Meet the 2024-2025 Board

The Collaboration for Early Childhood’s Board of Directors meets monthly. In addition to the Board of Directors, a Collaboration Council builds consensus on activities and the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) Governing Board oversees agreements with the municipal taxing bodies. A Founders Board was created in 2012 to offer institutional memory and guidance.

Bob Tucker (he/him)

Bob Tucker (he/him)

Chair

Bob Tucker has been a member of the Collaboration’s Board of Directors since July, 2021 and is the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Programs at the Chicago Community Loan Fund. In his role at the Chicago Community Loan Fund, he leads internal operations and provides strategic leadership to ensure CCLF executes its business plan and fulfills its mission to provide flexible, affordable and responsible financing and technical assistance for community stabilization and development efforts and initiatives that benefit low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. From 2011-2019, Bob served as an Oak Park Village Trustee on the Village Board of Oak Park. He is the father of two sons.

Gordon Hellwig (he/him)

Gordon Hellwig (he/him)

Vice-Chair

After 40+ years of work which included community development banking, lending to nonprofit organizations, and working for the US Government in Washington as well as abroad, Gordon Hellwig is now retired. He formerly served as a Collaboration Board member from 2013 to 2021. A 27-year resident of Oak Park, Gordon served as a Commissioner of the Oak Park Housing Authority for five years and was a member of the Greater Austin Development Association, a nonprofit organization of landlords and others that seeks to provide safe, quality, affordable housing in the Austin neighborhood and nearby communities, from 2012 to 2021.

Charisse Burns (she/her)

Charisse Burns (she/her)

Board Secretary

Charisse joined the Collaboration’s Board of Directors in July of 2021. She is currently Manager of Annual Giving at Concordia University Chicago. Charisse has 20 years of experience in corporate marketing and has worked in a variety of industries including as Associate Account Manager at Burrell Communications, Brand Manager with ConAgra Foods and Multicultural Brand Manager at Sears Holding Company. Charisse holds an MBA and attended the UIC Extended Campus where she earned her certification in non-profit management. She is the mother of two and has been an active member of the PTO at Hatch Elementary School.

Julie Stevens (she/her)

Julie Stevens (she/her)

Treasurer

Julie joined the Board in 2018.  She is the Head of Client Services at William Blair in Chicago, and she and her husband are co-owners, along with another Oak Park family, of One Lake Brewing in Oak Park.   She moved to Oak Park in 2013, and has two children in elementary and middle school. She enjoys volunteering at organizations such as Bernie’s Book Bank and Cradles to Crayons, along with participating in volunteer opportunities at her children’s schools.  She holds a BS in Finance from Indiana University and an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Glenn Brewer (he/him)

Glenn Brewer (he/him)

Board Member

Glenn Brewer is a Chicago area attorney, with a major focus on housing discrimination, and a long career with the federal government, where he spent nearly 27 years. Glenn’s responsibilities included acting as a liaison between community groups, bankers, and the FDIC on fair lending regulations and community development and reinvestment opportunities. He has a long history of civic engagement, serving two terms as an Oak Park Village Trustee, and as a board member for the Oak Park Regional Housing Center. In 2019, he was appointed to lead the community relations commission in Oak Park. He is also a former board member of Unity Temple. Glenn is an active member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. – initiated into Mu Delta Chapter and currently a member of Sigma Omega Chapter, where he has served in a variety of leadership positions. Glenn received his undergraduate degree in Communications from Northwestern University, a graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law – Illinois Institute of Technology, and a member of the Bar of the State of Illinois, and the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Dale Clarke (she/her)

Dale Clarke (she/her)

Board Member

Dale Hayes Clarke raised her family in Oak Park and has been a member of the community for forty years. She has always been an active part of the local Oak Park community. She was a member of the Mann School PTO where she served as President for two years. She has also been a member of the League of Women Voters, and has held roles as board member of the Infant Welfare Society and Sarah’s Inn. At Sarah’s Inn, she served on the board from 2000-2011, holding the positions of Vice-President and President. She has worked as a family counselor and as an administrator in a cancer support organization. In her free time, Dale plays tennis, mahjong and is part of a book group.

