Board of Directors

Peter Kim

Senior Director Litigation and Employment, JLL
Chair, Board of Directors

Peter Kim is an attorney focusing on employment and labor law. Before joining JLL as in-house counsel, he was a partner of a national law firm representing a wide sector of industries in finding solutions to employment and human resources (HR) related matters. At JLL, Peter is the lead in-house counsel managing legal employment exposure and providing HR counseling fairly and equitably. He is also active in the legal community, promoting DEI initiatives and mentoring young attorneys.

Peter also serves as a board member of a social service and social justice non-profit, providing services to immigrant communities and championing the rights of the undocumented community. Peter earned his Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Michelle Saddler

Principal at Kittleman & Associates
Vice Chair, Board of Directors

Michelle Saddler brings several decades of experience and strong records of accomplishment in numerous government and non-profit organizations and provides executive search as well as other consulting services for clients. Before joining Kittleman & Associates, Michelle served as Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and Chief of Staff to Former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. During her five years as IDHS Secretary, Michelle provided overall management and direction to Illinois’ largest and most diverse state agency.

Michelle earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and her master’s in management from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Tobeka G. Green

Chief Operating Officer Maryland Nonprofits
Secretary, Board of Directors

Tobeka Green is a management consultant and veteran c-suite executive with diverse non-profit and corporate management experience committed to advancing educational equity and inclusive leadership.

Recently, Tobeka provided transformational leadership as President and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI), the only national non-profit focused exclusively on the education and well-being of black children and families. Tobeka has also served as Senior Managing Director at District of Columbia Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI), and was CEO of Communities in Schools of the Nation’s Capital.

Tobeka received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida A&M University and a master’s degree in public administration from Baruch College – City University of New York, where she was a National Urban Fellow.

Amirh Collis

Trust Solution Partner – Pricewaterhouse Coopers
Treasurer, Board of Directors

Amirh Collis is a Trust Solutions Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), a professional services firm. Amirh has over 17 years of client service experience working with multinational Fortune 500 and privately held audit clients in various industries including automotive, industrial products, consumer markets, and business services.

She is very active in the firm’s people initiatives and has served in various roles directly impacting the people experience at PwC. Amirh has always maintained a passion for working with children through her volunteer efforts and serving on the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation non-profit board, where she is the Audit Committee Chair and a member of the finance committee. Amirh has a master’s and bachelor’s degrees in accounting from the University of South Florida. She is also an active certified public accountant (CPA) with licenses in several states including Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina. Currently, Amirh resides in Chicago, IL with her family, husband, and daughter.

LaChar Crayton

Chair, IAFC Early Head Start/Head Start Policy Council
Member, Board of Directors

LaChar is the mother of three children. Her fraternal twins are in the IAFC Head Start Program, and her baby boy attends the IAFC Early Head Start Center based at the Dolton site. LaChar is a regular volunteer at the Dolton site and while at home spends time doing activities with her children.

LaChar is a resident of Dolton and is very active in her community. She is a member of C.H.A.R.T.E.R.S. (Children Have Rights to Education Remedies) and of the Mentoring Program at Lincoln Junior High School.

Hardik Dalal

Vice President of Finance, Central Chicagoland PSA
Member, Board of Directors

Hardik Dalal is an experienced leader in the healthcare industry, specializing in financial operations, growth, and development. Currently the Vice President of Finance at Central Chicagoland PSA Advocate Aurora Health, Hardik brings nearly 20 years of experience in the financial and healthcare sectors. In his current role, Hardik provides executive leadership over finance and matrix support for supply chain, patient access, and health information management for Illinois Masonic Medical Center and Good Samaritan. He previously served as the Executive Director of Finance for Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Hardik earned his bachelor’s degree and M.B.A. from Purdue University. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife and two children.

Linda Hodo

Pivot Page Founder
Member, Board of Directors

Linda is an experienced human resources (HR), learning, and organizational development leader skilled at collaborating with leadership to create integrated talent management strategies that foster a culture of high performance to achieve business results. She has served in the capacity of officer, leader, consultant, and strategic business partner for senior leaders across a variety of industries. Her current role is Assistant Director, Learning Strategist, and Solution Leader, at Crowe LLP.

Throughout her career, Linda has also been an adjunct instructor for coaching in Northwestern’s MSOD program and an adjunct for Columbia College. At present, she is the owner of thepivotpage.com where she continues to help individuals and organizations take their ideas and turn them into actions for change. Additionally, she has had extensive experience as a Board member with non-profits and industry associations.

