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.
Justin Phillips, Vice Chair
Senior Program Manager, Google Cloud
Justin manages Professional Services for Google Cloud Operations focusing on enabling enterprise customers to meet their computing needs with Google Cloud solutions. Justin has been an advocate for the relationship between Google and Playworks hosting many events on Google campus and even leading the Google kickball team to victory (2 years in a row!). Justin has a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Villanova University. In his spare time, Justin can be found hiking, woodworking, cooking, and being a human jungle gym for his 2 sons (3y and 6mo).
Mir Ali, Vice Chair
Partner, Schiff Hardin, 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!
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.
Director, Houlihan Lokey
Chris grew up in Northwest Indiana with Chicago as my backdrop and immersion into cultures and arts. He attended Indiana University, studying Accounting and Finance, and has been living in downtown Chicago for the past 17 years. Chris and his wife currently live in Roscoe Village with their two daughters and Airedale Terrier and plan to raise their children in the city where they can have opportunity for the best in world arts, museums, and diversity. You can usually find them at a park, zoo, or conservatory on the weekends. Professionally, Chris is a CPA and Director at Houlihan Lokey, an international investment bank, and focuses on corporate valuations for regulatory reporting and compliance. Chris has been with Houlihan Lokey for the past 12 years, starting his career at KPMG’s M&A group before a short stint in private equity.
Senior Director of Sales Development, Salesforce
Matt Loria is a Director of Sales Development at Salesforce, responsible for developing sales talent for a successful career in tech sales. In being a part of an organization that champions the 1:1:1 model, philanthropic work has been at the forefront of his career and only heightened since joining Salesforce & Playworks. Loyola of Chicago’s MBA program brought Matt to Chicago where he has resided for approximately the last 10 years. Throughout that time, he has held senior sales leadership positions at Groupon, VividSeats, and Salesforce. He’s a strong advocate for being a community champion for where your passion lies and that corporate responsibility must intersect with community involvement to make a difference. Having 2 kids has brought him closer to the vision of Playworks, making him a passionate advocate in his professional network.
VP, Management Director, Consumer Healthcare, FCB Chicago
AVP, National Services Manager, Chicago Title Insurance Company
Special Assistant to the Chancellor , New York City Department of Education
Under the name “Mr. P,” Parrott-Sheffer was a Chicago Public Schools principal at Mary Gage Peterson Elementary School, one of Playworks’ three initial sites in Chicago. Parrot-Sheffer’s passion for the power of play to enhance school culture and expand learning was further strengthened through his experiences partnering with Playworks from 2011 to 2014. In 2013, his commitment to play and student leadership was recognized nationally when he received Playworks’ Most Valuable Principal Award.
Parrott-Sheffer is a strong advocate of social emotional learning and the complementary role organizations such as Playworks can have in youth development. He has spoken and written on the positive impact supporting student emotional development can have on each child’s overall success. Currently, he works with NYCDOE as a special assistant to the chancellor focusing on addressing the needs of students with disabilities and cabinet level strategy execution. He taught middle school English and technolody and elementary school special education.
Adam holds a bachelor’s degree in the humanities from the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign, a masters degree in education policy from the University of Pennsylvania, and a masters in school leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Adam is also a current doctoral candidate at Harvard in the doctorate of education leadership (Ed. LD). Professionally, Adam serves on the advisory board of Harvard’s Principal Center and the Data Wise Project.
Playworks Illinois Emeritus Board
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.
Chris Renn, Chair Emeritus
SVP of Strategic Communication Solutions, 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
Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Abbott
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.
Managing Director and Head of Technology & Operations, CIBC’s US Region
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 in elementary school, 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.
Chief Product Officer, Jellyvision
Manika M. Turnbull
Vice President, Workforce & Business Engagement, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois