Biographical Information: 2015 Board Candidates

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Kamau Coar

I have been a parent at NNM for one year. Thus far, my involvement has been in supporting the diversity committee through their mixer events for prospective parents, and general support within our oldest child’s classroom. Our youngest will be starting in the fall, and I would like to become far more involved and integrated into the school and NNM community.

I believe in service. I believe lawyers and others who have a technical expertise have a responsibility to give their time and expertise to those who do not possess similar expertise or have access to those professional skills. I believe strongly in the Montessori method, as I am a product of a Montessori school myself. I believe that with two small children just starting in the school, this would be a great opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the school in terms of time, expertise and dedication to make NNM an even more wonderful experience for all of the children fortunate enough to attend.

Before joining my current employer, I worked for a local law firm and served as one of the chairs of its Diversity and Inclusion Committee for several years. In my current role as in-house counsel for a global organization, I have responsibility for reporting to the Board on a quarterly basis on a myriad of issues, including but not limited to risk assessments, my company’s compliance and ethics program, as well as several other Board initiatives.

As discussed briefly above, in my current employment I have responsibility for various Board reporting. I have been a practicing attorney for 14 years, with significant experience in employment, equal opportunity, and ERISA matters. I assist in our budget process, our internal and external audit processes, I am a member of the Company’s 401(k) committee, and bring a wide range of legal expertise and experiences which I believe would be helpful for the NNM Board.

Eddie Gershman

Organizational Experience: NNMS – Board member since 2008, current President of the Board, Chair of the Audit Committee and member of the Executive Committee, and previously a member of Capital Campaign Committee. In addition to being on the board, I regularly volunteer at the NNM Bookfair and as a Parent Ambassador. Additionally, outside of NNMS, I am [EAG] a board member for Center For Economic Progress and on the Planned Giving Committee for the Steppenwolf Theater. Additionally, I am a former member of the AICPA Individual Income Tax Resource Panel.

Qualifications/Skills: I have been a partner at a Big 4 accounting firm since 1999 and am currently a partner with Deloitte Tax. Over my years in public accounting, I have developed significant organizational skills, as well as a deep financial background. I manage people and processes daily, and enjoy the leadership responsibility associated with my career. Throughout my career I have been involved in various committees and task forces which provides me experience in the process involved to be effective in these types of settings.

Goals/Why I want to serve on the Board: I would like to be an active and engaged parent in supporting the school and staff in all their efforts. I believe that my insights and experience would assist NNM in continuously improving and addressing the school’s policies and financial security. In terms of goals, at this time my general goal would be to do all that I can to enhance the school experience for all at NNM by continuing to provide a nurturing and supportive environment and to work with the families to encourage their active involvement and financial support.

Shubhra Jain

I have been a parent at NNM since 2010. I have been a volunteer on the Diversity and Inclusion committee since 2011. As part of that committee, I was the chair of the Education and Celebration committee and was responsible for the creation of Festival of Lights. I have been the parent chair for the past three years and now have stepped down from that role to give others an opportunity to share their ideas.    I am interested in serving on the board because I want to help the school staff and parents continue to adhere to the goals of the montessori philosophy. Being associated with NNM, I appreciate the focus and emphasis on the child’s development lifecycle during the learning process. One of the goals I have for the school is to continue to provide parents access to practical lessons from the world of emerging brain science. I have heard Dr. Adelman share some of this information.

Marketing Career Advisor, MBA Career Services Center (University of Chicago)

Helped first year students navigate the recruiting process. Advisors were selected by the career services center.

Chicago Women in Business (University of Chicago – Committee Member)

Organized sessions where leading women marketers spoke to current MBA students about how to navigate the brand management work-place

Giving Something Back (University of Chicago – Committee Member)

Volunteered at a local elementary school to teach children about how to make good vs. bad decisions. We were given materials and had to walk them through the lifecycle of that decision.

Young Jains of America, (A National Organization, Co-Chair)

A national organization that allows youth from all over U.S. to come together nationally and locally to learn more about how to incorporate tenants of Jainism living in modern America.

My background is in consumer marketing and management consulting. The primary skills I would bring are not only in developing strategic plans using, but also in executing them. My experience in consumer marketing also gave me cross-functional experience in areas of consumer research, finance, budget, packaging, design, operations, innovation and advertising.

Miriam Klevan

Why do you want to serve on the Board? I have worked with the Diversity Committee for six years and served as its co-chair and board representative for the past three years. In that time Near North has made enormous progress in its diversity work. The Festival of Lights and Pride Parade have become school institutions. We have completed the AIM (Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism) Study, which gave all members of our community the opportunity to weigh in on diversity-related questions. In response to its recommendations we have created four subcommittees to address the concerns of teachers, parents and students: 1) Recruitment and retention of teachers of color; 2) Learning differences; 3) Diversity curriculum; and 4) Socioeconomic diversity. I am excited to keep working on these issues in a community that sees diversity not as an issue of numbers, but as an issue of creating a climate that is at once safe and stimulating, and allows children to be themselves and learn from others.

