Team

Executive Director

JFJocelyn Francoeur brings years of experience in law, education, youth development and diversity to Just The Beginning – A Pipeline Organization. Jocelyn most recently served as the Pro Bono Partner for McDermott Will & Emery, where she oversaw the contribution of tens of thousands of pro bono and community service hours annually. In her role as the Pro Bono Partner, Jocelyn worked with McDermott’s management and Pro Bono Committee to partner with domestic and international legal aid organizations and to identify and facilitate high-profile, challenging pro bono opportunities for McDermott’s thousands of lawyers and staff. Jocelyn was a member of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, as well as the firm’s Diversity, Recruiting, and Associate Development Committees. Prior to becoming the firm’s Pro Bono Partner, Jocelyn was an accomplished litigator and partner in McDermott’s Trial and White Collar Groups. Jocelyn received the firm’s Pro Bono and Community Service Award in 2007 and has been recognized as an Illinois Super Lawyers “Rising Star” and a Benchmark Litigation “Future Star.” 

Jocelyn’s interest in the issues underlying JTB’s mission began over twenty years ago. After graduating from Northwestern University, she taught high school history, civics, and free enterprise in Jackson, Louisiana as a member of Teach For America. She went on to obtain a Master’s in American History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she focused on the history of education and wrote her thesis on media coverage of Milwaukee school desegregation. She taught history and legal history classes for the Center for Talent Development (Northwestern University) and the Center for Talented Youth (Johns Hopkins University), and served as a teaching assistant throughout graduate and law school. After graduating magna cum laude from New York University Law School in 2002, she clerked for the Honorable Margaret Morrow in the Central District of California before joining McDermott. Jocelyn is a Leadership Council member and career coach for The Posse Foundation, a former board member for the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services, a mentor for Evanston Scholars, and a volunteer at Curt’s Cafe in Evanston, which provides job and life-skills training for at-risk youth. She resides in Evanston with her husband and daughter.

Jocelyn may be reached at or 312.258.4574.

Program Director

KMKrystle McNeely is a passionate advocate who is committed to diversity and training young minds and inspiring professionals. Krystle brings a diverse background to Just The Beginning. She began her professional career in early childhood education, working as a pre-school teacher for over five years. Later, she went to work in social services where she provided emergency services for children in the foster care system.

Krystle graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and a law degree from Northern Illinois University College of Law. During her time in law school, Krystle was a board member of the Northern Illinois University College of Law and Law Review, and she also served as the President of several organizations. Krystle also worked with her school’s administration and faculty to increase diversity at the law school and provide valuable professional support services to the student body. Her work has earned her several awards, including recognition by the NIU Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.

Krystle started her career with JTB in 2014, first as a Summer Program Team Lead and later as the Assistant Program Director. She specializes in teaching the JTB curriculum with an exciting and engaging manner while growing the organization’s mission and training our world’s future leaders.  Krystle enjoys reading, playing the piano, singing, and spending time with her nieces and nephews.

Krystle may be reached at kmcneely@jtb.org or 312.258.4868.

Director of Engagement

aprill-hawkins-headshot-2016

Aprill Hawkins, a native St. Louisan, is an education and non-profit professional who has dedicated the last 11 years to providing exposure, college-access resources and career mentorship to Chicago’s youth in an effort to increase diversity in higher education and the workforce. After obtaining her B.A. in Communications from Alabama A&M in 2005, Aprill relocated to Chicago to complete a graduate degree in Higher Education at Loyola University.

Aprill began her career as a co-teacher at Sacred Heart Schools while also volunteering as a tutor/mentor with GEAR-UP, working within Dunbar High School. In 2008, Aprill began serving as Program Director for the Visitation Scholarship Program in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, developing and implementing college-preparatory curriculum and programming for 9th-12th graders. Most recently, Aprill served as Career Program Manager for The Posse Foundation, a college access and leadership development program. During this time, she created partnerships with Chicago-based companies and organizations committed to providing career opportunities for Posse Scholars; she also provided career coaching and mentorship to recipients and Alumni. In addition to youth development and Aprill’s work experience also includes: volunteer recruitment and engagement, staff development, operations, event planning, facilitation and program strategy and evaluation.  Aprill is an active volunteer and has previously served on the junior board of the Chicago Public Library Foundation and as a mentor for Chicago Scholars. Currently, she volunteers with iMentor and is learning to play the guitar.

Aprill may be reached at ahawkins@jtb.org.