Board of Trustees
The Catherine Cook School Board of Trustees supports the school’s mission through strategic goal setting and direction, fundraising, hiring and managing the Head of School, and creating general school policy. Trustees have an objective commitment to the school through their own support and leadership. They contribute to the school's growth and financial well-being, seek to work voluntarily on a variety of committees, and, through their leadership in the community, bring recognition and honor to the school.
- Michelle Kilkenney, Chair
- David Laurenson, Vice-Chair
- Flavio Arana, Secretary
- Karen Dahlquist, Treasurer
- Tom Valentine, At-Large
Michelle Kilkenney, Chair
Michelle Kilkenney is a corporate partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, who focuses her practice on debt financing transactions. Michelle represents private equity groups, commercial lending institutions and other private and public companies in connection with the negotiation, structuring, and documentation of secured and unsecured financing transactions for both borrowers and lenders, including senior, mezzanine, and subordinated debt transactions, acquisition financings, and loan workouts and restructurings, including debtor-in-possession financings. Michelle serves as a Pro Bono Coordinator in the Firm’s Chicago office. In this role, she assists Kirkland attorneys in pursuing a broad range of pro bono opportunities, with a focus on ensuring that access to adequate legal representation is available to all who need it, not just those who can afford it.
As a sought-after speaker, Michelle has given presentations and participated in panels to clients, the LSTA, the ABA and the Women in Law Empowerment Forum. In 2015, Practical Law The Journal published an article authored by Michelle entitled “An Expert’s View: Trends in Large Cap Market Loan Terms”.
Michelle has been recognized in the 2010-2017 editions of Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business and described as "talented, bright, creative and incredibly hard-working." She has also been recognized by IFLR1000 as a Leading Lawyer in bank lending. In 2017, Michelle was awarded “Transaction of the Year: Mega Company” for her work with Texas Competitive Electric Holdings Company LLC by the Turnaround Management Association.
In addition to the Catherine Cook School Board of Trustees, Michelle is actively involved in the boards of Cradles to Crayons and the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.
Michelle earned her law degree from The Ohio State University and her B.A. in Politics and Government from Ohio Wesleyan University.
Michelle is an active Catherine Cook parent and lives in the Lincoln Square neighborhood with her husband, Ryan. They have three children, including two that attend Catherine Cook.
David Laurenson, Vice-Chair
Dave Laurenson is the Chief Information Officer of the Finkl Steel Group, responsible for the strategic and tactical planning, coordination, and implementation of technology systems across the group. Dave has held a variety of positions within the organization, including Vice President of Information Technology and Vice President of Operations, and was instrumental in the sale of the business and subsequent design and build of the new steel manufacturing facility in Chicago.
Dave sits on the board of directors of several not-for-profit organizations focused on economic and employment development. He holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Marquette University.
He currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Catherine Cook School Board of Trustees and is the past Chair. Dave is also a proud Alumni parent of four children.
Flavio Arana, Secretary
Flavio Arana is Founding Partner of Meridian Psychiatric Partners, LLC, a multidisciplinary mental health private practice group with offices in Chicago, Evanston, and Lake Forest. He earned his medical degree from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and completed his psychiatry residency at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where he also served as Chief Resident. Flavio specializes in perinatal psychiatry, the care of women with mental health issues before, during, and after pregnancy.
Flavio has been a member of the Annual Giving Campaign Cabinet and served as co-chair from 2015-2017. He has been an active member on the Diversity Committee and also served as a Room Parent.
Flavio and his partner, Matthew, live in Lakeview with their two sons.
Karen Dahlquist, Treasurer
Karen Dahlquist is a Senior Vice President in the Healthcare Commercial Banking team at Capital One. She oversees a team that underwrites loans for acquisitions and leveraged buyouts and manages a portfolio of healthcare companies across the United States with loans that total over $1.0 Billion in aggregate commitments. Karen has over 20 years of financial experience in underwriting and risk management for loan portfolios in diverse industries and in various investment structures. Before joining Capital One’s Heathcare team, Karen previously led teams at GE Antares Capital and Heller Financial specializing in commercial lending to middle market companies in conjunction with transactions for private equity and institutional investors.
At Capital One, Karen is a co-lead for the Chicago Chapter of the Women's Business Resource Group, EmpowHER. The EmpowHER organization promotes recruitment, retention and advancement of women at Capital One and beyond through events, programming and networking opportunities. Karen is also a member of Capital One’s Asian Business Resource Group, Origins, which is focused on growing and developing Asian leaders, as well as facilitating a corporate culture that promotes diversity, inclusion and belonging.
Karen earned her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, with concentrations in Finance and Management & Strategy. She also holds a bachelor of science degree in finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Karen and her husband, David, live in Lakeview with their three daughters, two current students and one Alumni.
