Keith Palz began his educational career as a science teacher and quickly became passionate about the student experience. During his decade in the classroom, he focused on planning engaging, inquiry-based projects that embedded relevant content.
As a former instructional coach, network director of STEM, executive director of School Transformation, and principal, Keith brings a wealth of experience to ChiTech. He has participated in the Next Generation Learning Challenge, where he worked with teams to reimagine the school experience for two schools. As a school leader, he continues to focus on his personal development, as well as professional development opportunities available to his faculty and staff.
As an advocate for our students, Keith is always looking for ways to improve on current curricular practices, leverage our limited time with students, and innovate with the use of available technology.
Mr. Palz holds a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York, as well as a master’s degree in secondary education from Canisius College, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Chicago State University.
Tiara WheatleyAssistant Principal
Tiara joined ChiTech in 2011 after a successful career in corporate retail management. After exploring different career options, Tiara realized that her passion was working with Chicago’s youth. In 2011, while exploring different career options, Tiara found an amazing opportunity at Chicago Tech Academy. It was there that she began her career and her lifelong mission to make an impact on the lives of Chicago’s most deserving students.
Through her work at ChiTech Tiara has become a strong advocate of advancing the opportunities for young women and minorities in the field of technology. Through a number of volunteer opportunities, Tiara is actively working to bring opportunities and awareness to the amazing work of the students at Chicago Tech Academy.
It was during her first year at Chicago Tech Academy that she founded the Young Women’s Leadership Society. The Young Women’s Leadership Society (YWLS) is focused on introducing ChiTech’s young women to strong, successful females. YWLS examines stereotypes, explores the development of healthy relationships, and fosters the skills necessary for the cultivation of valuable professional networks.
Tiara is also the creator of and brains behind the annual Little Black Dress Night (LBDN). LBDN bringing together Chicago’s female (and male) tech community and celebrates women who are recognized as emerging women in tech and whose efforts are turning the tech industry on its heels and challenging the status quo! In 2019 Little Black Dress Night will host its 5th annual event.
Tiara is a Chicago native and a proud product of the Chicago Public School system herself. Tiara completed her undergraduate degree in Business Management at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and recently received her Master’s Degree in Educational Policy Studies from UIC as well. In her free time she enjoys baking, shopping, blogging and spending time with her parents, four sisters and two nieces.
Board of Directors
Terry HowertonCoFounder & Chairman
Terry Howerton is an entrepreneur who started his first business in high school and has spent a career starting and leading ventures, mentoring other entrepreneurs and building organizations.
Howerton was cofounder and founding chairman of Chicago Tech Academy.
He is the CEO of TechNexus, a venture development firm with a unique, collaborative model for leading corporations to engage with the global entrepreneurial ecosystem, and one of the most active early-stage investors in the country. Howerton also founded ITA, the Chicago tech industry association that serves thousands or growth stage technology companies, more than 100 of which were instrumental in the creation of Chicago Tech Academy.
Sandy Lourie chairs the Corporate and Securities Group at Barack Ferrazzano law firm in Chicago and concentrates his practice in general corporate, technology and international law matters. Sandy has over 30 years’ experience working with domestic and foreign high tech businesses and university spin-offs. He has also been active with a number of non-profit and benefit corporations in the arts, technology and education fields. Sandy is a graduate of Duke University and The University of Chicago.
Betsy was most recently the Chief Financial Officer of Perspectives Charter Schools, an open enrollment public charter school network which serves 2,000 low income students in grades 6 through 12. She currently devotes her time to supporting Chicago non-profits in financial sustainability, building accounting capacity and strategic initiatives. Prior to her move to the not-for profit arena, Ms. Young had a long career in energy and project finance and portfolio management. She co-founded and was the Chief Financial Officer in a new renewable energy company formed to consolidate ownership positions in U.S. renewable energy assets. Ms. Young researched market strategies, developed the business plan and raised over $2.0 million in start-up funding. She structured a multi-asset portfolio acquisition and successfully negotiated the purchase agreement for $150 million in U.S. wind assets.
Young began her career at as an auditor with Arthur Anderson & Co, and moved on to The Deerpath Group, Inc., where as Vice President, she advised institutional equity investors in more than US$3.0 billion in project finance, real estate and leverage lease investments.
At Allstate Insurance Company, Ms. Young was instrumental in the growth over three years of its portfolio finance unit from US$125 million to more than US$700 million. She originated, negotiated and structured a variety of investments which ranged from venture capital to rated senior debt as well as developing and implementing credit, due diligence and portfolio management procedures. As Senior Portfolio Manager, Public High Yield, Young coordinated and directed external management of Allstate’s US$1.0 billion high yield portfolio. Her energy asset management skills were further developed at Heller Financial and General Electric Capital Corporation where Ms. Young originated, structured and underwrote cash flow, asset-based and project loans for energy-related companies. Young also designed and implemented comprehensive asset and portfolio management policies and procedures for the $250 million portfolio.
Following her career as a portfolio manager, Young transitioned from her investor/lender role into clean energy asset management. Working with global renewable energy companies, she designed and implemented centralized and integrated asset management processes to support rapid growth of their North American renewable energy businesses in solar and wind energy generation
Ms. Young served as the board advisor for the Lost Lake Utility District on its water and wastewater system acquisition in 2006. In this capacity, she conducted all due diligence and financial analysis, structured the purchase from the court appointed receiver, arranged $2.24 million bond financing and negotiated a multi-year compliance waiver with the Illinois EPA. The Lost Lake Utility District continues to successfully operate as a community owned utility.
