Margaret O’Dell, Chair
Margaret served for 20 years as program officer for environment at the Joyce Foundation, and now consults for foundations and not-for-profits and is working on a book on philanthropy and global challenges. She has academic degrees from Carleton College and the University of Chicago. A long-time resident of the Great Lakes basin, she is an avid supporter of freshwater lakes, energy and water efficiency, natural landscaping, and sustainable cities.
Bennett Johnson III, Vice Chair
Co-Founder and Managing Director, Oceans Holdings LLC
Bennett is vice chair of CNT’s board. He currently is Chairman and President of The UCI Group, Inc. Bennett spent over 15 years working with and assisting the public sector in Illinois and throughout the US become more efficient and effective. A lifelong Chicagoan, Bennett worked with the City of Chicago’s Department of Finance and as the city's Budget Director. He holds a bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering Sciences from Harvard University and a Master of Economics in Industrial Engineering and Personnel Management from the London School of Economics.
Louis F. Rosenthal, Treasurer
Principal, Rosenthal Advisors LLC
Mr. Rosenthal is the Principal of Rosenthal Advisors LLC, which provides strategic, operational and financial advisory services to public and privately held companies with a focus on financial services and technology-enabled businesses. Mr. Rosenthal was previously Managing Director of The Chicago Corporation, an investment banking firm, where he now serves as Senior Advisor.
Mr. Rosenthal has over 35 years of experience in financial services and technology and has served in executive positions at Bank of America and LaSalle Bank as well as a global executive role for ABN AMRO Bank NV. Prior to joining The Chicago Corporation in 2013, Mr. Rosenthal was an organizer of a de novo bank and was a partner in a financial services advisory firm. His experience extends across investment banking, project finance, commercial and consumer lending, as well as technology and operations. Mr. Rosenthal began his career at The Bank of New York.
Mr. Rosenthal received a B.S. in business administration and accounting from he University of Florida. He currently serves on a number of advisory boards of start-up and not-for-profit entities and is an avid boater and long-distance cyclist.
Jeremy Liu, Secretary
Principal, Creative Ecology
Jeremy Liu is a Senior Fellow at PolicyLink, a national research and action institute advancing racial and economic equity, where he leads an initiative to integrate arts and culture into equitable development, including economic inclusion, housing, health equity, and policy change. He co-edited the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Community Development Innovation Review issue Transforming Community Development through Arts and Culture, he co-authored the PolicyLink report Creating Change: Arts, Culture, and Equitable Development, and contributed chapters to the National Endowment for the Arts’ book How to Do Creative Placemaking and the Routledge Handbook of Placemaking. He is also the managing partner of Creative Development Partners, an investment and real estate development firm that is pioneering the creation of “community benefits by design” ventures in hospitality and real estate. Previously, he served as the chief executive of two community development and real estate social enterprises in Boston and in the Bay Area, for which he has held full P&L responsibility for a $15M operation, managing total assets of over $200M, a staff of 110, social service programs providing direct support to over 5,000 individuals, over two dozen properties including 2,000+ units of housing and 300,000 SF of commercial space, and a development pipeline of six-to-ten projects annually. His strategic repositioning of a nationally-recognized community development corporation from a focus on the activity of housing production and service provision to a performance focus on the social determinants of health has led a transformation across the entire community development sector. He also serves as a consultant and advisor to community developers, foundations, and businesses around the country.
Vice President, Hub International
Mr. Chamberlain’s career comprises more than 25 years of experience in project management, advisory, line management, technology evaluation, capital formation, business development and due diligence roles for a wide variety of private and public sector clients in the capital projects, risk management, healthcare, life sciences, PPP/PFI, energy & utilities, oil & gas, technology, social services, and media sectors. Over his professional career, Mr. Chamberlain has been posted in the US and abroad while working on projects in more than 50 countries, and has been a periodic speaker and presenter at various international conferences and industry seminars on project development, PPPs/infrastructure privatization, construction & project risk management, risk financing, private equity, and Islamic (Shari’ah-compliant) investment & risk management issues. Mr. Chamberlain sits on several boards for companies in the biofuels, smart grid management, energy storage, healthcare IT, technology accelerator and broadcast media sectors.
Chief Executive Officer, CNT
Bob joined CNT as CEO in 2018. Prior to CNT, Bob served as the Deputy Executive Director for Planning for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). During his 10 years with CMAP, he created and then oversaw the Local Technical Assistance program, which has offered planning assistance to local governments across the region through over 200 local planning projects. Before initiating the LTA program, Bob managed GO TO 2040, the award-winning comprehensive plan for the Chicago metropolitan area that was adopted in October 2010. After leaving CMAP in 2017, he consulted for Chicago's Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and RW Ventures on local governance and economic development projects during 2018. Prior to CMAP, Bob worked in municipal government for five years, serving as a transportation and land use planner for the City of Naperville, Illinois and a transportation planning liaison for the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference. Bob holds a master's degree in planning from Cornell University and a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Delaware. He is originally from the Philadelphia region. He currently lives in Evanston, IL with his wife, two children, two cats, and lizard.
