Yumi Ross – Community Volunteer
Yumi, Foundation Board Co-President, is an architect who has lived in Highland Park for more than 20 years. She served two elected terms on NSSD 112’s school board and was board representative to the North Suburban Special Education District (NSSED), serving on it’s Leadership Council. She was also board representative to the 112 Education Foundation (now serving on its Reel 112 Film Festival committee), the City of Highland Parks Human Relations Commission, and Community the Anti-Drug. She has served on the Women’s Board of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago for 21 years and on the MCA’s Exhibitions Committee. She is a board member of CPS Lives and the Architecture and Design Society of the Art Institute of Chicago. Yumi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bryn Mawr College and a Master’s in Architecture degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. She and her husband Doug have twins– Camryn (HPHS ’17) and Ian (HPHS ’17).
George Spathis – Community Volunteer
George, Foundation Board Co-President, and his wife, Lisa, have resided in the District since 1995. Their three children are graduates of Highland Park High School (classes of 2011, 2014 and 2017). George has been a practicing attorney for more than twenty-six years. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (B.A. Political Science), and earned his J.D. (with High Honors) from Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he served as an Executive Articles Editor for the Law Review. George is a partner in the Chicago law firm of Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC, and for the last four years, he has been a volunteer coach for the HPHS Mock Trial Team.
Zac Ambrose – Deerfield High School Student
Mary Beth Arzac – Community Volunteer
Mary Beth and her husband Joe have lived in Highland Park for the past 10 years with their two children Christopher (HPHS ’20) and Andrew (Northwood ’19). She received her BA from the University of Chicago and her MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Management. Currently she works at Mainbridge Health Partners, a start up focused on new healthcare technologies.
Lisa Berghoff – Highland Park High School Director of Instructional Technology
Lisa has been an educator in District 113 for over 25 years. She has worked as a special education teacher at DHS and is currently the Director of Instructional Technology at HPHS. Lisa feels a strong connection to the mission of the Foundation by promoting and supporting innovation in education in her current role and has a passion for supporting student learning in new ways. She is also a Google For Education Certified Trainer, Innovator, and Coach. In 2019, Lisa was awarded the Making It Happen award from the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE). She also has her own business, Connected Ed. LLC, which provides professional development and support for educators all over the world. Lisa lives in Highland Park with her husband and two boys, Asher (HPHS ’22) and Logan (HPHS ’25) as well as their dog Hendrix.
Katie Cohen – Katie and her family have been living in Highland Park for 15 years. She is an HPHS 1988 alum and graduated from the University of Madison with a B.A. in Psychology. Katie received her Masters in Social Work from Loyola University and practiced in North Lawndale Illinois for the Chicago Public Schools. Katie was an active volunteer for FARE (formerly the Food Allergy Initiative) in Chicago. She helped to run various programs in Highland Park’s District 112 and is currently a committee co-chair for Focus on the Arts in District 113 (HPHS). She also serves on the board of the Community Family Center in Highland Park. Katie and her husband Brad (HPHS 1986 alum) have three children, Helena (HPHS 2017 alum), Isabel (HPHS ’20) and William (HPHS ’22).
Aaron Ferrer – Community Volunteer
Aaron and his wife Yvonne have lived in Highland Park for since 2010 with their two children, Aaron Jr. (HPHS ’16) and Ayiana (HPHS ’22). Aaron is currently employed with Peoples Gas based out of their headquarters in Chicago, IL. Prior to joining Peoples Gas, Aaron served 22 years in the United States Army and Illinois Army National Guard. He holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from Arkansas State University and B.S. in Public Administration from Roger Williams University.
Karen Frey – Community Volunteer
Karen currently manages philanthropy for Medline Industries located in Northfield, IL. Previously, she worked in public policy communications for a variety of clients in the high technology industry and the federal government. Karen is an HPHS 1988 alum and graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a B.A. in philosophy and political science. Karen received her Masters in public communication from the American University. She and her husband Seth have lived in Deerfield for more than 10 years raising their three children Casey (DHS ’18), Leah (DHS ’20) and Jayne (DHS ’24).
Elena Gross – Student, Highland Park High School
Elena is a sophomore at Highland Park High School. She is involved in athletics, fine arts, advanced classes, community service, and tutoring. Elena has lived in Highland Park her whole life and has completed her education so far in Districts 112 and 113. She is excited about the opportunity to help develop programs in the community.
Josh Hollander – Student, Highland Park High School
Ezra Horton – Deerfield High School Student
Karyn Karel – Community Volunteer
Claire Lovell – Community Volunteer
Claire and Kevin Lovell have lived in Highland Park for the past 7 years with their two children James (HPHS ’21) and Maeve (HPHS ’23). She received her Bachelors of Science in Speech and Language Therapy from The University of Ulster in Northern Ireland and her Masters of Science in Profound and Multiple Learning Disability from the University of Manchester UK. Claire is an active volunteer dedicated to helping in her community as a military spouse over 16 years, most recently in the Highland Park area. She currently serves on HPHS Bandstand Executive Board and 112 Education Foundation.
