Board of Directors
Heather Jackson, Board Chairperson
Kaleidoscope Dance and Movement Center
Heather has been instructing and choreographing professionally for over 25 years, with an emphasis on children’s dance. Heather received her formal dance training from Claudette Soltis (former dancer of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo) of the Joliet Ballet Society. The Ballet Society gave her the opportunity to work with many other ballet greats such as Irina Kolpakova of the American Ballet Theatre and Dace Dindonis, formerly of the Indianapolis Ballet. She is a graduate of Millikin University and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Performance degree in Dance & Musical Theatre. She is the former Director of Dance at the Mayer Kaplan JCC in Skokie. Heather also established the Kaleidoscope Dance Ensemble in the Northshore area in 2001, for which she is the Artistic Director. Heather founded Kaleidoscope Dance in 2004 and has been a part of the Skokie Business Community for 19 years. Kaleidoscope Dance prides itself on a warm community atmosphere and small class sizes, our studio is able to give each student personal attention so they can progress at a faster pace. We encourage quality dance technique and self-discipline while fostering a love of movement and self-expression. Heather loves spending time with her husband and two children. She is honored and thrilled to represent the Skokie Chamber as Board Chairperson.
Randy Usen, Board Treasurer
Randy Usen has been a Commercial Banking Executive for 40+ years, an Auditor/Credit Analyst for 6 years and a Commercial Lender/Advisor to Businesses for 35 years. He is a Senior VP in the Skokie / Evanston Byline Bank organization and serves as a Division Head for Commercial Banking (F/K/A First Bank & Trust), specializing in providing loans and commercial banking services to privately held companies and not for profit organizations. Randy’s work experience includes Continental Illinois National Bank, Unibanctrust (F/K/A Sears Bank & Trust), and Bank One NA (combined with First Chicago and now JP Morgan Chase). Randy holds a B.S. in Finance from Northern Illinois University and an M.B.A. in Finance from DePaul University. He also attended St. Xavier University’s Professional Financial Planning Program. Growing up in Skokie he graduated from Niles North H.S. In addition to serving on the Skokie Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors, Randy has participated in the Evanston Chamber of Commerce and served as their President. He was also a Board Member of SomerCor 504 and is a Rotarian in the Lighthouse Rotary Club of Rotary International. Randy enjoys golf, softball, cycling, skiing, canoeing and spending time with his wife and two children.
Joy Schaefer, Acting Board Secretary, Immediate Past Board Chairperson
Home Helpers of Northeastern Illinois
Joy Schaefer is the co-owner of Home Helpers of Northeastern Illinois along with business partner and friend Tom Merlin. Home Helpers provides the service of “Making Life Easier” for their clients and loved ones by providing in-home caregivers. Joy is the Executive Vice President of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce & Industry Board of Directors as well as secretary of PRO: Professional Referral Organization. Joy has had a long affiliation with the Skokie community and Chamber of Commerce. Her family-owned party business, Le Potpourri, provided decorating services in Skokie from 1981 until 2008. Joy also lived in Skokie for 16 years.
David Putrus, Chairperson’s Roundtable
First Bank Chicago
David Putrus is VP/Market Manager for First Bank Chicago. He brings over 20 years of financial experience from the banking industry including Personal, Non-Profit and Business Banking. Born and raised in Skokie, David is actively involved in the Community. He is the former President of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the Village of Skokie Economic Development Commission, District 219 Education Foundation and the Skokie Community Foundation.
Board Members at Large:
Contour Landscaping & Snow Removal
Biography Coming Soon!
Julie Hardegree is the co-owner of ProAuto, an auto repair shop in Morton Grove. Julie and her husband Lee, a highly rated mechanic for over 25 years, opened ProAuto in 2020 to bring an honest and expert service to the community. Previously Julie ran her own embroidery company and spent many years as a private yoga instructor – a practice she still continues today with a few long term clients.
