About Us

Hallof Khan (Photo by: Jason Smith)


The mission of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is to enrich Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. To support this overarching mission, the Cultural Grants Program’s goal is simple: to serve as a catalyst to foster a robust, healthy arts community where artists, nonprofit arts and culture organizations and creative industries thrive. In 2020, DCASE will provide more than $2.7 million annually in direct funding for Chicago’s arts community through its Cultural Grants Program. Designed to reach artists, creatives, and nonprofit arts and culture organizations across Chicago, DCASE Cultural Grants provide operating funds and project support for nonprofits and project specific funding for individual artists.

Staff Information

Kalena Chevalier, Director, Grants Programs:

Kalena began serving as the Program Director for the Cultural Grants Program at the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) in May of 2016. She came to DCASE with 13 years of experience working in Chicago's arts and culture community. She has worked artistically and administratively with organizations including Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Writers' Theatre, and most recently as the Associate Director of Development for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Kalena graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with degrees in Theatre, Dramatic Writing and History.


Julie Partynski, Grants Administrator:

Julie has been with the City of Chicago in the Corporate Fundraising and Event Planning capacity for 20 years, and moved into Grants Administration in 2012, as part of the team that spearheaded the overhaul and electronic implementation of the Chicago Cultural Grants Programs. Julie has a BA from DePaul University in Arts & Science.


Meghan Beals, ArtsSpace Grants Coordinator:

With an extensive theatre directing and dramaturgy background specializing in new-play development, Meghan served as Artistic Director of Chicago Dramatists before joining the DCASE grants team in 2018. Other previous positions include adjunct faculty at DePaul University, Literary Manager at Northlight Theatre, and Project Assistant at Steppenwolf. In addition to serving the City full-time, she freelances as a live event producer for WBEZ and as an independent podcast producer.


Melissa Thomfohrda, Grants Coordinator


Perpetual Spark