Meet The PCC Board

View Founding Board

Dr. Douglas Wood (Board Chair)

Director, Criminal Justice Reform Initiative

Aspen Institute

Dr. Douglas E. Wood is Director of the Aspen Institute’s Criminal Justice Reform Initiative. From 2011-2018, he was a program officer at the Ford Foundation on the Youth Opportunity and Learning team and for nearly two years served as Acting Lead of the foundation’s global Higher Education for Social Justice initiative, managing grants in the U.S., Colombia, Peru, Chile, Southern Africa, Egypt and China. He also funded a myriad of programmatic grants focused on criminal justice reform at the national, state and local levels including investigative journalism, theater and documentary film. Prior to joining Ford, he was Executive Director and Chief Education Officer of the Tennessee State Board of Education, chair of the Basic Education Program Review Committee that oversees Tennessee’s $3.2 billion K-12 budget, a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, a gubernatorial appointee to the Education Commission of the States, a Fellow at the Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, executive director and principal investigator of the National Academy for Excellent Teaching, Teachers College, Columbia University, and Associate Dean at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School.

Dr. Wood began his career as a public school teacher and while a graduate student at Harvard, worked as a consultant with the Urban Superintendent’s Program, the World Bank’s Office of East Asian Affairs, and taught at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Wood received the 2018 Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is a board member of the Partnership for College Completion. Dr. Wood holds a B.A. degree in History from Wofford College, a master’s degree in English from Middlebury College, and a master’s and doctoral degree from Harvard University. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and holds the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Middlebury College.

Dr. Nivine Megahed (Vice Chair)


National Louis University

Dr. Megahed has worked in higher education for over thirty-five years. As an educational entrepreneur her passion is building innovative student centered organizations focused on student success and empowering our most marginalized populations to achieve social and economic mobility through education.

Since 2010, Megahed has served as the 11th president of National Louis University, a 136-year-old institution recognized for its leadership in professional preparation across a broad set of disciplines, and for its commitment to closing the post-secondary attainment gap through cost effective scalable models of education.

Dr. Megahed earned her bachelor degree in psychology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her master and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology were earned at the University of Rochester.

She serves as Board Chair of University of Arizona Global Campus, Finance Committee Chair for Chicago Public Media, and is a Fellow for Complete College America. Dr. Megahed is also a member of The Chicago Network, The Economic Club of Chicago and The Commercial Club. She has been sought out internationally to present on issues related to the democratization of education, women in leadership, innovation in education and closing the achievement gap.

Jim Parsons (Treasurer)

Former President

The Brinson Foundation

Jim Parsons served as President of The Brinson Foundation, a private family foundation based in Chicago
which supports education and scientific research programs, from 2004-2019 and continued as a Senior
Advisor through 2021. In addition to serving on the Board of the Partnership for College Completion
where he also chairs the Finance, Legal and Audit Committee, Jim is a member of the Board of Trustees
and chair of the Education Committee at the Chicago Architecture Center and serves on the Board of
Directors and the Leadership Council of Communities In Schools of Chicago. Jim also chairs the Board of
Advisors of the Morton Arboretum. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the
National Center for Family Philanthropy, a past chair of the Board of Directors of Forefront (formerly
Donors Forum) and previously served on the Board of Trustees of Denison University. He also served on
the Board of Directors of King-Bruwaert House, a continuous care retirement community, and is
a life trustee and former Board chair of The Community House, a social services agency located in west
suburban Chicago.

Prior to his career in philanthropy, Jim practiced law at the Chicago law firm of Gardner, Carton & Douglas (now Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP) where he also served as Managing Partner.

Jim received his law degree from The University of Chicago and his undergraduate degree from Denison

Kevin Considine (Secretary)

President and CEO

Lake County Partners

Kevin was instrumental in the creation of the Lake County Workforce Ecosystem, forming groundbreaking partnerships with the Lake County Workforce Development Department, the College of Lake County and other stakeholders, which has helped to fill over 600 new jobs. He also played a critical role in developing Lake County Partners’ business outreach program which works to identify and address critical marketplace needs in Lake County. Before joining Lake County Partners, Considine held senior management roles in successful technology start-ups, including regional Vice President for Rapt Technologies (acquired by Microsoft in 2008) and Vice President of National Sales for In addition to a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Georgetown University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Crummer Graduate School of Business, Considine holds a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Direction from Loyola University Chicago. Considine is a life-long Chicagoan who moved to Lake County in 2003. He lives in Lake Bluff with his wife Jami and two children. He is the past President of the Lake Bluff Park District Board of Commissioners, and an avid volunteer in and around the community.

