For all students in Illinois to have access to a high-quality public school that prepares them for a successful future.
The Illinois Network of Charter Schools advocates for the improvement of public education by leveraging the charter school model as a catalyst to transform lives and communities. As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS engages a diverse coalition of policymakers, school leaders, parents, and community members to create systemic change and secure high-quality schools for underserved communities.
Magdalena brings a background in marketing and financial services to her role as executive assistant to the INCS president. Magdalena is a product of Chicago Public Schools and a first-generation college student who strongly believes in the need for high-quality schools in Illinois for all children.
Magdalena began her career at LaSalle National Bank, where she marketed retail and international financial products and services before joining the Education & Marketing Services department at the Chicago Board of Trade. Magdalena experienced an epiphany when she later joined ShoreBank in Chicago, where she realized a triple-bottom line of profitability, community development impact, and conservation could be part of an organization’s mission. Magdalena transitioned to the non-profit sector when she joined the Ounce of Prevention Fund’s work to promote effective investment in high-quality early learning experiences, and subsequently spent time supporting the leadership team of a private school for young women. Magdalena has been with INCS since 2015.
Magdalena holds a M.B.A. in international business from DePaul University, and a B.S. in marketing from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Andrew is an advocate, serving as President of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS), a statewide advocacy and charter school support organization serving 145 charter campuses in Illinois that collectively educate more than 60,000 public school students. During his time at INCS, the number of charter schools in Illinois has doubled and the organization has dramatically expanded its electoral capacity to engage in political races across Illinois. INCS has been lead sponsor on several major policy wins, including a new charter funding formula that guarantees equal operational funding to Illinois charter students; a law extending the permissible charter renewal term to ten years for high-performing charter schools; and a provision that tripled the funding available in the state revolving loan program. The funding win alone led to an annual funding increase of $120 million for charter school students. Prior to joining INCS, Andrew was the Associate State Superintendent for the State of Georgia. In that role, Andrew helped craft Georgia’s winning Race to the Top application and worked with legislative leadership to author multiple bills enacted into law. Andrew also worked as a civil rights litigator in Atlanta for many years after beginning his career as a high school teacher.
Tiffani leads operations at INCS, overseeing the organization’s finance, development, and human capital systems. She began her career as an educator and has since held several operations and general management roles in both traditional and charter public school systems and student-centered organizations. A first-generation college graduate herself, Tiffani has a deeply rooted commitment to improving educational opportunities for all children, regardless of circumstance.
Tiffani earned a BA in Political Science from Emory University, a MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University, and a MA in Educational Leadership and Administration from Montclair State University.
Jodie Cantrell is the Director of External Affairs at the Illinois Network of Charter Schools where she leads the statewide charter organization’s government affairs, advocacy, data, and communications teams. She has over a decade of experience in the charter community, building strategy and executing successful campaigns and initiatives in communications, media relations, advocacy, family and community engagement, growth, district policy, and legislative affairs. Prior to her return to Chicago in 2020, Jodie served as the Director of Local Advocacy with KIPP Foundation following her three years as KIPP Colorado Schools Director of External Affairs.
Jodie received her Master’s degree in public policy at the University of Chicago and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism at Indiana University. She was a founding board member of Transform Education Now (TEN), a parent organizing and advocacy nonprofit in Denver, and she was a Community Impact Denver fellow with the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation.
Christian is a Chicago native who grew up in the South-side neighborhood of Hyde Park. He attended Northwestern University and graduated with a degree in Economics. After college, his first career was in Chicago’s financial markets. While working he earned an MBA in Finance, Economics, and Statistics from the University of Chicago Booth School. Following his time in finance, Christian transitioned to education. Prior to coming to INCS he spent 4 years as the Senior Director of Finance for EPIC Academy, a charter high school on Chicago’s Southeast-side. He brings to INCS a wealth of knowledge concerning school finance and operations.
Alex currently leads all political and campaign work for the INCS and INCS Action. Previously, he was a lobbyist for the Illinois REALTORS®, where he was primarily responsible for revamping their independent and referendum campaign programs. The Illinois REALTORS® had their winningest election cycle in the association’s history under Alex’s leadership.
Earlier in Alex’s career, he was a senior staffer for a member of Congress where he crafted and implemented a unique community outreach plan for a universe of over 710,000 constituents. Part of this plan grew and maintained relationships with large constituent groups including labor, agriculture, and veterans.
