OLD Board of Trustees
Beacon Academy's Board of Trustees is responsible for supporting and promoting the school’s mission and making policies consistent with our values as a leading edge high school that nurtures students' independence, innovation, community inclusiveness, and interdependence. Comprised of parents, alumni parents, and community members, our board also always has at least one trustee who is a Montessori educator. Governed by Bylaws, Trustees establish long-range strategic plans and oversee the fiscal health of the school. Among the Board's most important responsibilities is the selection, support, and evaluation of the Head of School, as well as Head of School succession planning. The Board of Trustees collaborates with the administration, faculty, and community of students and families to advance Beacon Academy's values as a Montessori high school that is at the forefront of reimagining a 21st century high school education.
BRIAN KING, PRESIDENT
Brian King is a founding trustee of Beacon Academy and a proud parent of two Beacon graduates. Julia King was a member of the first graduating class in 2017 and Jeremy King graduated in 2019. Brian has served on the Boards of Near North Montessori and Beacon Academy where he served as Board Chair. Brian has a passion for infrastructure finance and currently works in the Public Finance group of Cabrera Capital Markets where his clients are states, cities, universities and hospitals. Brian has a BA in Anthropology from Knox College and an MM from Northwestern University.
DEVIN PARSONS, VICE PRESIDENT
Devin is the Director of Digital Product Delivery and Principal at Highland Solutions, a Chicago-based mission driven consultancy that helps other mission driven organizations make the world a better place through research, design, and product delivery. Earlier in his career, Devin worked at Aetna, a CVS Health company, where he led technology strategy and innovation and Xerox Business Services where he led product strategy and delivery. He has been actively involved in Montessori based education for over 12 years and has served on the Board of Directors for Country Meadows Montessori School since 2011. Devin lives in Evanston with his wife and twin boys who attend Beacon Academy.
SAM POLLACK, TREASURER
Sam Pollack has more than 25 years of broadly-based experience in financial services and board advisory work. Sam is a partner in investment consulting firm NEPC, LLC, where he counsels prominent foundations, universities, healthcare systems, and other nonprofits. He helps these organizations make prudent investment decisions that advance their missions and enhance their impact. Sam holds a MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a BA in French Literature from Haverford College. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Laura, and three children (one of whom is a current Beacon student).
LIZ AL-DAJANI, SECRETARY
Liz is a lawyer and founding partner of Kerkonian Dajani LLP specializing in appeals, commercial and international litigation. She litigates in courts across the country and in the European Court of Human Rights. She has volunteered actively for over 20 years in the areas of restorative justice, inclusion and equitable community development. She has participated in two conflict-resolution fact-finding missions in the Middle East and the Caucasus. Liz's grounding in social justice began as a child at the Evanston Friends Meeting on Greenleaf. She is a founding board member of the Muslim Women Resource Center in Chicago, and also serves on the boards of Chiaravalle Montessori School and the Armenian Bar Association. Liz is a parent of three Montessori kids, including a graduating senior at Beacon Academy. She lives in Skokie with her family and two dogs.
Isaac is a recent Beacon Academy Alum of the class of ‘21, currently studying voice at Berklee College of Music with a double major in Vocal Performance and Music Business. During his time at Beacon, Isaac was a student ambassador, acting as the student panelist for two years, and was a member of the head of school search committee. He was an active participant in programs such as Model United Nations, Interact and Serve, the Beacon musical, cross country, and track and field.
Christopher Ambroso is the Junior High Director at Near North Montessori in Chicago. He works with the students, teachers and parents during their 7th and 8th grade years and helps families prepare for the transition into high school. During his 27 years in Montessori education, Chris taught in the lower Elementary, Upper Elementary and Junior High before moving into Administration. Chris is dedicated to getting students out of the school building and out into the real world. He's led student groups to every corner of Chicago and made trips with students to Wisconsin; Indiana; New York City; Washington, DC; Mesa Verde, Colorado; Guatemala; China; Italy and Honduras. Chris also serves on the Board of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), an organization that provides homes, education, and a family to children in need in nine Central American and Caribbean countries. Chris is an avid long distance runner and recently completed his 30 marathon. In March, 2020, he will run the Tokyo Marathon in pursuit of the "Six Majors" medal.
