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Seeking to fill a vacant spot on its board, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 garnered interest from 13 candidates for the position who submitted applications by last Friday, Sept. 2.
Marquise Weatherspoon, the former vice president of the school board, resigned effective immediately on Aug. 8. Weatherspoon herself was appointed to a vacancy left by Rebeca Mendoza in 2021, and she served for about a year on the board.
Under Illinois law, the school board has 60 days from the resignation notice to appoint a replacement, so it has a deadline of Oct. 7 to fill Weatherspoon’s spot. This week, the board approved closed session meetings scheduled for Monday, Sept. 12 and Wednesday, Sept. 14 to discuss the candidates and their applications, and Board President Sergio Hernandez previously said he and other members plan to announce their pick at the next regular board meeting on Monday, Sept. 19.
The RoundTable obtained the names of the candidates from School Board Secretary Adeela Qureshi. Below is a list of the applicants, with information about their backgrounds gleaned from online research:
- Erin Booker, a former early childhood educator who is currently a real estate broker with Engel and Volkers
- Chanelle Brown, a personal stylist and the visual merchandising lead for Target
- Joan Chiao, an assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University who also has a doctorate in psychology from Harvard University
- Robert “Bob” Easter, the managing director of Central Piedmont Investment Group, a finance committee member with the Evanston Community Foundation, a board member with Lending for Evanston and Northwestern Development and a volunteer with the Mayor’s Employer Advisory Council
- Jo Ann Flores-Deter, an interim site manager for the Ravinia Festival and a former school partnership specialist for nonprofit Communities in Schools of Chicago
- Tammytha Johnson, a senior insurance broker at AON, a former Foundation 65 board member and a mentor and board member for Evanston Scholars
- Jenna Morgan, an executive assistant at a law firm and a freelance writer and editor with a bachelor’s degree in English from Northwestern University
- Sharon Riley Morris
- Christine Percheski, an associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University
- Tracy Olasimbo, the family engagement coordinator for the Evanston Public Library and an antiracism curriculum writer with the Next Steps for Transformation NFP – a group of District 65 families focused on closing racial and socioeconomic opportunity gaps
- Omar G. Salem, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Realty
- Henry Wilkins, the operations financial manager with SC Johnson and a leader with Stem School Evanston who has been involved in discussions about planning for the new Fifth Ward school
- Mya Wilkins, the executive director of marketing research at JPMorgan Chase who holds a master’s in business administration from Northwestern University
Although some of the candidates are involved with education-related nonprofits, many of them work in business, finance or real estate as their day job.
The RoundTable submitted a Freedom of Information Act request with District 65 to obtain the applications submitted by each candidate, including their answers to free response questions about how they would approach the role and their priorities if selected. Currently, the district is working on adding necessary redactions to the applications before completing the request, according to Qureshi, but the RoundTable will post an updated story in the coming days with more details about the candidates once they are available.