Executive Team

Adren O. Wilson, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer

Adren Wilson was appointed the fourth national CEO of Public Allies in August, 2014. Public Allies has advanced the leadership of more than 6,300 diverse young leaders to strengthen communities, nonprofits, and civic participation across the country since 1992.


Wilson, a native of rural Louisiana who himself grew up in extreme poverty, has held an escalating series of leadership positions as an organizer, activist, administrator, and reformer working to lift individuals, families, and communities out of poverty. Wilson most recently led workforce development and community college retention efforts as Gulf Coast Regional Director for Single Stop USA. Previously, he developed transformational leaders for public schools as Executive Director of New Leaders Greater New Orleans, worked to end persistent poverty in the South by leading the Equity and Inclusion Campaign, and trained thousands of young leaders to advocate for and serve the needs of vulnerable youth as National Director of Youth and Student Leadership at The Children’s Defense Fund.


From 2004-2008, Adren served both Democratic and Republican Governors as Assistant Secretary with the Louisiana Department of Social Services, where he led the Office of Family Support, which employed 3,000 people in providing services to families in need, including in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also served as Executive Director of the Louisiana Children’s Cabinet, and initiated policy reforms such as the passage of the first state-level Earned Income Tax Credit in the South.


Wilson earned a Master in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and he has a doctorate in Public Policy from the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Southern University. He received Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Political Science from Louisiana State University. Adren is based in the Washington, D.C. office of Public Allies.


Darlene Oliver, Vice President of Programs (National), Public Allies Chicago Executive Director

Prior to joining Public Allies, Darlene was the Associate Director for the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force and oversaw fundraising, community outreach and communications.


Darlene practiced law before transitioning to the nonprofit sector and was a partner in a law firm handling civil rights litigation. In 2008, she was appointed as an administrative law judge with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. In 2012, The Chicago Community Trust selected Darlene as a 2012 Emerging Leadership Fellow. In 2015, she was selected as a fellow for the University of Chicago’s inaugural Civic Leadership Academy. Darlene has been a board member for the Art Institute of Chicago (Evening Associates Board), the Chicago Foundation for Women, Girls in the Game and Planned Parenthood of Illinois. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology (with high honors) from Bradley University and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.


Kara Mikulich, Strategy and Development Vice President

Kara Mikulich joined Public Allies as Vice President, Strategy and Development on October 27, 2014. With more than 25 years of leadership in the nonprofit sector, she has worked on both sides of the fundraising relationship. As a Program Officer at The Joyce Foundation, she oversaw funding for research and advocacy to improve welfare and workforce policies in Midwest states. She has also led grant-seeking and development efforts for a wide range of nonprofits, from local direct-service agencies to national and international NGOs. Most recently, Kara served as Gulf Coast Regional Development Director for Single Stop USA, where she diversified the corporate and foundation funding base for the organization’s community college retention efforts.


Kara has also served as Director of Development for New Leaders Greater New Orleans, which prepares transformational leaders for the city’s underserved public schools, and as Grants Manager for The Hole in the Wall Foundation, the fundraising arm of the world’s largest family of camps for children with serious illnesses. She also previously directed grant-seeking for a nine-member collaborative of human service agencies affiliated with the Jesuits of the New Orleans Province. A lawyer by training, Kara was formerly a Staff Attorney with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago. She is a graduate of Stanford Law School, where she pursued the Lawyering for Social Change concentration and served as Associate Editor of The Stanford Law Review. She completed her undergraduate studies at the College of the Holy Cross, where she earned a Fulbright Fellowship that sent her to France to serve as an English Teaching Assistant in a Parisian high school. Kara and her husband Alex, who serves on the faculty of Loyola University’s Jesuit Social Research Institute, are the parents of two teenage children, Katie and Tyler.


Stephen Bauer, Chief of Staff

Stephen Bauer serves as Chief of Staff for Public Allies working with the executive team to deliver our mission of creating a more just and equitable society. With over 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Stephen has focused his work on creating pathways to education and careers for diverse leaders. Prior to his current role, Stephen served as Director of Strategic Initiatives for Public Allies where he focused on multiple national projects aimed at increasing the capacity of the organization. Before coming to Public Allies,Stephen served as the Director of External Relations at the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance where he staffed national collaborations aimed at recruiting and retaining next generation, nonprofit leaders. Stephen was chosen as both a 2013 Independent Sector NGen Fellow and a 2010 National Human Services Assembly National Civic Sector Leadership Fellow as well as co-founded the Kansas City chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. Stephen holds a master’s degree in higher education administration and a nonprofit management certification from Western Illinois University and a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics from Southeast Missouri State University.