Aspire's Board

Aspire's board provides fresh, insightful and strategic thinking, thanks to their diverse backgrounds and unique blend of professional skills, perspectives and experiences.

Comprised of business and civic leaders, their work has advanced Aspire's mission and led to new initiatives and groundbreaking programs.The board has led Aspire to begin blurring the lines between the social sector and the private sector. The result is an exciting integration of social purpose with effective business approaches that will allow for new enterprises and exponential growth.We value the board’s dedication and effort to make Aspire performance-driven, creative, compassionate and forward-focused.

Aspire's Board of Directors

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    Jeffrey G. Miller
    Vice Chair

    Jeff Miller serves as Chief Commercial Officer (COO) of Synchronoss Technologies. Jeff previously served as President for IDEAL Industries Technology Group, focusing on designing and delivering solutions for smart commercial buildings and spaces. IDEAL Industries is a century-old, professionally managed and family-owned business, based in the greater Chicagoland area. Jeff also serves on the Board of 1871, Chicago’s largest start-up incubator, and on the non-profit Boards of Aspire Chicago and Junior Achievement.

    Before joining IDEAL Industries in 2017, Jeff recently completed a 16-year career with Motorola, most recently as Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Operations in North America for Motorola Mobility, LLC. Previously, Jeff was Vice President of Sales for Motorola’s business with AT&T, T-Mobile, and 23-global wireless customers across North America, Latin America, EMEA and the Asia Pacific.

    Jeff also spent five years with Somera Communications, as the Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing, and he worked for AT&T for eleven years, holding various leadership positions in Sales Management, Marketing and Product Management.

    Jeff graduated with a B.S. degree from Miami University and later earned his M.B.A. from The Ohio State University. He and his wife Susan have four children and reside in Chicago’s Lake View neighborhood.

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    Lakshmi Nagaraj

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    Marguerite Aikens

    Meg Aikens joins Aspire’s Board of Directors and Finance Committee with 35 years of finance banking experience with industry leader Bank of America.

    Prior to her recent retirement, Meg served as Chief Financial Officer for Bank of America’s Global Markets Operations & Middle Office, overseeing the forecasting, planning, management reporting and business transaction analysis of the $750MM group spanning 52 countries with more than 5,000 employees.

    Meg has a broad range of finance banking experience, from CFO for Global Markets Technology, Global Risk Technology, Corporate Treasury & Corporate Investments Technology to internal finance support positions, such as Manager of External Reporting.

    An alumna of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Meg and her husband, Bob, live in Western Springs and have two kids. RC is 25 years old and lives and works in Chicago and Matt is 21 years old and a junior at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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    Gary Kobus
    Previous Board Chair

    Gary Kobus is the President of Lincoln Advisory Group, Ltd., an investment advisory affiliate of Lincoln Property Company, and he has more than 24 years of real estate investment management experience. Gary is responsible for raising institutional investor capital, developing investment strategies for and partnership structures with institutional investors.  Gary also oversees the advisory company’s acquisition, disposition and portfolio management disciplines. Since 2001, Gary has overseen the acquisition of more than $1.0 billion and the disposition of more than $400 million of office and industrial real estate assets on behalf of a discretionary state pension fund.  Before joining Lincoln Property Company in 1998, Gary was vice president with Heitman Capital Management managing a $1.6 billion portfolio of pension fund assets and was a vice president at LaSalle Partners. Gary earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Master of Business Administration degree from Northwestern University’s J. L. Kellogg School of Management. Gary is a member of Pension Real Estate Association, the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries and the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association.

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    Allan Bell

    Allan K. Bell is Northwestern Mutual – Chicago’s first and only African American Growth and Development Director. Allan has been associated with Northwestern Mutual since 2006. As the first step in a development track, Allan was appointed field director where he recruited and developed a team of 7 competent financial representatives. He also founded and leads the firm’s multicultural mentoring resource group. Allan joined Northwestern Mutual – Chicago after spending almost 18 years with a Fortune 100 telecommunications company.

    As a parent to a child with special needs, Allan is involved with several special needs organizations. He is a former board member for The National Association for Down Syndrome and the ARC of IL. He and his wife Alison are also members of the West Suburban Support Group and the UPS for DOWNS parent support group.

    Allan received a BAS in Electronics Engineering Technology from the ITT Technical Insitute and a BAS in Business and Organizational Management from National Louis University. He also earned a Masters Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University.