Vice President, Business Banking Relationship Manager, Fifth Third Bank
Obi Ekwueme is responsible for the day to day management of a loan portfolio for Fifth Third Bank as well as new loan origination, with specialties in commercial real estate lending, CNI lending, residential property, and wealth managerial investing. Obi prides himself on being well rounded, passing the CFA 1 exam and is a Series 7/66 holder in Investment Advising. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.
Bernard J. Ford
Bernard J. Ford spent his entire career in the transportation sector, most notably influencing public transit in executive positions for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). Ford first joined the CTA in 1956 as a training assistant and worked his way up to Chief Administrative Officer before becoming the first chief of staff at the RTA, when it formed in the mid-1970s. Ford also served as a leader for the United Nations’ railway review team in Zambia during this time. He was Executive Director of the RTA from 1979-1982. Then-Mayor Jane Byrne asked him to return to the CTA as Executive Director in 1982, which he did before accepting leadership roles at both local and international engineering firms, first in 1985 and through 2010. He served as President of the CTA on a second occasion at the request of Mayor Daley in 1989/90. During his time in the private sector, Ford led several projects that made a lasting mark on Chicago’s landscape, from the CTA Green Line Rehabilitation to the world-renowned Millennium Park. He remains active with the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Now retired, Ford is a lifelong Chicagoan whose work has positively affected transit policies and practices here in Chicago, across the nation, and even the world.
Danisha Hall is director of corporate communications for Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group, where she oversees the company’s corporate citizenship and communications activities.
In her role, Danisha leads a team focused on internal communications, media relations, social media, customer communications, and corporate contributions, community partnerships, sponsorships, branding and advertising. She is also a member of the senior leadership team, providing strategic counsel to the president/CEO.
Danisha previously served as bureau chief – external affairs at the Illinois Commerce Commission, where she led all aspects of external affairs, media relations, and inter-governmental relations. While at the ICC, Danisha also served as director of the Office of Diversity and Community Affairs and as a legal and policy advisor.
A native of Colorado, Danisha is a graduate of Colorado State University. She earned her law degree at the University of Notre Dame. Danisha is a member of the After School Matters advisory board, and co-founded the Women’s Energy Network Chicago.
Ann P. Kalayil, PhD
Bureau Chief of Asset Management, Cook County, IL
Ms. Kalayil oversees real estate development, capital planning and construction, and facilities management for 19 million square feet of Cook County real estate; she manages an annual capital budget of $269 million dollars, an operational budget or $55 million and manages a little over 530 employees. Previously, Ann was an Obama appointee serving for six years as the first woman Regional Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration in the Great Lakes Region. As the agency’s regional chief executive, she headed operations that supported federal agencies and the U.S. Courts in six states. She also served as the first Digital Strategist for GSA's Workplace program, where she developed the framework of integrating technology in workplace strategy and design. Prior to the GSA, Ann worked for more than 18 years at the University of Chicago in Information Technology Services. She's taught courses at DePaul University, Loyola University Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Northeastern Illinois University, and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ann is a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow.
President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri & Kansas
Greg Kelley is the president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri & Kansas, which represents 90,000 healthcare, child care, nursing home and home healthcare workers across the four states. He is the first African American to head SEIU HCIIMK, the fastest-growing local union in the Midwest. Kelley also sits on the executive board of the Chicago Federation of Labor, is a trustee of the Chicago Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and is on the board of United Working Families. Kelley also serves as Vice-President and is an Executive Board Member at the International Union, SEIU.
Senior Director, Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting
Bo Kemp partners with cities, civic entities, as well as private companies to drive growth, tackle major initiatives and boost efficiency. He is particularly experienced in public-private partnerships (P3), municipal operations and infrastructure development. Bo has built a national network of advisors, advocates, and government leaders, and he has a reputation for driving innovation in municipal utilities, public infrastructure, and economic development for "legacy" cities. Bo spent the first decade of his professional career in finance with Morgan Stanley & Co. and TSG Capital Group, a private equity group. Then, after leading Cory A. Booker’s successful transition to the office of Mayor of Newark, N.J., Bo became the city’s Business Administrator (COO). In his three years with Booker (now a U.S. Senator), Bo and the senior leadership team helped Newark evolve from a city close to bankruptcy to a community growing in population for the first time in 40 years. Bo enjoys traveling and hopes to visit 100 countries in his lifetime. He’s a dangerous golfer (and not in the good way) but an aspiring aquaponics and micro farmer. Bo holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in economics from Yale University.
