Joy Schaefer, President
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.
John Terzis, Executive Vice President
Oakton Investment Management
John N. Terzis, is currently the President and CEO of Oakton Investment Management. After receiving his bachelor of sciences degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Economics, he started his career with a financial planning firm, learning all aspects of the financial planning process. With over 28 years of experience in the industry, he actively manages assets for a wide range of clients, many who have been with him since the start of his journey.
John’s next career move was to take his financial planning knowledge into the banking industry, where he gained a reputation of honesty and integrity. Based on his success, he was promoted to management, where he earned his registered principal’s license and managed a large group of financial advisors, while continuing to grow his client’s assets.
In 2002 and 2003, John was honored with Raymond James Financials Leaders Council for demonstrating an unparalleled commitment to personal service and professional integrity. In 2003, Raymond James asked John to speak at their national conference and share his approach and success of his banks number one ranking with his colleagues. John has been interviewed and quoted in industry publications.
John joined LPL Financial in 2008. In 2014, John applied his successful experiences and founded Oakton Investment Management. Even in the midst of market volatility and world turmoil, as a result of John’s earned trust and sound fundamental strategic investment management, he has grown his client’s assets with LPL Financial each year.
John Ohrlund, Vice President
Skokie Park District (Community Representative)
John Ohrlund is the Executive Director of the Skokie Park District and has been with the district since 1989 including stints as Superintendent of Parks (1989-2003) and Superintendent of Parks & Facilities (2003-2012). John previously worked for the North Dakota State Parks agency and Bismarck Park & Recreation District, also in North Dakota. John and wife Terry have two adult children. John’s favorite recreation activity is tennis; playing year around in leagues and on USTA travel teams. The Skokie Park District strives to provide a high quality of life for all of its residents through leisure time pursuits, beautiful open spaces, and first rate facilities. The District operates 42 park sites, 3 community centers, a rowing center, nature center, museum, day care center, executive golf course and Sports Park – and with the help of many in the community – leads the Skokie Festival of Cultures, 4th of July celebrations, and Skokie’s Backlot Bash.
Keith Baker, Treasurer
Keith Baker Law
Keith counsels individuals and closely held business owners by solving problems, identifying opportunities and helping his clients attain their goals. He concentrates his practice in the areas of (i) legal matters for closely held businesses; (ii) taxation; and (iii) estate planning. Keith began his professional career in the Tax Division of Arthur Andersen & Co. achieving the title of Senior Manager. His clients included closely held businesses such as Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Marine, Johnson Products, Rubloff, Draper and Kramer, and Hyatt Hotels. Keith left Arthur Andersen & Co. to serve as the private in-house tax counsel to the Pritzker family, holding the title of Senior Vice President.
Keith is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Champaign, where he received his B.S. in Accounting, with honors. He was selected as a member of the Mortar Board for the University of Illinois and one of the “Top Ten” Individual Seniors in the Business School. He is also a graduate and Harno Fellow, of the University of Illinois College of Law, at Champaign. Keith became a Certified Public Accountant in 1979; was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1982; and was admitted to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in 1982.
Since 2009 Keith has served as the author of the monthly article for the Illinois Institute For Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) titled “Tax Law Explained”. He is a past adjunct professor at the DePaul University Masters in Tax program and a frequent speaker on a variety of legal topics for organizations such as Chicago Title Insurance Company and The Lilac Tree. Keith regularly presents adult learning classes for local colleges on the topics of estate planning, taxation and business matters.
Keith is actively involved in various 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, including the following: Board Vice-Chairman of The Education Foundation, whose mission is to encourage and facilitate educational opportunities for economically disadvantaged students in Niles Township; whose mission is to create customized employment and housing solutions for individuals with disabilities; and Program Development Committee member of The Lilac Tree of Evanston, which is a resource and a haven to women contemplating or involved in divorce. Keith previously served on the Board of the Center For Enriched living for 6 years and now holds the title of “Board Emeritus”. The mission of the Center For Enriched Living is to help promote fulfilling lives for people with developmental disabilities. Keith also served as a volunteer coach for about 20 Northbrook Park District teams during the years when his three children were growing up.
Peter Kitzhoefer, Secretary
Rolf’s Auto Care
Peter Kitzhoefer co-manages his family’s business with his sister Iris. Rolf’s Auto Care has specialized in helping owners of European, Asian and domestic cars take great care of their vehicles for over 35 years. His passion and commitment, shared by his sister, is continuing his parents’ life-long efforts to deliver no-nonsense and trustworthy car repair services to Chicago’s North Shore. Originally born in Germany, Peter attended New Trier East and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northwestern University, and a post graduate diploma from the Sorbonne and the Chambre de Commerce in Paris. In a previous life he was an advertising executive at Leo Burnett in Chicago and Tokyo, Japan as well as Draft Worldwide Chicago (now FCB), working on a variety of national and international accounts. While in younger years advertising may have been the perfect career to support his interest in travelling the globe and exploring other cultures, he currently prefers his 7-minute commute to Rolf’s Auto Care, and the ability to spend time with friends and family.
