To bring hands-on STEAM opportunities to youth that inspire a life-long love of learning



To develop and support programs that embody these guiding principles:

Equity and inclusion

A sense of belonging


Real-world Connections


Community Engagement




Every child served by OPEF has the opportunity to explore curiosities, dream big and find their passion and purpose in life.


Tracy Dell'Angela Barber

Tracy Dell'Angela Barber

Executive Director

Tracy Dell’Angela Barber comes to OPEF after serving as a founding director and managing editor at Education Post, a nonprofit education communications organization. Previously, Tracy was Director of Outreach and Communications for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C. She came to IES from the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research, which conducts research that drives improvement in Chicago and nationwide. Tracy spent her early career as an award-winning newspaper journalist, including 12 years at the Chicago Tribune as an education reporter covering national education policy and the Chicago Public Schools. Tracy has strong and lasting ties to the Oak Park community as a parent, school and community volunteer, and the spouse of a former D97 School Board President.

Latonia Baker

Latonia Baker

Programs Director

Latonia Baker has over 18 years of professional experience in education programs and operations. Before joining the OPEF team, she served as a Regional Operations Manager for iD Tech Camps where she managed a variety of STEAM programs for children ages 7 – 18. Prior to that, Latonia worked as an adjunct professor at the American Academy of Art teaching and creating curriculum for the Visual Studies department. She also ran a digital design firm that focused on creating 3D computer models and graphics for architecture and construction businesses. Latonia loves serving as a volunteer basketball coach and mentor for the girl’s youth feeder teams in Hoffman Estates, IL.

Seth Baker

Seth Baker

Science Alliance Co-Coordinator

Seth Baker has been teaching in District 97 since 1994. During his career he has taught students from 3rd – 8th grade. He has participated in Science Alliance as a teacher partner since 1994, and began coordinating the Science Alliance program in 2005. A Golden Apple recipient, he has earned degrees in biology, education, as well as a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. He lives in Oak Park with his three children, and his wife who also teaches in District 97.

Karen Daily

Karen Daily

Director of Development

Karen Daily is a seasoned fundraising professional with more than ten years of experience working on education-related development campaigns. Most recently, as Advancement Specialist for Pillars Community Services, she helped coordinate the social service agency’s largest fundraiser, recruiting, placing and overseeing volunteers. Karen earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Illinois. She lives in Oak Park with her husband and two sons.

Joel Javier

Joel Javier

Arts Coordinator (Art Start & Spoken Word)

Joel Javier is an accomplished artist, educator and education program manager. With over 15 years of experience in the museum and art education field, he has a passion for mentoring youth and integrating art into school curriculum.  Previously, Joel administered and facilitated education programming at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Smart Museum of Art and most recently as Education Manager at Intuit: Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, where he was instrumental in expanding public programming and advancing an award-winning fellowship program for Chicago Public School teachers. Joel earned his MA in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and BFA from Murray State University. A D97 parent, Joel can be spotted riding his bike through town or making mixed media paintings for exhibitions and collections.

Gretchen Junker

Gretchen Junker

Geared Up Coordinator, Julian VEX Robotics Coach

Gretchen Junker is the community member who proposed Geared Up to the Oak Park Education Foundation during our Call for Ideas to the community in May, 2008. She is the parent of 3 young boys and has lived in Oak Park for 3 years. Gretchen has a B.A. in Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington. “Geared Up shows kids that science (and school) can be fun,” she says. “Our family has always had an interest in how things work, and that curiosity has managed to fuel our day-to-day life. For me, Geared Up is a natural extension of what my 3 sons and I have already incorporated into our ongoing family dialogue.”

Beth Sauers

Beth Sauers

Science Alliance Co-Coordinator

Beth Sauers is an experienced educator, having taught 7th  and 8th grade in Chicago Public Schools for eight years. She lives in Oak Park with her husband and three children. She has spent the last several years serving in several Board positions at Hatch Elementary and Glasser Preschool. She currently helps run the Hatch Patch and is Vice President of the Green Team.  She has a B.A. in Elementary Education and Psychology from the University of Iowa with endorsements in language arts, social science, and middle school.



Carrie Cotter

Carrie Cotter


Leslie Truelove

Leslie Truelove

Vice President

Bob Walicki

Bob Walicki



Board members establish policy, monitor finances, raise funds, and plan for the organization’s future. OPEF also has an Executive Director and additional staff who manage day-to-day operations. Together, the Board and staff play key roles in support of our free in-school programs through committee work, fundraising, and other activities. For more information about the Board, contact board president Carrie Cotter here.





Please feel free to view:

Recent Tax Filings:

Oak Park Education Foundation’s Non-Profit Bylaws


OPEF’s partners come in all shapes and sizes — from global corporations and charitable foundations to local businesses, school groups and philanthropic individuals. Every one of these partners is a valued and vital part of our community. We are grateful for their unique contributions to our mission — and their gifts of time, talent, and financial support.


