Civic Leadership Foundation

Empowering Young People to Lead

Civic Leadership Foundation Header

Board of Directors

Members of the Governing Board of Directors of Civic Leadership Foundation provide strategic direction, governance, oversight and hands-on assistance with development. Board members donate their time, talent and treasure to help CLF reach its mission to prepare underserved youth for college, career and active citizenship. If you are interested in finding out more about the Board please fill out this interest form here.


CLF Board of Directors

Howard Rossman, Ph.D.

Dr. Howard Rossman is the Founder and President of the Civic Leadership Foundation. With a background in psychology and deep experience in organizational leadership and entrepreneurship, he has provided guidance to several non-profit organizations.  He developed and founded the Civic Leadership Foundation to promote the principles and practices of positive youth development through well-researched, project-based programs.

Dr. Rossman is the Vice Chairman of Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc. and the founder of Mesirow Advanced Strategies, Inc., one of the largest fund of hedge funds in the world. In those roles he has been a member of the investment, executive and management committees and responsible for all aspects of organizational management, including due diligence, strategic analysis and planning and market development. As the author of many articles on alternative strategies, Dr. Rossman has spoken at numerous conferences on non-traditional investing and asset allocation and has been a recognized leader in the hedge fund of funds business for over 25 years.

In addition, Dr. Rossman has chaired the boards of several not-for-profit organizations and currently serves as a Board Member of the Third Way, Roosevelt University, Luster Learning Institute and consults to many other educational organizations.

He received an A.B. in sociology from Princeton University, an M.A. in educational psychology from the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from The California Institute of Integral Studies.

Brock C. LaMarca

Brock LaMarca is a Senior Manager Director at Mesirow Financial, where he co-leads a team of investment advisory professionals. At Mesirow, Brock seeks to guide his clients through the many phases of their financial lives by advising on all aspects of their wealth, with a holistic approach to wealth management that focuses on long-term goals rather than short-term market cycles. Adhering to a stated list of governing principles, Brock and his team work as fee based advisors with a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. Clients include individuals, businesses and not-for-profit entities.

Brock has long sought to balance his commitments to raising his two daughters and building his practice, with a desire to participate in and give back to the local community. Brock has recently sought to focus this interest in giving back with an attention to early childhood education; he currently serves as an active board member and is on the fund raising committee to build a community family center in Highland Park, IL. He has previously served as a board member for the Highland Park/Highwood United Way and for Asian Youth Services in Chicago.

Brock began his career at Merrill Lynch in the mid ‘80s and joined Mesirow Financial in 1989. He graduated from Michigan State University and attended DePaul University’s MBA program prior to joining Merrill Lynch.

Lee M. Rubenstein

Former Director of Outreach for CLF, Lee Rubenstein is an attorney whose practice has focused primarily on the representation of international and Fortune 500 institutions in the areas of commercial real estate lending, acquisition, development and leasing. Prior to founding his own law firm in 1998, Mr. Rubenstein was affiliated with prominent Chicago Loop law firms, most recently Winston & Strawn.

Mr. Rubenstein is an active civic, philanthropic and community member. He has served as a caucus-nominating member for the major governing boards of the Village of Glencoe and for the School Board of New Trier High School. An avid fundraiser on behalf of the American Diabetes Association, the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, he has also served on the boards of the Chicago Father’s Day Council, the Bernard Weinger Jewish Community Center of Northbrook, Birthright Israel-Shorashim as well as the Oak Street Council of Chicago. Along with his family, Mr. Rubenstein dedicated the Harry Rubenstein Memorial Chapel in memory of his father in 1979 in the Regional Medical Hospital Center located in his hometown of Virginia, Minnesota. In 2008, he was honored as “Father of the Year” by the Chicago Father’s Day Council of the American Diabetes Association, for raising over $150,000 to help support advocacy, research, and education initiatives of the organization.

Mr. Rubenstein earned his B.A. at the University of Michigan and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota School of Law. He is licensed to practice law in Minnesota, Texas and Illinois.

Maggie Blinn DiNovi

Maggie Blinn DiNovi is an education leadership consultant, working with organizations to enhance and improve the training and support of school leaders.  She has worked with districts, foundations, and nonprofits over the past 15 years to ensure that all schools are led by a team of highly trained, effective school leaders.  For seven years, she served as the Executive Director of New Leaders for New Schools, recruiting, training and supporting a premier pipeline of principal talent for Chicago Public Schools.  Maggie also served as the Deputy Chief Officer of the Office of Principal Preparation and Development for CPS, and as the principal investment portfolio manager at The Chicago Public Education Fund.  Prior to entering the field of education, Maggie was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and a corporate attorney at Sidley & Austin. Maggie has a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a J.D. from the University of Chicago.

