CPS Leadership Team

Anna Alvarado

Anna Alvarado

Chief of Teaching and Learning

Anna’s focus as Chief of Teaching and Learning is to ensure that academic progress for all students remains at the core of our District’s efforts. With more than three decades of education experience, she believes that continuous improvement can only occur through a professional, collaborative culture that values integrity and a common purpose.

Anna began her CPS career at Hawthorne Scholastic Academy, where she served as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal. In the six years that she served as principal, Anna invested time and resources on curriculum mapping using the Understanding by Design Framework. Through this learning, teachers were able to design unit maps that integrated technology, arts, and writing into the core subject areas across all grade levels. Anna also developed an instructional framework for programs such as Lucy Calkins Writing Program, The Daily 5 and CAFÉ Menu for primary grades, Wilson and Lexia Intervention Program, OLWEUS Bullying Prevention Program, and Algebra for all eighth graders, where her students earned one of the highest pass rate in the district each year.

Most recently, Anna served as Chief Officer for Network 1, where she created a strong culture for professional learning among teachers and administrators. Although Anna was assigned the largest network across the district, she was known for her ability to differentiate supports for school leaders. After five years of serving as Chief, ninety six percent of the schools in Network 1 earned a Level 1 and/or Level 1+ Status. Anna attributes this success to the effective partnership between the network and schools as well as the commitment of all stakeholders to provide students a safe place to learn and access high quality instruction.

Anna believes that creating strong structures for data analysis, strategic planning, progress monitoring, and purposeful goal setting across departments and teams can result in sustained academic achievement for all students. She is committed to ensuring that Teaching and Learning is responsive to the needs of the schools and networks and is a resource that will help the district achieve its vision of Academic Progress, Integrity, and Financial Stability.

Anna received her doctorate degree in Education at National Louis University. She holds a Master of Arts in School Leadership and Administration from Northeastern Illinois University and an Illinois Type 75/General Administrative Certificate and a Type 3/K-9 Elementary Certificate.


Francis 'Frank' Bilecki

Francis "Frank" Bilecki

Chief of Public Policy

As the District’s Chief of Public Policy, Frank maintains collaborative partnerships with elected leaders while overseeing the planning, development and execution of state legislation and municipal ordinances that affect Chicago’s public schools.

With 18 years of experience in the public sector, Frank has managed governmental relations between numerous agencies and federal, state, municipal, and other elected officials. Prior to joining CPS, Frank held several prominent positions at the Cook County Sheriff's Office, including Director of Policy, where he helped reform the criminal justice system regarding human trafficking and mental illness. He also served as Director of Communications, acting as the spokesperson for the agency, and finally as the Director of Government Affairs for the Sheriff’s Office.

From 1999-2011, Frank led the Policy, Taxpayer Information and Labor departments for the Illinois State Comptroller’s Office. He was the liaison between the Comptroller and the General Assembly, as well as 85 state agencies, boards and commissions, and was responsible for monitoring the annual financial activity of nearly 6,000 units of local government in the state of Illinois.


Jadine Chou

Jadine Chou

Chief of Safety and Security

As the District’s Chief of Safety and Security, Jadine has made it her team’s mission to support schools in maximizing student achievement through the lens of promoting safe and calm environments and building relationships with students. Jadine oversees the safety operations for more than 380,000 students in more than 640 schools, and is responsible for supporting school administrators in their efforts to provide a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students and staff.

Under Jadine’s leadership, her team has supported CPS in planning and implementing proactive practices to drive calmer school climates and positive student behaviors. These efforts have resulted in significantly fewer misconducts, out of school suspensions, expulsions and police notifications.

Prior to joining Chicago Public Schools, Jadine worked for the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) where she was responsible for overseeing all aspects of operations, including safety and security, for over 18,000 traditional public housing units across the city.

Jadine holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


Ronald DeNard

Ronald DeNard

Senior Vice President of Finance

Ron has served as the District’s Senior Vice President of Finance since 2015. In this role, he is focused on developing financial strategies that streamline business and operations in order to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and promote financial growth.

A seasoned financial executive with both the public and private sectors, Ron brings a wealth of experience to the CPS Finance Department, which includes accounting, budgeting, grants, treasury, risk management, and payroll. He helped eliminate a $1.1 billion operating deficit within his first two years in the District, and has secured upgrades from all four rating agencies on CPS’ latest bond deal. Ron has also secured short-term financing for the District when needed, and has improved CPS’ overall financial management systems.

Ron’s goals in his current role include improving the District’s budgetary process, reducing the cost and amount of short-term financing, and providing cost-efficient financing for long-term capital projects and routine maintenance.


Phillip DiBartolo

Phillip DiBartolo

Chief Information Officer

Phillip has served as the District’s Chief Information Officer since 2016 and is responsible for the delivery of all IT services. These duties include ensuring the timely resolution of roughly 123,000 annual requests for support, maintenance of the District’s fleet of 320,000 end user computing devices, the provision of core District systems for 30,000 staff, and securing highly available and secure communications and internet services for the District.

Phillip strives to provide equitably distributed, innovative technology solutions that improve the quality of education for our students, as well as reduce the administrative burden on our educators, facilitate parent engagement, and eliminate operational inefficiencies. In just the past few years, he led the adoption of the district’s first online parent/student portal, and oversaw conversion to a District website that is 100 percent mobile-friendly.

Phillip has 25 years of experience with information and technology, his career spanning public, private, and consulting organizations in market verticals that include education, finance and technology.


Leslie Fowler

Leslie Fowler

Chief of Nutrition and Facilities Operations

As the Chief of Nutrition and Facilities Operations, Leslie oversees both the CPS Food Service program, which provides 75 Million meals per year for 385,000 students at 685 Schools, and the Facilities Maintenance Operations for 543 sites.

In addition to Chicago, Leslie has acted as a food service director for several large urban school districts, including Rochester City School District in New York and Saint Louis Public Schools in Missouri. She has a passion for improving school operations by providing a responsive, customer-oriented environment and ensuring efficiencies that allow every dollar invested to improve outcomes for students.

At CPS, Leslie has built a nationally recognized Nutrition program that has gone from an operating deficit of $16 million to a grant surplus of $8 million annually. Her focus has been on improving operational efficiencies and increasing the amount of fresh local produce served to students. She has also lowered the amount of highly processed foods offered in schools, removed ingredients of concern to offer cleaner label foods, ensured that students have healthy options that they enjoy, and improved development opportunities for food service employees.

As the Chief of Facilities, Leslie’s goal is to improve outcomes for students by ensuring quality educational environments. She is working to lower the districts carbon footprint and is bringing increased equity to the way that CPS buildings are maintained. Leslie is also concerned with improving energy and sustainability outcomes, and is determined to improve development opportunities for both custodians and engineers.


Kenneth L. Fox, MD

Kenneth L. Fox, MD

Chief Health Officer

As the District’s chief medical professional, Dr. Fox oversees the District’s Office of Student Health and Wellness. He is the principal spokesperson on student health issues, overseeing a portfolio that includes Health Promotion, Direct Medical Services, Health Information Management, and the Children & Family Benefits Unit (CFBU), which enrolls students and families in public health insurance Medicaid/CHIP) and the food stamps program (SNAP).

Appointed in 2016, Dr. Fox is a pediatrician with nearly 30 years of experience. He attended the University of Chicago and trained at Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania. He has written and lectured widely on cultural and social justice in healthcare, and has collaborated with Partners in Health and Physicians for Human Rights.

Fully alive to the social determinants of health, Dr. Fox works to eliminate health-related barriers to learning and drive better health and educational outcomes for Chicago’s students. He has been a champion of Medicaid enrollment among CPS students, bringing new intensity and resources to our focus on connecting children to medical insurance and, in turn, to a “medical home”—a high quality source of comprehensive health care that is accessible, coordinated, compassionate, culturally effective, and where there is continuity of care.


Melinda Gildart

Melinda Gildart

Controller

As the District’s Controller (Chief Accounting Officer), Melinda oversees the Corporate Accounting, Disbursements and Business Services, Grants Accounting and Reporting, Financial Reporting and Compliance and the Revenue and Accounts Receivable functions for Chicago Public Schools. The Office of the Controller supports the instructional and administrative needs of CPS students and staff via the processing of millions of financial and non-financial transactions annually. Melinda leads her staff in developing and implementing districtwide financial policies and internal controls, issuing the District’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (“CAFR”) and its Popular Annual Financial Report (“PAFR”), and preparing and submitting the Annual Financial Report to the Illinois State Board of Education. Melinda directly manages the annual external Financial and Federal Single Audits, which for Fiscal Year 2017, resulted in zero material audit findings for the district – a rare achievement in public and private sector.

With nearly 20 years of governmental finance experience, Melinda has previously served in senior finance roles at the federal, state and local levels, namely with the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District and Illinois Finance Authority. She is a proud graduate of CPS and is also a CPS parent, who is a nationally recognized leader in her field, notably through her work with the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada (“GFOA”) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (“GASB”). Melinda holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration: Accounting from Chicago State University and a Master of Business Administration from Roosevelt University. Melinda is a licensed certified public accountant in the State of Illinois.


Diego F. Giraldo, EdD

Diego F. Giraldo, EdD

Chief of Early Childhood Education

Diego has served as the District’s Chief of Early Childhood Education since 2015. He strives to ensure that Chicago’s youngest learners have access to high-quality programs, and that those programs meet the diverse needs of all students and their families.

Diego began his teaching career at Chicago’s Jones College Prep. In 2004, he received the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching – one of the most prestigious awards that can be bestowed on an Illinois educator. He went on to serve as principal of Inter-American Magnet School before taking on the challenge of providing our city’s youngest students with the strong academic foundation they need.

Diego holds a Doctorate of Education Leadership from National Louis University and an M.B.A. from Roosevelt University.


Jennie Huang Bennett

Jennie Huang Bennett

Chief Financial Officer

Jennie has served as the District’s Chief Financial Officer since 2016. Her responsibilities include cash forecasting, cash operations, debt management, investments, risk management, payroll, and banking accounts for all CPS schools. Her goal is to make sure that all of the District’s obligations are paid on time, even during financially challenging periods.

Jennie joined CPS in 2012 as the District’s Treasurer. She was inspired to work in education by her parents. Her mother comes from a family of teachers and her father was the first in his family to attend college, and emigrated to the U.S. to pursue a better life for his children. That future included a quality education for Jennie, who along with her husband, also an educator, and works to help advance that same mission for our city’s youth.

Her professional goals include improving the District’s financial situation to create long-term fiscal stability and provide students the resources they need to continue their outstanding academic progress.


Herald Johnson

Herald "Chip" Johnson

Chief of Community and Family Engagement

As the Chief of Family and Community Engagement in Education (formerly Leadership and Learning), Chip works to empower and support parents and community partners so that they can help students strive for and reach their full potential. His goal is to make sure families have the support they need to play an active role in their children’s education, and to provide community partners with increased opportunities to support CPS schools.

A native of Chicago’s Chatham community, Chip attended Burnside Elementary and Lindblom High School. He taught at Chicago’s Crane Tech and John Hope high schools, then transitioned to administration, being named Chief of Network 6 in 2013. In this role, he managed 36 schools in the central area of the city.

Chip holds two Master’s Degrees and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Curriculum and Administration, and is currently completing a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration.


Elizabeth Keenan, PhD

Elizabeth Keenan, PhD

Chief of Diverse Learner Supports and Services

As the Chief of Diverse Learner Supports and Services, Elizabeth is focused on supporting students with special needs and ensuring that they are prepared for success in college and in all opportunities. She is committed to carrying out the services outlined in all Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and making sure that parents and staff have the resources to support their students’ unique needs.

Prior to joining CPS, Elizabeth served as Assistant Superintendent for the St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota. She also served as Director of Special Services and Director of Teaching and Learning in a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Elizabeth has extensive experience in both regular and special education, and her background in curriculum and instruction is ideal for targeting the best professional development to teachers and paraprofessionals. She earned her PhD at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and is committed to helping close the achievement gap among Chicago’s diverse learners.


Elizabeth Kirby

Elizabeth Kirby

Chief of School Strategy and Planning

As the Chief of School Strategy and Planning, Elizabeth oversees the Office of Network Supports, the Principal Quality Initiative and the Office of Innovation and Incubation. Prior to this role, Liz was a Network Chief of four years serving the Network 11 and the Southwest Side High School Network.

Liz graduated from Harvard in 1994 and worked as a center director with the Higher Achievement Program in Washington, D.C. After moving to Chicago in the fall of 1995, she taught at Olive Harvey Middle College, an alternative school for students who dropped out or were expelled from Chicago Public Schools, as well as Triumphant Charter School. She was awarded a James Madison Fellowship in 1998 and studied constitutional history at Georgetown University.

In 1999, she began her career at Kenwood Academy as a history teacher, winning a Golden Apple Award during her second year at Kenwood. A member of the second cohort of New Leaders for New Schools, Kirby worked as an assistant principal at Kenwood from 2003 to 2005 and became the principal in July of 2005. In 2008, she received an award from New Leaders for New Schools for service in leadership as the principal of Kenwood Academy and an award for service in education from the Southeast Chicago Commission in 2009. She holds a master’s degree in arts and social science from the University of Chicago.


Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Chief Talent Officer

Matt has served as the District’s Chief Talent Officer since 2015, overseeing recruitment, selection, onboarding, performance growth, compensation and benefits, and retention for more than 35,000 CPS employees. Under his leadership, the Talent Office is working to improve teacher diversity and create new pipelines for high-needs areas such as bilingual and special education teachers.