    Allan and his wife Alison live in the western suburbs and have three children, Lauren, Kennedi and Kamren. They are also the parents of two Sheppa-doodles, Duke and Duchess.

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    Adam Beringer

    Adam Beringer currently serves as a Shareholder at Vedder Price and is a member of the firm’s Global Transportation Finance team.

    With a focus on commercial aircraft finance, Beringer has significant experience representing operating lessors, commercial banks, finance companies, manufacturers, private equity funds, hedge funds and other aircraft investors in all manner of aircraft finance transactions. Beringer also has experience representing aircraft investors in bankruptcy proceedings involving several airlines, as well as investors and commercial banks in business aircraft finance transactions.

    Prior to joining Vedder Price, Beringer served as general counsel to Q Aviation, a global aircraft-operating lessor. At Q Aviation, Beringer advised senior management in the establishment of the company (from inception), the buildup of its initial $1.5 billion aircraft portfolio and the subsequent divestiture of that portfolio. In addition, Beringer had primary responsibility for all legal matters at Q Aviation and was key in developing portfolio and risk management processes and procedures.

    Beringer graduated cum laude with his B.A. from the University of Dayton in 1996 and earned his J.D. from Georgetown University Law in 1999.

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    Stacey Brown

    Chief Labor Counsel & Vice-President, Labor and Employee Relations

    Stacey is Chief Labor Counsel and Vice-President of Labor and Employee Relations for Walgreens. Within this role, she oversees the relationship and collective bargaining with all of the unions representing Walgreen’s team members. Stacey also heads the Labor Counsel for Walgreens, which consists of the executive leaders for each functional area of the organization, ensuring cross-functional collaboration in the execution of the labor strategy. Additionally, in Stacey’s role as Vice-President of Employee Relations, she oversees a large team of employee relations experts in their duties of providing retail, supply chain, and office team member support. In this capacity, Stacey is charged with ensuring a positive workplace and exceptional engagement for over 250,000 Walgreens team members.

    Prior to joining Walgreens, Stacey served as Vice-President, Human Resources, Labor & Government Relations for Albertson’s-Safeway. In the divisions of the company in which she served (Jewel-Osco and Safeway Eastern), Stacey not only devised and executed on the labor strategy, but also on talent management, succession planning, compensation and legislative activity.  Before joining Albertson’s-Safeway, Stacey was employed as General Counsel for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in Chicago, Illinois. Within this role, Stacey negotiated multiple collective bargaining agreements, arbitrated and litigated a variety of issues, and provided legal guidance to the administration. In the earlier years of Stacey’s career, she was employed as a litigation attorney in Dayton, Ohio.

    Stacey received her J.D. from the University of Dayton, School of Law, and her B.S. at Ball State University.

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    David Catherall

    David L. Catherall is managing director and industry manager for GCIB Wholesale Credit at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Catherall is responsible for managing a team of 25 credit professionals responsible for originating, structuring, underwriting and monitoring credit exposure related to loans, derivatives, cash management, leasing and other banking solutions for more than 150 large corporate clients in the Industrials sector. The sector consists of clients in an array of industries including automotive, airline, aerospace & defense, building products, chemicals, construction & engineering, environmental services, machinery, packaging, road & rail etc. The portfolio generates over $1Bn in bank revenues on $56Bn in credit exposure. Prior to his current role, Catherall spent 19 years working in credit covering Consumer & Retail clients in Chicago and Kansas City at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Catherall graduated Magna Cum Laude from Columbia College in 1993 with a B.S. in Business Administration. In 2004 he earned the CFA designation and also holds Series 7 and 63 licenses. He currently resides in Palatine, IL, a northwest suburb of Chicago, with his wife and two children.

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    Jessica Curry Christensen

    Jessica Curry Christensen is Director of Sales at providing integrated digital advertising solutions to top tier clients in both Minneapolis and Chicago. She possesses over six years of media strategy and activation experience across key retailers and CPG business. Prior to joining Teads, Jessica began her career as a Media Associate & Supervisor at Spark Communications in Chicago, a division of Starcom Mediavest Group, before transitioning to a sales role at Mode Media for nearly four years.