Krista Brown

Student Board Member

University of Chicago

Greg Darnieder

Founding Partner

National Postsecondary Strategy Institute (NPSI)

NPSI’s third co-founder, Greg Darnieder, established the student development department within Chicago’s school district and worked on student college access issues under U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the Obama administration. NPSI is partner to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative to usher high schoolers into college, which launched during Obama’s presidency and today is a nonprofit.

Felicia Davis Blakley

President and CEO

Chicago Foundation for Women

Felicia Davis Blakley is a socially conscious executive leader, who leads with radical authenticity, unparalleled passion, and inspirational vision. A proven leader in the government, public policy, higher education, and philanthropic sectors, she is deeply committed to community through inclusive service to others. As President and CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW), she leads the Foundation’s strategic efforts to invest in women and girls, transgender, and gender nonbinary people as catalysts, fighting for gender equity, and building stronger communities for all. Prior to joining CFW, Felicia held diverse executive positions in Chicago city government, including Inaugural Executive Director for the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement, Commissioner, and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety.

Dr. Wil del Pilar

Senior Vice President

The Education Trust

Wil Del Pilar, Ph.D., serves as Ed Trust’s Senior Vice President. In this role, Wil spearheads Ed Trust’s mission to highlight inequities and outline solutions in order to improve access, success, affordability, and completion in higher education for low-income students and students of color. Prior to joining Ed Trust, Wil served in Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration as deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education, where he developed and implemented the state’s strategic vision for higher education. Before joining Governor Wolf’s team, Wil had experience in the Pennsylvania Department of Education, working as an executive assistant in the state’s higher education office. In this role, he managed an array of services for the state, including the College Access Challenge Grant and the Pennsylvania Information Management System. Aside from working for Pennsylvania’s Department of Education in higher education policy roles, Wil has held senior development positions, as the director of development at Pennsylvania State University and at the University of Florida’s Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program. In both positions, he fought to secure funding to support access and success initiatives for historically underrepresented students. In addition to his policy and development experience, Wil has a wealth of institutional experience, working in admissions at Chapman University in Orange, California, and the University of California Santa Cruz, as a financial aid counselor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and as a research assistant at Penn State. Wil holds a doctorate in higher education/higher education administration from The Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree from California State University-Dominguez Hills, and a bachelor’s degree from Chapman University.

Judy Earwin

Managing Director


Judy works closely with clients in the areas of policy, public affairs and communications. Prior to joining Kivvit, Judy had a distinguished 30-year career in state and local government. She served as the executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education from 2005–2010 and in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1992–2002. Judy was a communications professional prior to and during her time in elected office, serving as a senior officer at two Chicago-based public affairs firms, where she managed a broad range of accounts from 1997–2005. She is also a former public school teacher and taught a political science course, “State Government,” at the University of Illinois–Chicago.

Judy currently serves on the boards of Advance Illinois, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, The Illinois Justice Project and Illinois Institute of Technology’s Lewis College of Human Sciences. She is on the organizing committee for the Kennedy Forum Illinois, a mental health policy advocacy organization, and served on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Community Trust from 2003–2013. Judy received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a master’s degree from the National College of Education, Chicago (now National-Louis University).