Organizational experience:

  • Currently serve on the Near North Montessori Board, and on the Diversity Committee for the past six years.
  • Honorary board the Board of the On Your Feet Foundation, which provides financial assistance, professional counseling, and peer support to women who have placed children for adoption.
  • Have gone through the NNMS SEED program twice.

Qualifications or skills that you could bring to the Board:

I have an intense personal interest in diversity issues as a member of a multi-racial family. As a social worker and Spanish-speaking family therapist I worked with very diverse populations. I began the life-long work of recognizing when cultural issues were impeding my understanding of a situation, and learning to ask the questions to rectify the situation.

As part of my graduate studies I have familiarized myself with aspects of the academic literature on race, particularly on the difficulties American whites have when we have to confront racial issues directly. I have an article in the academic journal Adoption Quarterly on how white prospective parents make decisions concerning the race of their children. That research has led to a much deeper understanding of how racism impacts all members of American society, including whites.

I currently work as a clinical social worker with diverse populations and have trained as a social science researcher. The combination, I hope, has led to an ability to both listen to people and analyze the information they give me.

Kerl LeJeune

  1. How long have you been a parent at NNMS? Describe your involvement in supporting the school thus far.

 We are reaching the end of our third year at NNMS. Our exciting daughter, Sophie, is enrolled in the 3-6 program with Metta and overjoyed that she is a stay upper that is moving on to 6-9.

During the last year, I was appointed to the Board serving the remaining year from a departing member. I served on two primary committees: Diversity and Building. As Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee, I work extensively to increase communication amongst parents, teachers and staff on the progress at the school’s continuing efforts for inclusion of all students. Was part of the steering group that identified and expended on the AIM study recommendations from last year. Those recommendations then became key strategies that guided our planning, discussions and involvement at the school. Helped with organization and strategy planning for the various school events focusing on diversity like the Festival of Lights and others.

I participated as a Parent Artist for two consecutive years at the 12-14 class of Rick Mosher and Cynthia along with the 12-14 class of Meg. Those efforts culminated in art projects for the Bid Night fundraising event for scholarships.

My wife, Jimena, remains active with the school working with other parents for a series of events like the Festival of Lights, Harvest breakfast, Farmessori, Class Mom, Mocha Montessori group, Urban Farm Program for the Chicken House and hosting other ancillary events. We were both became Parent Ambassadors this year pairing us with two new parents in Metta’s class in preparation for the school year.

  1. Why do you want to serve on the Board? Please include any specific goals that you may have for the school.

To have an opportunity in continuing my involvement to assist in providing guidance, planning and working on the great efforts at the school during my first year on the board.

I have served 3-Terms on the Board of Directors for the University of Illinois encompassing all three campuses (UIC, UIUC, SPRINGFIELD). Those six years of experience at the higher education level are invaluable to handling the same set of issues and challenges faced at the elementary level at NNMS. From financial, to strategic planning and development of resources, staffing, scholarship, development and funding along with many other matters.

  1. List and describe all organizational experiences (including previous service on boards and committees):

Board of Directors – NNMS, Near North Montessori School (1 Yr Term) 2014 – 2015

Board of Directors – UIAA, University of Illinois Alumni Association, (All Campuses) 2008 – Present

UIAA Board – Chair, Operations Committee, 2011 – 2014

UIAA Board – Chair, Awards and Recognition Committee, 2003 – 2011

Search Committees – University of Illinois at Chicago

2014   Position: UIC Chancellor for the Chicago Campus

2014   Position: UIAA Associate Director Alumni Advocacy & Outreach

2006   Position: UIC Director of the School of Architecture

2004   Position: UIC Dean of the College of Architecture and the Arts

Board of Directors – CAC, The Chicago Architectural Club, Treasurer, 2003 – Present

Board of Directors – UIC, The University of IL at Chicago, CAAB, Campus Alumni Advisory Board, 2006 – Present.

CAAB Board – Co Chair, Awards Committee, 2006 – Present

Board of Directors – UVLOFTS, University Village Lofts Association, Executive Positions, 2004 – Present

Board of Directors – WGPCA, West Garfield Park Condo Association, Treasurer, Since 1996.

Member – AIA, The American Institute of Architects, 1999 – Present, AIA/CES Learning Units Provider/Coordinator

Professional Advisor – The Chicago Architectural Foundation, Youth Programs CAF 1992 – Present

Ambassador – UIAA, Illinois Connection Advocacy, 2005 – Present

Founding member – The National Public Housing Museum, Chicago IL, 2006 – Present

Board President – INOMA, National Organization of Minority Architects/Illinois Chapter, 1994–1995

Board President – UIC ARCH A3, University of Illinois Architecture Alumni Association, 3 Terms; 1996-2002.

Member – Structural Engineers Association of Illinois, 1991-2005

Member: Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, Chicago Park District, 1998 – Present

  1. Please describe qualifications or skills that you could contribute to the work of the NNM board.

I am practicing Architect and have been working in the profession for the past 24 years. My diverse background includes design, management and construction of many award winning built projects. My tenure at award-winning Chicago architectural firms for the last 20+yrs, have resulted in an array of both private and public partnerships with some of the major clients within the city. With strong organization and leadership skills, my genuine interest has been for continued advancement of strong team dynamics working with experience in residential, commercial, non-profit and other industry sectors.

