Advisory Board

Playworks Illinois Regional Advisory Board

The Playworks Illinois Regional Advisory Board  is a group of change-makers who believe in the power of play and are active ambassadors for Playworks. These playful professionals contribute their personal time to share the mission of Playworks: to improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. Learn more about our board members below and click on the link for more information about getting involved.

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Jamie Buckley, Chair

Partner, PwC

Jamie is a Partner in PwC’s Finance Transformation practice and the leader of PwC’s order to cash capability working with the world’s leading banks and global exchanges to drive efficiency and value in their revenue cycles.   Jamie leads dedicated teams of talented PwC professionals with cross disciplinary skills to deliver global transformations.  He is excited to be able to bring PwC’s passion for community engagement and supporting youth to the Playworks mission.

Prior to PwC, Jamie earned an MBA in Finance and Strategy at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business.  In his spare time, Jamie enjoys playing hockey and hiking in the mountains, when not juggling various sporting events for his 3 children with his wife, Eileen.


Deneen Akture

Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, BDO

Deneen has more than 25 years of experience encompassing brand, marketing, lead generation and corporate communications.  As Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for BDO USA, LLP she is responsible for the firm’s brand and marketing strategy, go-to-market programs, and internal communications. She also represents BDO USA on the International Brand and Marketing Committee of the BDO global network.


Jason Mueller

Executive Director Head of Investments and Advice, J.P Morgan

Jason Mueller is the Head of Investments & Advice for J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Chicago. Jason leads a team of 25+ Investment Specialists who deliver advice and portfolio strategies to affluent families and institutions across the Midwest. The Chicago market represents J.P. Morgan’s
largest presence in the U.S. Private Bank outside of New York. Under Jason’s direction, the team advises clients on $88.5 billion of assets and liabilities with the firm, of which $35.1 billion are assets under discretionary management. He draws from the strength of his investment experience to drive business impact and build J.P. Morgan’s visibility in the region.

In his dual-capacity role, Jason advises a select group of clients to help sustain and grow their wealth over multiple generations. He is a seasoned resource to private business owners navigating liquidity events, and he blends portfolio experience with sophisticated wealth transfer strategies. Jason uses his position to be proximate to team members, and fosters talent development, engagement with clients and cohesion throughout the team. He offers connectivity with like-minded families who have similarly complex balance sheets and share common approaches to

In his spare time, Jason is an avid endurance athlete; he has completed the Transamerica Chicago Triathlon, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and a number of distance relay races. Jason resides in the near north suburbs of Chicago with his wife, Christina, and their son, George.


Yasir Safdar

Partner, PWC


Heather Nooks

Strategic Sourcing Manager, McDonald’s Corporation

 Heather is a Strategic Sourcing Manager at the McDonald’s Corporation.  She has 19 years of Supply Chain experience in the areas of commercialization, strategic sourcing and supplier management.  Heather currently leads Strategic Sourcing for Bakery and Liquid Products within McDonald’s US.  Previously, she held various roles of increasing responsibility at PepsiCo, Inc., Mars, Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corporation and Delphi Automotive Systems.  Heather is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and is empowered by her volunteerism through the organization.  She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Dayton and a Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University.  Heather resides in the Hyde Park area of Chicago, Illinois and she enjoys international travel in her spare time.


Playworks Illinois Emeritus Board Members

Playworks Illinois has been running programs across the region for the last 9 years. Our organization has benefited tremendously from the efforts of former board members. Today these individuals still provide support and advice as members of the Emeritus Board.


Mir Ali, Vice Chair

Partner, ArentFox Schiff, LLP

Mir is a Partner in the Chicago office of the law firm Schiff Hardin, LLP, focusing his practice on commercial litigation and dispute resolution. He earned his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School where he also worked for the Child Advocacy Law Clinic. Prior to his law career, Mir served seven years on active duty in the United States Army. As a Special Forces Detachment Commander, he led his team of Green Berets through two combat deployments to Afghanistan. He is a founding member of Team Red White & Blue, a non-profit that helps veterans connect to their communities through physical and social activities. Mir and his wife are proud parents of three kids. Mir enjoys the outdoors and physical activity, so he LOVES Playworks, which improves kids’ lives both in and out of the classroom and promotes their physical and mental health.  Mir can’t wait till the next Playworks Kickball Tournament!

Chris Renn, Chair Emeritus

SVP of  Operations, RR Donnelly

As Senior Vice President of Strategic Communication Solutions, Chris leads business development and consulting services efforts to architect communications management and supply chain management solutions for the Fortune 1000.  Prior to his professional career, he graduated from Ball State University and earned an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. Chris has been involved in several non-profit activities including President of the Lexington Musical Theatre and many governance roles at the Union League Club of Chicago.  He learned the importance of structured play through involvement in numerous high school athletics, the YMCA and coaching youth basketball. Today he enjoys intramural sports, squash, a variety of outdoor activities and is a dedicated supporter of the arts. He believes fully that children need the opportunity to develop all aspects of their lives to become well-rounded adults and is excited to join an organization that shares these beliefs by focusing on healthy fair play.


Steve Tennessen, Chair Emeritus

Director, Talent Acquisition, Abbott





Emma Adam

Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Dr. Emma Adam is the Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Human Development and Social Policy and a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.  She received her PhD in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota and an MA in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. Adam is a developmental psychologist, and an expert on child and adolescent stress, and the implications of stress for mental and physical health and academic performance.  Emma’s research has received national and international research awards, including the Curt P. Richter award from the International Society for Psychoneuroendocrinology. Emma believes that play, and the positive social relationships with adults and peers that Playworks promotes are crucial for stress reduction in children.    


Elizabeth Cummings

Senior Vice President and Head of Technology, Infrastructure and Innovation, CIBC’s US Region 

Elizabeth is Senior Vice President and Head of Technology, Infrastructure and Innovation for CIBC’s U.S. Region. In her role, she is the leader of information technology, operations, the Data Management Office, corporate services, and program management functions that support the U.S. Region. She is a member of the U.S. Regional Executive Committee.

Cummings most recently held the position of Managing Director and Head of Operations for the CIBC Bank USA, where she oversaw all CIBC U.S. operations, operational audits, compliance and regulatory matters.

Before CIBC acquired The PrivateBank in 2017, Cummings served as Managing Director and Chief Information Officer. Prior to joining The PrivateBank, Cummings served for more than 25 years in leadership positions at JPMorgan Chase, and its predecessor Chicago banking companies, First Chicago NBD and Bank One Corporation. Cummings had contributing roles across Treasury Management Client Services, Corporate Operations, and Information Technology and held many responsible positions through bank mergers.

Cummings serves on the board of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Information Systems from Elmhurst College (IL) and her MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago.

Naufal Khan

Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company

Naufal Khan is a Partner in the Chicago office of McKinsey & Company. He serves leading organizations across a wide range of industries including retail, transportation & logistics, financial services, and the public sector. Naufal also leads McKinsey’s IT Strategy & Organization practice, and in that capacity, advises senior management and executives on a broad set of strategy, technology, and operations topics. Prior to McKinsey, Naufal launched and scaled a software start-up, and held other senior leadership roles in R&D, engineering, and operations.

Naufal has a B.S in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A from Northwestern University. Naufal lives in the western suburbs of Chicago and has four children. With two boys, he understands and is inspired by Playworks’ mission of using healthy, inclusive play at school for a greatly enhanced learning experience that develops leadership, conflict-resolution, and social and emotional skills.


Greg Healy

Product Executive, ISACA 





Manika M. Turnbull

Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois 



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