Our Board

Alan King

Esq., Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP

Now chair of the Children First Fund board, Alan King has served as a CFF board member for 16 years. Currently a partner at Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP, Mr. King has more than 30 years of experience as an advocate litigating, mediating and settling employment-related disputes for clients across many industries, including retail, airlines, healthcare, telecommunications, education, financial services, municipalities, and minority-owned businesses. In 2018, Mr. King was named to the “Chicago’s Notable Minority Lawyers” list by Crain’s Chicago Business, which profiled Chicago’s most influential minority lawyers who have made a significant impact within the legal and business communities. In 2017, Mr. King was featured in the same publication’s “50@50+ Illinois” issue, celebrating individuals ages 50 and above who have made a significant impact in the state of Illinois, and he was highlighted in the Arts & Culture section for his impact on the house music scene. Mr. King has a Bachelor of Arts from Augustana College and his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois.

Mary Cahillane

Independent Director of Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago

Mary J. Cahillane has been an Independent Director of Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago since 2011. She served as Vice President of Finance & Investments and Chief Administrative Officer of The Spencer Foundation and served as its Chief Financial Officer and Chief Investment Officer since 2003. She previously worked for Texas Commerce Bank from 1985 to 1989, holding a variety of senior roles in asset liability management, risk management, and finance. Ms. Cahillane was Operational Risk Management Executive and Managing Director at Bank of America before joining the foundation in 2003. Ms. Cahillane currently serves as a Director of Catholic Charities and has served as member of the boards of directors of the Charlotte Symphony, San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind, Girl Scouts of America (Chicago), and Northeastern Illinois University Foundation. Ms. Cahillane also currently serves on the boards of IES Abroad, St. John Berchmans School, Children’s First Fund, and PEAK (Partnership to Educate and Advance Kids).

Pedro Martinez

Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools

professional photograph of CPS CEO Pedro MartinezPedro Martinez is a Chicago Public Schools alum and graduate of Benito Juarez High School. Native to Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, he has served as the school superintendent in San Antonio since 2015. In San Antonio, he helped launch the district’s Centers for Applied Science and Technology — a network of high schools with technology-centered curriculums — along with an array of dual language programs. Prior to that, he held the same role in one of Nevada’s largest school districts. Before taking on superintendent roles in Texas and Nevada, Martinez served as Chief Financial Officer for Chicago Public Schools between 2003 and 2009.

Martinez has more than 20 years of experience in the private, nonprofit and public education sectors and is an experienced, and data-driven leader with a strong financial background, an in- depth knowledge of academics, strategic planning, talent management, staff and community engagement. He holds an M.B.A. from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also is a graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy. As the oldest of 12 children, he was first to graduate from high school and college. Martinez and his wife have two children, ages 11 and 7. He spends his free time with his family which includes frequent trips to the library where his children take out several books each week. 

Darrel Hackett

President, BMO Wealth Management – U.S.
BMO Financial Group

Darrel Hackett is responsible for the performance, strategy, and delivery of BMO Financial Group’s private wealth management businesses throughout the United States. This includes leadership of three distinct businesses across the mass affluent, high net worth and ultra-high net worth segments: BMO Harris Financial Advisors, BMO Private Bank and BMO Family Office. The U.S. wealth management business provides the full complement of wealth management services, as well as comprehensive multi-family office services. Mr. Hackett oversees a team of 1,100 wealth management professionals with offices across the U.S. For more than 130 years, BMO Wealth Management – U.S. has served the unique and continually evolving needs of affluent individuals and families through a highly personalized, relationship-focused approach.

Mr. Hackett has served in a variety of leadership roles since joining BMO in 2004. He most recently served as Senior Vice President & Head of North American Integrated Channels. Other key roles include leading US Business Banking and serving as Regional President, Harris Chicago Community Bank.

Before joining BMO, Mr. Hackett was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company. During this time he led several strategic engagements with Fortune 500 companies, with an emphasis in Financial Institutions. Mr. Hackett has also held a variety of management roles at the General Electric Company.

Mr. Hackett has a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Science (Cum Laude) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Mr. Hackett currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago United and the Children First Fund. He is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, Economic Club of Chicago, the Young President’s Organization (YPO) and the Executive Leadership Council. Some of Mr. Hackett’s recognitions include 2018 and 2016 Savoy Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America”, 2009 Crain’s Chicago Business “40 Under 40”, 2007 Chicago United – Business Leader of Color and being a 2007 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow.

Liz Dozier

Founder & CEO of Chicago Beyond

A lifelong educator, Liz Dozier has spent her career working tirelessly to interrupt the culture of inequity that is often pervasive in urban education. She is most known for her work as principal of Fenger High School, where she took innovative and creative approaches to successfully address the holistic and complex needs of her students.

In 2016, Ms. Dozier launched Chicago Beyond, an impact investor that backs the fight for youth equity by fueling organizations, individuals, and learning. Since its launch in 2016, Chicago Beyond has invested more than $30 million in 14 local nonprofit organizations and community leaders that fight for all youth to achieve their fullest human potential.

Ms. Dozier’s work has been featured in the New York Times Best Seller How Children Succeed by Paul Tough, CNN’s Chicagoland, the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Obama Foundation Summit, and SXSW.

Adam Langsam

Chief Executive Officer, William-Harris Investors

Adam Langsam is the Chief Executive Officer, at William Harris Investors, the family office representing the financial affairs of the descendants of Irving Harris. He joined WHI in January 2010 as a Senior Vice President. Mr. Langsam previously was a Managing Director at Merrill Lynch, where he was responsible for Alternative Asset Manager Consulting, Financing Sales and Capital Introductions. Before joining Merrill Lynch, he spent eight years at Morgan Stanley in various roles focusing on risk management and the use of derivatives and financing strategies. Mr. Langsam began his career at Lehman Brothers in 1990, where he worked for nine years. Adam graduated the University of Delaware in 1990 where he studied child psychology and finance and from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1995. A married father of three teenage children, Adam also serves on the Board of Directors of Intonation Music Workshop and the Cahn Fellows Program in the Chicago Area.

Alec Litowitz

Founder and CEO, Magnetar Capital

Alec Litowitz is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Magnetar Capital, a leading alternative asset management firm. He also serves as Chairman of the firm’s Management Committee and is co-head of the Investment Committee. Additionally, Mr. Litowitz created the UChicago Financial Education Initiative, which has reached 880 classes and more than 17,500 students with its curriculum. Mr. Litowitz serves as the Board Chair of Dare2tri. He is a Board Advisor and Member of Beyond Board, a founding Member of the Global Leadership Circle and the ONE Campaign, and a member of the Dean’s Council to the Division of Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago. He has a Bachelor’s of science in mathematics and anthropology from MIT and a JD and MBA from the University of Chicago.

Gail D. Ward

Retired Educator and Philanthropist

Gail D. Ward served as a Teacher and Principal at the elementary and high school levels in a distinguished 30-year career at Chicago Public Schools, winning the Outstanding Principal School Leadership Award in 1999. In November, 2006, Ms. Ward was named Chief Officer of the CPS Office of Principal Preparation and Development. While at OPPD, Ms. Ward helped the department expand its partnerships with universities and foundations, streamlined the eligibility process for new hires, and piloted a coaching program for new principals to ensure that CPS principals had the appropriate preparation and support to become effective school leaders. Ms. Ward was the founding principal at Walter Payton College Prep, one of the city’s most accomplished selective enrollment high schools. She served in that role for seven years, a period when Payton ranked first in the state in mathematics three consecutive years and placed second in Illinois in overall student performance. Ms. Ward served as a Director on The Board of Education of The City of Chicago from June 2015 to May 2019 and a Trustee on the board of the Chicago History Museum since 2008. Ms. Ward has worked extensively with cultural institutions and universities to create projects that are national and international in scope. Ms. Ward is a frequent traveler and has visited schools in Africa, China, Europe, India and the Middle East.

Peter M. Ellis

Global Chair of Litigation & Dispute Resolution at Reed Smith

Peter M. Ellis is the global Chair of Reed Smith’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Department and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and Senior Management Team. He leads a group of more than 950 attorneys who handle complex commercial disputes and regulatory proceedings across the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. He has served in various leadership roles at the firm and is the immediate past co-chair of the firm’s Global Commercial Disputes Group. He also handles sensitive internal investigations for corporate clients in the US and abroad and has significant experience in corporate franchise and distribution law and representing technology companies, truck and parts manufacturers, and chemical and performance materials companies in various business disputes and transactions. Additionally, he counsels senior executives and boards regarding governance and risk.

He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan. Mr. Ellis serves on various nonprofit boards, including Rush University Medical Center, the Harris Theatre, and the Chicago Botanic Garden. He is also a member of the Juvenile Justice Leadership Council and is actively involved with other legal and civic organizations. A Leadership Greater Chicago fellow, he was recognized by Chicago United, which named him a 2017 Business Leader of Color, and by Crain’s Custom Media, which named him one of Chicago’s most influential minority lawyers that same year.

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