Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is responsible for the governance of the school. It establishes policies for the school, oversees finances, and provides continuity and direction. Board members are elected by the current Board for three-year terms and are recruited and trained by the Committee on Trustees. Each member of the Board must endorse the Montessori philosophy of learning, language immersion education, and the purpose and values described in Intercultural Montessori Language School’s current strategic plan. The Board’s primary role is to focus on fiscal and strategic planning, policy, hiring and evaluating the Executive Director, and institutional and organizational stability and sustainability.

Among the Board as a whole, the Committee on Trustees looks for members with experience that supports initiatives on the strategic plan, in addition to in education administration or Montessori education, bilingual experience, strategy/strategic planning, business management, financial/accounting, marketing, fundraising, law/policy, human resources, communications, and site management or real estate development.

The Board currently has the following members:

(presented in alphabetical order by last name)

Mr. Alexis Aguilú

Mr. Aguilú has served for over 12 years in different roles at the Ounce of Prevention Fund.  As Assistant Director of Operations, he oversees daily operations, budget monitoring  and internal infrastructures for the Educare Learning Network division to ensure that processes, procedures and policies are developed to maintain efficient project management, data management and communication systems. He has the primary responsibility for the day-to-day management of the administrative staff activities for the division team and serves as the main liaison with Educare schools around the country. Alexis also oversees all network training and learning events logistics providing leadership and guidance to ensure high quality end-user experiences. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marquette University.

Mr. Frank Bear

Mr. Bear is an in-house lawyer who represents the Walgreens pharmacy chain in all aspects of labor and employment law across the United States.  He holds a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Illinois and a J.D. from DePaul University’s College of Law.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, Mr. Bear worked as an Investigator at the Federal Defender Program.  He has volunteered at the National Immigrant Justice Center, the Center for Disability and Elder Law, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing. Mr. Bear is married to Angeles, and has three sons, who all attended Spanish immersion Montessori schools.  He is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Dr. Nimisha Bhatt

Dr. Nimisha Bhatt, Intercultural’s Executive Director, serves on the Board of Directors.

Mr. Mathew Ditto

Mr. Ditto came to Chicago via the Urban Teachers Corps and DePaul University’s Center for Urban Education after serving in various capacities with the United States Peace Corps in Kenya, East Africa and Uganda, East Africa. He has served for the last eight years as the principal of Andrew Jackson Language Academy. Most recently he serves in the role of CEO Administrator for School Transformation for Chicago Public Schools. He believes that elementary education is the process by which students discover, develop and share their gifts and talents.

Mr. Adam Drake

Mr. Drake is a Senior Manager of Financial Planning and Analysis with Shure Incorporated. He has a proven track record of helping organizations improve processes and operations throughout his career. He is a graduate of DePaul University with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce and of Loyola University Chicago where he earned both a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications. He is the father of two Intercultural students.

Mr. Kevin Harris

Mr. Harris is a Senior Director of Facilities Management for Northwestern University. His portfolio includes 225 buildings across 15 million sq feet of space on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses. He is a board member for 360 Youth Services and a leader for the Boy Scouts of America. Mr. Harris also owns Bedrock Assets, which is a leadership development and executive coaching business. Mr. Harris holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University, a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech, and a M.B.A. from The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Ms. Cheryl LaCost

Ms. Cheryl has served as Head of School, for Brickton Montessori School since July 2012. In that capacity, she ensures the quality of Montessori programs and day-to-day school operations, working strategically with the Board of Directors.  Prior to serving in her current role, Cheryl was a Primary Directress for six years. She enjoys combining her love of the Montessori environment with her background in operational and financial management, to serve the Brickton community. Both of Cheryl’s daughters had the opportunity to attend Brickton Montessori from primary through 8th grade. Her husband, John Barrett, provides technology support to several Montessori schools/organizations. In her interest to support Montessori advocacy, Cheryl currently serves as the President of the Association of Illinois Montessori Schools. Cheryl holds AMS Montessori primary and administrator credentials. In addition, she holds an MBA from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and a BS in Economics from Illinois State University.  She has had a variety of work experiences, beginning in state government transitioning into the consulting world, focused on healthcare and government.  After consulting, she moved into the healthcare industry, holding various management positions in operations and finance in hospital management.

Ms. Kirsten Langley

Ms. Langley is a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in working with children, adolescents and their families. She is currently the founder and owner of a group practice with locations in Chicago and Westchester. She has extensive experience working in school settings, including therapeutic day schools, and frequently consults with teachers and other school personnel to address the needs of students. She holds a Doctorate of Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology and a B.S. in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Mr. Michael Liang

Mr. Liang, Ph.D., is a partner at Baird Capital, focusing on venture capital investments in healthcare. He has been a venture capitalist for the past 12 years and before that was a Director of R&D at a spinal orthopedics company. He is currently a member of the board of directors of a number of different medical companies and also serves on the Rush University Medical Center Associates Board, the Chicago MATTERS board, and advisory boards at Northwestern University, University of Illinois-Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received a B.S. from the University of California Berkeley, a Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry from Stanford University, and conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

Mr. Bret Ruiz

Mr. Ruiz is an education professional with over 10 years’ experience in teaching and academic leadership. His work portfolio includes: teaching at Le Cordon Bleu-Chicago, The University of Notre Dame, and Northwestern University. He has successfully managed several non-profit organizations. Mr. Ruiz holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in American Studies and an MBA in marketing from the J.L. Kellogg School of Management.

Mr. Jeffrey Schroeder

Mr. Schroeder is a Managing Director and Partner with The PFM Group. Public Financial Management (PFM) advises government entities including school districts on financial and investment matters. Previously, he was also an Educational Services Manager with the Foundation for Educational Services. Mr. Schroeder holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Valparaiso University and a Masters in Business from Northern Illinois University.

Ms. Vesna Stelcer

Ms. Stelcer received her Honours BA international Relations from the University of Windsor and her MA International Studies with Distinction from DePaul University. Vesna is the Board Chair of the Ed Paschke Foundation and Director of the Ed Paschke Art Center. She is the past Executive Director of the MGR Foundation, a non-profit that focused on empowering youth through innovative health and well-being programs. Vesna is the co-founder of the Rabb Family Foundation, along with her soulmate, Lionel Rabb and their two daughters that both attend Intercultural Montessori Language School. The mission of the Rabb Family Foundation is to make our world a better place.

Mr. Ryan White

Mr. White is a Senior Manager with Deloitte Consulting LLP, based in downtown Chicago, where he focuses on providing financial support for professional services engagements. Mr. White is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he obtained his B.A. in Economics and of Loyola University Chicago where he obtained his M.S. in Accountancy. He also holds a CPA license. He is the father of three Intercultural students – two of whom graduated from Oak Park’s Primary program and one of whom is a current student – and has been actively involved in school volunteer activities since 2012.