Rupa Datta (she/her)

Rupa Datta (she/her)

Board Member

Rupa Datta has lived in Oak Park since 2009. Since college, Rupa has had many professional and volunteer roles dedicated to improving access to quality educational experiences. She is a nationally-recognized researcher on the economics of early care and education. Closer to home, she served on the Oak Park Elementary District 97 school board  from 2015-2019, having previously participated in other D97 and Collaboration committees. She and her husband have two children in the Oak Park public schools.

Louise Gates (she/her)

Louise Gates (she/her)

Board Member

Louise was very fortunate to grow up in a loving Italian family that valued hard work, education, family, and of course, good food. She credits this upbringing as the foundation that allowed her to achieve in life. A daughter of Italian immigrants, Louise was a first-generation high school and college graduate. She joined the Collaboration for Early Childhood’s board to help all children have as strong an early childhood foundation as she was fortunate to have. After working in commercial real estate lending for over 20 years, Louise retired and spends time volunteering, reading, quilting, taking classes and traveling. She has served as an officer on the boards of the Oak Park Education Foundation, the League of Women Voters of OP&RF and of Cook County and the St. Giles Parish Council. Louise holds a BS in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Her three children and husband are all educators. Louise is a grandmother of two lovely young ladies.
Lisa Ginet (they/she)

Lisa Ginet (they/she)

Board Member

Lisa Ginet is a founding member of the Collaboration for Early Childhood; she currently serves on the Board and the Professional Development committee. Professionally, Lisa is the director of Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative. She has spent more than three decades as an educator in various roles: classroom teacher, child care provider, parent educator, home visitor, teacher trainer, and college faculty. Lisa has worked in diverse settings, from child care centers and elementary and middle schools to community colleges and private universities. In all her roles, she has worked to engage children in active and meaningful learning, to support families as their children’s first and closest teachers, and to involve educators in reflective and practical dialogue to help improve their teaching.
Madelyn James (she/her)

Madelyn James (she/her)

Board Member

Madelyn James has over 25 years of experience in early childhood care and education as a teacher, director, coach and policy advocate across Chicago and the Chicagoland area. Throughout her career in early childhood, she has participated in a wide variety of state and local initiatives including the Mayor’s Taskforce on Early Childhood and as Co-Chair for the Birth to Three Workgroup of the Northern Illinois University Regional P-20 Network. Currently, Madelyn serves as Director of Programs at the Austin Childcare Providers Network, an organization that partners with programs in Austin, Maywood, Bellwood, Lawndale, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, Elmwood Park, and Round Lake to promote advocacy and educational work. She is a member of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI). She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Dominican University and has done postgraduate work with a focus on Special Education at University of Illinois, Chicago.

Gina Lowell (she/her)

Gina Lowell (she/her)

Board Member

Gina Lowell, MD, MPH, is a Pediatrician and Director of Community Health for Pediatrics at Rush University Children’s Hospital. In her work at Rush Hospital, Gina develops maternal-child health initiatives that address the intersection of social determinants of health and maternal-child health outcomes through multidisciplinary collaboration and partnerships with community, city and state stakeholder institutions. Concurrent with these efforts, she is a general pediatrician at the Rush Pediatric Primary Care Center and a consultant for Rush’s Child Protection Team, providing care for children who have suffered maltreatment and those that have entered the foster care system. 

John Mayes (he/him)

John Mayes (he/him)

Board Member

John Mayes, LCSW, ACSW, ADC, officially joined the board in July 2020. He has spent almost 40 years working in community behavioral health organizations. From 2006 to 2018, he served as president and CEO of Trilogy Behavioral Health. He has also been a surveyor for the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) for more than 20 years and an organizational consultant. John spent his career in management and leadership roles. His special interests are not-for-profit management, leadership, mentoring, and staff development. John is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Alcohol Drug Counselor (ADC). He earned his master’s degree in social work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. John is a former executive director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Illinois and an active member of the Oak Park Area Arts Council board of directors.