David Putrus, Immediate Past President
First Bank & Trust
David Putrus is the Vice President of First Bank & Trust and currently the President of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce & Industry. David has been part of the banking industry since 1999. He has been a member of the Skokie Chamber since 2000 and a member of its executive board since 2007. David was born and raised in Skokie and has always been a part of Skokie’s business community. David is heavily involved in Skokie’s not-for-profit community. He currently serves on the Economic Development Commission for the Village of Skokie and is the Founder of the Dempster Street Merchants Association in Skokie. David also serves as a board member of the Skokie North Shore Sculpture Park, the District 219 Education Foundation, Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center and is the Past President of the Skokie Chamber’s Professional Referral Organization also known as PRO.
Next Home Elite
Biography Coming Soon!
All Out Sports Marketing/
Marcello Falcone has spent the better part of his 35-year career as a businessman and marketing professional. His organization specializes in Sports event marketing by introducing consumer products and services through a targeted sports oriented market.
Originally a graduate of the University of Illinois Chicago Campus he earned his bachelor’s degree in Communication Design. Upon his graduation, he worked for several Marketing and Advertising agencies. He developed his passion for sports marketing while working on the Chicago Marathon account in the 1980’s. In 1987, he founded his own design and marketing consulting firm along with his wife. Today the business has finally evolved into the sports marketing company he envisioned early-on in his career. With running 10-12 nationally sanctioned events throughout the Midwest what were once seasonal events only have now become year-round, hosting indoor events in the winter as well.
Marcello and his wife Laurie have been married for 35 years and have been residents of the NorthShore community for the past 30 years. They have two adult children, Garrett and Alyssa and live in nearby Lincolnwood.
BDO USA, LLP. CPAs
Barry Itzkowitz has more than 35 years of experience providing tax, accounting, and consulting services to closely held businesses and their owners. He specializes in business matters, including cash flow analysis, capital funding, and debt structuring for merger and acquisitions, divestiture transactions, and structuring business ownership. Barry provides these services to manufacturing, distribution and management companies along with health clubs, mortgage bankers and brokers, real estate developers, and high net worth individuals. Barry is a member of several professional associations and has been involved in the community, through the Chicago Christian Industrial League, Buffalo Grove Recreation Association, and Temple Shir Shalom.
He received his Bachelor of Science in accountancy from Northern Illinois University in May 1976 and his CPA certificate from the University of Illinois in February 1978.
Sam owns and operates PRINT-Xpress which was originally started in 1978 by father and son, Gil and Sam Eckerling. Since opening, they have been deeply committed to serving their customer’s needs with that same dedication. The professional and experienced staff usher each job through all stages of production, making sure each customer is satisfied and deadlines are met. Through the years, they continued to expand to include services such as large format printing, large format laminating, complete bindery, full-color products, and outsourcing of mailing needs.
He continues to be active in the community through organizations such as the Skokie Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Rotary Club of Skokie Valley, and PRO: Professional Referral Organization. Sam was President of the Skokie Valley Rotary Club in 2012-2013, he was President of the Skokie Chamber in 1998 and Director for the Chamber in 1996-1999 and 2004-2006 and he is past Commissioner on the Board of Local Improvements for the Village of Skokie. Sam and his wife Gail were married in 1994 and happily live in Buffalo Grove and have two beautiful daughters, Rachel and Jenna.
Colette Hands, Ed.D, LPC
Oakton Community College (Community Representative)
Dr. Colette Hands is the Interim Associate Vice President for Continuing Education and Workforce Development at Oakton Community College. Her portfolio of responsibilities involves overseeing adult and continuing education programming (English as a Second Language, GED, Literacy) along with a variety of personal and professional development courses. Colette also oversees our Continuing Education for Health Professionals program in which individuals from a variety of health professions can take continuing education courses to maintain their professional licensure. Additionally, she manages strategic partnerships with business and industry, as well as civic and community based organizations for the College. Prior to Oakton, she served as the Director of Career Development & Internships at North Park University where she managed employer and student outreach efforts, career counseling and internship initiatives for the undergraduate population. Colette serves as adjunct faculty within the Community Counseling and Counseling Psychology programs for the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, Chicago campus. Colette holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree from the University Of Wisconsin Madison, a Master’s of Arts in Community Counseling and a doctorate in Counseling Psychology, both from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology.
Westfield Old Orchard (Community Representative)
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.
