Tara started her career as an intellectual property and transaction attorney at a large law firm in Chicago. After eight years in law, she felt called to make a difference as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools. She accepted a fellowship with the Academy for Urban School Leadership and earned a master’s degree in education from National Louis University. Now a mother and homemaker, Tara lives near Detroit, Michigan, and volunteers for a long list of ministries. She has served as financial secretary of a church that serves 500 families; facilitated countless Crown Financial bible studies and Financial Peace University study groups; led numerous small groups for Bible Study Fellowship and many other bible studies with a particular focus on women ministries and marriage enrichment. Tara also has an active prayer ministry, involving identity transformation, freedom, spiritual healing, and intercessory prayer. Her desire is to see teachers living fearlessly in their God-given identity through their faith in Christ Jesus.
Dr. Deborah Tillman
Deborah L. Tillman is a Consultant, Speaker, Author, Founder of Happy Home Christian Leadership Academy for Early Learners, Inc. and “America’s Supernanny” on Lifetime Television. Labeled “A Force for Good” by The Washington Post, Tillman has a deep passion for children. She began her career over a decade ago when she became frustrated with the lack of quality childcare her son was receiving and as a result, quit her very lucrative accounting job and started her very successful childcare center in 1994.
Dr. Deborah holds a master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from George Washington University and a Doctorate in Education from the Richmond Virginia Seminary. She has also studied at Oxford University, Magdalen College in England. Deborah is currently enrolled at the John Leland School of Theology receiving a master’s degree in Christian Leadership. Among her many accomplishments, she has been a recurring parenting expert on the HARRY and Steve Harvey Daytime Talk Shows and contributed articles to Gospel Today, Essence and Ebony Magazines. She has also been seen on The View, Today Show, Katie Show, Wendy Williams, Great Day Washington and CNN to name a few.
Dr. Deborah is the author of Stepping out On Faith - How to Open a Quality Childcare Center, Parenting on Purpose: A Menu for Raising Children in Today’s Society and her new book Game Changers: Strategies for leading the family through conflicts will be released in July 2020. Dr. Deborah also created her own Preschool curriculum entitled “The Guiding Light:” for infants through five years old with an emphasis on self-awareness, African American history and relationship building. Dr. Deborah serves on the boards of Child Care Aware and Teachers Who Pray. In 2019, Dr. Deborah became the President of the John C. Maxwell Parenting and Family Certification Program which provides parents and families with the necessary strategies to thrive nationally and internationally.
Lifetime Television executives have called her “a miracle worker” but Deborah humbly states that she is “a proud mom” and humble servant doing the work of the Lord with a LIGHT shining bright for children and families everywhere.
Katrina is a visual arts teacher at Christopher Elementary School, which serves a large population of special needs students on the Southwest Side of Chicago. During her 20 years in education, she has taught high school art, served as an admissions counselor and smaller learning communities coordinator, and earned a master’s degree in educational administration. Katrina finds daily joy in teaching her special needs and general education students and collaborating with colleagues in pursuit of her school’s mission to “Reach All, Teach All, and Include All.”
Seletia is a senior financial analyst at one of the largest healthcare systems in the United States. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Robert Morris University. A former chairperson of the Local School Council at a Chicago public school, Seletia was highly engaged in her children’s public education since they were in preschool. Seletia brings a strong belief in prayer, education advocacy, and financial structure to the Board.
Denise is a retired Chicago Public Schools teacher of Middle School English Language Arts and Social Science. She has a BA in Elementary Education, MA in Curriculum & Instructions and MA in Reading. Throughout out her career as an educator, Denise served as an Adhoc University Instructor for Alternative Graduate Education Teacher Candidates', mentored/professional development presenter for novice teachers, been a teacher representative on school leadership teams and coordinator for multiple school programs. Denise wrote and received several reading grants focused on assisting struggling adolescent readers. Denise believes in the Power of Prayer, living a purposeful positive life, interacting and helping family and community.
Marilyn Anderson Rhames
Marilyn is an author, speaker, consultant, and education researcher specializing in the intersectionality of faith, race, and K-12 education. Her book The Master Teacher: 12 Spiritual Lessons That Can Transform Schools and Revolutionize Public Education is studied in a course at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Marilyn’s work has also led to her speaking in the Oval Office at the White House and giving two TEDx talks including “Why Faith Will Fix Education.” A former New York City reporter, Rhames taught in Chicago Public Schools for 14 years and penned popular blogs for Education Week and Education Post. She is a Pahara Institute Fellow and an alumna of the Surge Institute Fellowship and the Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellowship. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, a master’s degree in education from National Louis University, and a bachelor’s degree in English from Dominican University. Marilyn is currently earning a Ph.D. in education policy at the University of Arkansas.
