debabrahamsonDeb Abrahamson announced today that she is retiring from the Oak Park Education Foundation (OPEF) after 19 years of service, more than 10 of which were spent as the organization’s first executive director. She will continue working for OPEF through December 2016 to aid with the transition in leadership.

“Deb has played an instrumental role in the dynamic growth that OPEF has experienced during the past two decades,” said OPEF Board President Lisa Kitzman. “On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to thank her for her tireless efforts, visionary leadership and passionate advocacy on behalf of the children of Oak Park. While we are incredibly sad to see her go, and wish her nothing but the best in her retirement, we are looking forward to building on the tremendous success we have enjoyed with Deb at the helm. We are committed to continuing to connect all students of District 97 to experts in the community for hands-on, real world experiences that get kids excited about learning.”

Abrahamson joined OPEF in 1998 as the program coordinator for Art Start, and was named the organization’s first executive director in 2006. Under her direction, OPEF has expanded its offerings from two to six free programs — VEX Robotics, Spoken Word, Science Alliance, Geared Up, Art Start and Architecture Adventure — that are delivered to more than 4,200 students each year. In 2010, OPEF launched BASE Camp to provide children with fun, educational enrichment during the summer and on school holidays. BASE Camp has grown from serving 130 kids when it was launched to an enrollment of nearly 2,000 kids last year. In addition, OPEF recently secured a three-year grant that led to a significant increase in the number of scholarships available to low-income students who are interested in taking part in the organization’s summer programming.

“I have loved my time with OPEF and am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had to work alongside individuals who share my love of learning and belief in the importance of education,” said Abrahamson. “While I am retiring from the organization in an official capacity, I plan to remain an active and involved supporter of its programs and the children they serve for years to come.”

The OPEF board of directors has formed a search committee comprised of board members and community leaders that will take the lead on finding Abrahamson’s successor. A job announcement for the position will be published in the days ahead.

Anyone who has questions, needs additional information or has feedback to share with the search committee is encouraged to contact Steve Miller at Also, the job description is available online.

The Oak Park Education Foundation is a 27-year-old, privately funded nonprofit bringing artists, architects, scientists, and technology experts into K-8th grade classrooms at every District 97 school. Its professional partners share their passion for learning while conducting free, hands-on residencies with more than 4,200 students each year. OPEF also runs fee-based BASE Camp, exceptional summer and school-holiday enrichment programs including a robust scholarship program for low-income students. More at