Our Team

Board Members

Fred Wilson, AIA, President & Secretary

Founding Partner, Morgante Wilson Architects
Boards of Directors Community Partners of Affordable Housing (CPAH)

“I believe that the most powerful design starts with a partnership between the client and architect,” says Frederick Wilson, who founded MWA in 1987. “As designers, we work with clients as a team, placing their ideas, preferences and concerns at the center of the relationship.”

When Wilson established his Evanston-based practice, he was just two years out of graduate school. Co-principal and partner Elissa Morgante added new dimensions to the firm when she joined him in 1994. With expertise in architecture, interiors, furniture design and a respect for landscape design, MWA’s approach today is comprehensive and multifaceted--responsive to clients’ needs from start to finish.

As a principal, Wilson works closely with MWA’s architects, nurturing their expertise and interests. Following Wilson’s example, designers at the firm share his commitment to getting every detail right, not to mention his infectious excitement about the work. His sense of humor adds a welcome shot of levity to the serious business of architecture.

Wilson’s many distinctions include being named a national finalist in the “40 Under 40” award, sponsored by The National AIA and The Architectural League of New York, as well as the “Young Architect Award” from the American Institute of Architecture Chicago Chapter in 1998.

Wilson received his Bachelor of Science in Architecture from The Ohio State University in 1983. He earned his Master of Architecture at the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1985. Upon graduation, Wilson joined the architectural firm Tigerman, Fugman, McCurry Architects, Ltd., where he was named the firm’s first associate.

For Wilson, being a role model doesn’t stop at the office. For more than a decade, he applied his talents as a leader by coaching youth basketball in his community, building young athletes’ character by teaching the spirit of sportsmanship.

Wilson also serves as President of the Congregation Sukkat Shalom. He is an architectural consultant for the building review commission for the Village of Kenilworth and serves as a board member of the Community Partners Affordable Housing Land Trust. The Land Trust is a not-for-profit membership organization created to offer permanently affordable housing opportunities for qualified, low-to-moderate income residents of the City of Evanston, Highland Park, Lake Forest, and Deerfield.

He has been a visiting critic at the schools of architecture and design at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Ohio State University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Additionally, Wilson has served as the School of Architecture’s constituent liaison for the University of Illinois-Chicago Alumni Association and on the Executive Advisory Board to the director of the School of Architecture.

Recently, Wilson was honored to be included as a board member of the University of Illinois-Chicago Alumni Advisory Board.

Elissa Morgante, AIA, Vice President & Treasurer

Founding Partner, Morgante Wilson Architects
Member of the Wilmette Housing Commission

Architect, interior designer, educator, community leader and principal of an award winning architectural practice, Ms. Morgante’s myriad of interests are fueled by the love of design and belief that good design can improve the quality in which we live our lives.

After almost three decades of scrutinizing the nuances of design, Morgante continues to be passionate on her pursuit for excellence. Her broad body of work includes architecture, interior design and custom furniture all with a common denominator: thoughtful attention to detail. Her holistic approach places her clients vision at the core of the design process. The result is a one of a kind expression of the client’s functional prerequisites and stylistic dreams interwoven with the wisdom of architectures vast possibilities.

To stay at the forefront, Morgante promotes the role of architect as visionary and embraces the continuous evolution of ideas.

In 1994, she and her partner in life and business, Fred Wilson, formed Morgante Wilson Architects. Together they maintain a practice of over 20 architects and designers specializing in residential design. Their work receives national and local acclaim in publications ranging from Traditional Home to the Chicago Tribune. Chicago Magazine named MWA among the top 20 firms in the city. Their designs have been featured in books by Sarah Susanka and exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago.

For eight years Morgante served as an adjunct professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois-Chicago and the School of Interior Architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago. While teaching at UIC, she also founded and served as the first director of the UIC- Architectural Extension Program for which she received the University’s Distinguished Service Award. In describing her work with her students at UIC, “good design extends beyond buildings, it shapes a community…working with my students to generate a plan to transform N. Ashland Avenue into a tree-lined boulevard modulated by residential and commercial blocks, we addressed the parallel needs for development and a desire to beautify the neighborhood. Our presentation to local alderman inspired the plan Mayor Daley sanctioned; we were delighted to see our vision come to fruition.”