Over the past two years, Julie has helped build a loyal customer base and has become a fixture in Morton Grove and the surrounding communities. Along with her commitment to the Skokie Chamber she is a member of the Niles and Northbrook Chambers as well as local networking groups including Women in Networking. Julie also volunteers for many community organizations including Morton Grove Senior Center and Night Ministry. The Hardegree family has many strong local ties – Julie grew up in Wilmette, Lee grew up in Skokie and they raised their two, now adult, children in Northbrook.
DoubleTree By Hilton Chicago North Shore
Biography Coming Soon!
Baker Hartley Law Offices
David counsels individuals and business owners by solving problems, identifying opportunities and helping his clients attain their goals. He concentrates his practice in the areas of (i) business law; (ii) taxation; and (iii) estate planning & administration. In focusing on all three areas, David can better give holistic counsel that takes into account all three areas for his clients.
A graduate of Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia and Seton Hall University in New Jersey, David is active in the Chicago Bar Association and Wills for Heroes where he helps prepare estate planning documents for Chicago area police officers, fire fighters, emergency responders, and active-duty military. David is also a current member and past President of the Skokie Valley Rotary Club.
Commitment Fitness Training
Biography Coming Soon!
Big Sky Dog Training
Montana C. Hayes is the owner and CEO of Big Sky Dog Training. Big Sky originated in Washington State approximately 38 years ago. Montana has always been the sole provider. Her experience began with training and competing with horses. She then moved to train dogs. She trains approximately 16 dogs a week and teaches group classes and private in-home lessons. In her earlier years in Washington State, she worked for a Hospital’s Emergency Department as the emergency department’s Supervisor and then with the State of Washington, Department of Health, designating trauma services, (hospitals) in the Pacific Northwest. She has always loved animals and has volunteered with multiple organizations including Pets for Vets, which provides fully-trained Companion Dogs for Veterans with supplies at no charge. Now she is particularly retired, but still has time or Volunteering, training, and helping the community.
Lisa Kaplan, master networker, is a Business Advisor for Thryv. Her passions include helping small businesses get noticed, connecting people, and assisting you to find your next business lead. She is well versed in CRM solutions, keeping small businesses organized, and Social Media relations. Lisa sits on the planning committee for the Skokie Chamber’s Women In Business, the Membership Committee, and moderates our Network Now! Breakfast.
Westfield Old Orchard
Serge Khalimsky became the General Manager of Westfield Old Orchard in 2016, after serving as Assistant General Manager for 3 years. Serge has a professional background that spans across multiple industries including financial services, insurance, and commercial real estate. Serge also participates in a national veteran mentorship program, providing professional guidance to veterans transitioning from active duty to civilian life as they search for meaningful and rewarding careers. In his free time, Serge likes to play basketball and has a passion for traveling.
Richard Kong (Public Sector)
Skokie Public Library (Community Representative)
Richard oversees the operation and administration of the library, including matters related to library policies, finances, facilities, and personnel. He works closely with library staff and key partners in the local community to ensure progress is made with the library’s long-term strategic goals and annual objectives. In addition to the Chamber of Commerce Board, he is involved with various community organizations in Skokie. Richard is also a recognized leader in the professional library community, and previously served as an executive board member of the Public Library Association and as an executive board member of the Illinois Library Association.
LegalShield Independent Representative
Linda is an Independent Associate, Director and Field Trainer for LegalShield and LegalShield Business Solutions. She started her LegalShield Business in 2008 providing outstanding legal coverage from established law firms in 50 states, Canada and the UK. Our plans offer the most complete and affordable legal assistance available. We also provide a comprehensive solution for Identity Theft issues through monitoring and complete restoration. She works with companies providing these services as employee benefits at no out-of-pocket cost to the employer. The services increase productivity, decrease stress and absenteeism for the companies she serves. As one of the Skokie Chamber’s Affinity Partners, the services are discounted for its members. Linda is known as a connector; runs the B2B Power Networking Lunch and is committed to helping Small Businesses grow. She believes small businesses are the job creation machines for the World. Throughout her careers as a Computer Programmer, Association Executive and Corporate Program Manager; Linda has always been passionate about helping people. A lifelong learner and lover of education, she graduated Summa Cum Laude in Computer Information Systems and continues to take classes in many topics. A renaissance woman; Linda is a passionate volunteer, Speaker, Mom to Sandy a 50-pound Basenji Mix; World Traveler; has lived in many cities and is extremely happy to be back home.
