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 the president of INCS, a statewide advocacy and charter school support organization serving 137 charter campuses in Illinois that collectively educate more than 62,000 public 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, where he specialized in school finance disputes, desegregation cases, and charter school law. Andrew has authored several amici briefs in United States Supreme Court cases, including cases challenging congressional authority to enact remedial civil rights statutes and a case involving the constitutionality of federal campaign finance reform. Andrew serves on several local and national boards and began his career as a high school teacher. Andrew is an avid angler who lives in Chicago with his wife Keecia and three daughters, Simone, Noelle, and Malia.
As Project Coordinator, Natalia supports INCS events, including the Charter Excellence Awards, Special Education Co-op, and other school-related functions. As an alumni of a Noble Charter School, she experienced firsthand the benefits of a charter public school education. Prior to joining INCS, Natalia worked on the People team at the Noble Network and supported employee engagement, recruitment, and human resources efforts.
Natalia earned a B.A. in Public and Nonprofit Administration from Grand Valley State University.
Marissa brings her passion for equity and access in public education together with her experience and love for data-driven research. As a graduate of the New York City-based leadership development organization Prep for Prep, Marissa knows first-hand how a high-quality education can jump-start a student’s bright future.
Before joining the INCS team, Marissa graduated with honors from the University of Chicago, earning a B.A. degree in sociology with a concentration in social analytics. Her award-winning senior thesis examined how elementary school student experiences in an alternative “Free School” setting are influenced by moralized mission and vision statements. She served as the Editor-in-Chief for the Chicago Journal of Sociology. In addition, Marissa has held internships at various Chicago-based education organizations including EduDream, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and The Chicago Public Education Fund.
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.
Ariel serves as INCS Chief of Staff. Ariel drafts and lobbies critical education legislation and leads the political advocacy for INCS’ sister organization, INCS Action. Her passion for access to education for all stems from her own experiences navigating the very complex education structure in Chicago. Ariel earned her law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and a B.A. in English and philosophy from John Carroll University. Ariel was selected as a 2014 National Lawyers Guild Haywood Burns Memorial Fellow, a 2014 Illinois Judges Foundation Scholarship Recipient, and a 2016 Surge Institute Fellow.
Matt is the policy manager at INCS. He works with member schools to advance various policy initiatives through local authorizers and the Illinois legislature. He also provides support to charter schools by hosting single site and small network meetings and a special education co-op. He is a resource for schools regarding day-to-day questions and issues.
Prior to joining INCS, Matt worked as the financial and compliance specialist in CPS’ Office of Innovation and Incubation. He earned a B.A. and B.S. in public financial management from Indiana University in Bloomington. You can find him on Chicago’s North Avenue Beach every Wednesday during the summer for volleyball.
Paloma is the Manager of Finance and Operations at INCS. Paloma earned a B.A. in economics with a special interest in public finance from DePaul University. She began to recognize some consistent themes among her interests, after providing supplemental education as an economics and math tutor while studying at DePaul.
Prior to joining INCS, Paloma was an art teacher and program coordinator at a non-profit, where she provided recreation and enrichment programs for children. This sparked her interest in improving childhood development and equity in education. As a product of a school choice herself, Paloma is familiar with the direct correlation between educational opportunity and academic achievement. She values INCS’ core work and the importance of implementing equitable education opportunities in underserved communities.
Jarol J. Rendon Jimenez is a field organizer 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.
Elizabeth recently joined the INCS team as development manager. 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. She graduated with a B.A. in business from DePaul University in 2017. Elizabeth lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter.
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.
Andrew Thode joined the INCS government affairs team after managing multiple winning campaigns in the City of Chicago, Illinois House, and Illinois Senate. Andrew got his start working to elect U.S. Senators from around the country, including Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
After working for STAND for Children and successfully campaigning for the Illinois’ landmark education funding reform law in 2017, Andrew found a passion for promoting high quality educational opportunities for Illinois’ children.
Andrew holds a B.A. in political Science from Marquette University and is a certified project management professional.
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 most recently worked 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 partner and vice 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.
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.
Charles Newman is a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch.
Charles was a consultant with Accenture in New York City. Following Accenture, Charles participated in the launch of a technology company named Encompys, Inc., before becoming a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch in 2002. Charles has initiated and coordinated a fund-raising campaign for a public school on the southwest side of Chicago. In addition to serving on the INCS Board of Directors, Charles has served on the Cancer Leadership Committee at Rush University Hospital.
Charles earned a bachelor of science degree in finance at the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He also earned the Certified Financial Planner designation.
John W. Rowe is chairman emeritus of the Chicago-based Exelon Corporation, an electric utility serving Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
John has led Exelon since its formation in 2000, and successfully completed the acquisition of Constellation Energy in 2012. John held CEO positions at the New England Electric System and Central Maine Power Company, served as general counsel of Consolidated Rail Corporation, and was a partner in the law firm of Isham, Lincoln & Beale. He was chair of Edison Electric Institute and co-chair of the National Commission on Energy Policy, and he served on the Secretary of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. John also is the lead independent director of the Northern Trust Company and non-executive board chair of SunCoke Energy.
John holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Wisconsin and honorary doctorates from the University of Wisconsin, DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Drexel University, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Bryant College, Thomas College and Dominican University.