Board of Directors

Jay Harris, President

Jay is the Founder, President, and Managing Member of InfinityBox, LLC.

Education: Jay has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue and a Master's in Engineering Management from Northwestern. 

Background: Jay is active in the St. Giles Catholic Church, where he serves in leadership roles of the Men's Society. He also serves on the leadership team for St. Ignatius Business Society. He and his family live in the near-west suburbs. 

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Laurel Steele, Secretary

Laurel is a former Bank Examiner for The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. 

Education:Laurel holds a B.S. in Accounting from Hampton University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia. She is licensed to practice law in Georgia, Ohio, and Illinois.

 

Background: Laurel joined the PBN Board in 2020, after serving for several years as a volunteer attorney. She began her career as an Accountant for British Petroleum in Cleveland, served as a Public Defender for the Hamilton County Public Defender's Office in Cincinnati, and then as a Bank Examiner for The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Laurel is actively involved in volunteering with her children's schools. 

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Marisa Green

Marisa is Project Manager for PBN's Senior Legal Clinics and Senior Center Initiatives.

 

Education: Marisa has a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Background: Marisa started her law career practicing litigation at two Chicago law firms, Bollinger, Rubbery & Garvey and DLA Piper. She spent seven years in an active litigation practice, working on commercial litigation matters and performing medical malpractice and product liability defense work. She lives in RiverForest with her husband and two teenage children.

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Laura Kaufman

Laura is President and Principal Consultant of Partners in Effective Philanthropy.

 

Background: Previously, Laura was the Executive Director of the Jewish Women's Foundation of Chicago. Laura has also served as Executive Director of the Boston Women's Fund and Northwest Action Against Rape, Development Director at Women, Inc., and as Program Director with the Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women.

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Donna Peel

Donna developed PBN's working model and founded and served as its original executive director until 2017.

Education: She holds a J.D. from Washington University School of Law and an undergraduate degree in Economics from Michigan State University. 

Background: Donna is currently an antitrust attorney at Kirkland & Ellis, an area of law she credits with giving her the efficiency perspective in creating PBN. Before taking time off to raise her young children, she practiced at the U.S. Department of Justice, White House, U.S. Attorney's Office (E.D. Va), and served as the U.S. Advisor to South Africa's Competition Commission, an Advisor to the President at the White House, and a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney at the Eastern District of Virginia.

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Deb Abrahamson,
Vice President

Deb is former Executive Director of the Oak Park Education Foundation (OPEF).

 

Education: Deb attended Cornell University and earned a B.A. in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Certificate of Nonprofit Management from the University of Chicago.

Background: She is President of the Maywood Fine Arts board of directors, Chair of Women in Philanthropy, a giving group of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, and new member of Growing Community Media's board. She is also a career coach with the Posse Foundation. She and her husband live in Oak Park, where they raised their two children.

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Tali Albukerk

Tali is Chief Counsel/National Administrator, ABA Free Legal Answers.

Education: Tali has a B.A. in Political Sciences from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law.

 

Background: Tali became involved with PBN shortly after it began, participating in all PBN projects, managing its senior projects, and joining the board in 2013. She lives in Oak Park with her husband and two daughters.  

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Robert Jones

Robert is an Accountant and Tax Preparer for Charitable organizations and Charitable Trust.

Education: He holds master's degrees in accounting and taxation. 

 

Background: Robert has been meeting the accounting and tax needs of nonprofits for the past 10 years. Robert believes that charitable organizations are in need of the financial services he provides to accomplish their exempt purpose. He has a passion for organizations that are trying and wanting to make a change in their communities. 

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Katie O'Brien

Katie works for Chicago's oldest non-profit with a mission of caring for seniors, The Admiral at the Lake.

Education: Katie earned her M.B.A. in 2014 and is a 1990 graduate of the University of Notre Dame. 

 

Background: Katie has an entrepreneurial spirit, was a Chamber of Commerce Executive Director for 10 years, helped build two successful startup consulting companies, and was a Marketing Manager in Madison. 

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Tiffany Puckett

Bio coming soon.

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Tricia Marks, Treasurer

Tricia is former Managing Director of Capital Markets at Madison Capital Funding, LLC.

Education:Tricia has a B.B.A. in Accounting from the University of Iowa.

Background: Over the past seven years, Tricia has been an active volunteer Cross-Country and Track and Field Coach at Fenwick High School in Oak Park. 

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Laura Brookes

Laura leads public policy at Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC), where she works with elected officials, government agencies, and others on drug policy, behavioral healthcare policy, and criminal justice reform.

 

Education: Laura received her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin -- Madison and her M.P.H. from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Background: Laura begin volunteering with PBN’s marketing committee in 2019, and joined the board in 2020. She also serves on the board of the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health.

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Geegee Kan

Geegee is currently a stay-at-home mother who actively volunteers at her children's schools.

 

Background: Her last major role at the elementary school was PTO Treasurer (and Assistant Treasurer) from 2017-2019. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, she held the roles of acquisition manager and financial analyst at Kaplan Professional. She has also worked as a consultant at PwC and as a paralegal in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. 

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Simrit Patel

Simrit Patel is an Illinois licensed attorney with an extensive background in nonprofit management.

Education: Simrit has a B.A. from Northwestern University and a J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law. 

 

Background: Simrit is the owner of SCP Legal LLC and concentrates her practice in the areas of family law and sdoptions. She previously served as Executive Director of Anima - Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus and as Director of Development for the National Indo-American Museum. 

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Robin Spencer

Robin is a former law firm partner whose practice focused on franchise, distribution, and litigation issues.

Education: Robin earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1994.

Background: She formerly served as editor and author for the ABA's Franchise Law Journal, served on the Steering Committee of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Division of the ABA Forum on Franchising and on the Franchising Forum's Publications and Technology Committees. She is a frequent speaker and writer on franchise, distribution, and litigation issues, and has served for several years as a faculty member for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

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Board Alumni

Shama Ahmed

Shama is a former Assistant Public Guardian.

Mara Block

Mara is a senior attorney with the DeKalb County office of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. 

Julie Renehan

Julie is a DuPage County Board Member, District 3.

Gloria Schwartz

Gloria is a former computer software executive who currently works as a fundraiser and event planner. 

Sarah Arnett

Sarah is a freelance business valuation consultant.

Christy Chapman

Christy is a staff attorney with CARPLS, a legal aid agency.

Suzanne Ritzler

Suzanne is a contracting senior attorney at Accenture.

Jennifer Valentine

Jennifer stared her own freelance consulting business, Write Words, helping non-profits with grant funding research and proposals.

Andrea Belard

Andrea is a supervising attorney with Metropolitan Family Services.

Ruth Masters

Ruth has her own solo practice, focusing on appellate work.

Shari Schinder

Shari is a Partner at StoneTurn, a management consulting company. 

Stoja Zjalic

Stoja helped develop and manage judicial technical assistance and legal reform programs for the ABA's pro bono Rule of Law Initiative.