Adam B. Brass

Adam B. Brass has worked in the entertainment, agriculture, construction and financial industries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and America.  Adam is currently Chief Executive Officer of BRI Partners LLC, a venture capital company specializing in hedge funds, which he co-founded in 2000.  As a member of BRI’s Management and Investment Committees, he is involved in each component of the business with duties ranging from structuring, negotiating relationships with portfolio companies, marketing, asset raising, client servicing and making investment and divestment decisions.  He also runs an amateur baseball company, Prep Baseball Report LLC, headquartered in Illinois, which has produced numerous championship teams and several major league players.

Adam previously served as Director of British Fairwell (Asia) Limited, Executive Vice President of Oppenheimer Managed Derivatives, Inc., Principal and Executive Vice President of SF Investments Inc, and Partner at Lotsoff Capital Management Group.

Greg Fedorinchik

Greg Fedorinchik is a senior managing director for Mesirow Advanced Strategies, Inc., head of the Global Client Relationship Team, and a member of the executive committee. He is responsible for managing all aspects of the firm’s client service, business development and product management functions and works closely with all areas of the firm to develop customized portfolios for clients.

Prior to joining Mesirow Advanced Strategies in 2008, Mr. Fedorinchik spent 13 years with Brinson Partners and its successor organization (UBS Global Asset Management), where he was an executive director in its Global Investment Solutions group and a member of its asset allocation and currency investment committee and alpha allocation committee. Before that Mr. Fedorinchik spent two years at the Northern Trust Company as a team leader in its large corporate trust division.

Mr. Fedorinchik received a B.A. in Economics and English from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Business at Northwestern University. In addition, he is a CFA charterholder and co-author of the book Investment Leadership and Portfolio Management (published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., October 2009).

Steve Fiffer

Steve Fiffer is a journalist who has written over a dozen books including, “50 Ways to Help Your Community: A Handbook for Change.”  He collaborated with former Secretary of State James A. Baker III on the bestselling, “Work Hard, Study… and Keep out of Politics” and on two award-winning books with civil rights lawyer Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Steve’s feature articles, essays, op-ed pieces, and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, New York Times magazine, Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated, and many other newspapers and magazines, as well as on

Steve has served as Chairman of the Evanston (Illinois) Arts Council and as a member of the Evanston Human Relations Commission, and previously sat on the board of Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI) in Chicago. He and his wife co-founded the Books and Breakfast program in the Evanston Public School system and have taught writing to middle school students in the I Have a Dream program.

Steve earned his B.A. cum laude from Yale and holds a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. In 2001, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship for writing.

Heather Gardner CIMA, AIF

Heather Gardner is the national accounts director for William Blair Investment Management.
She has product placement responsibility focusing on insurance firms, defined-contribution investment-only platforms, and sub-advisory placements for outside financial institutions. Before joining William Blair in 2001, Ms. Gardner was an institutional equity research sales executive with Stephens Inc. She is a former board member of Women Investment Professionals (WIP) of Chicago, and a member of the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA), Association of Investment Management Sales Executives (AIMSE), and Money Management Institute (MMI). Education: Hendrix College, B.A. in business/economics. Designations: Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA); Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF); certificate of completion from the University of Chicago, Booth Management School of Business for the Chicago Management Institute program.

Paul Halley

As a Partner in EY's Transaction Advisory (TAS) Valuation & Business Modeling business, Paul has over 20 years of software and consulting experience across many industries. His focus is on helping organizations leverage data and analytics to manage their current and future capital, especially during mergers, acquisitions, carve-outs, divestitures and other large capital decisions.  Whether engaged during due diligence, pre-close or post-close/integration, during a transaction he helps his clients better understand their working capital, supply chain, IT, finance, HR, customers and product/SKU profitability. Through better decision-making, for corporate and private equity clients Paul and his Team help create social and economic value by helping them make more informed decisions about strategically managing capital and transactions.
Paul states he is "committed to the mission of CLF and helping young people succeed by taking responsibility for their futures, their neighborhoods and their relationships with others.  Through engagement, leadership and empowerment, CLF is driving real change our region and I am excited about helping the organization be as effective as it can possibly be."

Susan Handler, M.S.

In Spring of 2016, Susan joined the Board of Directors at Civic Leadership Foundation. Susan is a Chicago native having grown up in the suburbs with her stay-at-home Mom, business-owner Dad and older sister, Karen. She played “kick the can” on the street every summer night and walked freely to and from elementary and middle school. She had books, travels, clean fun and family support. She had great teachers who inspired her and even had a crush on her fourth grade teacher, Mr. Steed! Her blessed and un-complex childhood gave her the opportunity to excel in school and gain undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Illinois. 

Susan is currently an independent HR consultant after having built a career with leading organizations including Microsoft, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, O’Connor & Associates, UBS and others. Outside of Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, New York, Zurich, Paris, London and New Delhi were “home” for over 20 years. She is an avid traveler and has over 80 countries stamped in her passports. Susan taught English to a Vietnamese immigrant for one year and introduced her mentee to bowling! In France, she volunteered at the American Church of Paris cooking and serving food ‘chaque mercredi’.

Bill Kerr

Bill is a partner in Sidley Austin LLP’s Chicago office where he leads the firm’s global investment funds practice and is a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. Bill advises clients in a wide range of securities and derivatives matters, including the organization, operation and regulation of private investment funds and investment managers. Bill is a frequent speaker at firm and industry conferences on investment fund related topics. Bill received his BA from Yale University in 1980 and his JD from Harvard Law School in 1983. Bill states, “I am pleased to join the CLF board and look forward to working with the other directors and CLF’s staff to improve the lives of Chicago’s youth.”

Jeffery Proeh, JD

Jeffrey Proeh grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago.  After graduating Glenbrook North High School, Jeff attended The University of Texas at Austin where he received a B.A. in Psychology.  Upon his return back to Chicago, Jeff studied and graduated from The John Marshall Law School and was ultimately admitted to the Illinois State Bar in 1990.  After a few years of practicing corporate law, Jeff entered the commodities business where he became a trusted advisor to a multitude of clients as well as an investor himself using futures and derivatives to hedge his and his client's portfolios.  Since 2013, when Jeff decided to retire from trading, he has pursued many entrepreneurial endeavors including selling insurance, starting a tree care business and becoming a real estate investor and broker. 
Jeff has always had a passion for giving back, he has been intimately involved with the Rory David Deutsch Foundation since it's inception.  He has also worked with a local foundation which was established to help educate young adults and adolescents of the risks and dangers associated with drug use and drug abuse.  He has also spent countless hours helping organize and spearhead programs to feed the needy.  Jeff's biggest reason for joining the Board of CLF was to be able to help provide a platform for young adults to gain the resources and tools to become productive, responsible and contributing members of society.  

Beverly Rossman, Ph.D.

Beverly Rossman, Ph.D. is an adjunct faculty member and Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing and a Research Associate, Department of Women, Children, and Family Nursing, at Rush University Medical Center College of Nursing.

Her research has focused on qualitative assessment of educational, intervention, and support programs related to breastfeeding particularly with low birth-weight babies from underserved communities.

Bev received her PhD in Nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago, in 2010, where she also was awarded her Master’s Degree in Nursing.  Bev completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing at DePaul University in Chicago.

Holly Sider, LCSW

Holly Sider is a licensed clinical social worker and mitigation specialist.  As a mitigation specialist, she prepares mitigation for capital and non-capital criminal cases in state and federal venues.  She brings with her over 38 years of social-service experience, working extensively with low-income adults, ex-offenders and individuals with substance-abuse problems. She is a certified domestic-violence counselor where her experience includes training, individual and group counseling.  In addition, Ms. Sider has a private practice where she provides psychotherapy to individuals and families with a primary focus on adolescents and young adults.  She received her Bachelor and Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois.

Allison M. Silver, JD

Allison Silver was born and raised in Chicago. After graduating from College in Boston and Law School in New Orleans, she moved home to pursue her legal career. In her current role as a Legal Consultant she works with corporate law departments to optimize the delivery of legal services through process improvement and strategic design. In her free time, she loves to travel to new places and experience new cultures.

She is thrilled to be part of an organization like CLF that is committed to empowering youth to make a difference in the world and their communities.

William Solomon

Bill is CEO and owner of AFX Lighting, an 80-year-old family business located in Waukegan, IL. Bill has been involved in a number of boards including and currently as Chairman of the MRA, a non-profit employer association based in Milwaukee.
Bill states, “I have been aware of CLF since its inception and believe in the vision to helping young adults in the Chicago area.  I look forward in contributing to the growth and awareness of CLF as a board member”.