Alex got his start in politics 12 years ago and has worked on 22 different campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels.
Kris Derek Hechevarria is a Cuban-American teaching artist who was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He moved to Chicago to volunteer with Pritzker College Prep through AmeriCorps’ Project YES. In 2013, Hechevarria was invited to be the founding art teacher for Wolcott College Prep, an independent high school for college-bound students with learning disabilities. There, he developed a conceptual art curriculum that promoted critical thinking and material exploration. Hechevarria has developed programming for The Chicago Architecture Biennale, The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art: Chicago, National Museum of Mexican Art, National Veterans Art Museum, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, CAPE, Arquetopia and the Smart Museum. He is currently an artist-in-residence with CPS Lives.
Kris earned a BA in Art History and Women’s Studies from the University of South Florida and an MA in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Allison Jack has been working in education since she was a teacher in Compton, California, in the second year of Teach For America. She taught for seven years in Compton and in Chicago Public Schools. She has 30 years of experience in policy, advocacy, and education improvement in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. At INCS, Allison is senior director of charter growth and support, where she manages support for the state’s 137 charter schools, as well as providing support to charter developers. Previously, she ran a $15M Teacher Incentive Fund grant for New Leaders, which resulted in awarding more than $7M to almost 1,800 charter educators. She supported many of the original charter schools in Chicago, including Urban Prep, and co-founded Namaste Charter School. She held advocacy and policy roles in the CPS Office of New Schools under former CEO Arne Duncan and in the governor’s office. Allison is a proud Banana Slug from UC Santa Cruz and a graduate of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy.
Jarol J. Rendon Jimenez is the Manager of Political Affairs at the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. In partnership with the City Affairs team, Jarol grows and executes plans that help push forward the organization’s strategies.
Prior to INCS, Jarol spent a year working at La Marche Manufacturing Company as a group leader. Jarol was also a canvasser for Alderman Edward M. Burke, during which he recruited a canvassing team and networked with community leaders and organizations.
Jarol holds a B.A. in world history and a minor in political science from Hope College. He is a first-generation college graduate and an alum of Pritzker College Prep, a charter school in Chicago, and his inspiration comes from his parent’s struggles as migrant workers who have brought up education as a primary care in the household.
In his free time, Jarol serves as a board member on the Noble Alumni Association Board of 2019. He also studies graphic design, photography, and marketing/business.
Dan O’Brien is a Data Analyst at INCS, specializing in analysis and visualization of data surrounding charter schools in Illinois. After spending almost 10 years in the classroom, he made the transition to the data sphere. Following his undergraduate studies, Dan taught English in the Republic of North Macedonia with the Peace Corps. During his time as an educator, he taught math in both the Austin and Belmont-Cragin neighborhoods of Chicago.
Dan earned a BS in Middle Childhood Education from Ohio University and a MS in Data Science from DePaul University.
Shamira Quiñones is the Manager of Field Operations at the Illinois Network of Charter schools. Along with the Political Affairs team, Shamira expands and executes the strategic plans of the organization.
Previously, Shamira worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago as a Match Support Specialist where she supported parents and coached volunteers. Shamira has also worked on the Joe Biden for President Campaign as a Field Organizer for the Iowa state Caucuses in 2020.
Shamira received her B.A in Public Policy with a focus in education and a Minor in Women Gender Studies from the University of Illinois Chicago in 2018. She discovered her passion for people, change, and power during her education. By the end of her college career, she completed five organizing and policy fellowships, studied abroad in South America, and launched her own advocacy campaign, March for MAP, which was a student led movement that successfully passed Senate Bill 2059 fully funding MAP Grants in fiscal year 2016-2017.
In her free time, Shamira likes to travel, go to Vintage shops, and spend time with family.
Elizabeth joined the INCS development team in 2018. Previously, she served as Community Engagement Manager for The Joffrey Ballet, working closely with teaching artists, school principals, and community stakeholders to bring arts education to Chicago area students from under-served communities. Throughout her time in this position, she grew more passionate about educational equity and was thrilled to come to INCS to further her impact. She graduated with a B.A. in business from DePaul University in 2017. Elizabeth lives in Chicago with her husband and daughters.