Dr. Frank Harris III

Professor of Postsecondary Education & Co-Director of the Community College Equity Assessment Lab

San Diego State University

Dr. Frank Harris III is a professor of postsecondary education and co-director of the Community College
Equity Assessment Lab at San Diego State University (SDSU). Dr. Harris is also a senior strategist in
SDSU’s Division of Campus Diversity and Student Affairs, advising on efforts to institutionalize equity and
design innovative professional learning experiences to build equity mindedness among faculty and staff.
In 2021–2022, SDSU’s president named Harris the faculty athletics representative to help ensure
integrity and student-athlete welfare in SDSU’s athletics programs. In Fall 2022, Harris began his
appointment as associate dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion in SDSU’s College of Education, and he
received the SDSU Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Dr. Harris is best known for his expertise in racial [in]equity in postsecondary education and has made
important contributions to knowledge about college student development and the social construction of
gender and race in college contexts. His work prioritizes populations that have been historically
underrepresented and underserved in education. Harris has obtained competitive grants and extramural
funding for his research, including support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the College
Futures Foundation, and the Steve Fund. Harris’s scholarship has been published in leading journals for
higher education and student affairs research and practice, including the Journal of College Student
Development, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, Educational Researcher, International Journal of
Qualitative Studies in Education, Journal of Negro Education, and the Community College Journal of
Research and Practice. Harris regularly disseminates scholarship through refereed conference
proceedings, workshops, symposia, and keynote addresses, and he has delivered thousands of academic
and professional presentations throughout his career. He also serves on the Every Learner Everywhere
Equity Advisory Board and on the Partnership for College Completion Board.
Harris is the co-editor/author of four books: College Men and Masculinities: Theory, Research and
Implications for Practice, Teaching Men of Color in the Community College, Teaching Young Boys and
Men of Color, and Supporting Men of Color in the Community College. His commentary has been sought
by high-profile media outlets, including Diverse Issues in Higher Education, The New York Times, The Los
Angeles Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Huffington Post, Inside Higher Ed, CNN, and Fox 5
News San Diego. Colleges and universities across the country consult Harris regularly for his expertise on
student equity, student success, and institutional transformation, and he has worked with more than
100 postsecondary institutions, community organizations, and nonprofits on equity-related efforts.
During the Obama Administration, Harris was invited to The White House to share his knowledge and
expertise on the status of boys and men of color in education.
Before joining the faculty at San Diego State, Harris worked as a student affairs educator and college
administrator in the areas of student crisis support and advocacy, new student orientation programs,
multicultural student affairs, academic advising, and enrollment services. He also served as an adjunct
professor of speech communication at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. Dr. Harris earned a
bachelor’s degree in communication studies at Loyola Marymount University, a master’s degree in
speech communication at California State University, Northridge, and a doctorate in higher education
from the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.

Adam Levine


Circle of Service Foundation

Adam Levine is president of Circle of Service Foundation, based in Chicago. He has general management responsibility for COSF, which has four giving areas: Public Education, Medical Research, Jewish Community, and Social/Human Services. Adam has served on the board of COSF since 1997, and he joined COSF professionally as president in 2007. Prior to 2007, Adam practiced corporate law as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis. He is a member of the boards of OneTable, Jewish Funders Network and Chicago Jewish Day School.

Vivian Nixon

Writer in Residence

The Square One Project, Columbia Justice Lab

After 20 years at College & Community Fellowship (CCF), a nonprofit that helps women with criminal convictions graduate from college and pursue their dreams, Vivian joined the Square One Project as a writer in residence. She contributes to narrative change and educational work that elevates racial reckoning in conversations about the United States justice system. She also serves as an advisor for the Bard Prison Initiative, building support to expand access to no-cost associate’s degrees through a network of micro colleges. Vivian earned an undergraduate degree after she was released from prison. Later, she earned an MFA from the Columbia School of the Arts and was ordained an elder minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Vivian is the founding board chair of JustLeadershipUSA. Most recently, Vivian received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bard College. Vivian’s essays, poems, and commentary can be found in various periodicals and anthologies. She co-edited What We Know: Solutions from Inside the Justice System. Vivian is working on a book that chronicles a career in justice reform and identifies the personal and professional complications that occur when authenticity meets opportunity. The work was started and sustained by Art for Justice and PEN America. It continues with support from Square One.

