Tech Nexus, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL
DLA Piper, 444 W. Lake Street, Chicago, IL
Madison Capital, 30 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL
EPIC Academy, 8255 S. Houston Ave. Chicago, IL
DLA Piper, 444 W. Lake Street, Chicago, IL
DLA Piper, 444 W. Lake Street, Chicago, IL
For a complete listing of meeting dates, locations and agendas for the EPIC Academy Board of Directors and its subcommittees, please visit our school calendar under For Current Students.
Andrew Annacone, President
Andy has spent his career creating growth strategies and building businesses. Most recently, he was Vice President of Innovation & New Ventures at Outerwall, Inc. Prior to joining Outerwall, Andy was a Principal with a management consulting firm, Galt & Company, where he advised Fortune 500 CEOs on broad strategic repositioning and growth strategies. Andy earned his MBA from the University of Illinois. He is active in the start-up community, serving as a seed investor and board member to several early-stage companies, acting as a business mentor with the Junto Institute, and lecturing on venturing at various universities.
Mark Haggarty, Vice President
Mark currently serves as Director of New Site Development for ONEGOAL, the country's only teacher-led college persistence organization. Prior to joining ONEGOAL, Mark served as an interactive editor and account executive at BarnesandNoble.com and Network Director for Snowball.com. Mark received a BA in English from Kenyon College and a Masters in Business Administration from the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University of Chicago.
Chris Martin, Treasurer
Chris is a Managing Director at TwinBrook Capital Partners and joined the Epic Academy board in 2013. Prior to joining TwinBrook, Chris was a Director at Madison Capital Funding. Chris holds a B.A. in Finance from the University of Delaware Lerner College of Business and Economics, and a Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Chris has been involved with Epic Academy since 2011, and helped develop a financial based intensives program for students.
Michael Johns, Secretary
Michael Johns is an educational director who strives to inspire the next generation of leaders through his passion and dedication. Currently, he serves as the Director of Mentors and Volunteers for Chicago Scholars, a comprehensive mentorship program that facilitates students’ persistence in high school and transition into higher education. In this role, he leverages his excellent relationship building skills to recruit, train, and manage over 300 mentors and volunteers. Specifically, he has collaborated to develop an intensive mentorship program, connect students to their mentors, and coordinate volunteer events to inspire students to become better learners and give them the tools to confidently pursue their dreams.
Bill Gerstein has had a long career in education and in business. Most recently Bill led a major effort for the Chicago Public Schools to create a comprehensive community engagement strategy in the Humboldt Park community. Prior to that he was the co-founder and principal of two small high schools. One was the School of Entrepreneurship, a small high school located within the South Shore High School campus in Chicago. In 2007 he left South Shore to start the Austin Polytech Academy in the Austin community. Mr. Gerstein was a high school social studies teacher and track coach for eight years before he became the owner/operator of a small chain of supermarkets (Mr. G. Finer Foods) in Chicago. While in business, Mr. Gerstein became actively involved in many community activities on the South Side of Chicago including public schools. In 1996 Mr. Gerstein sold his business as part of an effort to expand into a bigger location. After running a community based organization, he obtained a masters degree in school administration. Working with the community and teachers he helped organize four small schools within South Shore High School as the school converted its structure from a comprehensive model to a campus of autonomous small high schools. Mr. Gerstein resides on the South Side with his wife (a Chicago Public School teacher). They have four children and one grandchild.
Leigha Haynes is a Vice President at Madison Capital Funding LLC and focuses on structuring and managing investment vehicles on behalf of investors. Prior to joining Madison Capital in 2012, she worked at KPMG LLP in the Financial Services Audit practice. Leigha holds a B.S. and M.A.S. in Accountancy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently working towards completing a Masters in Business Administration at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.
Jenner & Block Partner Mercedes M. Hill focuses her practice on M&A, investments and corporate counseling. She represents strategic and financial buyers and sellers in connection with complex M&A, restructuring and investment transactions ranging from under $25 million to more than $5 billion. Ms. Hill’s experience crosses a variety of industries, including the aerospace and defense, aircraft, agriculture, automotive, consumer products and services, food, energy management, manufacturing, financial services, healthcare IT and supply chain industries. In addition to being a member of the firm's Mergers & Acquisitions, Private Equity and Corporate Finance Practices, she is also the leader of the African American Affinity Group and a member of the firm's Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Hiring Committee and Associate Development and Evaluation Committee.
Ms. Hill is consistently recognized for her work including being named a “Rising Star” in M&A by Illinois Super Lawyers. In 2016 and 2017, she was recognized by Legal 500 for her experience in middle-market M&A and received the Leadership Excellence in Law Award from the National Diversity Council. In 2015, she was named an “Emerging Lawyer” in M&A law by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company and was named to M&A Advisor’s “40 Under 40” list. In addition to her legal accomplishments, Ms. Hill is also a 2016 Fellow in the Leadership Greater Chicago (LGC) program, a member of the board of directors of The Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms, a member of the board of Epic Academy and volunteers as legal counsel to Ladies of Virtue, a Chicago-based nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of young women, ages 10 to 18, in underserved communities.
A graduate of The Ohio State University, she received her law degree from Harvard Law School.
After 14 years in the insurance industry (with her last position leading the technology division for a $400m insurance firm), Maria Kim joined Cara – a suite of bootcamps and businesses that uplift people and communities through the power of employment. Cara produces hundreds of jobs each year, at retention rates over 20 points higher than national norms, and with over 80% of employed participants pivoting from homelessness to permanent housing in which their families can thrive. Maria serves on the Cook County Commission on Social Innovation and the State of Illinois 21st Century Workforce Development Fund Advisory Committee. Her board experience includes EPIC Academy, a charter high school in South Chicago, Rebuilding Exchange (a social enterprise in the circular economy) and Chicago Women in Philanthropy. She was a fellow for Leadership Greater Chicago’s Class of 2008, a 2012 American Marshall Memorial Fellow and a 2013 TEDxMidwest Emerging Leader. Maria holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Joshua Milberg serves as the Director of Technology Strategy at Allstate Insurance. He has previously served in a number of leadership roles in the energy, environmental and strategy consulting sectors. Josh holds a bachelors degree from Claremont McKenna College. He received his Masters in Business Administration with concentrations in Strategy and Finance from the Yale School of Management.
Aaron O’Donnell is an associate in the Chicago office of DLA Piper LLP (US). His practice centers on all aspects of commercial real estate law including the acquisition, disposition and development of office, retail, hotel, multi-family and industrial properties, joint venture and private and preferred equity investments, mortgage and mezzanine financing and lease negotiations. Aaron received a BBA in Finance and Business Economics from the University of Notre Dame and a JD from the University of Michigan Law School.
Carrie is co-founder and CEO of Afton Partners, a finance and strategy advisory firm that serves organizations seeking to effect positive social change in distressed communities. Prior to founding Afton Partners, Carrie was a Senior Director at Alvarez & Marsal, and in that role served as the Chief Operating Officer of the start-up Charter Management Organization in New Orleans and as Interim Treasurer of New Orleans Public Schools immediately prior to and after Hurricane Katrina. Carrie earned her BBA in Finance with a second major in French from the University of Notre Dame and is a CFA charter holder. She is the founding Board Chair of EPIC Academy, served on the steering committee for New Schools for New Orleans, and currently serves as Board Member and Chair of the Academic Committee of North Lawndale College Prep Charter High School in Chicago.