Founder and Executive Director
Michael has a strong track record of leadership and a rich, diverse set of experiences that uniquely prepare him for leading an innovative non-profit with an ambitious vision. His varied professional experiences, coupled with his educational background, have cultivated an innovative, entrepreneurial approach that combines insights from a variety of disciplines and industries. Mike has served as a classroom teacher, department head over three departments at a prestigious 3,000-student high school, and principal of an independent K-8 school of over 500 students. Mike also has a long history of volunteer experiences including over a decade as a high school Young Life leader and many years serving kids at By The Hand in the Austin community. Specifically, his vision for this school has been greatly informed by blending a deep understanding of education and schools with that of finance, economics and strategy. Mike holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Iowa and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Aurora University.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Chairman of the Board
Donnita Travis launched By The Hand Club For Kids in 2001. Under her leadership, By The Hand has undergone tremendous growth, becoming an $8.5 million nonprofit with five locations and a staff of 120 employees and 300-plus volunteers. Donnita is a seasoned entrepreneur, organizational leader and fundraiser who will provide Moving Everest Charter School with the oversight and support that it needs to achieve success.
Donnita has been recognized for her work with children as Chicagoan of the Year in 2012, the recipient of Mayor Daley’s SAGE Award in 2011 and Northwestern Kellogg’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010. Travis has an MBA from Northwestern University and a BA in English and communications from Spalding University. Most recently, she attended Harvard Business School for Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management after receiving the HBS Club of Chicago’s Roman Nomitch Fellowship.
Vice Chairman of the Board
Vivette Payne is President of the Avery Payne Group, which specializes in organization, team and leadership development. Her expertise includes leadership coaching, team building, the custom design and delivery of leadership and other skill development programs, and facilitating planning and strategy development. Vivette also works with growing businesses to provide tips and techniques that help them start, grow and manage their business, from inception to peak performance.
Vivette has served as the Chair of The Professional Women’s Network, and is a member of the Board of Directors of The Christian Working Woman and Orland Park Chamber of Commerce. Vivette has received the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce’s “Business Woman of the Year” award, and the Avery Payne Group has been awarded the U.S. Commerce Association’s “Outstanding Business Award”. Vivette holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in organization development.
Treasurer of the Board
Michael Ross is the President of the Michael Ross Allstate Agency where he is a trusted provider of insurance and financial services that grows with families, businesses and communities. His career spans with over 20 years as a senior leader in the financial services/consulting industry. He is a seasoned executive in corporate cash management and information technology consulting. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of the Corporate Investment Bank at JPMorgan Chase. In addition to his corporate career, Michael is a reverend who has served as the Pastor of New Galilee Baptist Church in the Austin neighborhood for the last twelve years. Michael holds a Bachelor's as well as a Master's degree from DePaul University. In his free time, he can often be found coaching his kids in various sports, like baseball and basketball. Michael is also a community activist who volunteers at Big Brothers-Big Sisters where he serves on the executive board.
Secretary of the Board
Connie Giere is an independent health care information technology consultant in her own firm, Giere Health Care IT Consulting. She also serves as a consultant with the Epic Systems Emeritus Program, based in Verona, WI. In this role, Connie provides consultative services to major healthcare organizations during electronic health record implementations and upgrades.
Prior to starting Giere Health Care IT Consulting, Connie was the Chief Health Informatics Officer at Loyola University Health System where she was responsible for developing and implementing the electronic health record (EHR) training, support and optimization programs for 4,000 clinicians. She also worked for Motorola, developing disease management and healthcare benefits programs. Connie has an extensive critical care clinical nursing background in the Chicago area. Connie is a registered nurse and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Trinity International University and a MBA in Health Care Management from Loyola University Chicago.
SUSY FRANCIS BEST, PsyD, MBA
Dr. Susy Francis Best is a bilingual (Spanish) clinical psychologist, consultant and executive coach with over 15 years of experience as a business leader with exceptional executive leadership skills, organizational creativity, business acumen, and expertise in diversity and inclusion. Her understanding of psychology and what motivates the human spirit enables her to envision a path for exceptional growth for both individuals and businesses.
Her portfolio of leadership and business experience includes both therapeutic and administrative roles. In addition to founding Thrive Group International (TGI), Dr. Susy provides consulting services to organizations in a variety of fields. Currently, Dr. Susy serves as an Inclusive Diversity Consultant for Allstate Insurance Company. Prior to founding TGI, she served as the President and CEO of Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago (CCCOC) for 12.5 years. During her tenure, Dr. Susy was able to create partnerships that allowed the budget and services to grow fivefold, expand services to include international clients and implement best practices that were invited for peer reviewed presentations.