Dedicated to giving back to the communities in which she works and lives, Morgante served on the Appearance Review Committee for the Village of Wilmette for ten years. Upon completion of this tenure the Village President appointed her to the Planning and Advisory Board for the Village Center Master Plan.

Ms. Morgante’s philanthropic work also includes serving on the board of the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation Women’s Board and for many years contributed to the University of Illinois Chicago Alumni Advisory Board. She earned her BA in Environmental Design from Hampshire College in 1981 and a Master of Architecture from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1987.

John Leonard, Board Member

Principal at Morgante Wilson Architects
Evanston/Wilmette Advisory Board Community Partners of Affordable Housing (CPAH)

John is a principal with Morgante Wilson Architects and has been a practicing architect since graduating from University of Illinois in Chicago in 1995. He has worked on both design build and design-bid-build development and has experience working on midrise, high rise, commercial, multi-family and residential architecture.

John has been a resident in Evanston since 2002 and serves on the Community Partners for Affordable Housing Evanston Advisory Board Land Trust. He has previously served as a board member and president of the Citizens Lighthouse Community Land Trust in Evanston. He is committed to the awareness and support of affordable housing, homelessness, education, and sustainable design.

Craig Caffarelli, Board Member

Chief Operating Officer, Gem Realty Capital Inc.

Craig is a partner and Chief Operating Officer of GEM Realty Capital, a Chicago based real estate investment company with over $5 billion of assets under management. He also oversees GEM’s charitable and community impact programs as well as its environmental sustainability and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

As a long-time Wilmette resident with his wife, Caryn, and two daughters, Craig is honored to be a founding board member of the Morgante-Wilson Foundation. He has previously served on numerous Chicago area boards including Bernie’s Book Bank and Family Promise Chicago North Shore. Craig and Caryn recently moved to Grand Cayman where Craig actively supports several charitable organizations including the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, Life (Literacy is for Everyone) and Plastic Free Cayman.

Foundation Staff

Hannah Wilson

Director

As the Director for the Morgante Wilson Foundation, Hannah leads the organization's strategic planning, fundraising, communications, and partnership development efforts. She is passionate about the spatial and social dynamics of city-making that affect community health and happiness; she believes improving transit and housing is at the core of this relationship. Hannah is also a Project Manager for the Shared-Use Mobility Center, a public interest nonprofit focused on equitable, sustainable mobility for all.

Hannah received a Bachelors of Science in Biology and Society from Cornell University and a Masters in City Design and Social Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science. As a sociologist, she loves to explore new cities and cultures

Marie Nissen

Finance

As Morgante Wilson Architect's first CFO, Marie is always eager to crunch numbers and discover ways to make the business work best. Marie has been with Morgante Wilson Architects since 2014 and is excited to take on new work for the Foundation. She completed her undergrad at DePaul University and graduated with a Masters from Keller Graduate School of Management.

With 2 young kids (girl & boy), Marie and her husband are busy balancing activities and supporting organizations as a family such as the Lupus Foundation, Easterseals and Gigi’s Playhouse. Marie is also a board member of a newly established nonprofit that supports kidney disease education called L.Y.V.E. Having living room dance parties with her husband and kids, traveling and finding some delicious instant pot recipes balances the day to day rush.

Paola Santos-De Soto

Graphic Design

Paola received her Bachelor of Fine Arts, with a concentration in Interior Architecture, from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After working at MWA as their Interior Architecture Intern for 3 years, she began working as a Junior Designer in 2020. She very passionate about volunteer work, and is a part of the Morgante Wilson Foundation team, as a graphic designer. She has a love for travel, design, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

Kandice Korte

Administrative Support

After studying History and Political Science at the University of Iowa, Kandice began a career in the real estate industry. Bringing decades of experience in administration and operations in real estate brokerage and management, she has been the office manager at Morgante Wilson Architects since 2015. Time away from the office is filled with family and a passion for life and all it has to offer.