Mike brings a universal perspective to the Government Affairs role at INCS having worked with charter school policy at both the state and local level. His experience at the Illinois State Board of Education and Chicago Public Schools allowed Mike to gain a thorough understanding of charter law, contracts and the landscape in its entirety. Mike utilizes this level of expertise when building relationships with legislators and stakeholders on behalf of charter schools and the families that choose them for their children.
Upon graduating college, Mike spent time in the classroom teaching middle school social studies and coaching multiple sports. His experience as an educator keeps him grounded in the belief that all children deserve equitable access to an excellent education.
Mike holds a M.Ed in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies from Loyola University and a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa. He is a volunteer high school baseball coach in his spare time and lives in Chicago with his wife Drew and son Patrick.
David Weinberg is chair of the INCS Board of Directors and one of two founders of the organization. He has been associated with the charter school movement for 20 years in Illinois, and served as a founding board member of the Noble Network of Charter School, a member network of INCS.
Other not-for-profit organizations David is (or has been) associated with include Marwen, Chicago Public Education Fund, New Leaders for New Schools, NFTE, Business Advisory Council at UIC, CUB, and the Relations Foundation. -David worked at Fel-Pro for 35 years before it was sold in 2000, and taught for three years at the MBA program at University of Illinois at Chicago, where he lectured extensively about Fel-Pro’s award-winning culture.
David is a professional photographer and has had numerous exhibits in art museums and galleries. His website is www.d-weinberg.com. He also owns and operates the Weinberg/Newton Gallery in River North in Chicago. The gallery is dedicated to partnering with not-for-profits that promote social justice. The website for the gallery is www.weinbergnewtongallery.com
David earned a bachelor of science degree in business at Roosevelt University.
William D. “Will” Burns is the Executive Vice President of National Advocacy and the Executive Director of the Charter School Action Fund at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Before joining the Alliance, Will oversaw government relations and public affairs for Airbnb where he managed the company’s public policy efforts in several midwestern, mid-Atlantic, and southern states.
Will was elected to two terms in the Chicago City Council. He was first elected to the Council in 2011 after being elected two terms in the Illinois House of Representatives.
Prior to his election to the House in 2008, he served as deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to the Illinois Senate President.
Before working for the Senate President, Burns was the vice president of program and field offices for the Chicago Urban League. He spearheaded the League’s voting rights/redistricting efforts, managed its day-to-day programmatic activities, and coordinated the League’s public policy initiatives.
Burns was the education and tax policy manager for the Metropolitan Planning Council, where he organized a statewide education funding reform coalition and directed its legislative and communications campaign.
Burns attended the University of Chicago where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
David Chizewer is a co-founder of INCS, and a founder and past board president of the Chicago International Charter School—one of the nation’s largest charter schools. David was a member of Barack Obama’s Education Policy Group and, in May 2005, argued a seminal charter school case before the Illinois Supreme Court.
David is principal at Goldberg Kohn’s Litigation Group. He serves as lead counsel to one of the principal defendants in the multi‐district class action litigation, Re Ocwen Federal Bank Mortgage Servicing Litigation. David also represents more than 200 third‐party defendants in the multi‐district litigation captioned, In Re Ameriquest. David has been featured in the National Law Journal’s list of top 10 U.S. litigators. He was named “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the Public Justice Foundation and “Lawyer of the Year” by the Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund.
David earned a juris doctorate degree from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in economics, magna cum laude, from Pomona College. He was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Darryl Cobb is President of the Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF), where he is responsible for managing strategic investments in charter school networks.
Prior to joining CSGF in 2010, Darryl was the CEO of a turnaround charter school in Chicago. He previously served as chief learning officer at the KIPP Foundation, where he led a portfolio of learning programs, including principal and teacher-leader development. Before KIPP, Darryl worked as a management consultant at Accenture and Diamond Cluster.
Darryl earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Darryl is a Pahara-Aspen fellow and Broad resident and, in addition to the INCS Board of Directors, serves on the board of the Surge Institute and the Black Alliance for Educational Options.
Blondean joined Matteson School District 162 as superintendent in 2002. In this role, Blondean spearheaded the launch of Southland College Prep Charter High School in 2010. Since then, 100 percent of the school’s three graduating classes have been accepted to four-year higher education institutions. Prior to her current role, Blondean served as assistant principal, principal, district superintendent, deputy chief education officer, and chief of schools and regions of the Chicago Public School system. In 2009, one of the district’s seven elementary schools, Arcadia, was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
Blondean earned bachelor, master and doctorate degrees in education from Loyola University Chicago. She holds a doctor of humane letters from Governors State University.