Carrie Goodman is a human resources professional who has worked in the education, non-profit and retail industries. Most recently she worked at Near North Montessori School as the HR Director for 13 years where she served on the leadership team, supported faculty and staff and led select committee work with the board of directors. She built the human resources department for the school, successfully implementing strategic and operational plans and practices. A passion for Montessori education and advancing educational and workplace equity extends into both her learning pursuits and philanthropic work. She completed Montessori school administrator training, is an active member of HR and educational associations, and is part of a philanthropic leadership development program. Carrie’s role as a co-chair on the education committee within a private family foundation provides an opportunity to inform grantmaking strategies and to work closely with key partners in the Chicago public education space. Carrie and her husband, Dan, are the parents of three Montessori-educated children, one who currently attends Beacon.
Jennifer is the Vice President of the Whole Child Initiative with KIPP Chicago, directing the school’s growth and development as an anti-racist organization. Prior to KIPP, she served as Director of Corporate Development at United Way of Metro Chicago, where she also co-founded and co-chaired United Way’s internal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategies. Her many professional accomplishments include: being named one of Crain’s Chicago 2021 Leading Black Executive; 2021 3Arts Make A Wave artist; and named a 2020 Game Changer by Ariel Investments and WVON. Jennifer is a proud IMPACT alumnus through the Urban League and The University of Chicago. Her extensive volunteer work includes serving as a member of the Local School Council of Phillip Murray Language Academy, Big Shoulders Fund, Calm Classroom, and Black Creativity Council. From a young age, art has been a vital part of her life, and today she continues selling her own original art and textile designs. Jennifer also teaches youth art classes at the Bridgeport Art Center. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration from Western Michigan University, majoring in finance and real estate, and she earned her MBA from Loyola University Chicago as part of the inaugural cohort of the Baumhart MBA Program.
BRIAN P. KAVANAUGH
Brian is a parent of a current Beacon student and a partner in the law firm Sidley Austin LLP. He represents clients in a wide range of complex litigation matters in arbitration and in state and federal courts, focusing primarily on disputes arising in the healthcare, insurance, and cybersecurity industries. Brian received his B.A. in History from Northwestern University and his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law. He lives with his wife, Julie, two children, and a golden retriever in Northfield.
Inbar Kirson is the proud parent of twins who recently graduated Beacon Academy, and a rising junior. She earned her medical degree at Rush University Medical Center and completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Inbar pursued a second board certification in Obesity Medicine and currently manages two practices, Physicians for Weight Loss and Illinois Bone and Joint OrthoHealth Weight Management program. She combines her 20 plus years of clinical experience with her passion for improving metabolic wellness to help every patient achieve their optimal health. Inbar has a passion for teaching and has lectured and taught locally, regionally, and nationally on Obesity Medicine for both lay audiences and health care professionals. She extends this passion to Beacon by offering her expertise yearly to teach nutrition to the first-year wellness class. She was also responsible for initiating Beacon’s Covid testing program and while serving on the Beacon Medical Task Force she helped to establish protocols and guidance allowing Beacon to safely resume in- person learning. Inbar loves living in Evanston with her family.
Tom is a proud parent of a recent Beacon graduate and a current Beacon student. He has spent more than 20 years working in public accounting and is currently a tax partner with FORVIS, LLP where he leads the firm’s Chicago tax practice and advises privately held businesses and their owners on tax planning matters. Throughout his career, he has been an active volunteer with the Illinois CPA Society where he most recently served as the Immediate Past Chairperson of the Board and with Ladder Up, a financial literacy and tax assistance program. Tom earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Loyola University of Chicago, MBA and J.D. degrees from the University of Illinois, and an LLM in taxation from Chicago Kent College of Law. Tom currently lives in the Edison Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife, Jeanne, and his two daughters.
Matt Thacker works as a growth stage CFO, helping companies find funding and deploy capital to grow. He is currently Chief Financial Officer at The Desire Company, a new media business providing free online classes, how-to's and reviews from top industry experts. Previously, he has worked in a similar role across several emerging industries including mobile web, mobile app, ecommerce and social media. He received his undergraduate degree from Indiana University and his MBA from The University of Chicago. Matt lives in Lakeview with his wife Ericka and their four children. Weekends at the Thacker house are raucous affairs full of food and fun, including backyard sports, bike rides, and visits to the lakefront.
COMMITTEES OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The following are the working committees of the Board of Trustees:
Brian King, Devin Parsons, Sam Pollack, Liz Al-Dajani
Brian Kavanaugh (Chair), Brian King, Carrie Goodman, Jennifer Hodges, Matt Thacker, Inbar Kirson, Sam Pollack (ex-officio), Isaac Akers, Audrey Perrott, Renée Ruffing
COMMITTEE ON TRUSTEES
Matt Thacker, Sam Pollack, Brian King, Ben Lichstein, Erin Gutierrez