked to build connections through song and story in west Michigan, Washington DC, and midcoast Maine. Since family ties

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brought him to Aurora in 2018, he has been active as a music director and pianist for music theater classes at Aurora University and the Paramount School of the Arts, as well as for a local church (Wesley UMC). He believes in the power of live performance to change lives, and he believes that spaces where we can see and listen to each other in real time—spaces like the Goldfinch—are essential for creating community.

Gandi Falcon
Board Member

Gandi Falcon

Gandi has been a resident of Aurora for 30 years. He loves the city and is a firm believer in human rights and is an activist for social justice and equity. He enjoys volunteering

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for AFS, an organization that promotes peace and inclusion by hosting exchange students from all over the world. He grew up in the restaurant business and has been part of it for the majority of his adult life. Gandi is the owner and operator of Gandi the Juice Guru and Holy Pierogi! He has a passion for world travel and building cardboard boats and racing them is his hobby of choice. His favorite quote is from Mahatma Gandhi “You must be the change you want to see in the world” and he tries to live by it.

Colette Rozanski
Board Member

Colette Rozanski

Colette Rozanski, born and raised in Aurora and now working for her family’s Aurora-based construction company. Colette is the Business Development Director for R.C. Wegman

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Jenni has several years of non-profit finance and 3rd generation of the family business. Colette is passionate about helping others and being a connector. She is excited to bring her lifelong Aurora network together in supporting the mission and concept of the Goldfinch Café.

An alumnus of Illinois State University, Colette received a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a master’s degree in Communications.

In addition to her role at R. C. Wegman, Colette currently serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the Chicagoland Association of General Contractors and volunteers for the Fox Valley Park District. Outside of work Colette enjoys spending her time with her husband and son and traveling.

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Treasurer

Jenni Trilik-Contaldo

Jenni Trilik-Contaldo, the owner of Modest Coffee, serves as the treasurer for The Goldfinch Cafe. In addition to her start-up and operational experience at Modest Coffee,

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Jenni has several years of non-profit finance and organizational experience at the Waldorf School of DuPage where she served as the Finance and HR Administrator and as the Board President.

A resident of Aurora since 2014, Jenni joined the Goldfinch Cafe because she believes that everyone deserves access to nutritious, high-quality food, and the dignity of eating at a restaurant. Jenni grew up in a low-income home where everything was scarce and eating out at a restaurant was a rarity. As a teen and young adult, Jenni battled addiction, homelessness, and food insecurity. One of the most powerful and meaningful things to Jenni during this low time in her life was when people would see and connect with her as a human being. She views Goldfinch as a place where anyone can come and be treated with dignity as the human that they are. Where regardless of the money in their pocket or their situation in life, they are welcomed equally to break bread as a member of the community.

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Board Member

Ned Korpela

I grew up between Denver, CO, and Seattle, WA, and began my working career as a photojournalist and still very much enjoy “street photography” with my trusty iPhone and Fuji digital

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camera.

I switched careers in my twenties and have had a long career in logistics. I am currently a Regional Logistics Operations Manager for the Cabinetworks Group, a manufacturer of kitchen and bath cabinetry headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI.

I have worked on projects at the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Hesed House, and Habitat for Humanity providing servant leadership for those in need. EVERYONE. ALWAYS. My goal is to ensure those in need are fed, first and foremost and educated about healthy food options. Now more than ever, we need to help each other. No person should be starving in the United States.

I have lived in Kane County for over 25 years with my wife, Danni-Lynn. We have 3 sons, Aidan and Quinn, who both attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and Owen, who is currently in EMT school and will soon attend a local fire academy to be a firefighter/paramedic.

“I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.” – Roger Ebert

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Board Member

Andrea Powell

Andrea is an avid blogger/podcaster for her website www.wearenotsodifferent.com, a radio host for ESM Radio, a radio host for ESM Radio, and most recently

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an author of her latest book entitled Daily Devotionals From the Heart of an Encourager.

When she isn’t glued to a computer screen, she spends time experimenting in the kitchen, for which her husband is eternally grateful, cuddling with her 65-pound “lap dog”, and volunteering at Under His Wings Ministry in Ottawa, IL. An encourager by nature, Andrea has found great joy ministering to the underserved women and children of the community. Andrea has a genuine desire for women to receive the love of Christ and fully understand the authority in which they walk because of His love.

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Board Member

Lyndsay Hartman

Lyndsay is the founder and director of Point to Point, which provides harm reduction services in Kane County. Lyndsay is passionate about mutual aid, community care, and meeting all

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people with compassion.

Lyndsay has a long history of working in social services, including working with people with developmental disabilities and people in recovery. During the week she works as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence in DuPage county and spends her weekends providing outreach to folks experiencing homelessness or who are actively using drugs. Lyndsay is hoping to bring her hands-on experience working with vulnerable populations to the Goldfinch table. Lyndsay is a fierce advocate for people who might otherwise be forgotten or left out of the conversation and is excited to be a part of this beautiful team.

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Board Member

Javi Terrazas

Javi is a community organizer in Aurora Illinois. He’s been the executive director, curator, and Art director for The ArtBar Aurora (www.artbaraurora.com).

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