Board of Directors

Natalie Weiss

Ms. Natalie Weiss

Executive Director, Open Books, Board Chairperson

Ms. Natalie Weiss is the Executive Director for Open Books, a nonprofit social venture that operates an extraordinary bookstore, provides community programs and mobilizes passionate volunteers to promote literacy in Chicago and beyond. Ms. Weiss previously served as the Chief Operating Officer and Director of School Supports for the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) where she worked to improve the quality of education throughout Illinois by providing statewide advocacy, increased public awareness and essential school support services for charter schools. Ms. Weiss went to INCS through a fellowship program with NewSchools Venture Fund where she had been a Senior Analyst. Ms. Weiss began her career as an Analyst at the consulting firm Cornerstone Research. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Weiss is the Chairperson of the Lighthouse Academies Board of Directors.

Ken Blacklow

Mr. Ken Blacklow

Partner, The Cue Group

Mr. Ken Blacklow is a Partner at the Cue Group, a management consulting firm that provides strategic consulting services to entities that work with emerging communities.  Mr. Blacklow focuses on strategy, training and organizational development.  Prior to joining the Cue Group, he was the Chief Operating Officer and 4XL Program Director for Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a non-profit organization, whose mission is to increase the presence of minorities in leading entry-level business careers and major graduate business schools as preparation for leadership positions in corporations, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurial ventures.  In his role at MLT, he was responsible for growing the organization ten-fold over 4 years.

Prior to joining MLT, Mr. Blacklow worked in the private, public and non-profit sectors both domestically and internationally including the NBA Japan and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  He is a founding board member of the Bronx Lighthouse Charter School (BLCS), the first school in the LHA network, where he continues to serve.  He received his Master of Public Administration degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and his undergraduate degree from Harvard University. He loves sports, travel, wine tasting, photography and spending time with his family.  Mr. Blacklow is the Secretary of the Board of Directors.

James Catterall 2

Mr. James S. Catterall Ph.D.

Co-Principal Investigator, Centers for Research on Creativity

Mr. James S. Catterall is Co-Principal Investigator at Centers for Research on Creativity (CRoC).  He is a Professor Emeritus at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Informational Studies where he has served on the curriculum and education policy faculty from 1981 to 2012.  He served as Director of Imagination Group, a collaboration group of academics, students, teachers and art professionals interested in learning through the arts.

Mr. Catterall’s research focuses on the roles of the arts in human development, with an emphasis on basic roles of imagery in cognition and on arts-related instructional and curriculum policies impacting teaching and learning.  He is nationally known for works related to children at risk, and in recent years for his studies examining the influences of participation in the arts and learning development.  Mr. Catterall also served as director of multi-year evaluation of the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, a program which pairs artists and teachers for interdisciplinary teaching.  Reports of his longitudinal studies and the CAPE research can be found in the Champions of Change volume available on the Arts Education Partnership website.  Mr. Catterall holds a Ph.D. in Education from Stanford University, an M.A. in public policy from the University of Minnesota, and an B.A. with honors in economics from Princeton University.

Joy Collins

Ms. Joy Profet

General Manager, Essence Communications, Inc.

Ms. Joy Profet is the General Manager of Essence Communications, Inc., overseeing the brand’s strategic, financial, and administrative functions.  Her work at Essence is focused primarily on creating revenue growth strategies across all media platforms and identifying and entering new businesses. Prior to joining Essence, Ms. Profet was Vice President of Business Development for NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies. Prior to joining NBC, she was an Associate in JP Morgan’s Investment Banking Division, where she focused on serving media clients in the field of mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, equity and debt offerings and capital maximization strategies.

Ms. Profet is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in Business Economics, where she received the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholarship. She also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Harvard Business School. She is a recipient of The Network Journal’s 40 Under-Forty Achievement Award (2010); the Women United in Philanthropy’s Woman of Excellence and Achievement Award (2011); and the Uptown Summer Classics Hearts in the Streets, Inc Award (2011). She formally sat on the board for the Bronx Lighthouse Charter School and has also served as Community Service Chairwoman for the Seven Roses Legacy Foundation. She is an active member of the Jackie Robinson Foundation Alumni Association, HBS’ African-American Alumni Assoc., the HBS Alumni Club of New York, UCLA Alumni Assoc., Sponsors for Educational Opportunity Alumni Assoc., and the LEAD Program in Business.