Skokie Public Library (Community Representative)
Richard Kong is the director of Skokie Public Library. His library career includes work in Michigan, California, and Illinois, and he contributes actively to the library profession at both state and national levels. He was recently elected to the Public library Association’s Board of Directors and chairs that organization’s National Conference Committee. He is a member of the Executive Board of the Illinois Library Association and the American Library Association Center for the Future of Libraries Working Group. Richard holds a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College, a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Master of Science in Information from the University of Michigan.
Village of Skokie (Community Representative)
John Lockerby began as the Village Manager of Skokie in 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 and excellent customer service, and also to foster a business-friendly atmosphere that supports economic growth. The Village’s vibrant, diverse business community is impressive and among the community’s assets. He lives in Skokie with his wife Kate and two children.
Holiday Inn North Shore – Lakhani Hospitality
Toni Mengarelli has been the Director of Catering and Meeting Services for the Holiday Inn North Shore for over 35 years. This position affords many opportunities to connect with Skokie’s businesses, not-for-profit and religious organizations and associations, educational institutions, and individuals planning weddings, social events, and meetings. Over the years, Toni has been involved with Skokie Valley Kiwanis, Rotary Club of Skokie Valley, and St. Lambert Parish in Skokie. Toni currently sits on the board of Chicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau and is a member of the Hotel Committee. As a lifelong Skokie resident, Toni is proud to work in and serve the community where she lives, shops and worships.
Niles Township High School District 219
Dr. Steven Isoye, Superintendent
District 219 Website (Community Representative)
Biography Coming Soon!
Sales Vantage Referral Group Representative
Carolyn is the founder of Bears of Hope, a volunteer group of people making handmade fabric bears for sick children and adults. She manages all aspects of the organization. Bears of Hope is celebrating its 9th year. Prior to Bears of Hope, her professional career started with 12 years as a primary teacher and moved on to 20 years business experience as a sales promotionist; internal sales marketer, community outreach representative, sales and management trainer and training director before she became a small business coach. She’s been a member of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce for more than 15 years. Carolyn is the President of the Chamber’s Sales Vantage Referral leads group.
Carolyn and her husband, Rick, have lived in Skokie over 45 years. Both their adult children grew up in Skokie and went to Skokie’s public schools where they received an excellent education.
Contour Landscaping and Snow Removal, Inc.
Scott grew up in Skokie, attending Cleveland School, Oakview (changed to McCracken) and Niles East. He has long worked in Skokie, starting at a Tool and Die Company, both local Dominick’s Food Stores and for the Village of Skokie on public works crews and in the Sanitation Department.
He started Contour Landscaping in 1976 with a car and a trailer, working out of a neighbor’s garage. Today Contour is based at 3501 Jarvis Ave in Skokie (across from the emissions station), where it has been for nearly 20 years, and has approximately 20-25 employees. Contour does landscape maintenance, design, construction and commercial and industrial snow removal. Their scope of work is approximately 80% residential and 20% commercial in the landscape sector. All of their snow removal is of a commercial nature. Their average client has been with them for several years and their company averages approximately $1.5 million in sales a year.
Scott is the Past President of the IL Professional Lawn Care Association, Former Certified Arborist of the International Society of Arboriculture, Instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and Past Introduction Leader for Landmark Education, a personal and professional training/development company. He lives in Lake Forest, with wife Mary, a 20-year-old son, and a 13-year-old daughter. His hobbies are motorcycling, camping and hanging out with the family.
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.
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 16 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.
Jim Szczepaniak has served D219 as community relations director since 2006. 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 public information officer for the Village of Skokie for eight years and then worked for Ameritech New Media/SBC Communications as public affairs director. Jim holds a BA in Political Science and German Studies from Northwestern University and a Master’s in Written Communications from National-Louis University. As D219’s liaison to the wider community, he helped develop a number of ongoing community events that succeed because of community collaboration, including Coming Together in Skokie & Niles Township, Skokie’s Spring Greening, D219’s annual Powerful Partnerships Breakfast and The Education Foundation, Serving the Students of Niles Township.
Oakton Community College:
Dr. Ruben Howard II is the Director of Continuing Education and Workforce Development for Oakton Community College. Ruben has a diverse background of experience including career services, auto manufacturing, supply chain management, warehousing and distribution, third party logistics (3PL), and military traffic management. Prior to joining Oakton Community College, Ruben was the Dean of College to Careers with City Colleges of Chicago and Professor of Logistics with Lone Star College in Cy-Fair, Texas. He currently serves on the National Experts Panel for Production and Logistics for the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC). Dr. Howard holds a Ph.D. in Business/Organization and Management from Capella University, M.S.B.A in Business Administration from Texas A&M University, M.S. in Transportation Management from Texas Southern University, and a B.S. in Airway Science from Jackson State University.