Who We Are

Board of Directors

Headshot of Beth Brooks

Beth A. Brooks, PhD, RN, FACHE

President, The Brooks Group, LLC

Chair,  Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Dr. Brooks has a unique blend of leadership experiences from three distinct sectors of the health care industry; nursing administration in a health care system, academic administration, and leadership positions in the for-profit arena; specifically in marketing communication agencies specializing in employment branding, communications and employment marketing.

 Dr. Brooks earned a Doctor of Philosophy in nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a Master of Science in nursing administration from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Valparaiso University. Her doctoral studies resulted in the creation of Brooks' Quality of Nursing Work Life Survey. Her survey has been used in twenty-five countries from Iran to Thailand and has been translated into five languages. She is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Headshot of Tobeka Green

Tobeka Green

Management Consultant

Secretary, Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Tobeka Green is a management consultant and veteran C-suite executive with diverse nonprofit and corporate management experience committed to advancing educational equity and inclusive leadership.

 Most recently, Tobeka provided transformational leadership as President and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI), the only national nonprofit focused exclusively on the education and wellbeing of Black children and families. Tobeka has also served as Senior Managing Director at District of Columbia Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI), and was CEO of Communities In Schools of the Nation’s Capital.

 Tobeka received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Florida A&M University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Baruch College - City University of New York, where she was a National Urban Fellow.

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Michelle Saddler

Principal at Kittleman & Associates

Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Michelle Saddler brings several decades of experience and strong records of accomplishment in numerous government and not-for-profit organizations, and provides executive search as well as other consulting services for clients. Prior to joining Kittleman & Associates, Michelle served as Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and Chief of Staff to Former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. During her five years as IDHS Secretary, Michelle provided overall management and direction to Illinois’ largest and most diverse state agency.

 Michelle earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and her Master’s in Management Degree from

Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Headshot of Celena Roldán

Celena Roldán

American Red Cross of Illinois

Past Chair, Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Celena is the CEO of the American Red Cross Illinois. Prior to joining the Red Cross, Roldán was associated with Erie Neighborhood House which was founded in 1870 to strengthen low-income, primarily Latino families through skill-building, access to critical resources, advocacy and collaborative action. She began her tenure at Erie House in 2001 as the Social Worker and Disabilities Coordinator and then became Director of Child Care in 2006 before taking on the role of Executive Director in 2010.

 Celena also served on Governor Quinn’s Illinois Human Services Commission and served on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Education Transition team, and Mayor Emanuel’s Early Childhood Task Force. She holds a Master's degree in Early Childhood Administration from National Louis University, as well as Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Headshot of Marvin R. Cohen

Marvin R. Cohen, PhD

Treasurer, Adjunct Instructor Northwestern University, School of Education & Social Policy

Dr. Marvin R. Cohen is currently an Adjunct Instructor at Northwestern University’s School of Education & Social Policy, where he teaches undergraduate courses on civic engagement and introduction to social policy. He has recently served as Associate at The Kettering Foundation and mentored students in the Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies Program at Spertus Institute. Prior to that, Dr. Cohen served as Vice President of The TCC Group and Director of The Children, Youth, & Families Initiative at the Chicago Community Trust.

 Marvin earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley; his M.A. in Political Science from Columbia University, New York City; and an M.A. from the University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration. He currently serves as Co-Chair of the Community Supports Action Team, Evanston Cradle to Career and as a member of The Advisory Board of Community Partners for Affordable Housing.

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Joel M. Carp

Former Senior Vice President, Jewish Federation/Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago

Member, Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Joel retired from full-time employment at the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago after 30 years of service in June, 2006.  As Senior Vice President he was the head of Community Services and Government Relations. He spent his professional career in social work, social planning and advocacy in the Jewish community.  From 2006 to 2010 he continued with the Federation part-time as Senior Vice President Emeritus, managing several projects, the most important being “J-CERT,” the Jewish Community Emergency Resiliency Team. 

His publications include more than 30 articles and chapters on various subjects in the

field of social work, social planning, services for people with disabilities, and refugee resettlement.  His work includes a chapter on “The Jewish Social Welfare Lobby,” published in a four-volume series, Jewish Polity & Civil Society (2002). Since 2009 he has been a member of the Board of Directors of Illinois Action for Children where he is Chair of the Audit Committee.   

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Lachar Crayton

Chair, IAFC Head Start Policy Council

Member, Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

LaChar is the mother of three children. Her twins, a boy and a girl, are in the IAFC Head Start Program, and her baby boy attends the IAFC Early Head Start Center based at the Dolton site. LaChar is a regular volunteer at the Dolton site and at home spends time doing activities with her children.

 LaChar is a resident of Dolton and is very active in her community. She is a member of C.H.A.R.T.E.R.S. (Children Have Rights to Education Remedies) and a member of the Mentoring Program at Lincoln Junior High School.

Headshot of Jennifer Farrington

Jennifer Farrington

President and CEO, Chicago Children’s Museum

Member,  Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Starting her career at Chicago Children’s Museum as an education intern almost 25 years ago, Jennifer Farrington has never lost sight of her goal to improve children’s lives through education and the arts. As President and CEO of Chicago Children’s Museum—the city’s only major cultural institution focused solely on young children and their families and caregivers—Farrington and her staff now reach more than 400,000 children annually through a variety of exhibits, programs, and partnerships at their home on historic Navy Pier and throughout the neighborhoods of Chicago.

