What is now 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 here and where we hope to go in the future.

Steering CommitteeIn 2010, several Skokie residents established 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 Skokie Community Foundation, have awarded $25,000 or more 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, Skokie Community 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 Skokie Community Foundation to continue to award meaningful grants with increasingly greater positive impact for Skokie.

Executive Director

Jim Szczepaniak

[email protected]

Jim Szczepaniak became Executive Director of Skokie Community Foundation in September 2021. He was a member of the original steering committee of Skokie Community Fund in 2014 and has been a member of the Board of Directors since that time. He served Niles Township High School District 219 as Director of Strategic Partnerships & Community Relations from 2006 until his retirement in June 2021. 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 from 1988 to 1996. Between his public sector stints at the Village of Skokie and D219, Jim was Public Affairs Director for Ameritech New Media/SBC. 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.

Meet our Board

Una McGeough
Una McGeoughChair
Una McGeough has lived in Skokie with her family since 2002. Her three sons attended District 68 schools and graduated from Niles North High School. She served 13 years on the District 68 School Board, retiring in 2021.

Una is a professional and personal development coach, a certified Designing Your Life Coach, and a certified mediator and trainer with the Center for Conflict Resolution.

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

Syed 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. He and his wife are active in Skokie and Niles Township School District 219 while raising their twins.

Bob Quane
Bob QuaneTreasurer
Bob Quane has been a Skokie resident since 1996, along with his wife and daughter.
His career spans nearly 40 years in higher education, having served in college admissions for Southern Illinois University Carbondale and retiring as an assistant director.

He continued to work in higher education as an academic advisor for the College of Lake County for eight years and served as an admission application reader for the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign for the class of 2023.

His experience and dedication to the Skokie community started as a member of the Board of Education for Skokie School District 73.5, which he served for eight years, including as Board President. From there he was appointed to the Skokie Environmental Advisory Commission and later to the Plan Commission, which he served for nearly eight years. Along the way, Bob became the associate producer for the Skokie 4th of July Parade Committee and served in that role for five years until 2019. Bob continues to serve on the Skokie 4th of July parade committee. He has been a strong supporter of the Niles Township Food Pantry, and for several years he coordinated a community-wide holiday toy drive to benefit the pantry and patrons. He was recently appointed by the mayor to serve as the chairperson of the Beautification and Improvement Commission.

Bob earned a bachelor of science degree in Public Relations and master of science in Workforce Education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

“In part,” Bob said, “my motivation to serve others and contribute to the Skokie community is driven by one of my favorite quotes by the father of public education, Horace Mann: ‘Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.’ ”

 

Fernanda Perez
Fernanda PerezSecretary
Fernanda Perez is a daughter of immigrant parents who moved to Skokie in 1972. She attended District 69 schools and graduated from Niles West in 1983.

Fernanda raised her family in Skokie, where her children are students at Niles West. She has worked as a paralegal at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago since 1989.  She volunteers with the Parent Leaders Uniting Schools (PLUS) group and the Community Schools committee, where she facilitated Parent Leadership workshops. She is currently serving her second term as a District 69 Board of Education member and is Vice President of the nonprofit Skokie United, where she continues her work on embracing Skokie’s diversity and inclusivity.

Zachary Williams
Zachary WilliamsPast Chair
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.

Carolyn Anthony
Carolyn AnthonyBoard Member
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 since 1989. She has chaired the Annual Skokie Health Symposium for the Skokie Community Foundation. She and her husband raised their two daughters in Skokie.

David Donegan
David DoneganBoard Member
David Donegan is a marketing consultant specializing in branding, crisis communications and consumer marketing.

He is a founding member of District 69’s foundation (FUND69) and has been a member of the Village of Skokie Human Relations Commission for the past eight years. He is a certified SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) facilitator, who has led several local cohorts. David has been a Skokie resident for more than 15 years with his wife, Kate, a teacher and administrator in Skokie for the past 24 years. David and Kate have three children who attend Skokie public schools.