Ngoan Le served in leadership positions in the non-profit and philanthropic sector as well as state and local government for over 40 years. She held the following positions: Illinois State Refugee Coordinator and Chief of the Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services, Vice President of Programs at the Chicago Community Trust; Special Assistant to Mayor Daley on Homelessness; Chief Program Officer for the Chicago Department of Human Services; Assistant to the Secretary for Special Projects at the Illinois Department of Human Services; and Special Assistant to Illinois Governor James R. Thompson for Asian American Affairs.
Ngoan Le was a refugee from Vietnam. She served as the first Executive Director for the Vietnamese Association of Illinois. Ngoan Le’s work covers a wide range of issue areas, including poverty alleviation, human services, housing, health, immigration and community development.
Katie Maher is a Principal Program Manager on the People Team at Atlassian. Katie holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland and spent two years in Healthcare Public Relations prior to joining PwC in 2013, where Katie spent eight years, specializing in deals and transformational Human Capital management consulting across various industries.
Ceasar McDowell, EdD
Professor of the Practice of Civic Design, MIT | DUSP
Ceasar is professor of the practice of Community Design at MIT and former President of Interaction Institute for Social Change. He holds an Ed.D. and M.Ed. from Harvard. Ceasar’s current work is on the design of new inclusive civic infrastructure, development of community knowledge systems and civic engagement. He has been working on the use of narrative and story making as a tool for sharing and maintaining grassroots knowledge. His research and teaching interests also include the use of mass media and technology in promoting democracy and community-building, the development and use of empathy in community work, civil rights history, peacemaking and conflict resolution. He is also founder of MIT’s Co-Lab (previously named Center for Reflective Community Practice), co-founder of The Civil Rights Forum on Telecommunications Policy, and founding board member of The Algebra Project.
PJ holds a degree in biological sciences from Ohio University and has worked in the corporate sector in sales and management roles. In 2006, she founded her first independent business venture, Modet Inc., a professional development, business etiquette, and international protocol consulting firm. PJ also developed the P-to-P Success Skills training program, which she taught to employees at Procter & Gamble, The Boston Consulting Group, Kraft Foods, Marriott, and Miller Coors, along with students from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, as well as numerous small businesses and individuals.
PJ's entrepreneurial instincts brought her invention, the Wrapperoo®, to market and has been successfully embraced by a diverse customer base. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain complications, PJ pivoted her business model to keep up with a rapidly changing landscape. By March 2020 PJ started home-sewing and donating protective face masks, using leftover Wrapperoo fabric and N99 filters she had on hand. She was spurred to action after hearing the anguished stories of her healthcare professional friends treating COVID-10 patients in Chicago-area hospitals. To meet soaring demand for both donated and for-sale masks, PJ launched a “buy one, give one” sale that has generated donations of more than 1,000 high-quality, multifunctional, reusable masks to medical personnel, essential workers and nursing homes all over the country.
Director, Midwest Clean Energy, Environmental Defense Fund
Dick is the author of “Tech To Table: 25 Innovators Reimagining Food” and “Tesla: Inventor of the Modern.” He has been director at the Environmental Defense Fund, where he advanced clean-energy policies in the Midwest, as well as senior vice president of Recycled Energy Development, executive director of the Northeast-Midwest Institute, and director of the Solar Lobby. He has a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master of Arts from the University of Michigan.
Senior Vice President, Red Stone Tax Exempt Funding
Molly Rutzick has been a professional in finance for over 15 years. As a commercial real estate lender, Ms. Rutzick has generated over $1 billion in commercial real estate loans over the course of her career in lending. Ms. Rutzick is currently Senior Vice President of Originations for Red Stone Tax Exempt Funding, providing the financing for the construction and preservation of affordable housing. Ms. Rutzick also serves as a board member at Riverton Community Housing and is a member of Minnesota Housing Partnership’s Investor Committee. Ms. Rutzick holds degrees in Finance and Risk Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison business school and has completed her Associate in Risk Management certification through the Insurance Institute of America.
Executive Director, Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Chris Wheat is Executive Director of the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The Stigler Center focuses on the research and dissemination of ideas around issues of political economy, including the role of special interests in markets and government. Chris joined the Center from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), where he worked alongside Mayors and City Halls to adopt environmental policies as Strategy and City Engagement Director for the American Cities Climate Challenge. Before NRDC, Chris spent seven years in various roles in the Office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, including Chief of Policy, Chief Sustainability Officer, and Innovation Delivery Team Director. A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Chris holds a BA from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.