Debbie McCann (she/her)

Debbie McCann (she/her)

Board Member

Debbie McCann joined the Collaboration for Early Childhood Board in July of 2024 and is the co-founder and CEO of W4Sight, a software consulting firm serving the nonprofit and foundation community. Prior to founding her own consulting firm in 2006, and cofounding W4Sight in 2009, Debbie served as a deputy Chief Information Officer for the City of Chicago, leading the implementation and ongoing management of the City’s building permitting and inspections systems, expansion of the non-emergency services (311) system, and the development of the first online vehicle sticker system. She also has served as a policy analyst for a coalition of Illinois non-profit organizations, and as a consulting associate for both global and start-up firms. Debbie earned a bachelor’s degree in history and urban studies from Northwestern University, and a master’s degree in public policy from the Harris School at the University of Chicago. She and her husband live in Oak Park, holding down the nest while their young adult daughters are away at college. Their current project is to enjoy a meal at a local restaurant in each of Chicago’s 77 community areas. From 2013-2018 Debbie led the Collaboration’s research and evaluation committee. As a board member, she hopes to continue helping the Collaboration tell its success story to a broad audience.
Rachel Rettberg (she/her)

Rachel Rettberg (she/her)

Board Member

Rachel Rettberg (she/her) was raised in the UK where she always knew she wanted to be an educator. After moving here in her early twenties with a degree in Philosophy and Government from the University of Essex, she embarked on a career in early childhood education. This career has included working at centers in and around Oak Park, gaining a master’s degree in early childhood education, leading Wonder Works Children’s Museum as CEO and serving as Executive Director of A House in Austin. Currently Rachel is the Education Director at Oak Leaf Academy in Oak Park, where she is delighted to be back on the ground working directly with young children, supporting educators, and partnering with families to ensure they and their children receive the resources they need in and outside school. Rachel recently completed the work and certification required to be a Registered Behavioral Technician. The three local non-profit boards that Rachel has served on all served children and families in different capacities. She passionately believes that investing in early childhood education changes the landscape of a nation by setting children up to be healthy, happy, contributing individuals. Rachel has lived in Oak Park for twenty-plus years with her husband, three sons, two dogs and a great deal of laughter. She joined the Board in July, 2023. 

Mark Smylie (he/him)

Mark Smylie (he/him)

Board Member

Mark is Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and former Visiting Professor at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. His teaching and research focus on school leadership, organizational improvement, and educational equity. Most recently Mark’s work examines ways of promoting positive learning environments for children in schools. Mark has published widely in scholarly and professional books and journals and has worked with schools, school districts, state education agencies, and professional associations across the country. He was a Co-Director of the Consortium for Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago and the executive officer of the National Society for the Study of Education. Mark has served on the boards of several Oak Park and Chicago-area not-for-profit organizations.

Becki Streit (she/her)

Becki Streit (she/her)

Board Member

Becki has been a member of the Board since 2016 and served as Chair from 2019-2023. Since joining the Board, she has served on the Health and Development, Governance, and HR Committees. Becki is a retired special education teacher and administrator. She taught students who are Deaf/hard of hearing for ten years in northwest Indiana and at the Illinois State University Laboratory Schools. Becki then supervised programs for students with disabilities at the LaGrange Area Department of Special Education, served as Executive Director of the LICA Special Education Cooperative, and was Assistant Superintendent for Special Education, Early Childhood, and Student Services in Arlington Heights District 59. Post-retirement she has worked as a consultant for school districts in the Chicago area. Becki holds a bachelor’s degree in special education and a master’s degree in educational administration from Illinois State University. The mother of three grown children and grandmother of four, her lifelong focus and passion has been supporting and empowering students and their families.

Stephanie Weller (she/her)

Stephanie Weller (she/her)

Board Member

Stephanie Weller is a pediatrician who currently works for Advocate Aurora Health in a multi-group practice in Chicago. She became involved with The Collaboration for Early Childhood through her role as the Medical Director of the Oak Park River Forest Infant Welfare Society’s Children Clinic, where she worked from 2014-2019. She joined the Board of the Collaboration for Early Childhood in July of 2024 after being a member of the Collaboration’s Health and Development Committee since 2015. She was born and raised in Chicago, then attended medical school at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to this, she taught chemistry in Tanzania, through the Peace Corps. She is passionate about improving children’s health and enjoys working in her community through projects like mass immunization programs and providing healthcare to families living in temporary shelters.  She currently lives with her family in Oak Park. 

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We champion high-quality early childhood care and learning experiences and support for families so all children develop their full potential.