Elline Eliasoff
Elline EliasoffBoard Member
Elline Eliasoff is a Geriatric Care Manager, a Clinical Exercise Physiologist and a Gerontologist with over 30-years of experience in aging care.

Elline partners with seniors and their families, either in the client’s home or in senior housing communities, and collaborates with them for the delivery of outstanding quality care and services. She holds a BS in Human Kinetics from the University of Wisconsin, a Graduate
Certificate in Patient Advocacy and an MA in Gerontology.

Sabrina Ehmke
Sabrina EhmkeBoard Member
Born and raised in Skokie, Sabrina Ehmke continues to call this incredible community her home. She is an almost 20-year educator at both Evanston Township High School and Oakton College, teaching a variety of history and psychology classes.

Sabrina holds a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University in Secondary Education, and two masters’ degrees: one from Concordia University Chicago in Reading Education and one from the University of Phoenix in Psychology.

In her personal life, the running community is near and dear to her heart. Sabrina is a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) certified running coach. Her past coaching experiences include high school cross-country athletes, Girls on the Run programs for elementary school children, first time marathoners, long time runners, and providing adult running/walking training programs for the Skokie Park District. She is a Six Star World Marathon Majors finisher, a 10-time full marathon finisher, and has completed countless other race distances. Most recently, she is the founder of the Skokie Swifters Run/Walk Club, a community that has already grown from 11 people to over 400 members since its inception in 2021. She believes that, no matter where you find yourself in the Skokie community, one of the most important things you can do is to give back to it, and is thus excited to be a member of the Skokie Community Foundation Board.

Gene Griffin
Gene GriffinBoard Member
Gene Griffin, J.D., Ph.D., is a founder of Skokie Community Foundation.

He is a clinical psychologist and attorney whose career has been devoted to working with adolescents in the child welfare, juvenile justice and mental health systems, with a particular focus on child trauma. Before retirement, he was an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Gene and his wife Karen moved to Skokie in 1991 and raised their three sons here.

William Haben
William HabenBoard Member
William Haben is a fourth generation licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer carrying on the family business, Haben Funeral Home & Crematory.

William is a lifelong resident of Skokie. He lives with his wife Sara, son William Jr., and red fox Labrador, Nia, in town and can be seen at many village events supporting the village and all that it entails. William is the Secretary of the Kiwanis Club of Skokie Valley and an active member of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce. He holds a bachelors degree in Political Science from DePaul University and a degree in Mortuary Science from Worsham College.

David Hartley
David HartleyBoard Member
David Hartley runs the law offices of Baker Hartley, P.C., which has been serving the estate planning, business and tax law needs of the Skokie community for nearly 30 years.

A graduate of Seton Hall University and Temple University law school, David has tried to continue the firm’s legacy of giving back to the Skokie community. David is the past president of the Skokie Valley Rotary Club, and currently sits on the board of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce. When not busy at work, David and his wife are busy at home with their two young boys.

“Skokie is unique,” David says. “There is nowhere else I have ever spent time that combines the community, diversity, and promise of suburban life so central to a frequent vision of the American dream in the same open and accessible way that Skokie does. The ‘Skokie Welcomes Everyone campaign is truly fitting, and that makes Skokie special in this stratified and often divided modern world.”

Howard Meyer
Howard MeyerBoard Member
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.

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.

Randy Roberts
Randy RobertsBoard Member
Randy Roberts and his wife Margy have made Skokie their home since 1987 and found it a wonderful community in which to raise their three children.

 Randy is a retired attorney, having worked in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office for 30 years and as the Compliance Officer at Maryrville Academy for six years.  He has also served as a Skokie village trustee for 20 years, completing his final term in April 2021.

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, who is of Assyrian and Armenian heritage, immigrated to Skokie from Iran 32 years ago. He serves on the boards of Heartland Alliance and the National Immigrant Justice Center. Alen earned his BA from The University of Chicago and JD from The UIC John Marshall Law School.