Levin Insurance Group
Marc Levin, CEO & president, Levin Insurance Group, Inc., Palatine, IL, has spent more than 30 years working in the property and casualty insurance fields serving the Greater Chicago area. He received his formal licensing in property & casualty and life & health insurance markets in 1990. Much of Marc’s insurance career has been focused on insurance agency operations of medium and large independent insurance agencies. His experience includes personal (auto/home) and commercial business lines (building/property, general liability/professional liability, disability, commercial auto, worker’s compensation, etc…) — representing hundreds of insurance companies, including but not limited to AIG, CNA, Chubb, Hartford, Travelers and Zurich. In recent years, Marc has become adept in all aspects of independent insurance agency operations: customer service, business development, marketing, pricing/ quoting, technology operations and underwriting. He has managed the property and casualty department of a successful health/life insurance agency. During his tenure, he increased sales from $1.2 million to more 3 million in just four years – a 250 per cent increase. A Skokie, IL native, Marc graduated from Niles North High School and later attended and graduated from Illinois State University, Normal, IL with a degree in business administration. He is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. Marc has been married for 33 years to Bari, a retired special education teacher, and resides in Palatine, IL. They have an adult son, Josh, who lives in Milwaukee, WI and functions as director of social media and content, Marquette University. Marc is a member of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce & Industry and serves on the organization’s board of directors. He is also a member of the Chamber’s Sales Vantage business networking group as its official property and casualty insurance representative.
John Lockerby (Public Sector)
Village of Skokie (Community Representative)
John Lockerby has served as the Village Manager of Skokie since 2014 after serving as Assistant Village Manager for nine years. Prior to coming to Skokie, John worked in the City of McHenry and Village of Woodridge. The Village of Skokie strives to provide high quality services, excellent customer service, and foster a business-friendly atmosphere that supports economic growth. The Village’s vibrant, diverse business community is impressive and among the community’s assets. John is an active member and Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Skokie Valley. He lives in Skokie with his wife Kate and two children.
Dr. Ileo Lott (Public Sector)
Oakton College (Community Representative)
Biography Coming Soon!
Niles Township High School District 219
Dr. Thomas Moore, Superintendent
District 219 Website
Biography Coming Soon!
Worth Clark Realty
After growing up in Rogers Park, Will attended Walter Payton College Prep and then Purdue University where he studied Political Science and Psychology. After graduating he landed an administrative job with a real estate investment group in downtown Chicago that owned about 8 buildings. Over the next 5 years, they would grow to over 2,200 apartment units, and around 1 million square feet in commercial real estate with Will in place as the Director of Operations. In 2017 he married a local Skokie resident and they bought a house down the block from her childhood home.
NorthShore University HealthSystem Skokie Hospital
Mark Schroeder serves as Manager of Community Relations for NorthShore University HealthSystem managing the organization’s community benefits programs that work to improve the health of NorthShore’s communities. Prior to NorthShore, Mr. Schroeder served as Vice President of The Global Consulting Group where he provided a wide range of public affairs consulting services for clients that included numerous Fortune 500, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Mr. Schroeder holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University. His post-graduate in public affairs was done at DePaul University. He is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, and past Chairman of its Public Affairs and Government Section. Mr. Schroeder is certified by the Institute of Crisis Management.