April Ervin smlr

Ms. April L. Ervin

Managing Principal, Ervin Consulting Services

Ms. April Ervin is the founder and Managing Principal of Ervin Consulting Services, Inc. – a comprehensive education and management consulting firm that partners with its clients to hone their strategic focus and build the organizational capacity necessary to achieve their mission at an optimal level. ECS is a mission-driven for profit dedicated to supporting organizations develop clear strategies, leadership, cultures and structures – with effective human capital management as the pivotal impetus for sustainable change. Ms. Ervin possesses 20 years of a diverse set of experiences with an extensive background in both the public and private sectors. Spending the initial portion of her career in the private sector, a life changing experience prompted her to merge her personal passion for the welfare of children into her professional career – through impacting the quality of public education. As a result in 2001, she established Ervin Consulting Services.

Prior to her current role, Ms. Ervin served as the Executive Director of New Leaders for New Schools – a national non-profit organization dedicated towards developing high quality school leaders focused on driving dramatic increases in student achievement. In this role, Ms. Ervin oversaw the strategic and operational execution of the organizations’ largest program site with an annual budget of $3.5 million, 20 staff members and successfully oversaw the training and development of more than 100 school administrators. Additionally, she served as a senior consultant with a global human capital consulting firm providing management consulting services to Fortune 500 companies. She compliments her education and non-profit experience with project-based experience in the transportation, financial, energy and communication sectors. Ms. Ervin received a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Michigan and Bachelors Degree in Communications from Northwestern University.

David Hoffman

Mr. David Hoffman

Professor of Law, Beasley School of Law at Temple University

Mr. David Hoffman is a Professor of Law at the Beasley School of Law at Temple University.  Mr. Hoffman has been teaching corporate and contract law for more than six years.  He has written over dozen published articles in the fields of the empirical analysis of law, corporations, and the psychological aspects of legal rules.  Mr. Hoffman holds a B.A. in Archaeology and History from Yale University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.  Mr. Hoffman is the Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors.

Elizabeth Holland

Ms. Elizabeth Holland

CEO, Abbell Credit Corporation

Ms. Elizabeth Holland is the Chief Executive Officer of Abbell Credit Corporation, a sixty-year old private real estate investment, development and management company with an approximately 2 million/sf portfolio, comprised of shopping center, office, and enclosed mall properties.  She is responsible for overseeing all business and legal matters, including development, financing, leasing, capital improvements, and investor and tenant relations.  Ms. Holland is active in the International Council of Shopping Centers, currently serving as a Member of the Board of Trustees and as Central Division Vice President.  Other Board memberships include Vice Chair Development Partners of Uptown United; Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI); and 1,000 Friends of Iowa.  Ms. Holland holds a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School and a B.A. from Hamilton College.

Khori Whittaker

Mr. Khori Whittaker

President and Chief Executive Officer, Lighthouse Academies, Inc.

Mr. Whittaker started his career as a fifth grade teacher in Long Beach, California through the Teach for America movement. He was an early employee at InsideTrack, Inc. working to improve college access and completion for students across the country. Mr. Whittaker led recruiting at InsideTrack during a critical growth phase and led InsideTrack’s Community College Impact Initiative team, successfully launching, for the first time, unique student coaching and train-the-trainer programs in two states and ten college campuses. He also served as Assistant Director for Undergraduate Admission at Stanford University. Prior to joining Lighthouse Academies, Mr. Whittaker launched and led the grassroots and community engagement team at the Foundation for Florida’s Future. He serves on the board of directors of Global Glimpse, Inc. and the advisory board of the Drug Free America Foundation. Mr. Whittaker earned a BA in Economics from Princeton University and a MA in Political Science from California State University, Long Beach.