Tom Valentine, At-Large
Tom Valentine is Vice President of the International Group of YMCA of the USA. Tom leads Y-USA efforts to strengthen collaboration between the US and the global YMCA movements with a presence in 120 countries. This includes efforts to strengthen US YMCA engagement with newcomer-immigrant communities in the US, the coordination of financial and technical support for international YMCA partners, the organization of global Youth-Led Solutions Summits and the mobilization of philanthropic support for global YMCA youth and community initiatives aimed at advancing progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Tom joined the International Group of YMCA of the USA in 1996. Tom has over 30 years of international development experience in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. He has extensive experience leading and/or managing collaboration with a wide range of YMCA partners including the United Nations, United States Agency for International Development, AmeriCorps/VISTA, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Knight Foundation, Margaret Cargill Philanthropies, Delta Air Lines, Viacom, Salesforce, the Sierra Club and Wells Fargo. Prior to coming to the YMCA, Tom worked with Catholic Relief Services in Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi. Tom holds a Masters’ Degree in International Development from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from Georgetown University. Tom speaks French, Spanish, Amharic, Arabic and Kiswahili.
- Ellen Best
- Carrie Cochran Cohen
- Janeen Hayward
- Alanna Higgins Joyce
- Jordan Kass
- Ellen Kellogg
- Roger Liew
- Julian Perlmutter
- Daniel Ryan
- Bhavan Suri
- Julia Vermylen
Ellen Best is the CEO at Eire Direct Marketing, LLC in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Ellen founded Eire in 1997 and is proud to be a certified Women’s Business Enterprise organization. The team at Eire has the expertise to meet any marketing objective to grow their clients’ businesses – from strategy development and communication planning to customer engagement and implementation – focusing on customer and stakeholder behavior to deliver results.
Ellen began her career at Wunderman Worldwide and directed client services for national brands, some of which continue to be clients at Eire today. She is successful at marketing to businesses and consumers for clients like the American Bar Association, American Dental Association, BP North America, ComEd, FleetCor Technologies, The Morton Arboretum, and Nicor Gas. Ellen is an active member and currently the Director of Fund Development for the Women’s Energy Network, supporting STEM education for our Chicago youth.
For Catherine Cook, Ellen serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, and is a member of the Marketing Committee, responsible for working with the school’s administrative team on branding, admission, and community engagement. She is also co-chair of the Trustee Nominating Committee.
Ellen lives in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood with her husband Greg and son Christopher, who is a proud Alumnus of Catherine Cook.
Carrie Cochran Cohen
Carrie Cochran Cohen is an Account Executive at A&E Networks where she works with agencies and clients on linear and digital media campaigns. Prior to joining A&E Networks, she spent 10 years working at Viacom in their New York and Chicago offices. During her career, Carrie has also been employed at Everyday Health and POPSUGAR and helped launch Kin Community’s ad sales office in NYC.
For Catherine Cook, Carrie has served as Co-Chair of the Annual Gala as well as Co-Chair of the Community Cares Committee. She has also participated in Catherine Cook’s Ambassador program and acted as a Room Parent for the past several years.
Carrie received her B.S. in Advertising from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and resides in Lincoln Park with her husband, Josh, and two daughters, Emilia and Charlotte, who attend Catherine Cook.
Janeen Hayward is the Founder of Swellbeing, Inc., a parenting consultancy helping parents nurture happy, healthy children and families. Her work is grounded in child development, interpersonal neurobiology and a whole child perspective. She cares deeply about emotional wellbeing and has a strong interest in social-emotional learning as a best practice to help children flourish.
Janeen holds two BA degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MA in clinical psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. Janeen’s background includes community-based trauma work, school-based therapy and private practice consultation on a range of child-development related issues. Janeen also partners with corporations large and small to provide workplace wellness programming.
Janeen has been active in the Catherine Cook Parent Association since joining the community in 2013. She has served as co-chair on both the Parent Education Committee and the Community Cares Committee, as well as serving as the Parent Association Executive Committee Treasurer. She and her husband live in Old Town with their daughters; her eldest is a proud alumna of Catherine Cook and her youngest is a current middle school student.
Alanna Higgins Joyce
Dr. Alanna Higgins Joyce is an attending pediatrician at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, caring for hospitalized children and newborns. She is also Clerkship Director in Pediatrics where she oversees medical student programming and assessment. In this role Alanna works with faculty, staff and administration across several institutions for the training of medical students in patient care settings. Alanna is an Associate Professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; she has published and spoken nationally in the areas of medical education, faculty feedback, and curriculum development.
Alanna holds an MD and an MPH from Tulane University and completed residency training in Pediatrics at the former Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. A proud Teach For America New York City alumna, she has a Master of Science in Teaching and experience teaching middle-school science. Alanna earned her bachelor’s degree in cognitive science from Northwestern University.
Alanna is a lifelong ballet dancer and lives in the Ravenswood neighborhood with her husband Tim and three sons, two of whom attend Catherine Cook.
As President of Managed Services, Jordan has global responsibility for C.H. Robinson’s logistics management and technology services. After joining C.H. Robinson through an acquisition, Jordan led a team that collaborated with some of the world’s most forward thinking shippers to pioneer C.H. Robinson’s technology and services division digitally connecting shippers to their carriers and supply chain trading partners. Under Jordan’s leadership, this division has grown into a global business managing $3.6B in freight accross 170 different countries. Jordan is a proud alumnus of Indiana University, and has worked at C.H. Robinson for 20+ years. Jordan lives in Buck town with his Wife Stacia and their three children.