Marcella Nurse

HR Business Partner and Director of Talent


Marcella Nurse is an HR Business Partner and Director of Talent at Netflix. Supporting Content Legal, she guides leaders to drive business growth, promote inclusion and cultural competency, and maintain organizational health.
Previously, Marcella has held leadership development and learning experience design roles at Microsoft, Amazon, and Goldman Sachs. She began her HR career at Korn Ferry—first as an executive search consultant in the Global Financial Technology Practice—and later transitioning to the Talent Consulting business with a focus on organization design, top team effectiveness, and performance management.
She is deeply passionate about education and began working in operations and learning roles in the New York City nonprofit sector. With positions at the Mayor’s Office Commission on Women’s Issues, Department of Youth and Community Development, and the “I Have A Dream” Foundation, Marcella helped first-generation Americans and first generation college students—much like herself—prepare for and navigate post-secondary education.
Marcella has also held research positions at Cornell University Weill Medical College and Georgetown University School of Medicine. She received her clinical training at Columbia University Teachers College; holds a Master’s from Harvard Graduate School of Education; and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Notre Dame.
She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, Louis. Marcella identifies as Caribbean-American and her family hails from the islands of Trinidad and Grenada, West Indies.

Karen Paciero

Vice President of Advancement

Loyola University Chicago

Karen Paciero is the Vice President of Advancement at Loyola University Chicago. She has had a successful career as a development professional facilitating philanthropy and building partnerships with those who share the goals of advancing excellence, research, education, social justice, and patient care programs. She has worked within a number of organizations including Feeding America, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and a local human service agency in the Detroit metropolitan area, Starfish Family Services.

Before her time at Loyola University, she served as associate vice president of individual giving at University of Chicago Medicine, medicine and biological sciences.

Paciero launched her career as a social worker helping children and families navigate the juvenile justice, child protection, and social welfare systems in the Detroit area. Her early professional years inspire her career to this day and serve as the primary motivation for joining Loyola with its commitment to social justice. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a Master of Social Work in public policy and administration from the University of Michigan.

Beth Swanson


A Better Chicago

Beth is an accomplished public, nonprofit, and philanthropic leader who has spent her career leading transformative efforts to improve the lives of young people. She is currently CEO of A Better Chicago, changing how Chicago fights poverty by investing in organizations and leaders that are creating opportunity for Chicago’s youth. A Better Chicago has invested over $65M in high impact non-profits and reaches over 49,000 youth annually.

Previously, Beth was Vice President of Strategy and Programs at The Joyce Foundation guiding an annual portfolio of $50 million, providing strategic direction across six program areas, and working on foundation-wide innovation initiatives. Prior to Joyce, Beth served as Deputy for Education for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, working with education, non-profit, business and community leaders to define the city’s education policy agenda. Her portfolio included Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago, Department of Family Support Services, Chicago Park District and Chicago Libraries. Beth previously served as Executive Director of the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation and worked for Chicago Public Schools with then CEO Arne Duncan, serving as Director of the Office of Extended Learning Opportunities and leading the Office of Management and Budget.

Beth holds a B.A. in English and American studies from Amherst College, as well as a master’s in public policy from the University of Chicago. Currently, Beth is Vice Chair of the City Colleges of Chicago’s Board of Trustees, Thrive Chicago, and serves on the Illinois P-20 Council.

Tina Tchen

Chief Strategy and Impact Officer

Obama Foundation

Tina Tchen is an Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy and Impact Officer for the Obama Foundation. She is responsible for leading the development, implementation, and monitoring of the Foundation’s strategy, oversees the Girls Opportunity Alliance, formalizing the senior advisor role she has played with the team over the last year, and is involved with the Foundation’s work with Obama alumni.

Ms. Tchen is an attorney, activist, and lifelong advocate for women and girls. She served in the Obama White House through both terms, and was an Assistant to President Barack Obama, Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama, and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women Girls. At the White House, Ms. Tchen spearheaded the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families, helped form the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, and led the Administration’s effort to promote education for adolescent girls around the world, including Mrs. Obama’s Let Girls Learn Initiative.