Skokie Community Foundation
Jim became Executive Director of the Skokie Community Foundation in September 2021. He was a member of the original steering committee of the Skokie Community Fund in 2014 and has been a member of the Board of Directors since that time. He served Niles Township High School District 219 as Director of Strategic Partnerships & Community Relations from 2006 until his retirement in June 2021. He has been part of the Skokie and Niles Township community since 1985, when he started as a reporter for Pioneer Press, covering Skokie. He was also Public Information Officer for the Village of Skokie from 1988 to 1996. Between his public sector stints at the Village of Skokie and D219, Jim was Public Affairs Director for Ameritech New Media/SBC. Jim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and German Studies from Northwestern University and a Master’s in Written Communication from National-Louis University.
Michelle Tuft (Public Sector)
Skokie Park District(Community Representative)
Michelle Tuft is the Executive Director of the Skokie Park District. She oversees the district’s comprehensive management, planning and operation of the public agency.
Michelle worked as the district’s superintendent of recreation and facilities since 2012, after serving as its superintendent of recreation from 2006 to 2012. She was an integral part of administrating the district during the modernization of many of the district’s 12 facilities over the past decade. Michelle also was instrumental in creating the district’s largest event, Skokie’s Backlot Bash, an event that she has chaired since its inception in 2007. She also served as the chair of the iconic Skokie Festival of Cultures from 2007 to 2012. She previously worked as the facility manager of the district’s Weber Leisure Center and its Oakton Community Center, after recreation supervisor stints at three other suburban park districts in the 1990s.
Michelle received her bachelor’s degree in leisure studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is recognized as a certified park and recreation executive (CPRE) by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), and is a member of the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association (IPRA) and NRPA, having served the national association as an exam committee member.
Michelle has also served as the district’s Freedom of Information Act officer, as a past president of the Rotary Club of Skokie Valley, as a past member of the Illinois Arts Council Ethnic & Folk Arts grant selection committee, and as a past committee member of the University of Illinois Alumni Board. She is also Open Meetings Act certified by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
In addition to enjoying the many offerings of the Skokie Park District, Michelle is an avid Cubs fan. She also enjoys biking, gardening, reading, pottery and traveling with her partner Max and their friends.
Dr. Cindy Whittaker
Skokie School District 72-Fairview
Dr. Cindy Whittaker is the Superintendent of Fairview School District 72. The District is located in the southwest corner of Skokie and is supported through a substantial commercial base with over 250 businesses, including the Village Crossing shopping center and the Walmart Plaza. Fairview students come from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, with over forty different languages spoken within the school community. Fairview District 72 is known for offering outstanding educational programs for all students, including those with disabilities, unique talents and learning english for the first time. Dr. Whittaker holds a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Loyola University, a Master’s of Science in Education from National Louis University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Loyola University. She has served the Skokie community for the past 23 years through her work at Fairview and in the community. She serves as the co-chair to the Niles Township English Language Learner Parent Center and as the Board President for the North Cook Regional Office of Education.
Designated Board Alternates:
Niles Township High School District 219:
Lisa Edelson is the Education to Careers (ETC) coordinator for Niles North, Niles West and Niles Central High Schools. The ETC program aims to help D219’s 4,800 students understand how they can take advantage of their high school experiences, including their academic classes and extra-curricular activities, to investigate potential career choices. Lisa cultivates partnerships with businesses and community professionals who help students make informed decisions about college and careers. Lisa’s own career path has included positions with Baltimore County, MD’s Planning and Zoning Department, the Hilton and Hyatt Corporations and the Back of the Yards Business Association. She served as Executive Director of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce from 1988 to 2000. Lisa earned a Bachelor’s degree in City and Environmental Planning and a Master’s degree in Corporate Employee Life & Wellness Benefits Programming.
Westfield Old Orchard:
Mary Oshana Biography Coming Soon!
The Rothschild Insurance Group
Dave Rothschild has been an insurance broker since 1988 when he joined is father, longtime Chamber member Fred Rothschild and created The Rothschild Insurance Group. Since joining the Chamber, he’s become active with the Sales Vantage Referral Group as is currently Treasurer.