Ms. Young holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and has previously served in various capacities for the CFA Society of Chicago, including as Board Member and Treasurer. She also passed the Illinois CPA exam but no longer practices as a Certified Public Accountant. She is a partner with Social Venture Partners-Chicago, an organization supporting and promoting engaged philanthropy.
Ms. Young received her Bachelor of Science, Accountancy & Computer Science from Northern Illinois University and earned a Master of Business Administration with Honors from the University of Chicago. She also recently completed a Professional Certificate in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations from Northwestern University and has completed the Southside Arts and Humanities Network’s Nonprofit Board Leadership Development Program.
Colleen D. EganBoard Member
Colleen D. Egan started her career in nursing, but her deep thirst for knowledge into the wonders of technology, led her to pursue that passion. She was a founder and COO of the award winning digital media company, 212 Degrees, and continued her career in executive leadership roles with diverse companies such as ZULA, the first 3D-CGI STEM children’s education television show, and Akoo International, the largest digital out-of-home network in the country. As the founder and CEO of Tiger Puppet Studios, she consulted with technology start-ups in various stages of growth and most recently she was a Director at technology consulting leader, Clarity Partners. Colleen is a founding member of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Institute at DePaul University and was the 2018 Illinois Technology Association’s Prominent Woman in Tech. She has also been awarded “Woman of M2M/IoT” by Connected World and has been recognized as a Crain’s Chicago Business Notable LGBTQ executive in 2018 and 2019. Colleen is a mentor with several organizations and speaks regularly on topics including, women in tech, diversity, equity, and inclusion and LGBTQ issues.
Steve ShepherdBoard Member
Steve Shepherd is the Regional Vice President of SuccessFactors for the Midwest Region at SAP.In his role, Steve leads the SuccessFactors sales organization and is responsible for managing every aspect of the SuccessFactors business for the Midwest region.
He has over 25 years of success driving technology and business change in the Enterprise Application Market with proven success in setting and executing on a vision and business plan. Specializing in building a high-performance, customer-centric culture that consistently delivers outstanding results and grows market share. Proven track record of optimizing business operations to enable effective sales, services, solution development and go-to-market strategies while driving high customer satisfaction.
Kevin SteeleBoard Member
As Chief Information Officer at the National Restaurant Association, Steele leads the association’s technology organization focused on oversite and delivery of technical capabilities. He is responsible for digital platforms, applications, and infrastructure that support the association’s mission and business interests. Additionally, he is a strategic advisor on cybersecurity and technology related trends affecting the restaurant industry. Kevin began his career as a programmer at United Airlines Inc., where he also worked summer internships throughout his college tenure in the UA data center. He has progressed upward through a series of technology and leadership positions with some of Chicago’s most prestigious companies like McDonald’s Corp., CNA Insurance, Allstate Insurance and most recently Cars.com as Chief Technology Officer. Throughout his career Kevin has successfully applied technology as a business enabler, improved IT productivity, and has enjoyed the privilege of building and leading exceptional high performing teams. Kevin graduated from Southern Illinois University with a B.S. in Applied Technical Studies.
Brenda Darden WilkersonBoard Member
Brenda Darden Wilkerson is an advocate for access, opportunity, and social justice for underrepresented communities in technology. She currently serves as
the President and CEO of AnitaB.org, an organization working to shape public opinion about issues of critical importance to women technologists in academia, industry, and government. She founded the original Computer Science for All program, building computer science classes into the curriculum for every student in the Chicago Public Schools, and serving as the inspiration for the Obama administration’s national CS4All initiatives.
Ryan PollockBoard Member
Ryan Pollock is the founder and a managing partner of Objective Paradigm, an IT recruiting firm and Talution Group, an IT staffing firm. He has 20 years of experience working with clients in consulting, emerging technology, startups, trading firms and hedge funds. Ryan is passionate about business development and is the central catalyst for both company’s growth, identifying and developing business opportunities for RPO, direct hire and staffing offerings. He is continually recognized by both his clients, peers, and candidates as a dedicated professional with a level of persistence unmatched even in the highly competitive IT search arena. Ryan is a founder of T4Youth, an annual charity table tennis tournament that raises money for the Chicago Tech Academy. He is a graduate of the Janice Levin School of Business at Rutgers University and holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.
Tracy McCarthyBoard Member
Tracy brings 25 years of human resources and business leadership experience in private equity backed technology firms and Fortune 500 companies. As Executive Vice President of Human Resources at SAVO, Tracy leads the company’s people strategies. Tracy is passionate about lifelong learning and enabling companies to succeed through building outstanding organizational cultures, ensuring high employee engagement and developing and connecting people. Prior to SAVO, Tracy was the Chief Human Resource Officer at SilkRoad Technology, a global talent management SaaS firm. Additionally, her career encompasses human resources leadership positions at Lakeview Technology (now Vision Solutions), Corporate Express (now Staples), and Dayton-Hudson Corporation (now Target Corporation). Tracy holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Human Resource Development and Psychology, and a Master’s degree from Benedictine University in Management and Organizational Behavior. Tracy holds several HR certifications and is the chair of the Human Resource Management Association of Chicago’s eLearning committee. One of Tracy’s personal passions is giving back to the community.
Chicago Tech Academy Board of Directors’ 2020 Meeting Schedule