    Previously, Jessica was President of the Aspire Associate Board for two years, re-establishing the Associate Board’s commitment to Aspire and helping share Aspire’s message in the Chicago community. She first gained interest as a disabilities advocate in her tenure at DePauw University as a participant in the Best Buddies program and has since continued her interest in the disabilities community.

    She is originally from the Northwest Suburbs and currently lives in the Chicago West Loop with her husband and two rescue Chihuahuas.

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    Jim Dimitriou

    Jim is the Managing Director, Central Region Market Leader for Advisory Services at BDO.
    He is responsible for growing sales of all BDO Advisory Service lines across current, as well as new logo accounts by working with other BDO leaders, BDO Alliance Partners and his extensive market relationships.

    Prior to his role at BDO, Jim was Managing Director of the Financial Consulting Services practice at Advanced Resources LLC. Prior to joining Advanced Resources, he was the CEO of Deegit, Inc. a professional services firm specializing in providing technology talent to IT organizations.

    Prior to joining Deegit, Jim was a Managing Partner of Tatum, a professional services division of Randstad, specializing in providing executive level interim leadership as well as mission critical engagements to improve financial performance to the middle market. He also held management roles at Capgemini, Loudcloud/Opsware, and CSC Consulting. His career began at Andersen Consulting, now Accenture, where he spent 11 successful years before being promoted to Associate Partner.

    Jim holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Carleton College. He currently serves on the Boards of Aspire, RockGate Partners, and Twisted Rope, Inc.

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    Bob Johnson

    Bob Johnson is an attorney and worked for the federal government for 27 years as an Administrative Judge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Concurrently, he worked as a medical technologist for 54 years with Advocate Health Care. Bob was a member of NorthPointe Resources’ Board of Directors for nine years prior to joining Aspire’s Board of Directors in 2019. His wife, Anne, is a R.N. and has worked for organizations for people with disabilities.

    Bob has had an interest in people with developmental disabilities and mental illness since his son, Chris, was born with cerebral palsy. Chris currently enjoys living in one of Aspire’s Lake County community homes. After living in Arlington Heights for 50 years, Bob and his wife recently relocated to Whitewater, Wisconsin.

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    Kathryn Marchi

    Kathryn Marchi has spent her career in the commercial banking industry focused on real estate lending. In her current role as a team leader within Loan Syndications, Kathryn serves as a product partner to CIBC US Commercial Real Estate with responsibilities that include structuring, underwriting, and distributing the platform’s traditional and structured loan products.

    Prior to joining Loan Syndications, Kathryn served the institution in multiple capacities which included relationship and portfolio management. Kathryn currently leads the Chicago Chapter of the Real Estate Lenders Association and is an active financial literacy volunteer. She began her career at LaSalle Bank after earning her Bachelor of Science in Finance and Marketing at the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign.

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    John McGuire

    John McGuire is the Chief Investment Officer of Ganesh Investments L.L.C., an investment company that serves the families of Penny, Tom, and Gigi Pritzker and their charitable foundations. In this capacity, he manages the family’s investments in third-party funds and partnerships.

    Prior to joining the Pritzker family in 2005, John served as a senior investment professional at Granite Associates, a New York-based family investment office. Before Granite Associates, John spent three years at Accenture, where he focused on management consulting projects in the finance industry. He earned a BA in History from Yale University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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    Erin Nahumyk

    Erin Nahumyk is the Managing Director & Chief Accounting Officer of Harrison Street and is a member of the firm’s Management Committee. She is the department leader overseeing all reporting, accounting, tax and treasury functions of the firm’s real estate funds. She is also responsible for the optimization and productivity of the group’s activities, including development of finance strategy. Her team manages quarterly accounting and reporting, annual year-end audits and tax filings. Prior to joining Harrison Street, Nahumyk held the position of EVP, Chief Accounting Officer of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL Americas) where she led the corporate finance and accounting departments, as well as oversaw finance operations. Nahumyk started her career at Ernst & Young (Chicago) in the real estate assurance practice. She is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Illinois. Nahumyk received her B.A. in Accountancy from Michigan State University.

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    Debbie Sainte-Rose

    Debbie L. Sainte-Rose has worked in human services for nearly 15 years. She worked at Job Path Inc., a non-profit organization in New York City that enables people with developmental disabilities to lead full and satisfying lives. She held several positions of increased responsibility such as coordinator and director of various programs working within high schools, with employers, government partners and in community outreach.