Prior to his current role, Matt served as Chief Operating Officer for the Chicago Public Education Fund—a nonprofit that works hand in hand with CPS to make Chicago’s public school system the strongest in the country.

Matt holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Rochester, an M.A. in Urban Education Policy from Brown University, and is an alumnus of the Broad Center Residency Program in Educational Leadership. Having been inspired by great teachers of his own, he is committed to the growth and recognition of Chicago educators who work every day to make students’ futures bright.


Jorge Macias

Jorge Macias

Chief Administrative Officer

As CPS’ Chief Administrative Officer, Jorge leads key administrative efforts for the district. These include transportation, safety and security, the Office of Business Diversity, and the School Support Center.

An outstanding bilingual educator, Jorge has enjoyed a successful career in both the Central Office and CPS schools. As principal of Galileo Scholastic Academy, he led his staff and students to a consistent place on the Illinois Honor Roll. Then, as Chief of the Office of Language and Cultural Education, Jorge led the CPS mission to improve English proficiency among EL students while ensuring that multilingualism is respected and celebrated in our schools. Under Jorge’s leadership, CPS has increased dual-language programs in our schools, raised the number of schools meeting state standards for English Learners by 25 percent, and secured millions more in state and federal funding for our multilingual students.


Jonathan Maples

Jonathan Maples

Chief Procurement Officer

Jon has served as the District’s Chief Procurement Officer since 2017. He oversees all vendor management services to schools and Central Office locations in keeping with the CPS mission. Under his leadership, the CPS Procurement Team launched the “Kids Keep Improving District Services Initiative” – a partnership between CPS schools, departments and vendors to drive continuous improvement in vendor performance through innovative services, elimination of waste, and better philanthropic support, among other categories of service.

Jon came to CPS with nearly 40 years of experience in procurement and supply leadership. His responsibilities have included spend management of up to $35 billion, supplier relations for more than 15,000 suppliers, and direct purchasing staffs of more than 600 buyers.

Jon moved from the private sector to education because he believes that it is the foremost duty of a society to educate its citizens. His goal at CPS is to create outstanding vendor performance that will support the vision of Chicago Public Schools.


Alan Mather

Alan Mather

Chief of College and Career Success

As Chief Officer for College and Career Success, Alan leads a team of professionals who work to ensure that CPS students are prepared academically, emotionally, and financially for success in college and career. Alan oversees numerous offices, including School Counseling & Postsecondary Advising, Early College & Career Education, Student Support & Engagement, Social & Emotional Learning, Computer Science, Early College STEM High Schools and Competency-based Learning.

During his 32 years in CPS, Alan has served as a teacher at three high schools, the founding assistant principal at Northside College Preparatory High School, and founding principal of Lindblom Math & Science Academy. At Lindblom, Alan took a closed school to the top majority African-American school in Illinois, earning U.S. News & World Report's Gold Medal status for four of his last five years as principal. The school has the largest Mandarin program in Chicago and the largest non-heritage Arabic program in the United States.

Alan was the first recipient of the Stanley C. Golder Award for School Leadership, an annual award from the Golden Apple Foundation given to a principal or head of school in the six county Chicagoland area. He also serves as President of the Board for the Center for Arabic Language and Culture, a nonprofit that seeks to build Arabic programs and cultural understanding throughout Chicago.


Ernesto Matias

Ernesto Matias

Chief of Language and Cultural Education

Ernesto has served as the District’s Chief of Language and Cultural Education since 2017. In this role, he is responsible for providing bilingual and world language support to English Learners, refugee students, world language learners and all immigrant students.

Ernesto joined CPS in 1997, and has served as a teacher, principal, and Network Chief. His goals in his current role include increasing the instructional capacity of bilingual teachers, empowering the parents of English Learners, and improving language supports to all CPS schools. Ernesto also hopes to expand world language opportunities throughout CPS and grow the District’s Seal of Biliteracy program.

Ernesto pursued a career in education to help give children the quality neighborhood school experience that he did not have as a child. He can relate to our disadvantaged students through his own life experience, and dedicates every day to giving those children hope.


LaTanya McDade

LaTanya McDade

Chief Education Officer

As the District’s Chief Education Officer, LaTanya oversees all academic offices within the CPS Central Office and supports our principals and Network Chiefs in their leadership roles. This was a natural transition from her previous role as Chief of Teaching and Learning, where she managed all core academic departments and oversaw the design, implementation, and evaluation of instructional programs and services for CPS teachers and administrators.