Dr. Susy is a highly sought-after international speaker, visionary leadership coach, organizational consultant and content expert.
Dr. Susy has been featured as one of Chicago’s CBS 2 “Woman to Know”. She has also been featured on Windy City Live, ABC 7 Chicago, Moody Radio, the Holland Redfield Show, and other media outlets. A native of St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, Dr. Susy earned her B.A. in Psychology from Wheaton College (IL), and is a past Wheaton class representative and Alumni Board member and currently serves on the Board of Visitors. Dr. Susy completed her MBA from North Park University, and earned her doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology where she is an adjunct faculty. Dr. Susy is also a Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago, and currently serves on the Leadership Fellows Association Board. She also serves as on the board of directors for several non-profit organizations in the region.
David is currently the Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Equity Lifestyle Properties, Inc. ELS is a real estate investment trust which owns and operates more than 400 lifestyle-oriented properties in 32 states and British Columbia. Prior to that, David worked at a privately-owned waste management business. For eight years, Dave held a number of positions for the Tribune Company including: Executive Vice President/General Counsel and Corporate Secretary and General Counsel. Dave began his career at the law firm of Sidley & Austin as an associate in the Corporate and Securities group. He is a graduate of Duke Law School and Calvin College.
John Fellowes became President & CEO of Fellowes Brands in 2014, and represents the fourth generation of family leadership in this private Chicago-based company founded in 1917. He leads an organization of over 1600 employees in 18 global locations and 4 manufacturing facilities. Fellowes has been recognized as a ‘Tribune, Top Places to Work’ and receives award recognition each year for its product innovation, design and customer support.
John attended Torchbearer Bible Schools in Europe and holds a BS from Taylor University. He has received a Chicago Innovation Award and The Distinguished Alumnus Award from Taylor University. John also serves as a member of various business products industry and local community councils.
Colleen Sullivan is the Chief Executive Officer of CMT Digital Holdings LLC and has been a partner with the broader CMT Group since 2013. Ms. Sullivan is also a Co-Founder and Managing Member of Sullivan Wolf Kailus LLC, a boutique law firm based in Chicago, that specializes in hedge fund, private equity, venture capital, digital assets, and other alternative investment products. Ms. Sullivan has advised hedge fund, proprietary trading, private equity, broker-dealer, venture capital, FinTech, digital assets, and financial trading technology clients on a broad range of domestic and international transactions and regulatory matters. Ms. Sullivan previously practiced in the Investment Funds and Derivatives group at Sidley Austin LLP and, at age 25, co-founded a company called iOptions Group LLC, which advised individuals with employee stock options how to hedge them with listed options. Ms. Sullivan is co-author of a USPTO issued patent with respect to the iOptions hedging and monetization strategies. Ms. Sullivan currently serves as co-chair of the FinTEx Chicago Legal and Regulatory Committee, is on the Advisory Board of Bloq Inc., and participates in various working groups with the Chamber of Digital Commerce, of which CMT Digital is an Executive Committee Member.
Tim Wiens is the Headmaster at Mount Paran Christian School. Mount Paran serves 1100+ students and is the largest independent school in Cobb County, Georgia. Wiens previously served as the Head of School at Delaware County Christian School, a highly diverse institution outside of Philadelphia, PA and as founding Headmaster at Boston Trinity Academy, a school serving a diverse population of students within the city of Boston, MA.
Wiens has also served as the Co-chair of Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Professional Institute for Independent School Leadership and the ADVIS-Penn Independent School Leadership Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. Tim is the co-founder and served as the Executive Director of the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability (CESA) from 2009-2015 and was an assistant professor and visiting scholar at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.
Married to Dr. Kathryn Wiens, who is also an educator and author of numerous articles, books, and studies on education, they have one son, Eliot, and two Great Danes, Greta and Lena.
2016-2017 BOARD MEETINGS
All meetings take place at 203 N. LaSalle St.
September 7 at 8:00 a.m.
December 7 at 8:00 a.m.
March 8 at 8:00 a.m.
June 7 at 8:00 a.m.
2015-2016 Board Meetings
All meetings take place at 203 N. LaSalle St.
December 9 .