Meet the HHH Staff
Executive Director, Marge Nykaza
Marge Nykaza remembers her first time on stage, at the age of four, “My beautiful little sister Mary and I were singing Put on Your Old Gray Bonnet with the Blue Ribbons on It at a family wedding. It was at that moment I knew I wanted to sing the rest of my life!”
She joyfully recalls singing with her father, Tom O’Connell, on many occasions. Among other accomplishments, her father was a leader in the lay Franciscan movement entitled the Secular Franciscans, which led him to become a founding member of The Greater Chicago Food Depository. Her parents’ model taught Marge 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 shares 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 was a multimedia manual explaining Harmony, Hope & Healing’s history, philosophy, curriculum, structure and the scientific research regarding music as a healing modality. 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, HHH 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 sons, three daughter-in-laws and five beautiful grandchildren.
Director of Programming, Tina Villapando
Since graduating from Loyola University Chicago in 2009 with a B.S. in Psychology and a Minor in Voice Performance, Tina has been employed in both administrative and programming aspects of the music field.
Her previous employers have included the acclaimed Chicago Children’s Choir and Old St. Patrick’s Church.
Since becoming the full time Assistant Director of HHH in May 2011, Tina facilitates the music programs for the preschool, school age, adolescent and parent/child populations and supervises the program assistants and volunteers.
Tina assists Executive Director, Marge Nykaza, in curriculum development, program evaluation and coordination of outreach programs for high schools, colleges and community groups.
Community Engagement Director, Sophie Wingland
Sophie Wingland is a musician, facilitator and yoga instructor, originally from California. She is a classically trained singer and plays ukulele, hang drum, cello, slide whistle, and toy accordion and enjoys creating instruments out of found objects. Rooted in the belief that everyone is a musician, her work explores the nature of collaboration, playfulness and healing.
She has a Bachelors in Music from Oberlin Conservatory, a Masters in Music in Vocal Arts from USC Thornton School, graduating with honors. Sophie also has Masters in New Audiences and Innovative Practice from The Royal Conservatory in the Hague, where she studied community building through music.
She has performed across the US and Europe, singing opera, jazz, contemporary and folk music. Sophie has over ten years of experience teaching private and group music classes to students ages 0-85. She has taught at the Abrons Center for the Arts in New York City, Musik Den Haag in the Netherlands, Old Town School of Folk Music and Ravinia Music Festival’s Reach, Teach, Play program in Chicago.
She has been a yoga instructor for 8 years, and, before coming to Harmony, Hope & Healing, worked for Mindful Practices teaching SEL (social and emotional learning) and yoga in Chicago Public Schools. In addition to her work as Program Manager at Harmony, Hope & Healing, Sophie performs around the city with her ukulele and toy instruments!
Staff Teacher, Zahra G. Baker
Zahra is currently teaching in our Children's & Family program at Believe Shelter of Margaret's Village and the Primo Center for Women and Children.
Zahra has worked as a drama and vocal music Teaching Artist in several Chicago Public Schools for the past 25 years. She began her teaching career working as an early childhood music instructor in the Wiggleworms’ program at Old Town School of Folk Music in 1987, where she also developed and implemented a Chicago Public School music residency highlighting African American acapella vocal traditions.
She has specialized in arts integration and finds sharing music to be invigorating and inspiring. Other residencies include Chicago Lights, Ravinia Music Festival, The Chicago Park District, Albany Park Theater Project, About Face Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre, Highwire City Learning Centre in London, England and eta Creative Arts Foundation.
Zahra is also an accomplished performer recognized for her work as a folk and jazz vocalist, dramatic actor and an engaging storyteller. Her performance history includes “In the Spirit,” (Storytelling duo of African American stories and songs); Freedom Song Leaders (Co-founder), David Boykin’s Outet (Jazz Vocal Improvisation), Othello at Shakespeare Repertory Theater (Vocalist/Actor), Classic Black (Jazz and Storytelling Ensemble), Sitarsys (Creative Music featuring Shanta Nurullah on sitar). She has performed at venues such as The Old Town School of Folk Music Field Trip Series, The Chicago Jazz Festival, The National Association of Black Storytellers Conference and Festival, The Guild Complex, The Chicago Cultural Center, Jonesborough National Storytelling Festival, Rhode Island Black Storytelling Festival, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, and countless Schools, Museums and Festivals.
Staff Accompanist, Rodney "RJ" Young
Rodney is currently playing piano at ISP retreats and co-directing the choir at Above & Beyond Family Recovery Center.
Rodney “RJ” Young, Jr. is a music producer who empowers recording artists by bringing their musical vision to life. For over 15 years, he has worked with numerous recording artists to produce high quality recordings that have enhanced their musical careers. He works with great diligence, excellence and integrity to ensure his artists’ experiences and final products are outstanding.
As an accomplished keyboard player and music director, he has worked with artists such as Brandon Roberson, Lijo & Phebe George, Todd Dulaney and David & Nicole Binion. Rodney currently serves as music director for his home church Christian Life Center (Tinley Park, IL), serves as main accompanist for Harmony, Hope and Healing, and plays keyboards for award winning group Atmosphere of Heaven.
Rodney also enjoys empowering creatives through dynamic speaking at events and workshops. He has spoken for events and organizations such as Karitos Worship Arts Conference, Selah Conference, and the GodKulture Conference.
In addition to his music endeavors, Rodney serves as Creative Director for Young Creative Services, a digital marketing firm that helps organizations connect better with the people they serve through website design and digital marketing strategy.
Director of Programming
Vincennes Senior Center Music Director
Music Program Assistants
Crystal Boone (Ensemble Liaison)
Amanda Brown Longe Asque
Music Program Interns
Volunteer Singers & Musicians
Rodney "RJ" Young
Resource Development Committee Members
Sr. Pat Borchardt, CSJ
Old St. Patrick's Volunteer Coordinators
Jim & Sheila Holbrook
Marketing and Communications Consultants
Courtney Beasley, Virginia Mann
Volunteer with us!
Volunteers join us in singing at Old St. Pat's and other engagements, as well as helping out behind the scenes.
If you are interested in volunteering, please email Sophie Wingland or call the office (312-466-0267) to leave your contact information.