A proud product of CPS schools, LaTanya was a student in Chicago from Kindergarten through 12th grade, and went on to dedicate her entire career to the children of Chicago. In all of her various roles, which include teacher, assistant principal, principal and Network Chief, she has prioritized instructional equity and excellence for every child, and has challenged the efficacy of traditional education models, advocating for the modernization of instructional practices throughout the District.

With nearly 20 years of experience in Chicago Public Schools, LaTanya understands our school communities and knows how to support their academic growth. A passionate believer in lifelong learning, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and an M.A. in Leadership and Administration, and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree.


Joe Moriarty

Joe Moriarty

General Counsel

Joe has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including serving as Deputy General Counsel and Labor Relations Officer for CPS. In these roles he helped to improve our District’s employment policies and create a collaborative environment where teachers and administrators work together to help all students achieve their full potential.

Joe has also held senior legal positions with the Chicago Housing Authority and the City Colleges of Chicago, as well as in the private sector with the firm of Erbacci, Cerone & Moriarty, Ltd. Joe holds a Bachelor of Arts from The American University and a J.D. from the John Marshall Law School. In addition to a wealth of legal experience, Joe brings a gift for diplomacy and relationship-building to the CPS mission of providing every child from every community in Chicago with a quality education.


Michael Passman

Michael Passman

Chief of Communications

Michael was most recently the district's Director of Media Communications and Strategy, in which he oversaw engagement with local and national media, and worked with central office and school leaders to plan announcements highlighting priority initiatives and student success. Michael also served as the district's Press Secretary, in which he managed rapid response communications and daily interactions with local media.

Prior to joining CPS, Michael worked as a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., supporting the department's Criminal Division and Civil Rights Division as an appointee in the Obama Administration. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Studies from the University of Michigan.


Arnie Rivera

Arnie Rivera

Chief Operating Officer

Arnie has served the students, staff and families of Chicago Public Schools in various roles, including Budget Director, Deputy Chief of Staff, Chief of Public Policy, Chicago Board of Education member, and most importantly, a first grade teacher. Arnie was also on the teams that successfully negotiated the past two contracts with the Chicago Teachers Union.

As the District’s Chief Operating Officer, Arnie oversees all operational functions within CPS. This is a natural extension of his previous responsibilities, which included developing and maintaining the District’s operating budget, planning and executing the Full School Day Outreach Program, and expanding the International Baccalaureate Programs in CPS high schools.

Arnie’s previous roles also include Senior Strategic Advisor for After School Matters and Chief Operating Officer for the Chicago Public Education Fund. He also served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Education under Mayor Emanuel, where he coordinated the administration’s education policy from early childhood through community college.

Arnie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Master of Science in Education and Social Policy, both from Northwestern University.


Pedro Soto

Pedro Soto

Chief of Staff

As Chief of Staff to Dr. Janice Jackson, Pedro is responsible for ensuring the uniform implementation of District policies across CPS. This is a natural extension of his previous role as Chief of School Operations, where he oversaw the coordination and implementation of all educational departments and network offices to ensure alignment with district priorities. He has also led budgetary and operational strategy throughout the District, and has more than two decades of operational, educational, and budgetary experience with Chicago Public Schools.

Pedro’s career in education has been guided by three fundamental practices; ensuring educational equity, cultivating access to opportunities and resources, and promoting positive interventions with all stakeholders. His roles at CPS have allowed Pedro to interact with many departments and collaborate with educators, business leaders and community partners who are working together in support of CPS schools.

Pedro is passionate about bringing all stakeholders together in support of our students. He is a firm believer in parent, teacher and student advisory councils, as well as educational task forces that provide CPS with valuable analysis and keep the lines of communication open between communities and District leadership.


Heather Wendell

Heather Wendell

Budget Director

As the district's Budget Director, Heather is responsible for providing fiscal support for the District and its $5.7B operating budget. Chief among these responsibilities is assisting school and department leaders to maximize and align funds to their programmatic priorities supporting staff, students, and school communities. Additional areas of focus include working to ensure that all stakeholders, both internal and external, have access to budget information that is transparent, easy to understand, and useful.

Heather joined CPS in 2002. Prior to becoming Budget Director, Heather served as the Executive Director of the CPS Grants Office, work she continues to oversee in her role as Budget Director. In addition to her work with grants, Heather has successfully led several complex, cross-functional strategic projects for the district, and her previous CPS roles include serving as Deputy Chief of Staff, Director of Special Projects, and Business Services Manager.

Heather has 20 years of experience in education, having started her career as a high school teacher.


Page Last Modified on Thursday, April 19, 2018