Meet the 2023-2024 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 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 has previously served as a Board member from 2013 to 2021 and acted as Treasurer. He has worked for community development banks and commercial banks for nearly 25 years. He is now the Managing Director of Lending for Illinois and Northwest Indiana at IFF, a nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) that provides capital, consulting, and thought leadership to nonprofit organizations that provide services in low-income communities or to persons with disabilities. In addition to his years on the Collaboration’s board, Gordon was a Commissioner of the Oak Park Housing Authority for five years. He also has been a member of the Greater Austin Development Association, an organization of landlords and others that seeks to provide safe, quality, affordable housing in the Austin community, since 2012.
Charisse Burns (she/her)
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 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 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 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 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)
Lisa Ginet (they/she)
Madelyn James (she/her)
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.
Elizabeth Lippitt (she/her)
Elizabeth has a 40- year career in health care administration. She was Executive Director of the Oak Park Infant Welfare Society Children’s Clinic for 20 years which provides medical, dental and social services care to children. She recently retired as Operations Manager of the Advocate-Aurora Pediatric Developmental Center managing an eight-million-dollar budget which supported assessment and treatment of children with cognitive and social developmental challenges. She is the past President of the District 97 School Board and was keenly interested in the student achievement and opportunity gap of those starting kindergarten. She was an early supporter and Board member of the Collaboration. As President of the Oak Park and River Forest League of Women Voters, Elizabeth chaired the committee that developed the first Early Childhood Resource Directory which the Collaboration now produces. Elizabeth received a BA from Oberlin College and a Masters in Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Elizabeth is now reliving early childhood experiences as she is spending a lot of time with her 4 grandchildren, ages one month to five years!
Gina Lowell (she/her)
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, 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.
Heather McCammond-Watts (she/her)
Rachel Rettberg (she/her)
Mark Smylie (he/him)
Mark is Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and 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 became the Board’s Chair in July, 2020 and has been a member of the Board since 2016. Since joining the Board she has served on the Health and Development Committee. 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. A mother of three grown children and grandmother of four, her lifelong focus and passion has been supporting and empowering students and their families.
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