CICS Board of Directors

Tiffany Natasha Johnson

Parent Board Member

Tiffany has been in banking for the past 12 years. She currently works for Northern Trust in their Online Servicing Department. Previously, Tiffany coached high school cheerleading at Marian Catholic High School. She’s a 7-year parent at CICS Prairie.

Why are you a Board member at CICS?

As soon as I learned that I had been nominated, my immediate answer was YES! I've always been an advocate for not only the education of my children but for all children. Being a member of the board will allow me to use my voice and advocate for the best educational experience for our students.

Venkat Maddila

Venkat is a Senior Director at Ernst & Young in their Strategy and Transactions practice. At EY, Venkat helps his clients to define and execute corporate strategy, mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. Before working at EY, Venkat led large transformation projects at a leading automotive supplier in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Venkat received an MBA focused on operations, strategy, and finance from Chicago Booth School of Business and a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati.

Why are you a Board member at CICS?

Venkat believes in good early education and the impact it has on transforming one's life. Venkat has co-founded a non-profit arm specializing in research and policymaking and advised several non-profits through pro-bono engagements.

Mark Morgan

Mark Morgan currently serves as Chief Financial Officer of Amerigo Education. Amerigo is the premier provider for international students seeking an American/Canadian secondary education and provides a highly supportive and effective model of international education that improves students’ lives. 

Mark brings over 25 years of finance, accounting, and strategy experience to his role as a Board member. Prior to Amerigo, Mark's experience includes roles at the Big Four accounting firms Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Mark has also held roles as Head of Investment Accounting at AlpInvest Partners, CFO of Conversus Asset Management, Business/Financial Planning & Performance leader at grocery delivery pioneer Peapod, and most recently CFO of Vosges-Haut Chocolat. Mark earned his Bachelors and Masters in Accounting Science from the University of South Africa and is a Certified Chartered Accountant.

Why are you a Board member at CICS?

Mark comes from a family of educators and believes in providing all students with an opportunity to succeed at school and in life. He strongly believes in innovation and entrepreneurship in education to provide all students with equal opportunities.

Ileana Rodriguez

Ileana is the Senior Vice President of Constituent Engagement at the CommonApp a non-profit membership organization representing nearly 1,000 diverse institutions of higher education that connects applicants and those who support them to a wide array of public and private colleges and universities across all 50 U.S. states, and 20 countries. Originally from Puerto Rico, Ileana moved to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology at Michigan State University. From 2000 to 2008, she served as a tenured Psychology faculty at Triton College in River Grove, IL while concurrently holding administration positions including Director of Institutional Research, Assessment and Curriculum, and Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Services. After Triton College, Ileana served in senior leadership roles at the College Board and Teach For America. In 2018, she launched a consulting practice focused on supporting non-profit organizations to navigate growth and change while advancing diversity, equity and inclusiveness before joining the CommonApp.

Why are you a board member at CICS?

Educational equity is at the heart of my purpose. Personally and professionally I have experienced and seen firsthand the systemic patterns of unequal resources, opportunities, and validation that unfairly make it a lot harder for many students to be successful in their educational endeavors. Serving on the CICS Board is one way in which I can help support a school network committed to innovation and the fulfillment of the potential of every single student.

Brian Novelline

Brian Novelline is a Strategic Advisor at Morning Consult LLC, a fast-growing data platform based in Washington, DC.  Previously, he served as Vice President for Mesirow Advanced Strategies, Inc. where he was responsible for manager selection across the capital structure and leading the firm’s co-investment efforts. Prior to joining Mesirow, Brian co-managed a multi-strategy portfolio for DRW Holdings and was an equity analyst at Compass Asset Management. Brian is a member of the Organizing Committee for Cycle for Survival, a national fundraising event for cancer research. 

Brian received his B.A. in Economics from Dartmouth College and his M.B.A. from Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Why are you a Board member at CICS?

I joined the CICS Board because I strongly believe in the core purpose of providing Chicago families access to great schools.  CICS has built the scale and resources over several decades to enable students to thrive in the classroom. I am proud to help with this mission of providing families with more educational choices.