    She later worked for the Aramark Corporation in Philadelphia, her latter role being director of a hospitality training program, which provided hospitality and food service training to youth aging out of the foster care system. She later continued this work with her following employer, Goodwill Industries of Philadelphia.

    Debbie lived abroad with her family in Turkey and Belgium for 7 years and relocated back to the U.S. August of 2015. She is married to husband, Stevens and currently focuses on raising her 3 children: Camille, Deven and Quincy.

    Debbie attended the State University of New York College at Oswego and received a Bachelors of Arts Degree in English Writing Arts and Spanish and a Masters of Arts degree in Special Education from New York University.

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    McKenzie Simmons

    McKenzie Simmons first developed her passion and commitment as a disabilities advocate during high school and college. She was an active volunteer at Youth Challenge, an organization that provides sports and recreation for children with physical disabilities, and served as both a nonmedical and medical buddy at Fresh Air Camp, a recreational camp for children who are ventilator dependent.

    During medical school, Simmons worked in data collection and as a mentor for Opening Doors: Project Adventure to cultivate programming and research for inclusive recreation. She continued her investment in disabilities advocacy upon moving to Chicago by joining the Aspire Associate Board in 2014 and serving as its president from 2015 to 2017.

    Simmons has built her skills as a researcher, both at the lab bench and in the clinical setting. Her projects have focused on endothelial permeability, genomic stability, immune response pathways as well as the acute and late effects of childhood cancer and its therapies.

    Simmons is an alumna of Ohio University and Harvard Medical School. She is originally from the suburbs of Cleveland and currently resides in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago with her husband and rescue dog.

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    Gurpreet Singh

    Mr. Singh is responsible for delivering strategies that enhance growth, improve financial performance and leverage emerging technologies to gain competitive advantage. Prior to joining PwC, Mr. Singh was the Managing Partner for the Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences practice for Diamond Management and Technology Consultants. He has expertise in R&D, Pharmaceutical commercial operations (sales & marketing), IT Strategy/enterprise architecture and financial modeling. Mr. Singh advises senior executives on the business and technology implications of multi-million dollar decisions. He has extensive experience collaborating with Fortune 500 clients in the healthcare, financial services and insurance industry sectors.

    Mr. Singh holds an MBA from the Executive Master’s Program at the J.L. Kellogg School of Management and a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering from Northwestern University where he held a fellowship.

    Mr. Singh lives in Clarendon Hills, IL with his wife (Amrit), who serves on Aspire’s Big City Night Gala Committee, and two boys.

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    Joe Virgilio

    Joe Virgilio is the owner of Travel Center, Inc., a Buffalo Grove IL, full-service travel agency business. Joe is also retired from the Highland Park Fire Department, where he served 30 years in service as a paramedic and firefighter.

    Joe joined NorthPointe Resource’s Board of Directors in 2009 before transitioning to Aspire’s Board of Directors in 2019. He is a strong advocate for people with disabilities, centered around his love for his brother-in-law who has a disability.

    Joe holds a BA from Augustana University. He lives in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois and is the proud father of three sons, Joe, Mike and Matt.

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    Kristen Vitale

    Kristen A. Vitale is a Senior Vice President and Investment Program Manager at Chicago-based First Midwest Bank. Kristen has spent over 20 years in the financial services industry as an individual contributor and in various leadership roles. Kristen joined First Midwest in 2003 and is responsible for the overall direction of the bank’s retail investment and insurance business. In her role as Program Manager, Kristen leads a team of Financial Consultants in providing financial advice, planning, investment and insurance solutions to help business owners and retail clients reach their financial goals.

    She holds the Series 7, 63, 65 and 24 securities licenses and Life and Health insurance licenses. Kristen has received recognition by the financial services industry magazine Bank Investment Consultant, having been named to the list of Top 20 Program Managers in 2015 and 2016. She has a proven track record of success in developing and executing sales strategies while maintaining a strong client focus.

    Kristen is an active member with the First Midwest Bank Women’s Business Resource Group and the Advisor Council of LPL Financial. Previously Kristen served as a board member of the First Midwest Charitable Foundation, the Hephzibah Women’s Auxiliary Board, the Board of Directors of the Professional Women’s Network and as a loaned executive to the March of Dimes. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

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    Brad Weir

    Brad Weir is the immediate past Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kelso-Burnett Co. Kelso-Burnett has been serving the city of Chicago for electrical and communication needs since its conception in 1908.

