Brushwood Center Staff

Julia Kemerer - Director of Arts and Administration

Julia joined the staff of BCRW in 2006 and oversees arts exhibitions in the Brushwood gallery and arts programming as well as the administrative elements of the entire organization. Julia brings to BCRW a wealth of art management skills including past curatorial and artifact collection management experience and a passion for the creation process. Also a mixed media artist, Julia sculpts with paper, found objects, fabric, wood, and clay and paints in oil and watercolor. Julia attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and holds a degree in Art History from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her artwork has been shown in several area galleries and can also be found online. Julia lives in northern Lake County with her husband and daughter.


Jackie Rockwell - Program Director

As Program Director of Brushwood Center, Jackie’s aim is to connect people to nature through the arts. She develops programs that honor the history of Brushwood, sustain the interests of the members, attract new members and volunteers, and draw the community closer to the organization. Jackie’s priority is to enhance Brushwood’s Arts, Literature & Music offerings. Jackie grew up in Connecticut where her love of nature and the arts started early. Her lifelong pursuit of environmental stewardship and education can be seen speckled throughout her programming. Jackie has a BA in Geography and Environmental Studies with minors in Sustainable Development and Communications from the University of Colorado. Jackie brings to Brushwood many years of non-profits experience where she helped organizations identify growth opportunities and develop measurable keystone programs. She and her husband, Tom, recently moved here from Colorado. When she’s not working, she enjoys being outdoors and exploring Illinois, painting, gardening, music and visiting her daughter in Boston. On lunch breaks or after work, you may find her birding and exploring the many trails of Ryerson Woods.


Marcela Alva - Community Engagement Specialist

Marcela Alva coordinates Brushwood Center's community engagement initiative. Since 2012, she has organized guided bilingual hikes, as well as Brushwood Center's participation in cultural festivals around Lake County. Through these programs, Marcela invites our region's residents to connect with nature and enjoy the benefits that time in nature provides. Marcela is an experienced bilingual educator from Mexico, and is certified as a State and No Child Left Behind Paraprofessional educator. She is certified in special education focused on learning disabilities by the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. With more than 20 years of experience in education, Marcela has developed a wide range of educational programs in Mexico for schools, television and radio, including for children with special needs. Before moving to the U.S., Marcela owned a successful catering business in Mexico, where she also enjoyed teaching culinary workshops. Marcela lives in Vernon Hills with her husband and son. In her free time, she enjoys observing birds and exploring Lake County’s vast network of forest preserves.


Laura Fruhauff - Program Assistant

After studying History and Sociology at Roosevelt University, Laura worked for two years with AmeriCorps, reaffirming her commitment to both service and environmental stewardship. AmeriCorps apprenticed her to The Field Museum of Natural History’s Keller Science Action Center where she became involved in the incredible environmental work happening throughout the Chicago Region. Now she puts her academic, professional, and service skills to full use supporting Brushwood Center staff and programming. When she’s not at Brushwood, Laura volunteers with The Field Museum’s Exhibitions department as well as with the Forest Preserves of Cook County.