Board of Directors

*Please note that the meeting scheduled for July 12, 2016 has been cancelled.*

LAURA THONN, President & Secretary

is a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in their business assurance practice. She is a licensed certified public accountant in the state of Illinois. She earned her B.S. from Boston College and also has a master's degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago. Ms. Thonn has previously served on the board of directors for Onward Neighborhood House, as a social worker for high school students, and as a program assistant for Voices for Illinois Children, the leading advocacy organization serving children and families in Illinois. 


is a Partner in Goldberg Kohn, Ltd. Litigation Group and is the chair of the firm's Education Industry Practice. He was recently featured in the National Law Journal's list of 10 of the nation's top litigators. In 2007, he was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Public Justice Foundation. He was runner-up for that same award in 2006.

Mr. Chizewer served as co lead trial counsel in two of the country's most prominent public interest cases to be tried in the past several years. In United States of America ex. rel. Cleveland A. Tyson, et al. v. Amerigroup Corporation, et al., he obtained for the government and his client the largest verdict in the history of the federal false claims act; in Memisovski, et al. v. Patla, he obtained a declaratory judgment against the State of Illinois, resulting in hundreds of millions of additional dollars worth of health care to Illinois children. Mr. Chizewer has more than 15 years of experience litigating complex commercial cases in courts throughout the country. He has been an expert witness, frequent speaker, and author on a variety of litigation topics.

In his civic work, Mr. Chizewer is a recognized expert on charter schools, having co-founded two charter school organizations: Chicago International Charter School and Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS). He was a member of the Education Policy Group for the Barack Obama Presidential Campaign. In May 2005, he argued a seminal charter school case before the Illinois Supreme Court. Mr. Chizewer has been a frequent speaker on education reform topics.

Mr. Chizewer received his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1991 and his B.A. in economics, magna cum laude, from Pomona College in 1988. 


is a Partner at Laner, Munchin, Dombrow, Becker, Levin and Tominberg where she specializes in labor and employment law. Ms. Clark has been name one of the leading Lawyers in Illinois and was selected as one of Illinois' "Super Lawyers" in labor and employment law.

Prior to joining Laner, Ms. Clark served as a staff attorney with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and as a Trial Attorney with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Ms. Clark currently serves as a Hearing Officer for the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations and the Cook County Human Rights Commission. Ms. Clark is a member of the Black Women Lawyers Association and the Cook County Bar Association. She serves as the Vice President of the United States Tennis Association/Midwest Section. Additionally, Ms. Clark is a founding member of Friends of CICS Tennis, whose mission is to broaden tennis opportunities for CICS students. Ms. Clark received her law degree from Cornell University Law School and her B.A. from Brown University in 1979.


received her doctoral degree in speech pathology from Northwestern University in 1979, and founded Leap Learning Systems in 1988. She has teaching and clinical experience, and has held numerous positions in the field's state and national associations. A few of note include: 2008 President of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, President of the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Legislative Counselor to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Council on Professional Ethics and Ethical Practices Board, and she has served as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Vice President of Governmental and Social Policies.

Dr. Gottfred is extremely active in professional and community affairs. As President and Founder of Leap Learning Systems, a non-profit organization dedicated to language and literacy development, she oversees the development and delivery of training programs and curricula to educators who work with Chicago’s underserved youth.


is a strong advocate for diversity and recognizes the need for inclusion and equality.

Her tremendous management and leadership experience has provided her with the acumen to serve as a valuable board member and asset in the areas of governance, public relations, strategic partnerships and philanthropic support.

Johnson serves as a consultant to senior executives in the corporate and private sectors in the areas of policy development, diversity & inclusion, compliance, branding and strategic planning.  She most recently served as National Diversity Manager for Schiff Hardin LLP after serving in local city government for 10 years with four city departments.  

The highlights of Johnson’s career include, serving  Diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Compliance Officer for the Office of Compliance where she managed the Diversity and EEO Plan for the City of Chicago and served as an advisor in creation of the first on-line certification system for the Minority and Women Owned Business Program, as Director of Neighborhood Housing for the Department of Housing, overseeing the City’s affordable housing programs and in the Adjudication Division for the Commission on Human Relations with the Mayor’s Advisory Councils focusing on fair housing, equal employment opportunity and public accommodation equality.