David Blinderman

David Blinderman is the CEO of Blinderman Construction, a general contracting firm based in Chicago. David previously worked as a portfolio manager for Aetna Real Estate Investors, and as a senior consultant for Ernst & Young specializing in real estate securitization and valuation. As a firm believer in access to quality public education, he is a strong promoter and supporter of STEM-centric career development and mentoring for underserved student populations. David earned a B.S in civil engineering from the University of Illinois, and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Why are you a Board member at CICS?

Education is the path to most, if not all, of our biggest challenges. Through CICS we chart that path for students across the city to have an excellent option.

Kris Cheung

Leaving his professional trajectory in hotel and restaurant management, Kris started at Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City, where he helped open 40 schools within seven years, expanding access to free and quality education in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. His experience in growing and scaling Success Academies as Chief Operating Officer led him to join KIPP Texas Public Schools, as the head of the integration and merger of four distinct KIPP regions - Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio - under one KIPP Texas statewide organization. As Chief Operations Officer, Kris established a blueprint for strategic integration and coordination across the state while expanding access to free and public charter seats by opening seven new schools in Texas over three years to serve over 34,000 students across 59 schools.

As Chief Executive Officer at Chicago International Charter School (CICS), Kris is tasked with creating a new vision and strategy for CICS while harnessing the organization's diverse and innovative learning models that meet the needs of its communities. From New York City, to Texas, and now Chicago, he continues to work tirelessly to provide more free access to high quality, public educational options for all families.

Why do you work and are you a Board member for CICS?

While pursuing his Master's in Public Policy and Administration in New York City, Kris witnessed the educational inequities and disparities in resources and access between students from high- and low-socioeconomic backgrounds in school districts and communities. As a result, Kris committed to doing his part in providing and expanding access to free and quality educational choices for all families through a career in public charter schools.

Laura Thonn

Treasurer

Laura Thonn is a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in their business assurance practice. She is a licensed certified public accountant in the state of Illinois. 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. She earned her B.S. from Boston College and has a Master's degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.

David Chizewer

Secretary

David Chizewer is a chair in the Litigation Group of Goldberg Kohn. He is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and has been featured in the National Law Journal’s list of 10 of the nation’s top litigators. He has been named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Public Justice Foundation and was separately a runner-up for that same award. He has also been named Lawyer of the Year by the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund and has received the Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service by the Federal Court in Chicago on two separate occasions.

David served as co-lead trial counsel in two widely acclaimed cases. He was co-lead trial counsel for Plaintiffs, and obtained the largest verdict and judgment in the history of the federal False Claim Act ($334 million), in the case captioned, United States of America ex rel. Cleveland A. Tyson, et al. v. Amerigroup Corporation, et al. David was also co-lead trial counsel for a class of 600,000 children on Medicaid against the State of Illinois in the federal case captioned, Memisovski, et al. v. Patla, obtaining some of the most sweeping reforms ever to a state Medicaid program. David's false claims act cases have returned more than a half billion dollars to government treasuries.  

David 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.  He was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Why are you a Board member at CICS?

I believe that all children should have high quality choices for free  K-12 education. 

Evan Sharp

Board Chair 

Evan Sharp is a leader in the Customer Activation and Growth Practice at Russell Reynolds Associates and advises clients across sectors. He works with leading organizations across consumer products and services, retail, leisure and hospitality, industrial, healthcare and more. Evan has recruited and consulted for clients on a range of growth-oriented roles and leadership challenges related to marketing, sales and business development, merchandising, strategy and operations and technology. He is also a member of the firm's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Practice. ​

Prior to joining Russell Reynolds Associates, Evan worked in management consulting and financial services. At Accenture, he advised technology and communications clients on their strategic and operational challenges. Prior to Accenture, Evan was in the Wealth Management Group at Goldman Sachs, where he was responsible for analyzing high-net-worth client portfolios, supporting business development initiatives and advising clients on their investment needs.​

Evan earned a BSBA in finance and accounting from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA with concentrations in management and organizations, entrepreneurship and marketing from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. 

Why are you a Board member at CICS?

My "why" is because every student deserves a high quality education, a safe learning environment in which to thrive and a community of family and friends that will uplift them.

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