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Board of Directors
The Board of Directors of Urban Prairie is the decision making, guiding and planning body for the school. The Board keeps the school´s mission central in all of its processes. The Board is responsible for strategic planning and initiatives based on identified goals developed with the school´s mission in mind, using input from various stakeholders.
Individuals who take on leadership roles for the school do so in the spirit of servant leadership, guided by the principal of service to the whole. Urban Prairie exists by virtue of the support of a wide community of parents and friends and all who share our vision of Waldorf Education. The health and growth of our school depends on the strength of these relationships.
2012-13 Board of Directors
Heather Berhalter chairs the Admissions committee and is a member of the Committee on Board Development. Before moving to Chicago, she served in the State Department Foreign Service in several overseas posts and in Washington, D.C. as a Special Assistant to Secretary Madeleine Albright. She is also a La Leche League Leader and enjoys photography in her spare time. She and her husband, Jay, have three sons, Grant, Reed and Archer. Grant attends Urban Prairie, and Reed attends City Garden.
Mary Cowen is a classroom teacher at City Garden Early Childhood Center. She serves as the Board’s study leader, and as a member of the Board Development and Teacher Search and Support committees. Mary received her Waldorf education from Arcturus Teacher training program in Chicago, and was previously a grades teacher at the Chicago Waldorf School. She has a daughter attending Urban Prairie and a daughter attending City Garden.
Simon Goodship is a Group Creative Director at Razorfish, one of the largest digital advertising agencies in the world. The recipient of numerous industry awards, Simon comes to us with 23 years of design, marketing and advertising experience and expertise in multi-faceted media strategy and communications. Prior to working in marketing, Simon was a social worker. Simon is the new chair of the Marketing committee. He is an Urban Prairie and City Garden parent.
Mike Gurley is the president and owner of Global New Beginnings, a multi-million dollar company. GNBI partners with companies and not-for-profits to offer high quality premiums and promotional items, and designs, produces, and distributes these items for clients. Mike comes with decades of financial, budgeting, and marketing experience. Through years of traveling the globe, he has an international perspective on business and educational matters. Mike serves on both the Finance and Marketing committees and has a strong interest in Facilities. He is the parent of an UPWS second-grader and a City Garden pre-schooler.
Laurie Hollett currently works as a fundraising and strategic planning consultant, specializing in government, not-for-profit, and political fundraising development. Her experience includes creating fundraising plans, donor identification, event planning and communication development for a variety of clients. Her clients have included U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, U.S. Rep Jill Long, Mayor Richard Daley, and Chicago Public Schools. Laurie is the new chair of the Development committee and is the parent of two City Garden pre-schoolers.
Michael Levine is President of the board, chairs the Executive and Strategic Planning committees and serves as a member of the Marketing committee. Founder and president of AppAbility, a software development consulting firm here in Chicago, Michael has over 20 years of experience in team leadership and strategic decision making. His son, Benjamin, attended City Garden and was a part of Urban Prairie’s inaugural 2009 class.
Peggy Lofgren has managed P&Ls for the last 15 years from $2M to $20M in revenue. As the Administrator of the 900 North Michigan Surgery Center, Peggy leads the day-to-day operations of the high-volume surgery center. Previously, she was vice president of Red Door Spas in Chicago and has international experience in the luxury spa business. She has led key corporate initiatives using strategic planning and analytical skills. She has launched multiple new properties and collaborated with corporate leadership in marketing, human resources, design and construction, training, and finance with a focus on the guest service experience. Peggy has always had an interest in health and wellness whether it is in fitness, skincare, massage and now the medical industry. She loves cooking, gardening and reading, specifically history / biographies. Peggy has a daughter in grade 2 at Urban Prairie and a son at City Garden.
Elisa Mangual is a bank regulatory and acquisitions attorney at The Northern Trust Company. She serves as Assistant Secretary for two of Northern Trust’s subsidiary banks, experience that she brings to her position as Urban Prairie Board Secretary. Additionally, she has served on two local not-for-profit boards. Elisa has a strong interest in handwork, and can knit at the speed of light. She is the parent of a UPWS student and a City Garden pre-schooler.