 Known for her innovative and progressive approaches, Jennifer has positioned the museum as a national leader in child development and play-based learning, and as a fierce advocate for all children to have access to high quality museum experiences. She lives, works, and plays in Chicago where she resides with her husband and two teen-aged children.

Linda Hodo

Linda Hodo

Assistant Director, Learning Strategist and Solution Leader

Crowe LLP

Member, Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Linda is an experienced HR, Learning, and Organizational Development leader skilled at collaborating with leadership to create integrated talent management strategies that foster a culture of high performance to achieve business results. She has served in the capacity of officer, leader, consultant, and strategic business partner for senior leaders across a variety of industries. Her current role is Assistant Director, Learning Strategist, and Solution Leader, Crowe LLP.

 

Over the course of her career, Linda has also been an adjunct instructor for coaching in Northwestern’s MSOD program and an adjunct for Columbia College. At present, she is the owner of thepivotpage.com where she continues to help individuals and organizations take their ideas and turn them into actions for change. Additionally, she has had extensive experience as a Board member with non-profits and industry associations.

 

Linda has her BA in Journalism from Drake University, her MS in Marketing Communications at Roosevelt University, and the Doctoral Program (ABD) HR Development/Planned Organizational Change at George Washington University.

Hannah Marie Kalogriopoulos

Hannah Marie Kalogriopoulos

Attorney with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability

Member, Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Hannah is an experienced attorney and former public-school educator with a history of public service and community engagement. Currently an attorney with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, she also spent three years as an Assistant District Attorney in New York. A former Teach for America instructor, Hannah taught second and third grade and special needs students in Kansas City, MO. In addition to her law degree from Boston College Law School, Hannah has a B.S. in History, Technology & Society - International Plan as well as her Masters in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri.

Chris Knapik

Chris Knapik

Process Transformation Senior Director

PepsiCo

Member, Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Beginning his career with Deloitte & Touche LLP as an IT auditor, Chris eventually transitioned towards SAP (Enterprise Software Company) as a specialty area.  He practiced systems implementation work with Deloitte in the Aerospace and Defense and Consumer Products industries before transitioning to a Global SAP security lead role at PepsiCo in 2014. In his seven years at Pepsi Chris has served a variety of security, control, governance, and process-oriented roles including his most recent promotion to the lead of the process transformation team serving CFOs, Controllers, and IT.

 

With his wife in the education field and two young daughters, Chris was drawn to IAFC for our work in early learning.

 

Chris has a B.A. (Management Information Systems, Finance) and a sales certificate from Ohio University.  He also maintains certifications as a Certified Information Security Auditor (CISA) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

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Sonia Lopez-Tavares

Vice Chair, IAFC Head Start Policy Council

Member, Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Sonia Lopez-Tavares is a a stay at-home mother of two young daughters. This is the first time she has been elected as Vice-Chair of Illinois Action for Children Early Head Start/ Head Start Policy Council. She is also in her second year as the Illinois Action for Children Chicago Heights Early Learning Program Parents Council Representative.

Catherine Merritt

CEO, Spool Marketing and Communications

Member, Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Catherine Merritt is the founder and CEO of Spool Marketing and Communications, an integrated marketing and PR agency she founded along with a cohort of media and agency ex-pats who believed a new agency model is needed for today’s companies and brands. So, she set out to build it with Spool.

Catherine is an innovative, results-driven communications and marketing leader who has worked with startups and Fortune-top companies and many in between. She has more than 15 years of communications and marketing leadership experience from her roles at global agencies where she has overseen many of the agencies’ largest communications and public affairs clients.

Headshot of Andy Rosenbrand

Andrew Rosenband

CEO, MorganLi

Member, Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Andrew founded Morgan Li with an initial group of four employees. His vision helped him grow Morgan Li from what began as a basic metal store fixtures supplier into an all-inclusive fabricating company that counts Walmart, Gap, Old Navy and The Ritz Carlton among its portfolio of clients. He has grown Morgan Li into a thriving, nimble, innovative fixture manufacturing company.

 He is also actively involved in supporting local community groups in Chicago Heights, where his company is based, as well as being a donor to its local fire department, a volunteer and donor to the greater Chicago Food Depository where his company provides shelving for food storage, and is actively involved and donates to High Jump Chicago. Additionally, he serves as a member of the University of Chicago Lab School’s Alumni Board. Andrew and his wife live in Chicago with their two sons.

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Judith Walker-Kendrick

Member, Board of Directors, Illinois Action for Children

Judith Walker-Kendrick has been a passionate advocate for children and communities for more than 30 years. Her extensive experience in the human services field has placed her in positions where she has made a significant impact on communities, families and children. She has worked with a variety of federal, state, and municipal agencies, as well as community based organizations to ensure that families and their children are a top funding and policy priority.

 As the former Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Human Services during the Harold Washington administration, she strengthened community-based programs reinforcing her belief that to develop children you must strengthen their families and communities.

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