In Memory of Erika Cornelisen, Executive Director of Alvin H. Baum Family Fund


We are deeply saddened to share the news that Erika Cornelisen passed away on October 7, 2021. Erika was the Executive Director of the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund and a longtime partner of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago (BBBSChi) and our mission of creating and supporting one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.

“Erika was an amazing partner and person. She helped make our community stronger and more inclusive, and was an incredible advocate for our organization,” said Jeremy Foster, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Chicago. “My prayers, and the thoughts of everyone at BBBSChi, are with her husband Eno and their two children as well as her colleagues at the Baum Fund who loved her.”

The Alvin H. Baum Family Fund has supported BBBSChi for over ten years, and helped the agency create and support more mentoring matches than ever before in its 50+ year history. Their support of a match enrichment fund led to longer match lengths and helped keep matches strong. Erika was a passionate supporter of BBBSChi, speaking at an agency event honoring graduating senior Littles. The Baum Fund has also ensured that Littles graduating from the program have access to scholarships that help prepare them for the next step in their lives. In addition to these wonderful supports for matches, the Baum Fund has also provided assistance directly to BBBSChi families during the COVID-19 pandemic through gifts to the agency Family Response Fund.

Erika was a tireless advocate for children across Chicagoland and she will be greatly missed. We at BBBSChi will honor her legacy and will keep her loved ones in our thoughts as we continue our critical work.

There will be a celebration of life service on November 7, at 1 PM at the Park Ridge Community Church followed by a reception. More details and RSVP information can be found here.

A GoFundMe for Erika’s family has been created and you can support it here.

An obituary from the Chicago Sun Times can be read here or below.

Erika Fran Cornelisen, 45, resident of Chicago, IL, devoted daughter of Carol, nee Oyster and Robert Cornelisen, beloved wife of Eno Rocha and mother of Atticus Javier and Cora Jean, loving sister of Dana (Sandra) and Chris (Amy), proud aunt of Ava, Jordan, Zoey, Victoria, Abigail, Zachary, and Madeline, loved niece and cousin to many, and cherished friend to countless. Classical musician, professional double bassist, executive director of The Alvin H. Baum Family Fund, and seasoned world traveler who resided in South Africa, the Netherlands, Brazil, and multiple states in the US. Passionate advocate for social justice and science. Erika triumphantly defied stage 4 breast cancer for 4 years and 4 months, a journey she navigated with courage, optimism, tenacity, and unfathomable grace, during which she ensured the research conducted and discoveries made through her treatment would benefit others who follow her. Erika passed away at home October 7, 2021 in the loving presence of her husband, children, and friends. A celebration of life service will be held at Park Ridge Community Church at 1:00pm on November 7, 2021, located at 100 Courtland Ave, Park Ridge, IL 60068. In lieu of flowers, tribute donations can be made to METAvivor at, and any of The Alvin H.Baum Fund's grantees which can be found at