    In 2005 Brad initiated the creation of Newport Industries, which became the Holding Company for the various companies owned by Kelso-Burnett Co. along with the parent K-B entity. This created a platform to enhance future growth in various markets.

    Brad came to Kelso-Burnett in 1974 when K-B purchased Systems Electric, his family’s firm. Brad served his electrical apprenticeship in Lake County, Illinois where he supervised several large scale projects including Abbot Laboratories, Baxter Pharmaceuticals, CF Industries and North Shore Sanitary District. While working out of the Lake County Office, Brad taught several journeyman classes in advanced technologies including fire alarm, security and fiber optic cabling. Brad also served on the IBEW Executive Board for Local 150.

    Brad is a graduate of Augustana College. He joined the NorthPointe Resources Board of Directors in 2018 before transitioning to Aspire’s Board of Directors in 2019. He currently lives in Wadsworth, Illinois with his wife Jo Ann. They have two children, Jeff and John. Brad and Jo Ann have six grandchildren.

Aspire’s Vision Team


Jim Kales
President and Chief Executive Officer
Contact Jim
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Serena Alaily
Chief Financial Officer
Contact Serena
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Herbert K. Washington, Jr.
Chief Innovation Officer
Contact Herb
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Dina Donohue-Chase
Chief Mission Officer
Contact Dina
View Bio

Rebecca Jackson
Chief Program Strategy Officer
Contact Rebecca
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Sharon Lawrence
Chief People Officer
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Executive Steering Council

The Executive Steering Council is a group of business leaders who help guide Aspire through strategic decision-making and expand Aspire’s network of supporters by connecting us to friends, neighbors and colleagues.

John Berghorst
Managing Director at The Private Bank
Jeff Chan
Founder and President of Chan Management Consulting
Don Drews
President at Courageous Marketing
Adjunct Marketing Professor at Loyola University Chicago
Kevin Garvey
Vice President of Sales at Garvey’s Office Products
John Ide
Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase
Mark Kirstein
Midwest Regional Practice Director at PwC
Tim Ninonski
Northwestern Mutual
Neil Pendleton
Senior Managing Director of Project Management Group at CBRE
Janet Pioli
Shareholder at Brinks Gilson & Lione
Scott Tisdale
Senior Director of Transportation at Univar USA
Hartwig Zakin
Executive Director at Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking (gBCAT)
Jerry DiCola
Senior Manager, Facilities and Operations at Horizon Pharma USA
Mike McLeod
Chief Operating Officer at Integrated Project Management Company, Inc.
Karl Maurer
First Vice President at Wealth Management
Rick Fox
President/Founder at Riverside Strategic Communications
Adam Ansari
Partner at Ansari & Shapiro
Sarah Ansari Haque
Assistant Inspector General at City of Chicago
Tom Latourette
Managing Partner at M3 Learning
Pete Eddington
Senior Account Manager at The Synergy Companies, Inc.
Kristen Vitale
Senior Vice President, Program Manager, First Midwest Bank

Associate Board

Founded in 2011, the Associate Board is a dynamic group of young professionals who support Aspire through fundraising events, volunteerism and awareness campaigns. Monthly meetings are held at different locations in Chicago for brainstorming, planning and organizing. Board members represent a wide range of backgrounds and professional expertise, and interested candidates are welcome. For more information about the Associate Board, please contact Hayley Formolo at

Emily Freeman

Danny Ahye

RC Aikens

Dara Bernstein

Kathryn Boehmke

Eric Choragwicki

Elizabeth Cozzi

Tessa Culbertson

Madona Cumar

Tom Curran

Schaffer Degen

Katie Doan

Billy Donovan

Joe Eames

Jesse Flint

Tiffany Florczak

Deanna Frey

Mrinalini (Mia) Ghoshroy

Kait Glass

Nathan Hampton

Julie Kallas

Erica Karp

Birttany Kottler

Jordan Kovalsky

Diane Less

Casey Mog

Brendan O’Shaughnessy

Katie Oeltgen

Ben Panfil

Spencer Phillips

Meghann Polevoi

Jenn Rotblatt

Monir Sarkarati

Eli Stoiber

Laynee Viniotis

Lauren Watson

Kym Wehrle

Patrick Wehrle

Claire White

Julie White

Maddie Williams

Taylor Wilson