Mark Malven is a partner and the leader of the Technology and Sourcing Transactions practice at law firm Dykema PLLC. He is a recognized expert in his field and is the lead author of the legal treatise Technology Transactions: A Practical Guide to Drafting and Negotiating Commercial Agreements. Mark has been married for 20 years and has a preteen daughter. He is a former Church Chair and Elder, and his current ministry focus is youth ministry, where he serves as a group leader for 7th grade boys.
Lildella is a wife, mother, author, leadership development trainer and coach. Her professional journey has been shaped by her faith and the belief that by leveraging our God given gifts and identity, we find true life and liberty. In her book, Little Girl In Red: A Celebration Of Freedom, to be released in Fall 2023, Lildella shares the power of overcoming negative external messages to emerge as authentic and free. Whether serving children, companies, or individual leaders, Lildella’s goal is to promote a healthy and prosperous future. Uncovering the importance of relationships, love, hope, respect and value, are signatures of what she fosters in those she serves. Lildella serves as the Principal Consultant, at Heartstrings Timeless Sentiments (HTS), an organization she founded out of a desire to promote and facilitate inter and intrapersonal connections, health and balance. At HTS, Lildella works with organizations and individuals to build healthy organizational cultures, conduct leadership development training, design programs and provide group and individual coaching. Her professional experiences also include teaching, community organizing, career development and public speaking. Lildella is an active servant in her local church, serving in a variety of ministries, and church community efforts. Lildella holds a master’s degree in education and community counseling and a bachelor's degree in education. She is an alumna of the Surge Institute Fellowship and is a licensed counselor in the state of Illinois. Lildella believes that teachers have the greatest opportunity to impact children outside of the home. Her hope is that teachers are equipped to faithfully and with Godly conviction, carry out their role and know they are not alone.
Shenita Johnson, ESQ
Shenita Johnson is values-based leader, with more than fifteen years of experience working with diverse constituencies across racial, generational, and regional boundaries. She recently launched ElevatEd Spaces LLC, a boutique consultancy focused on supporting executive leaders and organizations in the education and nonprofit sectors. Consulting services range from executive coaching, leadership development, talent recruitment, school performance evaluation, board and leadership training, strategic planning and execution, DEI audits, meeting/workshop facilitation, and special event coordination.
Shenita previously served as an Executive Director and General Counsel of a statewide education commission in Illinois. An unyielding commitment to ensuring the best interests are sought for children, specifically children of color from high need, low resourced communities, led Shenita to manage high profile educational equity work in Chicago, Detroit, and New Orleans, post-Katrina.
Shenita is a licensed attorney and currently serves as Child Representative and Guardian ad Litem in Cook County, Illinois. She has handled cases in the areas of contested guardianship, allocation of parental responsibilities and domestic violence. She started her litigation career as a prosecutor for second largest district attorney’s office in the country.
Shenita holds a B.A. in Journalism from Howard University, a M.A. in Public Administration from Baruch College in New York, a Juris Doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law, and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management. She is an alumna of the Surge Institute Fellowship Program and NACSA Leaders Program and is currently serves on the board of directors for BES (Build. Excel. Sustain), which develops school leadership capacity to design and open high-quality schools across the country. Shenita lives in Chicago with her son, Jeremiah and husband, Anthony Hardy.
Valerie D. Porter
Valerie D. Porter is President of Afstar Associates, LLC; an information technology consulting firm that empowers senior citizens and veterans who feel technologically left behind so they can become connected to the current digital blueprint and regain their independence through her innovative computer, smartphone and tablet training.
Valerie has a successful career as an information technology professional and consultant for small businesses and corporations. She is a graduate of Drexel University with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Computer Systems Management.
Valerie is a successful graduate of the Intensive Rising Tide Capital Entrepreneurial Program which was endorsed by President Barack Obama. Her company holds a New Jersey Transit Certification, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Certification, New Jersey Department of Transportation Certification and City of Philadelphia Office of Economic Opportunity Certification. She is a Dell Business Partner and a Certified Business Analyst Professional.
Valerie's commitment to show that she cares and provide quality results causes her clients and students to trust her and promote her work to others. She possesses the intuitiveness to develop a community experience which often brings mental and emotional healing for her students. As healing takes place, her program becomes a movement that is spreading across the country as students interact with others.
She is known and admired for bridging the gap between generations. Valerie has a non-profit called Empowering Minds Together (EMT). The youth help seniors improve their computer skills as the seniors encourage, inspire and teach the youth about overcoming the challenges of life. Valerie has co-authored a book, Be The Answer Now, which hit the Amazon Bestseller's List at #1 in Women & Business. In her book, she shares her journey of how she overcame her challenge with stuttering and realized the value of her own voice. Through her expertise in computer training, she is bridging the gap between generations, bringing people together to communicate and support one another.
Valerie’s story shows that by helping and focusing on others, you can help yourself to release perfection and to know that what you have to say matters.
Her legacy is built on a solid foundation of love and confidence that we are better when we work together for the common good of all of humanity. Valerie is an avid boxer and enjoys baseball, music, travel, dancing and theatre. She currently resides in Northern, New Jersey.