  • Aria Group Architects
  • Art-Flo Screen Printing
  • Chapman and Cutler LLP
  • Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest
  • Forest Park National Bank and Trust
  • Lakeview Bus Lines, Inc.
  • Mathnasium
  • Montessori Language Academy
  • Oak Park Pediatrics
  • PMA Financial Network, Inc.
  • Precision Control Systems
  • Robbins Schwartz
  • Sassetti, LLC
  • STR Partners



  • Beye Elementary
  • Brooks Middle
  • Hatch Elementary
  • Holmes Elementary
  • Irving Elementary
  • Julian Middle
  • Lincoln Elementary
  • Longfellow Elementary
  • Mann Elementary
  • Whittier Elementary

Oak Park Teachers’ Association


  • Dart Foundation
  • The Driskill Foundation
  • Good Heart Work Smart
  • Manaaki Foundation
  • Oak Park Area Arts Council
  • Nineteenth Century Club


Jennifer and Joseph Abella
Deb and Tom Abrahamson
Jan Arnold and Mary Anderson
Michail and Yoko Avramov
Tracy Dell’Angela Barber and Peter Barber
Christine and Brian Bonomo
Bess and Candelario Celio
Brian Chang
Lisa Colpoys and Catherine Schneider
Matt and Marta Cote
Carrie and Matt Cotter
Karen and Brian Daily
Cathy and Whit Daily
Rupa Datta and Ravi Namana
Mark and Dawn Deaton
Kim Dell’Angela and Tom Baggio
Massimo DiPierro
Angie Dodd and Richard Mertz
Julia Faust
Ken Floody and Elizabeth Freebairn
Jack and Stephanie Flynn
Nora Flynn and Matthew Lynch
Molly and Matt Galo
Jim and Louise Gates
Wendy and David Giardina
Mitch Goldstein and Jill Kramer Goldstein
Clare and Adam Golla
Kristin and Mark Harris
Mary Beth and Phil Hausken
Tree and Brian Havener
Mike and Beth Hayes
Chris and JoAnne Heyer
Andrew Hoog and Chee-Young Kim
Ken and Patty Hunt
Lynn Kamenitsa and Jon Hale
Lisa and Brian Kitzman
Jamie Klobuchar and Laszlo Medgyesy
Liz Kovacs
Nancy and Jack Leavy
Camille Lilly
Nancy Lynn and Andy Teitelman
Julie and Paul Mann
David and Sheryl Martin
Kim and Gary McCullough
Bart Miller and Margaret Jeschke
Steve and Sarah Staszak Miller
Donna Myers and Aaron Lebovitz
Alan and Kathryn Nesburg
Marty and Mary Lou Noll
Emily and Ken Novak
Tom and Gwen O’Loughlin
Darla and John Patterson
Libbey and Michael Paul
Jane and Hank Pearsall
Perry and Diane Pero
Jeffrey and Joan Petertil
Jennifer Pikowski
Jeffrey Piper and Magda Kruszynska-Piper
John and Ethel Piper
Douglas Rainey and Toshiko Uchida
Rachel and Kyle Rettberg
Chris and Kelly Rogala
Monica and Ben Saydah
Ruth and Joel Schoenmeyer
Stephen and Mary Jo Schuler
Lisa and Jason Sensat
Pat and Silvia Shannon
Inga and Bob Simitz
Bob Spatz and Lisa Ginet
Patricia Staszak
Ted and Jennifer Staszak
Susan Tresselt
Rich and Katrina Vigsnes
Michael Wagner
Bob and Nan Walicki
Sally Wallace
David Weindling and Sherry Nordstrom
Andrew Wells
Audrey Williams-Lee and Byron Lee
Joan Winstein
Sara and Josh Yount
Milos Zefran and Barbara DiEugenio
Maura McMahon-Zeller and Steven Zeller

Peter Traczyk Innovation Fund

Former OPEF board member and District 97 board member Peter Traczyk was a remarkably effective community leader because he brought people together to find solutions that leave a positive and lasting impact on children. To honor this legacy, OPEF created the Peter Traczyk Innovation Fund, which provided seed funds for new OPEF initiatives in D97.
We were deeply honored to be entrusted with memorial gifts in Peter’s honor, and we used these donations to do what Peter always did — help Oak Park kids realize their fullest potential as curious, compassionate and purposeful human beings.
Fund recipient for 2015-2016: Spoken Word. Fund recipient for 2016-2017: In House Robotics League at Julian Middle School.  Fund recipient for 2017-2018: In House Robotics League at Brooks Middle School.
The original announcement of the Peter Traczyk fund can be found here.