Ellen Kellogg is a Founding Partner and Chief Strategy Officer for Nyssa Care, a women’s wellbeing company based in Chicago, IL. Her work for Nyssa involves connecting the dots between consumer, brand, and business objectives in order to architect and execute the company's growth plans as an emerging consumer goods and content brand. She started her career in investment banking and transitioned to brand management after business school. She spent 5 years at the Wrigley/Mars company managing brands and portfolio strategy across the Candy Confections and Gum businesses. Afterwards, she transitioned to a brand design agency where she led innovation and growth strategy projects for both emerging and legacy brands.
Ellen earned her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University with a concentration in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT.
She brings marketing, brand, and strategic growth expertise to the Catherine Cook Board of Trustees as well as the Cook school spirit of her two children, Meryl and Charlie. Her husband Nat is an active member of Catherine Cook's Annual Giving Campaign Cabinet. They live in Roscoe Village.
Roger Liew is the CTO of ShopRunner, a membership program providing millions of members with free 2-day shipping from America’s top retailers.
Previously, Roger spent 15 years in the travel industry. He served as Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Orbitz from 2010 until its acquisition by Expedia in 2015. As Orbitz CTO, he led global engineering and customer service. He rejoined Orbitz in 2009 as Group Manager of the Intelligent Marketplace, establishing the machine learning and big data teams. From 2004 – 2008, Roger was a cofounder and CTO of G2 SwitchWorks, a venture-funded travel technology company, that provided the first alternative distribution network for airline tickets.
Roger was the first software developer of Orbitz and co-led the development team to 90 software engineers from 2000 to 2004. His early career experience ranged from developing software for cell phones at Motorola to leading the development of the first web presences for Cars.com and Victoria’s Secret while at web consulting company, Neoglyphics.
Roger serves as an advisor to kCura, MediaMath and Journera. He is a founding member of the Illinois Tech Computer Science Advisory Committee since 2010, a mentor at Impact Engine, and is a Trustee of the Catherine Cook School.
Roger studied Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Chicago. He lives with his wife, Suzie, and two children in Chicago.
Julian Perlmutter, Global Portfolio Manager of listed real estate strategies, joined Brookfield Asset Management in 2012. Prior to Brookfield he served in a similar capacity at Cohen & Steers Capital management in New York and Hong Kong, as well as Co-head of Morningstar’s US real estate research platform. Julian currently serves on the Catherine Cook Board of Trustees Finance and Real Estate committees.
Julian received a B.B.A in finance from Loyola University of Chicago in 2003, and was awarded the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 2007. Julian lives in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood with his wife Monique, two children who both attend Catherine Cook, as well as a boisterous Dachshund.
Daniel Ryan has been an educational leader in the Chicago area for over 30 years, having worked in both public and private schools throughout the city. He has served as the Director of Baker Demonstration School in Evanston, the Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Winnetka, as an elementary school principal in Hinsdale, and the Head of the Pre K- 2 Division of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. In addition, he was the Founder of the Children’s School of Oak Park, an independent K-8 school. In the early part of his career he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. These experiences have informed his work as an educator, focused on honoring student voice, diversity, and curricular relevance. Daniel holds a B.A. in Education from the University of Michigan, an M.Ed. from Harvard University, and a Doctorate in Educational Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Daniel lives in the Uptown Neighborhood of Chicago with his husband. Their daughter, Miranda, is a middle school special education teacher in Park Ridge and their son, Macario, lives in Los Angeles and is attending Santa Monica College.
Bhavan Suri, partner, co-group head–technology, media, and communications sector, joined William Blair & Company in 2007 and specializes in the IT services and enterprise software industries. Previously, he worked in venture capital and early-stage-technology commercialization. Before joining the financial services industry, he co-founded and managed a Boston-based enterprise software company. Before that, Mr. Suri was a director at AnswerThink, an IT services firm that specialized in systems integration and enterprise software implementation. Mr. Suri won an award in the Financial Times/StarMine “World’s Top Analysts” listing as the No. 1 stock-picker in IT services in 2010. He received a B.Sc. in physics from Brown University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Dr. Julia Vermylen is a practicing physician that specializes in palliative care and is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University. In addition to her clinical work with patients, she leads a variety of initiatives across the Northwestern Medical School system, notably serving as the co-lead of Northwestern’s Simulation Program in Healthcare Communication to help doctors have difficult conversations with patients and their families; as the System Director of the Scholars of Wellness Program to transform clinician well-being; as Director of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability efforts for the Section of Palliative Care; and as core faculty for the residency program in internal medicine where she focuses on addressing resident well-being. Her work has been recognized as the recipient of the American Medical Association Inspiration Award (2021). Julia completed her medical training at Northwestern University, including a residency in internal medicine, in which she was elected Chief Resident, and a fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. She holds an MD and Masters in Public Health from Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Bachelors of Science degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering from Duke University.
At Catherine Cook, Julia has served on the Parent Education subcommittee of the Parent Association and as a leader of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. Julia and her husband, David, live in North Center along with their three children, who are current students at Catherine Cook.