Linda has her BA in journalism from Drake University, her MS in marketing communications from Roosevelt University, and the Doctoral Program (ABD) in HR development/planned organizational change at George Washington University.

Catherine Merritt

CEO, Spool Marketing and Communications
Member, Board of Directors

Catherine Merritt is the founder and CEO of Spool Marketing and Communications, an integrated marketing and PR agency she founded along with a cohort of media and agency ex-pats who believed a new agency model is needed for today’s companies and brands. So, she set out to build it with Spool.

Catherine is an innovative, results-driven communications and marketing leader who has worked with startups, fortune-top companies, and many in between. She has more than 15 years of communications and marketing leadership experience from her roles at global agencies where she has overseen many of the agencies’ largest communications and public affairs clients.

Chris Knapik

Process Transformation Senior Director, PepsiCo 
Member, Board of Directors

Beginning his career with Deloitte & Touche LLP as an IT auditor, Chris eventually transitioned towards SAP (Enterprise Software Company) as a specialty area. He practiced systems implementation work with Deloitte in the Aerospace and Defense and Consumer Products industries before transitioning to a Global SAP security lead role at PepsiCo in 2014. In his seven years at Pepsi, Chris served a variety of security, control, governance, and process-oriented roles including lead of the process transformation team serving CFOs, Controllers, and IT. 

Chris has a B.A. in management information systems, finance, and a sales certificate from Ohio University. He also maintains certifications as a Certified Information Security Auditor (CISA) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). 

With his wife in the education field and two young daughters, Chris was drawn to Illinois Action for Children for our work in early learning. 

Jason G. Smith

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Supervision Manager 
Member, Board of Directors

Jason is an independent board director, senior advisor, financial expert, and managing director. In his governance roles, he serves as an experienced auditor, finance committee member, DEI committee member, and governance committee member.  

In the community, Jason is on the Board of Focus Fairies Mentoring serving as Vice Chair of the Board. Focus Fairies provides mentoring and wellness support for young women and girls. He also serves on the board of Can &Will Help Foundation, which provides ESL and GED services for young adults as well as provides support and resources to displaced families through shelters.  

Jason is a member of the American Bankers Association (ABA) and serves on the leadership council of the ABA black banker ERG. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, Chicago Alumni Chapter. 

Jason is a graduate of the Chicago Urban League (CUL) Impact Program through the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He received a B.A. in economics from St. Olaf College in Minnesota; and is a Commissioned Bank Examiner. 

Jason resides in Chicago, Illinois, and is a proud father of two children, Jaylen (23) and Ava (4). 

Katie Durick 

Associate General Counsel, Meta 
Member, Board of Directors

Katie serves as Associate General Counsel at Meta working on legal investigations and high-severity harms. Prior to Meta, Katie served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois for more than five years. During her tenure as a federal prosecutor, Katie prosecuted public corruption, fraud, drug trafficking, and violent crime. Katie has also spent time at large law firms in both Chicago and Washington D.C. focusing on white collar criminal defense and congressional investigations. Before law school, Katie worked in the United States Senate for her home-state of North Dakota. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota and Harvard Law School. Katie lives in Chicago with her husband and three sons.

Tussanee Taylor

Chair of the Parent Committee
Member, Board of Directors

Tussanee Taylor is the proud mother of a two-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy who attend the Dolton Early Learning Center since April of 2023. Tussanee was elected Chair of the Parent Committee in October 2023 and was recently elected as Vice-Chair of the Policy Council.

Tussanee spends her mornings volunteering in areas where extra hands are needed at the child care center. She is a part of the Pyramid Model planning team, cares a lot about the well-being of the children, the staff, and families. Tussanee takes great pride and pleasure in spreading the word about the wonderful programs that Illinois Action for Children has to offer.

She was awarded parent of the year by Illinois Head Start Association during the IHSA Conference on March 13, 2024. During the same conference, Tussanee was elected as IHSA Board Member as Region V Representative.

Tamarr Walker

Vice-Chair,
IAFC Early Head Start/Head Start Policy Council
Member, Board of Directors

Tamarr Walker is a University of Illinois at Chicago graduate with a Bachelor of Science. Tamarr is currently a Mental Health Professional at Kirby Rehabilitation. She is a devoted mother of two beautiful girls Talia and Geselle. Geselle is currently enrolled in the early learning program. Tamarr is thrilled to be invested in decision making when it comes to her daughter. She loves to travel and contribute to others’ success. Tamarr is looking forward to making a difference.