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Our Structure


The Board’s members and its Executive Director are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council.  Board members serve staggered 4 year terms without pay and are independent, and can be removed only for cause, with the written approval of remaining Board members.  The Board meets monthly and is staffed by seven full-time employees, including its Executive Director. 


The Board currently has 5 members (and currently two vacancies):


Stephen Beard  (2016) Chair

Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary to the Board, Heidrick & Struggles

Stephen Beard joined Heidrick & Struggles in 2003 as assistant general counsel. In 2006, Beard became Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, and has held the position of Executive Vice President since 2010. Prior to Heidrick & Struggles, Beard worked with Schiff Hardin, LLP, in Chicago where he was a member of the firm’s corporate and securities practice group, representing public and private companies in mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, securities and corporate governance matters. He began his legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable Frank Sullivan, Jr., Associate Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court. Beard was named a 2010 Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and included in Diversity MBA Magazine’s 2011 list of Top 100 under 50 Diverse Executives. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana and a juris doctorate degree from Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington.


Russell Carlson  (2017)

Russ Carlson retired from the City of Chicago in 2007 after over 30 years of service, including 25 years of experience in the development of budgetary and financial strategies. He spent 16 years as the First Deputy Budget Director with oversight of the coordination, planning and management of the City’s annual Corporate and Capital budgets. Carlson has a Bachelor’s Degree in economics from Loyola University of Chicago, and a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois Chicago. 


Fran Grossman  (2016)

Director, Chicago Microlending Institute

Fran Grossman is a community development expert, and works with ACCION Chicago on the newly formed Chicago Microlending Institute, a first-in-the-nation program that trains new nonprofit lenders to make microloans to Chicago's smallest businesses. For over a dozen years, Grossman was an executive vice president at Urban Partnership Bank (formerly known as ShoreBank), the pioneering community development bank in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood. Previously, Grossman oversaw a neighborhood-based community development corporation on Chicago's South Side, taught in Chicago Public Schools, and managed an after-school and summer program in the Ida B. Wells Homes. She holds a master’s degree from the University Of Chicago School Of Social Service Administration and a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College.


Daisy Lezama  (2018)

Interim Director of Policy Implementation, Community and Economic Development Association

Born in Honduras, Daisy Lezama immigrated to the United States and earned an undergraduate degree in education, a master’s degree in educational leadership and a doctoral degree in ministry.  Daisy currently works at the Community and Economic Development Association (CEDA) of Cook County as Interim Director of Policy Implementation for Head Start. Previously Daisy worked at City Colleges of Chicago and at the Chicago Department of Children and Youth Services. Lezama also serves as one of the founding board members for the Chicago Pre-College and Engineering Program.


Mary Trout Carr  (continuing appointment)

Mary Trout Carr, PhD is a distinguished pastor, theologian, educator and published author. She has over 30 years of ministry and teaching experience with a focus on youth and young adults in underserved communities. Dr. Carr is the author of numerous scholarly works and her own book, “It Ain’t That Kind of Love”. She earned her undergraduate degree from Governors State University, masters degrees from theology schools at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. from Union Graduate School.