Maintaining effective design skills and the ability to lead a group are of great importance to my work ethic. I value and understand team effectiveness related to the quality delivery process along with strong mentoring and development of staff while becoming a resource within an organization.

During my professional career, I was fortunate to be an Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture with a focus on Design, Technology and Structural Mechanics. University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture was my longest educational timespan totaling 10yrs with the program. I understand well the dynamics and processes of the higher education system as it relates to programs, functions and operations of the school. Similar experiences were a part of my career teaching at other institutions from IIT to SAIC and ARCHEworks.

As I continue to seek new challenges, I am confident that my experience and qualifications will help advance the NNMS’ mission and initiatives to support its future planning efforts. I am excited for your consideration of my credentials for the opportunity and look forward to meeting with you for becoming a valuable asset to your team.

Currently my committee interests are in the following areas: Building, Culture, Diversity and TSA.

Ariel Litvin

This is my first year as a parent at NNM. Thus far I have contributed personally to the annual fund, purchased raffle tickets and an auction item at Big Night, and also directed a contribution to the school from a Charitable Fund that I sit on the board of.

I’d like to sit on the board because obviously i’d like to see the school continue to thrive, and I also plan on being a parent at the school for a long time (I plan on enrolling my son as well when he is old enough). I don’t have any specific goals for the school yet, as I am still fresh on the scene, but my finance background will be helpful with regards to fund and portfolio management, as well as in other areas.

Saul and Devorah Sherman Fund (New York, NY).

I currently sit on the board of this fund. It is a small charitable fund that directs donations towards education and art based activities. I have been on the board for the past 4 years.

Portland JCC (Portland, OR).

I sat on the finance committee for one calendar year in 2003. The function of this group was to oversee the budget for the center.

Friends of the Sports Center for the Disabled.

The Sports Center for the Disabled is a sports and therapy center for disabled children and adults in Ramat Gan, Israel. I volunteered time in Israel when I was younger at the center, and spent many years thereafter working with the friends group to raise money for the center in the United States.   I am no longer active in this organization. I have a broad understanding of finance that I believe would be helpful. I have worked in an audit capacity indirectly for the FDIC in the past, as a commercial lender and real estate underwriter for several banks/investment banks and as a trustee in the securitization business. I have an excellent grasp of personal and fund investment theory as well.

Personally, I’m level headed, easy going and a good listener, but also not afraid to speak my mind when I feel compelled.

Gordon Pan

Organizational Experience: I am currently the Managing Partner of a private equity firm and I deal with the operational, organizational, finance and strategic challenges that confront small businesses on a daily basis. I have experience with strategic planning, governance, financial planning, budgeting and organizational change based on my active involvement with private companies over the past 20 years. I have been actively involved on the NNMS board and a member of the finance committee for the past 6 years and look forward to continuing in this capacity.

Qualifications/Skills: Member of 12 different Boards of Directors in the past 20 years including the last 6 as a member of NNMS’ board. I have also served on the Finance Committee of NNMS and have been active in the budgeting process and identifying ways to manage the tuition increases at the school. Strong understanding of Board governance and fiduciary responsibility of Board members. Active member of the Kellogg School Private Equity Advisory Council

Goals/Why I want to serve on the Board: We have two children at NNMS (Tyler age 11 and Genna age 8) and plan to be at the school for the long haul. I believe the coming years will pose interesting challenges as the student body changes from a social/economic perspective. All the while the economic environment around us will continue to be challenging. I am hopeful that my experience serving on other boards of private companies will allow me to share a complementary and additive perspective to the NNMS board as we adapt to this changing environment. More specifically, I think I can bring experience with financial, strategic and organizational planning which will be important as we deal with our current and future challenges.

Kate Sirkin

8 years, since my now 15 year old joined 6-9. My involvement is limited because of my job and regular travel but high impact where I see the opportunity to make a difference. Our family have contributed financially to support the new gym and rebuild work and are regular contributors to the annual funds and other fund raisers. We are involved in several aspects of diversity, from hosting the annual Sukkah party for the Jewish community and are active contributors to the partnership for potential parent group.

We love the school and value the huge impact it has on our children and their lives. I’d like to help continue the expansion of diversity work and ensure families are acutely aware of the resources that they need, and the school provides, to help them navigate the complicated world of education in Chicago. We would like to ensure the school has a solid financial base and strategic plan to meets its future goals and to continue to be the premier education option for many, many families in the city of Chicago.

12 years on my employer’s “Starcom MediaVest Group” board and global leadership council

8 years as a member of the Advertising Research Foundation board and executive board

8 years as a founding member of the Marketing Accountability Standards board.

5 years as member of the executive board of CIMM – (Coalition for Innovation in Media Measurement)

Professional skills – Marketing, Research, Measurement.

Personal experience – Parent of a child with learning differences who is figuring out how to help and support her to be her best self. We also both were beginner parents to the American education system and understand the challenges in figuring it all out.