Who We Are


Matt Podszus

Matt and his wife Kori moved to Chicago in 2013 to launch a campus-movement with The Navigators. After launching and leading this work for 7 years, they sensed God leading them to begin a work dedicated to the unique challenges and opportunities present on the urban campus.

With over 20 years of campus ministry and leadership experience, Matt is energized to partner broadly in seeing the Gospel grow among the future leaders represented on urban campuses.

Mentorship Director

Liz Russell

Liz moved to Chicago over a decade ago after growing up in a suburb so flat she could see the skyline from its main road. She started her career in marketing in 2014 but knew it was time for something different when meeting with her college-aged employees was the best part of her job.

In her role with Poema, Liz will be working with college students in Chicago, helping them to seek Christ as they navigate the four most formative years of a person’s life. While doing that, she will also be raising up more mentors, training and coaching them to fulfill Jesus’ commandment to make disciples.

When she isn’t out with Poema students or in classes for her M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, she can be found hanging out with her husband and cats, sipping coffee at her favorite coffee shop, or swimming in Lake Michigan with friends.

More Info

If you would like more information about Poema and ministries in the Chicago area, we would love to talk.


If you would like to give to this important work, contribute here.

Board of Directors

The Poema Board

The Poema Board of Directors guides the vision and direction of our work. The board meets quarterly to plan strategically, maintain accountability within the organization, and actively seek to fulfill our calling. The board serves in staggered, 3-year terms.


Jamail Carter

Co-Founder Varuna
BS Vanderbilt University
MBA Kellogg School of Business, Northwestern University

Jamail serves as board president, and offers a mature Christian perspective, a background in Christian service and leadership, and a commitment to the city of Chicago. Jamail’s leadership, entrepreneurial background, and keen eye for optimization make him the ideal board president. As does his passion for disciple-making.

He and his wife Keme live in the Hyde Park neighborhood and are deeply engaged with the University of Chicago community, where Keme serves as an associate professor of medicine. They also have three wonderful kids.

Vice President

Dr. John Yoon

Assistant Professor of Medicine, UChicago, Senior Faculty Advisor for the Hyde Park Institute, lay leader at Hyde Park Church
BS/BA Stanford University
MD University of Texas – Dallas

John and his wife Mary are lay leaders within a Chicago church network with a special focus on the campus. John is also a unifying, pastoral presence within the University of Chicago community. and an advocate to the churches and ministries working there. His heart for collaboration, spiritual depth, and love for people make him an ideal board vice president.

John and Mary live in the Bridgeport neighborhood with their six beautiful kids.


Mark Pridgeon

CFO RiverGlade Capital and former elder at La Salle Street Church
BA (Accounting) Michigan State University
MBA Kelley School, Indiana University

Mark is a faithful business, church, and community leader within Chicago. Mark’s background in finance make him an ideal treasurer, but his integrity, thoughtfulness, and love for God make him an ideal treasurer for Poema.

Mark and his wife Mackenzi live in the Hyde Park neighborhood, and are a gifted and faithfully engaged in the well-being of city of Chicago. They have two lively kids.

Mark will maintain access to Poema’s bank account and financial records, as managed and compiled by The Salesberry Group.


Shayna Wildermuth

College Director at Build a Better Us (BBU), Director of Rise21
BS Illinois State University

With more than 15 years of collegiate ministry experience, Shayna is an invaluable asset to our board. Shayna co-directed the Navigator collegiate work with Matt for 5 years before moving into the role as college director for Build a Better Us, an Atlanta based non-profit that offers holistic growth through coaching, small groups, and events.
Shayna is currently building their campus movement, Rise21.

Shayna is a gifted leader, thinker, and activator—and is committed to seeing the Gospel grow among the marginalized.

In Collaboration With

Co-Creating Campus Movements

Poema works hand-in-hand with other ministries with the heart of reaching students on underserved campuses. We believe co-laboring and co-learning is far more powerful than going it alone. We want to be an asset to help you grow your ministry. Let’s collab!