ABOUTINSPIRING DISTRICT 97 KIDS FOR 30+ YEARS
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
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 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.
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.
Architecture Adventure Coordinator
Maya Bird-Murphy has been a designer at several award-winning architecture firms and is the founder of Chicago Mobile Makers, a nonprofit organization that offers accessible design workshops for Chicago Area youth. Maya believes architecture should not be a privilege and must expand to accommodate more people through teaching and community engagement. Maya holds a Bachelor and Master degree in Architecture and is a 2018 Jason Pettigrew Memorial ARE Scholarship Recipient and AIGA Design+Diversity Fellow.
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.
Anne Doherty is an experienced finance and marketing professional. Having managed operations from both sides of the table, her skills in problem solving, communication, and organizational efficiencies bring solid synergies to our team. She has an Accounting degree from DePaul University and an Executive MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.She has been a resident of Oak Park for over 20 years. Within the community, Anne has been a supporting member of her PTO’s, both in active and passive roles. She lives with her husband, two sons and a daughter.
Science Alliance Co-Coordinator
Raised on a grape farm in rural New York Heather Guido has a lifelong interest in agriculture and science. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Syracuse University. Heather volunteers with the Cook County Forest Preserves at Trailside Museum, with the Oak Park Conservatory and as the Hatch Patch volunteer coordinator. At Hatch she brings science to the students when they visit the garden during harvest and again at planting time in the spring. She also brings enrichment activities into the classrooms when teachers request. She especially enjoys showing students how to be citizen scientists and has shown students the Journey North Monarch tagging project and tulip test garden project. Heather lives in Oak Park with her husband and two sons.
BASE Camp Co-Director
Angie Hawkins, a 13-year veteran art teacher, worked primarily at Burnham Elementary School in Cicero. In addition to teaching, she collaborated with colleagues on various committees aimed at using data analysis to increase student achievement and parent involvement. She also brings several summers of experience working in a north suburban park district as a camp coordinator providing a safe and fun outdoor learning environment for children of all age ranges. Angie holds a BFA in Art Education from Michigan State University as well as a Master of Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois.
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.
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.”
VEX Robotics Coordinator
Michele McAndrews lives in Oak Park with her husband and three teenage children. For the past 15 years Michele has been an active volunteer in the Oak Park community including serving on the Board of Pilgrim Nursery School, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Vex Robotics Parent Mentor. Michele also has run Brooks Middle School’s primary PTO fundraiser since 2013. Before moving to Oak Park, Michele had a successful career in Management and Customer Service.
BASE Camp Co-Director
Amy Struckmeyer worked in the field of architecture for more than a decade, taking on many design and management roles. She has been active in the Irving PTO, developing and growing their relatively new after-school enrichment program. From programming and establishing a budget to facilitating enrollment and managing day-to-day operations, she was involved in overseeing all aspects of the now thriving program. Amy earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Master’s of Architecture from the University of Washington in Seattle. Amy and her husband, Jim, have lived in Oak Park since 2000. Their two children attend District 97 schools and have enjoyed many BASE Camp experiences.
Amanda H Young
Marketing and Communications Manager
Amanda Young is a strategic marketing professional who started her career in advertising, went on to provide marketing and business development services to architecture and engineering firms before getting into education. She worked on communications and planned fundraising events for Perspectives Charter Schools, served on the Local School Council for The Nettlehorst School in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, and has volunteered and taught after school programs with Mann Elementary school. She’s an active member of the Rotary Club of Oak Park-River Forest. Amanda earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Iowa and her MBA in Nonprofit Management from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She lives in Oak Park with her husband Rick and two children.
OPEF IS GOVERNED AND MANAGED BY A VOLUNTEER BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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 Steve Miller here.
YEAR AT A GLANCE
2017-2018 SCHOOL YEAR
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.
- 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