ALL ABOUT THE
WHAT IT IS:
Harmony, Hope & Healing is the embodiment of Marge Nykaza's lifelong mission: using music to create peace and harmony in her community and the world.
After founding Harmony, Hope & Healing in 2000, she led the organization for 20 years, expanding its reach and changing the lives of thousands in the process. Her use of music to empower people, as they healed from traumas associated with homelessness, addiction and incarceration, has enabled individuals and families to find their voice and improve their lives.
Although Marge has retired as our Executive Director, she continues to provide mentorship and guidance to the Harmony, Hope & Healing team and to lead the Harmony, Hope & Healing Choir at Old St. Pat’s. This fund will ensure that her legacy continues as we move forward.
The Marge Nykaza Founder's Fund will help facilitate the continuation and expansion of Marge's work. It will specifically go towards Harmony, Hope & Healing's Building Community Leaders Initiative, which offers paid internship positions to train people with lived experience to lead wellness classes in their own communities.
MEET THE FOUNDER.
Marge Nykaza remembers her first time singing on stage at the age of four. “My beautiful little sister, Mary and I were asked to lead a song at a family wedding. It was at that moment I knew I wanted to sing for the rest of my life!”
Throughout her early years, Marge joyfully recalls singing with her father, Tom O’Connell. Among his many accomplishments, Tom was a leader in the lay Franciscan movement. While serving in that role, he became a founding member of The Greater Chicago Food Depository. Her mom, Margaret was a nurse by profession. Marge’s parents taught her to have a caring spirit and to use her gifts to make the world a better place!
As a professional singer, choir director and educator, Marge has shared her gifts and love of music with communities throughout the Chicago area and abroad. She holds an undergraduate degree in music education from Eastern Illinois University, a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University and is certified as a Cross-Cultural Music Healing Practitioner from The Open Ear Center in Santa Fe, NM.
In May, 2014, Marge was awarded a Doctorate of Ministry degree from Graduate Theological Foundation. Her doctoral project included creating a multimedia manual documenting Harmony, Hope & Healing history, organizational structure, philosophy and curriculum. She has been a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Health Award from Health and Medicine Policy Research Groups, and Little Company of Mary Hospital’s Venerable Mary Potter Humanitarian Award. Marge and HHH have been featured on 30 GOOD MINUTES, RELIGION AND ETHICS and ARTS ACROSS ILLINOIS. Under her leadership, Harmony, Hope & Healing was honored to participate in the Lyric Opera’s Chicago Voices Program and performed an original short musical entitled “A Circle of Hope” at the Harris Theater in 2016. Marge and her husband Ed have three amazing sons and daughters-in-law, five beautiful grandchildren and four rambunctious grand-pets.