Geoff Deigan is executive director of Prairie Crossing Charter School, an environmentally centered public school in Grayslake, Ill.. He previously served as chair of the school’s board of directors.
Geoff founded WRD in 1997. Well-versed in sustainable development, Geoff has led a variety of large-scale environmental projects, job training programs, and community-engagement initiatives focused on environmental best practices. His extensive board experience includes service in land conservation organizations, public libraries, nonprofits, and charter schools. He has spoken at numerous national conferences on environmental education, sustainable land use, green infrastructure and more. Geoff is co-founder and chair for the Institute for Environmental Education, a 501c3 nonprofit that provides development for organizations who want to integrate environmental education into their schools and communities.
Geoff attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill.
Jim Frank has served as CEO of Wheels since 1974 and company president for 40 years. In addition to serving on INCS’ Board of Trustees, Jim serves as chair of Intrinsic Schools, a charter school network.
Jim is vice chair of the University of Chicago Hospitals’ Board of Trustees, a member of the University of Chicago’s Board of Trustees, and chair of the Field Museum of Chicago’s finance committee. Jim also serves on the Board of Overseers at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Jim has been a keynote speaker at numerous industry events, including the Automotive News World Congress. He served as president, board member and chair of the American Automobile Leasing Association (AALA). During his time as chair of AALA’s Federal Legislative Committee, Jim participated in numerous successful industry efforts aimed at helping shape regulatory and legislative issues affecting fleets, and delivered frequent testimonies at the House Ways and Means Committee, Federal Trade Commission and Department of the Treasury.
Jim earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University.
Steve Hajdukovic is audit partner in KPMG’s Chicago office, specializing in serving consumer and industrial products companies.
Steve has provided professional audit services to several large multinational groups in accordance with SEC, U.S. GAAP, and IFRS requirements. His audit experience includes leasing, accounts receivable securitizations, acquisition, divestitures, public debt and equity offerings, and private placements. At KPMG, Steve is the partner in charge of campus recruiting for the Midwest Area, the practice leader for more than 150 partners and employees in the consumer and industrial line of business, and the middle market channel leader for the Chicago office. Along with serving on the INCS Board of Directors’ Audit Committee, Steve serves on the Accountancy Executive Advisory Council of Northern Illinois University.
In his free time, Steve is a coach in youth travel baseball. Steve attended Northern Illinois University.
Timothy Hughes is the founder and president of Princeton Technical Services Inc. (PTS), one of Chicago’s fastest growing construction management and material testing firms. In under four years, PTS has grown to a staff of 50 employees and serves an extensive portfolio of high-profile state agencies, including: the Illinois Department of Transportation; the Illinois Tollway; Chicago Public Schools; the Chicago Department of Aviation; the Chicago Department of Transportation, and the Cook County Department of Transportations and Highways. Accredited with MBE/DBE/ACDBE distinctions, Princeton Technical Services is the only certified African-American owned material testing firm in the state of Illinois.
Prior to founding PTS, Timothy was Executive Director for Exelon/ Commonwealth Edison, managing the Fortune 100 company’s $1.5 billion real estate and facilities asset portfolio, overseeing a staff of more than 100 employees across the state. He previously worked for Hewitt, Ernst & Young, and Cap Gemini consulting firms, where he guided mid- to large-cap corporate clients on their complex capital projects.
Timothy has received the Modern-Day Technology Black Engineer of the Year Award, the Pathfinder Award from Minority Supplier Development Council, named to Who’s Who in Black Chicago, and was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to serve on the Chicago Community Land Trust Board of Directors.
Bart Kocha is a strategy and organization expert with more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience.
Bart was a senior partner with A.T. Kearney, where he was responsible for the organization and transformation global service practice and led A.T. Kearney into several new market areas. Bart served on the global and North American leadership teams for A.T. Kearney and represented the firm on the EDS Leadership team. Today, Bart’s clients extend to Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, spanning several industries with a recent focus on financial services and healthcare. Along with serving on the INCS Board of Directors, Bart works with the Walton Family Foundation on school reform within the charter school sector.
Bart earned a master’s degree in business administration from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.