Jon Mall – Community Volunteer
Jon is a social studies teacher in Highland Park (since 2003) at Northwood Jr. High School and a life-long resident of the community (HPHS ‘91). He graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. in Journalism and has his Masters of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University. In 2018 Jon was awarded the Highland Park Community Foundation Golden Apple Award for excellence within the teaching profession. Over the years he has written and received several grants from the 112 Education Foundation and is looking to pay it forward by helping to “promote and support innovative educational opportunities” for Highland Park and Deerfield High School students as part of the 113 Education Foundation Board. Jon and his wife Jamie (DHS ‘91) have twin boys, Jacob (HPHS ‘22) and Eli (HPHS ‘22), and a dog named Willy.
Silvia Rota – Community Volunteer
Silvia and her family have lived in Highland Park for 18 years with her son Giulio (HPHS ‘20). She is an attorney and a teacher. She has been on TriCon board, volunteered for the North Shore legal aid, and is currently involved with College Bound Opportunities (CBO), Boho Theater and FOCUS on the Arts at HPHS.
Leslie Rubin – Executive Director
Leslie and her husband Ken have lived in Highland Park for 18 years with their two children Lucy (HPHS ‘19) and Peter (HPHS ‘20). She has a degree in Advertising from the University of Illinois, working in catalog production and design for 15 years before becoming a freelance designer. She has been on Edgewood PTO boards, HPHS Bandstand Executive Board, and is currently involved with College Bound Opportunities and FOCUS on the Arts at HPHS.
Marjie Sandlow – Community Volunteer
Marjie has served on the District 113 Education Foundation since 2012. She is presently vice president and chair of the development committee. She served on the District 113 Board of Education from 2006 until 2015, serving two years as president and three years as vice president. She also served on the Northern Suburban Special Education School District (NSSED) Governing Board, where she was president during the 2013-14 school year, and the NSSED Foundation Board. Marjie was an active member of the Highland Park High School PTO, having served as Vice President, as well as chairing various committees. Marjie has a B.S. in Industrial Psychology from the University of Illinois, an M.B.A. from Harvard University, and worked as a Marketing Consultant. She has lived in Highland Park with her husband Barry Rosen for 26 years. They have 3 children – Hillary (HPHS 2007), Peter (HPHS 2010), and Brian (HPHS 2011).
Joe Taylor – Deerfield High School Assistant Principal
Joe Taylor has spent more than 20 years in education as a teacher, activity sponsor, and instructional technology leader. Joe came to Deerfield High School in 2014 and has served as both Director of Instructional Technology and Assistant Principal for STEAM Instruction. Joe studied history and English as an undergrad and has postgraduate degrees in history and school leadership. He is currently working on a Doctorate in Instructional Technology. Outside of school, Joe spends his time with his wife Nicki, teenage daughter Katherine, and a Labrador retriever named Phantom.
Elizabeth van den Akker – Community Volunteer
Elizabeth and her family have been living in Highland Park for the past 10 years. She was born in the Republic of Panama and has lived in Puerto Rico, The Netherlands and Hong Kong. Her daughters Alexandra (2017) and Annelise (2019) are HP graduates, and her youngest daughter, Elena, will graduate in 2021. Elizabeth is active in the HP community. Soon after arriving at HP, she volunteered with Family Network, then for many years with the Fun(D) Run, and until this summer, with the 112 Education Foundation. She is currently a mentor with CBO. Elizabeth is a first grade dual language teacher in District 76.
Susie Wexler – Past Co-President 113 Foundation and Community Volunteer
Susie, Foundation Board Co-President from 2013-2016, is the director of BJBE’s Early Childhood Program at the Chava Center in Deerfield. A previous chairperson for the Deerfield Caucus, she currently serves as the Chairperson of the Deerfield Volunteer Engagement Commission. She has served in a variety of volunteer roles at the elementary, middle and high school level. She earned a BS in Psychology from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, an MSW from Jane Addams College of Social Work and is currently workin towards a Masters in Jewish Education and Leadership at HUC-JIR. Susie lives in Deerfield with her husband Dave, maintaining the home that their children – Marisa (DHS ‘13), Jonathan (DHS ‘15) and Allison (DHS ’18)- use as a base for their life adventures.
Lisa Xilas – HPHS PTO Representative
Lisa has been a Highland Park resident for over 20 years. She has a BA in Business Administration from Hope College and has worked in the Human Resources field, specifically in Compensation & Benefits. She has been on PTA/PTO boards as Lincoln, Edgewood, and Highland Park High School. She is actively involved with College Bound Opportunities, District 112 Fun(d) Run, and Focus on the Arts. Lisa and her husband Andy have two daughters: Madison (HPHS ’15), and Brayden (HPHS ’17).