Prior to the White House, Ms. Tchen practiced law for 23 years at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. She was a partner in the Litigation Department, representing companies, senior management and corporate boards for major Fortune 500 companies, including Sprint, Abbott, McDonald’s and United Airlines. She also chaired the firm’s pro bono committee, was a long time leader of the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation, and was named Chicago Lawyer Magazine’s Person of the Year, among other accolades. During this time, she served on numerous boards, including as chair of the board of the Field Foundation of Illinois, an elected member of the board of the Harvard Alumni Association, a trustee for the University of Chicago Medical Center, and a board member for the Chicago Public Library, the Chinese American Service League, the Chicago Foundation for Women, and Personal PAC, a statewide political action committee electing pro-choice candidates throughout Illinois.

After the White House, Ms. Tchen returned to a corporate law practice and specialized in workplace culture, advising companies on gender equity, sexual harassment and diversity and inclusion. Her clients included XPO Logistics, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and she chaired the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion for the Recording Academy, the music industry organization that awards the Grammys. In 2017, she helped design and launch the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, which is now housed at the National Women’s Law Center and has connected thousands of people with legal or PR support for sexual harassment across dozens of industries. From 2019-2021, Ms. Tchen also served as President and CEO of TIME’S UP Now and the TIME’S UP Foundation, as the organization worked to build safe, fair and dignified workplaces, and launched the TIME’S UP Care Economy Business Council.

Elizabeth Thompson


The Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education

As President of the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education (The CAFE), Liz is deeply engaged in the non-profit community and passionate about youth development and education. The CAFE is focused on college access and success and career readiness and attainment. Also, through the foundation, Liz mentors and supports students and young professionals as they transition through life.

Liz grew up in Chicago’s Cabrini Green housing development and credits her parents and a strong community for shaping her values and vision. When others wonder how she somehow “beat the odds” as a product of Cabrini, Liz firmly declares that her success is because of where she came from, not in spite of it.

Liz began working with non-profits in 1993 as founding Executive Director of City Year Chicago, a national service organization that was the template for the AmeriCorps Program. Then in 1995, Liz served as Executive Director of a Montessori school in Denver, where she led a multi-million-dollar expansion of the Early Head Start program. In 1998, she became active with non-profit boards in the San Diego area, which further fueled her interest in philanthropy and education.

Prior to following her passion for youth development and education, Liz had a ten-year career with Ameritech Corporation after receiving an Electrical Engineering degree from Purdue University.

Liz is a director for Chicago Public Media/WBEZ, Chicago Beyond and a National Director for Braven. She serves as co-chair of Purdue University Minority Engineering Program Advisory Panel and Special Advisor to OneGoal. She also serves on the Steering Committee of the University of Chicago Women’s Board and is an alumnus of the Non-Profit Leadership Program of Denver and of Leadership Greater Chicago. Liz is a past Trustee of the University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Most recently, Liz joined a distinguished cohort of Aspen Institute Global Leaders as a 2019 Pahara Education Fellow. Liz received the Dream Builders Award from the Chicago Child Care Society, the John J. Dugan Award from OneGoal and was featured in Make It Better Magazine as one of Chicago’s Top Black Women of Impact.

In addition to her commitment to serving Chicago’s students, professionals and communities, Liz is the co-founder with her husband, Don Thompson, of Cleveland Avenue, LLC – a food and beverage focused venture fund. Cleveland Avenue provides financial resources, expertise and individual support to entrepreneurs as they grow and scale their businesses.

Liz has been married to Don, retired CEO and President of McDonald’s Corporation, for 30 years. They have two adult children and live in the southwest area of metropolitan Chicago.

PCC Founding Board of Directors

Greg Darnieder (Board Chair)

Former Senior Advisor to the Secretary on the College Access Initiative, U.S. Department of Education

Liz Thompson (Vice Chair)

President, The Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education

Adam Levine (Treasurer)

President, Circle of Service Foundation

Laz Lopez (Secretary)

Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, High School District 214

Dave Agazzi

Vice President of Administrative Affairs, College Of Lake County

Arne Duncan

Managing Director, Emerson Collaborative

Judy Erwin

Managing Director, ASGK Public Strategies

Ricardo Estrada

President and CEO, Metropolitan Family Services

Brian Fabes

CEO, Civic Consulting Alliance

Joseph McCoy

Managing Partner, Bryan Cave

Nivine Megahed

President, National Louis University

Tim Schwertfeger

Former Chairman and CEO, Nuveen Investments