What is now the Skokie Community Foundation began with a small group of Skokie residents driven by their desire to contribute to the community, meeting at a kitchen table.

This is the story of how we got there and where we hope to go in the future.

Steering CommitteeIn 2010, several Skokie residents established the Skokie Community Fund with the intent of building a permanent endowment to fund projects for the benefit of those who live and work in Skokie. In June 2014, the Fund announced its inaugural grant cycle which sought collaborative proposals from local agencies. The Fund required that each grant application be jointly submitted by at least two organizations — at least one being a 501(c)(3) — and that the grant benefit residents of Skokie. That year the Fund awarded $25,000 in grants to five grantee pairs, each of whom received $5000.

Each calendar year since, the Fund and then its 2017 successor the Skokie Community Foundation, have awarded $25,000 to grantee partners. Projects have ranged from social services and education to the arts, services for youth and seniors and health and wellness.

In a few short years, Foundation grants and programming have already improved lives all over Skokie. We want to do even more! Our goal is to seek out and partner with donors and community builders who share our vision so that we can further grow the endowment, a community resource that will benefit Skokie now and one hundred years from now. Growing the endowment will allow the Foundation to continue to award meaningful grants with increasingly greater positive impact for Skokie. As of February 2020, the Foundation’s endowment stood at $350,000.

Meet our Staff

Lynn Seinfeld
Lynn SeinfeldExecutive Director
Lynn comes to SCF from Oakton Community College where she served as Director of Workforce Development for 18 years. In addition to extensive experience as an educator, trainer and workforce development professional, Lynn has served on several business boards and has deep ties to Skokie where she served two years as president of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce.
Barbara Rizzo
Barbara Rizzo Development Director
Barbara has over 30 years of senior executive leadership in higher education, most recently as Vice President of Oakton Community College. She has consulted for a range of nonprofits helping them leverage resources and develop strategic partnerships to maximize growth.

Meet our Board

Gene Griffin
Gene GriffinChair
Gene Griffin, J.D., Ph.D., is a founder of the Skokie Community Foundation.

He has and his wife Karen raised their three sons in Skokie and have lived here for 28 years. Gene is a trustee of the Skokie Public Library.  Gene is a clinical psychologist and attorney who is the state-appointed Chair of the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership.  Before retirement, he was an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine engaging in federally funded research and policy on child trauma.

Carolyn Anthony
Carolyn AnthonyVice Chair
Carolyn Anthony served as Director of the Skokie Public Library for more than 30 years, retiring in 2016.

She has been active in Skokie Valley Rotary, is a Board member at Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center and also of the North Suburban Healthcare Foundation. She and her husband have lived in Skokie since 1986 and raised two daughters here.

Howard Meyer
Howard MeyerDeputy Vice Chair
Howard Meyer has been Executive Director of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce since 2005.

During his thirty year career he has worked with children’s camps and conference centers as well as served as Business Director for large religious congregations. The Illinois Association of Chamber Executives awarded Howard his ACE, Accredited Chamber Executive, designation in 2017. Howard also serves as Vice-Chairman of the Village of Skokie Economic Development Commission.

Syed Mahmood
Syed MahmoodSecretary
Syed Mahmood is a global IT finance manager and is highly active in various civic engagements throughout Chicagoland communities.

He also serves as a board member to multiple non-for-profit organizations based in Chicago, Skokie, and Morton Grove which canvas diverse communities at large. Syed and his wife are active in Skokie and Niles Township School District 219 while raising their twins.

Zachary Williams
Zachary WilliamsTreasurer
Zach Williams has lived in Skokie over 20 years with his wife, Laura, a middle school teacher in Skokie for the past 30 years.

He is an attorney who primarily has represented minor children his entire legal career both at the Cook County Office of the Public Guardian and in private practice. Zach has two children both of whom attended Skokie public schools. He is proud to be a member of the culturally rich and diverse Skokie community.

Ruben Howard II
Ruben Howard IIBoard Member
Ruben Howard, PhD., has served as the Director of Workforce Development and Strategic Partnerships at Oakton Community College since 2016.

In his over 15 years of higher education experience, he has held several roles including full time faculty, department chair, and Dean.  Prior to his roles in higher education, Ruben worked in various industries including auto manufacturing, supply chain management, warehousing and distribution, third party logistics and military traffic management. Dr. Howard served in the U.S. Army Reserves and is currently a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

David Putrus
David PutrusBoard Member
David Putrus is the Vice President of First Bank Chicago in Skokie.

Born and raised in Skokie, David is past president of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Village of Skokie Economic Development Commission, the District 219 Education Foundation, Rotary of Skokie Valley and Skokie Lions Club.  He has a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Banking.

Jim Szczepaniak
Jim SzczepaniakBoard Member
Jim Szczepaniak has served as the Director of Strategic Partnerships & Community Relations at Niles Township High School District 219 since 2006.

He has been part of the Skokie and Niles Township community since 1985, when he started as a reporter for Pioneer Press, covering Skokie. He was also public information officer for the Village of Skokie for eight years.  He was a member of the original steering committee of the Skokie Community Fund in 2014 and has served the Fund and then the Foundation since that time.  Jim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and German Studies from Northwestern University and a Master’s in Written Communication from National-Louis University.

Mike Stiehl
Mike StiehlBoard Member
Mike Stiehl is a Senior Policy Analyst with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago with more than twenty years of experience providing data analytics, program evaluation, systems improvement and policy development to a wide array of public agencies and non-profit organizations in child welfare, community development, education and human services.

Prior to joining Chapin Hall, Michael held staff and faculty positions at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Loyola University, and the University of Illinois.  Mike has a master’s degree in urban and regional planning and economic development from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and a bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee in Geography.

Alen Takhsh
Alen TakhshBoard Member
Alen Takhsh is the Principal Attorney at Takhsh Law, P.C., a full-service immigration law firm.

Alen’s family immigrated to Skokie from Iran 25 years ago. He serves on the boards of Heartland Alliance International and the National Immigrant Justice Center and is a volunteer attorney with the JMLS International Human Rights Clinic.  Alen earned his BA from The University of Chicago and JD from The UIC John Marshall Law School.

Ann Tennes
Ann TennesBoard Member
Ann Tennes has served as the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Village of Skokie for more than 20 years.

Ann’s community service in Skokie includes serving as an elected Trustee on the Board of Oakton Community College from 2007 to 2019, as well as serving on the boards of the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts Foundation and the Skokie Festival of Cultures. She is president-elect of the Skokie Valley Kiwanis Club. Ann and her husband Howard live in Skokie and founded the Skokie Tennis Association.  They have two children and two grandchildren.  Ann received a Bachelor of Communications degree from Columbia College and a Master of Public Administration degree from Roosevelt University.