Mat Riendeau is a grades teacher at Urban Prairie and serves as Faculty Representative on the board. Trained at the Arcturus Waldorf teacher training program in Chicago, Mat taught at Water’s Edge Waldorf School in Wauconda, IL before coming to Urban Prairie. Prior to realizing his calling as a Waldorf teacher, he completed two tours of service with the United States Peace Corps. He taught English for two years in Sichuan Province, China, and spent two years working at a rural health clinic in Burkina Faso in West Africa. Mat is a member of the Facilities and Strategic Planning committees.
Ed Sindelar is the Vice President of Red Electric Company and has served as the UPWS Facilities Project Manager. Ed has over 15 years of experience in construction service, supervision and management. His experience includes start-to-finish build-out and construction projects and working relationships with other construction professionals, developers, architects, engineers, bankers and other consultants. Ed is new chair of the Facilities Committee and is a UPWS and City Garden parent.
Ted Shieh is the Chief Medical Informatics Officer and an emergency physician at Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, where he also chairs the hospital’s sustainability committee. He previously served as their EMS Medical Director. He brings his experience in IT, performance improvement, communications, sustainability and information management to his position as the Director of the Urban Prairie Sustainability and Wellness Working Group. Ted is a scuba diver – you may have seen his underwater feeding presentations in the Caribbean Reef at Shedd Aquarium. When not in the Reef, he serves as a member of the Shedd Green Animal Hospital Committee and Medical Advisory Board. When Ted is not preoccupied with any of the above, he is in the kitchen baking bread and pies or redesigning the chicken coop. He is the parent of a City Garden Kindergartener.
Sharla Stewart vice president, joined the board in spring 2008 with the will to bring this school into being. Her son Michael, a member of the inaugural Urban Prairie class, says he wishes all children could attend a Waldorf school. Sharla coordinates the Teacher Search & Support committee and is a member of the Marketing and Executive Committees. Formerly a writer and associate editor of The University of Chicago Magazine, she is now a yoga teacher in Hyde Park and the mother of 3 sons.
Sarah Vander Muelen is a class teacher at City Garden Childhood Center. She is a University of Illinois Chicago alumni and a graduate from Arcturus teacher training program where she received her Waldorf teacher certificate. Sarah has recently become a chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in which her role is to facilitate buying groups for local, organic food and to educate the community on the importance of proper nutrition.
|Vice President:||Sharla Stewart|
Standing committees of the board include:
- Admissions (chair: Heather Berhalter)
- Committee on Board Development (chair: Sharla Stewart)
- Development (chair: Laurie Hollet)
- Executive (chair: Michael Levine)
- Facilities (chair: Ed Sindelar)
- Finance (chair: Peggy Lofgren)
- Marketing (chair: Simon Goodship)
- Strategic planning (chair: Michael Levine)
- Teacher Search and Support (chair: Sharla Stewart)
Urban Prairie is always interested in talking with individuals interested in helping further the mission of the school. If you have an interest in the Board of Directors or board committee work please email Sharla Stewart, chair of the Committee on Board Development (COBD).
We seek big-picture, strategic and creative thinkers with Waldorf experience or a commitment to deepening their understanding of Waldorf. Thinking toward the future, we seek community-building candidates with strong leadership potential.
Board members serve in the model of servant leadership and work together in service to the school and its mission. Parent board members must acknowledge their inherent conflict of interest as parents and strive to act out of a non-parent, big-picture governing vision consistent with the mission of the Board of Directors and the goals and insights of the Waldorf educational philosophy.
Term Expectations & Description
All candidates will be presented with a detailed outline of board membership. First-time board members serve a one-year term; returning board members are expected to serve two-year terms. At the end of each year, COBD and board members jointly evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of the board as we seek to form a strong and effective constellation of board members. At this time, the board does not have term limits. Board members attend monthly study and board meetings and are active on at least one committee. We encourage all interested candidates to attend a board meeting and study.
Should you wish to suggest a friend, colleague, or yourself as a candidate, please submit your suggestion to committee chair Sharla Stewart . Please include a brief description of the candidate’s strengths that lend themselves to board membership, as well as their experience with Waldorf education. The vetting process has three stages: 1) all candidates will be considered by the full committee; 2) based on the above-mentioned qualifications, the committee will select potential candidates for an informal interview with a member of the committee; 3) COBD will formally interview final candidates. The committee then presents a slate of board nominees to the full Board of Directors for election.