About Intersection

Our Mission

Intersection’s purpose is to engage and educate communities through social contact and raise awareness of social issues. Our projects will encourage dialogue that inspires cooperation and community cohesion.

Our Founders

Grace Radkins

Grace first learned about Intersection through the 2014 Printer’s Row Human Library Chicago event. After reading an article covering the event, she reached out and asked to volunteer in any way needed, and has been a member of the board and an event volunteer since then. Being a part of Intersection/HLC has helped Grace to find more fruitful and compassionate ways to listen and communicate, and she is grateful for that. Grace loves to read, knit, and go to Zumba class, and her favorite cuisines are Italian and Vietnamese. She is a librarian and works in the archives of a local radio station.

Marlena Johnson

Marlena is the cofounder of Intersection, which stemmed out of the desire to expand the work of the Human Library Chicago chapter. Throughout her career, Marlena has worked in the nonprofit sector. During this time, she has encountered a severe lack of knowledge about the lived experiences of those facing adversity and how this lack of understanding by others affects the quality of life of these individuals. Through Intersection, she hopes to create a platform in which the voices that are often lost in our society are brought forward. In her spare time, Marlena enjoys exploring her native city of Chicago, photography, and watching Golden Girls episodes over and over again.

Oscar Xuarez

Oscar has been working with the Human Library Chicago since the 2014 Printer’s Row event. While working in the the private sector as a Political Researcher he grew to understand the disparity between people and that there is a need to help foster understanding amongst people of varying backgrounds. In his current work in a non-profit working with inner city youth has only tempered the need to help create a space allowing people to step outside their comfort zones while truly learning and understanding one another. In his spare time, Oscar likes to drop the bass as a Wedding DJ, trying to figure out the killer in Sherlock before the episode ends, or also exploring the city of Chicago with Marlena or Marvin.

Alan Ashbeck

Alan has been with the Intersection and the Human Library Chicago since its first event Human Library event at the 2014 Printer’s Row festival. His career has focused on bridging gaps between groups of people by way of academic research, technology, and direct person to person contact via Human Library events. Alan continues his work both professionally at Northwestern University, where he is a software engineer working on web and mobile applications for behavioral health research, and through Intersection, where he takes on the roles of Treasurer of the Board of Directors, and as Data and Metrics Analyst. In his limited, spare time, Alan likes to play guitar, lift heavy weights, and work on tech projects.

Marvin Cespedes

Marvin is a front-end developer and designer for Intersection. He assists by maintaining the server for Intersection, and the Human Library Chicago Chapter. In his spare time, he does subpar photography.