Joel M. Friedman President

Joel M. Friedman


Born in Chicago, Joel lived in the Austin neighborhood until age nine and then moved with his family to Niles. Early on, Joel balanced school, sports and working long hours at his family’s restaurant, Booby’s. After graduating from the University of Illinois-Champaign with a degree in Accounting, Joel attended John Marshall Law School while simultaneously working as a revenue agent for the Internal Revenue Service. In 1972, Joel married his wife, Iris, and together they have two sons and three grandchildren. In 1975, he joined a small law firm and practiced with several partners for 25 years before operating his own firm until May 2000, when he joined Horwood Marcus & Berk. Joel’s focus areas include taxation, estate-planning, and business law.

As President of the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund, Joel oversees its investments, strategic direction, and grantmaking. Since 2005, Joel has grown the grant portfolio to include over 70 organizations working in education, health and human services, environment and violence prevention. Joel is a recipient of the John Marshall Law School Spirit Award and the Cove School's Prism Award. Dedicated to leaving the world a better place for his grandchildren, Joel’s vision and work led to the founding of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment at the University of Illinois-Champaign.

Erika Cornelisen Executive Director

Erika Cornelisen

Executive Director

Erika comes to the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund with over eight years of fundraising experience at Loyola University Chicago. She worked in Corporate and Foundation Relations for the Loyola University Museum of Art, directed the annual fund at the School of Law and served as the director of development for the School of Education and School of Social Work.

A classically-trained double bassist, Erika, has performed worldwide with the Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic in Durban, South Africa, Dallas Opera, Netherlands Philharmonic, and the Amsterdam Bach Orchestra, among others.

As Executive Director, Erika handles the Fund's day-to-day operations, provides grantee guidance in fundraising, board management, and evaluation and convenes and collaborates with grantees to further the Fund’s impact and relationships within the community.

Erika holds a Bachelor's degree in Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Case Western Reserve University, a Master of Music from the University of North Texas, and a Master in Public Policy from Loyola University Chicago.

Laura Jansen Grants and Project Manager

Laura Jansen

Grants and Project Manager

Laura has been in the nonprofit sector her entire career, and has been a consultant to nonprofit organizations and family foundations for the past 15 years. She began her career as box office manager and children’s theatre producer at Moraine Valley Community College and continued working in the arts at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and Urban Gateways. As a consultant, Laura works with nonprofits on grantwriting, fundraising planning, and board and staff training. For foundations, Laura provides grants management, proposal review, and program implementation. Laura's consulting career has covered a range of causes, including the arts, education, youth development, homelessness/housing, and marginalized populations.

As Grants and Project Manager at Alvin H. Baum Family Fund, Laura supports the Fund’s operations and coordinates the new Network of Baum scholars and interns.

Laura holds a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in Theater from Ball State University and a master's degree in Arts Administration from University of Alabama. She lives in Chicago with her husband, stepson, two dogs, two frogs, and a hermit crab.