Pallavi Abraham

Pallavi Abraham

Executive Director

Pallavi has spent her teaching career working in Chicago schools. Prior to becoming Executive Director, she started as the lead science teacher at Youth Connection Leadership Academy an alternative high school in Bronzeville. She also worked at UIC College Prep, where she taught Introductory and AP Biology, as well as Biochemistry. She has earned her Masters Degree in Secondary Science Education from Johns Hopkins University. Pallavi strives to empower minority women to join competitive fields and become the future of educational leadership.

Ann Persson

Ann Persson

Director of Curriculum and Coaching

Ann has worked as a teacher, teacher leader and principal in Chicago schools.  Most recently she has worked as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at DSST in Denver, Colorado. She received her Masters Degree in Literacy from the American College of Education and currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Relay Graduate School of Education. Ann is a data-driven, solutions-focused leader with a proven ability to close gaps, meet goals, and move the needle on achievement for students and schools.

Norma Ferrel

Norma Ferrel


Norma is an 2nd year undergraduate student majoring in Economics at the University of Chicago. She is involved with the Institute of Politics at the university, and hopes to attend the Harris School of Public Policy. Norma is interested in the intersection of public policy and education, and is passionate about improving the educational opportunities available.

Dr. Paul Riskus

Dr. Paul Riskus


Paul worked as a high school chemistry and physics teacher, and was a science department chair at Urban Prep-Bronzeville High School. Following his teaching career, he became an instructional coach and assistant principal at Garcia High School. He is currently the Principal at Walt Disney Magnet School, after earning his EdD in Urban Educational Leadership at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Paul believes that empowering and supporting teacher leaders is the clearest path to student growth.

Dr. Michael Harries

Dr. Michael Harries


Michael worked as a freshmen physics teacher and freshmen team lead teacher at Urban Prep- West High school on Chicago’s near west side. He earned a Master’s Degree in Teaching at Dominican University and recently completed medical school at the University of Chicago. He is currently a resident physician at Comer Children’s Hospital. As a Pediatrician he plans to focus his career on the intersection of medical care and the K-12 school system. He also hopes to work towards increasing access to mental health resources for youth in areas of high need.

Andy Rhodes

Andy Rhodes

Andy works as an Assistant Principal with CPS at South Loop Elementary school.  Prior to this role, he completed his Principal Residency through the Chicago Leadership Collaborative at Coles Elementary in South Chicago and worked as a Dean, grade level lead, and English teacher with the Noble Network at Johnson College Prep in the Englewood community.  While completing his EdD in Urban Education Leadership at UIC, Andy has engaged deeply in identifying problems of practice in educational organizations in order to promote both student and adult learning.  Andy believes that great teachers are truly irreplaceable, and his inspiration in working at TST is to identify and promote teacher leadership within schools.

Morgan Russo

Morgan Russo

Morgan taught 4th-7th grade for five years in Chicago and served as an instructional coach and teacher leader. Morgan is working on her Masters in Child Development from the Erikson Institute and currently works in Children’s Digital Media.  She believes that teachers are our greatest resource and empowering them to lead in their schools will have the greatest impact on our students.

Michael Cheng

Michael Cheng

Michael previously worked as the science department head at Youth Connection Leadership Academy in Bronzeville, an alternative high school for our city’s most underserved youth. While teaching, he earned a Master’s Degree in Teaching at Dominican University. He is currently working as a Data and Analytics Consultant at Accenture. Michael believes in the intersection of education and technology to impact learning for both teachers and students.

Kelly McKimson-Rhodes

Kelly McKimson-Rhodes

Kelly is an English teacher at H.L. Richards High School, a Title I school in the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn. Kelly leads the English IV team and is a founding member of her school’s Equity and Opportunity Committee, specifically working to develop Richards’ Advanced Placement program. Kelly earned two master’s degrees in education, and she is a certified yoga instructor who enjoys sharing her practice and trauma-informed mindfulness training with students and educators. In her fifteen years in the classroom, and as the daughter of a veteran CPS teacher, Kelly knows teachers are social justice advocates and the driving force in schools; they deserve opportunity, support, and recognition.

Michael Harries

Co-Founder (Board President)


Paul Riskus

Co-Founder (Board Vice President)


Amy Sauer

Strategic Advisor – The OSA Foundation (Board Treasurer)


Lisa Wiersma

Executive Director –  IMC Chicago Charitable Foundation


Dr. Steve Tozer

Director and Professor – Center for Urban Education Leadership, UIC


Dr. Decoteau Irby

Assistant Professor – UIC College of Education


Dr. Greg Jones

Executive Director – The Academy Group


Shamika Keepers

CPS Framework Specialist – Bronzeville Classical School

George Magnuson (Co-Chair)

Software Developer—IMC Financial Market


Shreya Singh (Co-Chair)

Development Associate—Related


Niki Anand

Managing Consultant—IBM


Joy Elizabeth

Marketing and Communications Intern—CG Life


Dylan Lieteau

Technical Account Manager—MCE Systems


Arthur Dennis

Humanities Teacher—CICS Lloyd Bond


Tejasvi Singh

Student—Midwestern University


Paul Lieponis

Lead Designer—Actualize Therapy


Gabrielle Benoit

Wendell Phillips—Special Education Teacher


Susie Choi

Lighthouse Academics NW Indiana—Regional Director of Professional Development


Vicky Lee

Associate Vice President, Development—Focus


Anusha Balaji

Consultant—Slalom Consulting


Tori Harrrell

Acute Care Occupational Therapist—Rush University Medical Center


Kelsey McCarty

Math Teacher — Chicago Public Schools


Antanas Riskus

Client Consultant—Euromonitor International