Ms. Johnson has served in various capacities over the past 20 years in the areas of civil rights, equality, outreach, education and compliance.  Johnson started her career working with a number of law firms, which sparked her passion to pursue public service and equality of services for underserved populations. After leaving the legal field, she served in the non-profit sector managing testing, outreach and education for the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities and the Chicago Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights under Law.  Through leadership roles, she has been materially involved in strategic and tactical decisions including policy development, process improvement and compliance initiatives.  
Alberta Johnson served as EEO Compliance Officer and Secretary for the Executive Diversity Committee for the City of Chicago. Johnson also has provided numerous volunteer hours to various causes including serving on the board of directors for Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS), Pass with Flying Colors, National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), Children’s Hospital University of Illinois (CHUI) and Illinois Diversity Council (ILDC).

She has also served as a mentor for Illinois Institute of Technology’s Academy for Future Leaders in Science and Technology, National Urban Fellows and Junior Achievement.  She has been an advisor and volunteer in career coaching for Global Diversity Solutions Group.

Johnson was recently recognized for her dedication to diversity and education by Diversity MBA Magazine as one of the Top 100 under 50 Diverse and Emerging Leaders in 2014.

Ms. Johnson earned her Master’s in Public Administration from the Illinois Institute of Technology, her Master’s in Business Administration from Roosevelt University and her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 


 is Chief Executive Officer of Blinderman Construction, a general contracting firm based in Chicago specializing in complex construction challenges. Over the course of his leadership of the firm, David advances the delivery of singular care, smart solutions and certain success to private and public sector clients throughout the United States. 

David earned a B.S in civil engineering from University of Illinois, and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He began his career as a design engineer for one of Chicago’s largest structural engineering firms, assisting in the design of several prominent high-rise buildings and highway projects. Prior to Blinderman Construction, David worked as a portfolio manager for Aetna Real Estate Investors, a senior consultant for Ernst & Young specializing in real estate securitization and valuation, and as the assistant director of development for a national real estate development firm based in Chicago. 

David Blinderman is defined by his enduring desire to make a positive impact in business and in the community. As a firm believer in access to quality public education, David is a strong promoter and supporter of STEM-centric career development and mentoring for underserved student populations.


is the owner and president of Nieman Inc., a privately held company that specializes in developing curriculum materials for educational publishers. His company specializes in writing and designing curriculum in reading, language arts, literature, ESL, and social studies for students in grades K-12. A graduate of Northwestern University, he is a former elementary teacher and was for 18 years a marketing director and the vice-president of Reading, Language Arts, and Literature at Scott Foresman and Company.

Tom also has co-authored a number of textbook series, such as the Daybooks of Reading and Writing, The Reading and Writing Sourcebooks, The Reader's Handbooks, and Academic Workout. In addition, he has created ACCESS, a middle school series for English language learners, as well as, among others the American Documents series and World Histories series for National Geographic. Mr. Nieman is currently the secretary of the board for Chicago International Charter School.



Daniel Anello is the CEO of New Schools for Chicago. He previously served as the Chief of Strategy and External Relations for Chicago International Charter School. There, he was responsible for holistic marketing strategy, long-term strategic planning, and identifying organizational growth opportunities for the CICS network. In 2014, Anello played an important role in securing equitable funding for charter school students citywide, working side-by-side with the CPS budget office on the implementation of student-based funding that remained agnostic to school-type. Anello came to CICS through the Broad Residency, a prestigious professional development program in which candidates are trained and placed in the educational field. Prior to joining CICS and The Broad Residency, Daniel was an associate brand manager for Unilever and an associate director of marketing for a medical start-up company.

Daniel received a B.A. in mathematics from Williams College and a M.B.A. from University of Chicago Booth. Currently, Daniel is a member of the inaugural class of Presidential Leadership Scholars, an initiative that draws upon the resources of the U.S. presidential centers of Lyndon B. Johnson, George H.W. Bush, William J. Clinton, and George W. Bush. These presidential centers have partnered to bring together a select group of leaders who have the desire and capacity to take their leadership strengths to a higher level in order to help their communities and our country.

*denotes founding Board Member

Board Meeting Schedule

CICS Board Meetings are open to the public. 


CICS Network Office

11 E. Adams Street, Suite 600

Chicago, IL 60603


3:30pm – 5:30pm


June 17, 2016

July 12, 2016 CANCELLED

August 16, 2016

November 15, 2016

February 21, 2017

March 14, 2017

April 18, 2017

June 20, 2017

More information can be found on the CICS Calendar