Erikson’s Board of Trustees recently approved three new members who will begin their three-year terms in April. Each of these outstanding individuals brings a unique set of skills and experience to our Board, whose stewardship and fundraising support enables Erikson to maintain its reputation as a premier institution of higher education, committed to ensuring that all children have equitable opportunities to realize their potential. Please read on to learn more about José, Frank, and Deana.
José Cerda III is a strategic communications and public policy executive with a more than 25-year track record of solving problems, engaging stakeholders, communicating complex issues, building public support for new ideas, and enhancing reputation through thought leadership. José is currently the Vice President of External Affairs at IFF. IFF is a mission-driven lender, real estate consultant, and developer that works with nonprofits to create opportunities for communities with limited access to resources. In addition to his work at IFF, José served as a Senior Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden; as a Special Assistant for Domestic Policy to President Bill Clinton; and as Chief of Policy for Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago. He has also worked in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, as well as in Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development. José is a 1988 graduate of Harvard University, where he studied government. He was raised in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood and his mother taught in Chicago Public Schools.
Frank Gettridge is an educator who has dedicated his career to improving the lives of children and families—particularly those facing challenges such as poverty. A native of New Orleans, Frank has more than 25 years of experience as an early childhood, elementary and high school teacher and administrator. Frank is currently Executive Director of the National Public Education Support Fund (NPESF), a nonprofit organization that promotes the opportunity for all children to receive an excellent education from birth through college. He previously worked as a Program Officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) where he integrated national program strategies and addressed issues of inequality that impact children’s achievement, including closing the 3rd grade achievement gap. Earlier in his career, Frank served as principal at Clara Barton Elementary School in Chicago. Under his leadership, academic achievement, parent engagement and school enrollment increased, while discipline, suspension, and expulsion rates significantly decreased. Frank holds a doctorate of global education from the University of Southern California, a master’s degree in child development from Erikson Institute and a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Morris Brown College in Atlanta. Frank was also selected as a National Head Start Fellow, an Association of Black Philanthropic Executives Fellow, and a Children’s Defense Fund Fellow.
Deana Spencer, a leader in the field of early childhood education, currently acts as the Director of Early Learning and Policy at Holy Family Ministries. Holy Family nurtures children’s social, academic, physical, and spiritual development and serves 340 children and youth on Chicago’s west and near north sides. Deana’s passion lies in urban education and her mission is to create family-centered programs in Illinois that help prevent the intergenerational cycle that poor education presents for children and their parents. Prior to her role at Holy Family Ministries, Deana was the Director of Parent and Childhood Services and Director of The Family Literacy Center at the Alain Locke Initiative. She received a bachelor’s degree in visual communications from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and a master’s degree in early childhood education and administration from the University of Phoenix. She completed Erikson’s Illinois Early Learning Fellows Program and was also an Illinois Early Childhood Fellow at the Illinois Academy of Pediatrics. Deana additionally completed several certificate programs: Nonprofit Management (University of Illinois at Chicago), Illinois Directors Credential Program (National Lewis University), and Early Childhood Education Leadership and Administration (Triton College).
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