In addition to participating in citywide coalitions such as CODE (Communities Organized for Democratic Education), More Than a Score, and CPQE (Chicago Parents for Quality Education), Raise Your Hand has an Advisory Board made up of 40 parents from many Chicago Public Schools across the city. Recently, we have been working with parents and concerned citizens across the state of IL on many education issues.
Members of RYH help inform schools of our initiatives, and help guide, and even train, parents on how to have a stronger voice at the school, local and state levels. If you are interested in real education reform and becoming a parent representative, contact us!
RYH Board of Directors
Wendy Katten is a parent of a seventh grader in CPS. She has worked in social services for eleven years and has a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. She has published short-stories, volunteered at many organizations around Chicago from Cabrini Green Tutoring to Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly, and served on the board of the Friends of group at her son’s school for four years. Wendy is the Director of Raise Your Hand.
Tara Baldridge is the mother of two sons who graduated from CPS elementary schools. With just two children, she has experienced a ride through much of the CPS system, including an academic center, a neighborhood school, a regional gifted center and an IB program. Over the years, Tara has served as President of her sons Parent Club, was a founding member of Lenart’s Friends of organization, a board member for the Southeast Chicago Chamber of Commerce and is currently a member of the South Shore Community Action Council. Tara has been an organizer and board member of the Children’s Book Fair (formerly 57th Street Children’s Book Fair) for over ten years and is passionate about increasing awareness around early literacy. Tara has a BA in Humanities from the University of Chicago, an MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University and works in educational publishing.
Christopher Ball is the father of an elementary CPS student in the Sheffield neighborhood. He supports the Montessori pedagogy and similar methods that draw on the scientific study of children's natural intellectual and social development. He taught political science at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Iowa, and Iowa State University before moving to Chicago, and has adjuncted at Loyola and DePaul universities in Chicago. Chris is Raise Your Hand's Treasurer.
Jennie Biggs is the mother of 3 CPS children who attend an elementary magnet school in Bridgeport. She is a former south suburban high school science teacher and has a BS and a MS in Education. She is actively involved at her children's school as a science lab aide and as Secretary of the LSC. In the past, she served as Sheridan's Garden Team Chairperson and served on Sheridan's PAC. Jennie was recently elected Secretary of the South Branch Park Advisory Council. This new park is located along the Chicago River in Bridgeport. Jennie is the Raise Your Hand Board's Secretary as well as Raise Your Hand's Operations Manager.
June Coutre' serves on numerous boards in Chinatown, including the Ping Tom Park Advisory Council and the Chinatown Public Library Advisory Council. She is a CPS graduate, the parent of a CPS neighborhood school graduate, and is currently serving her fifth term on the school's LSC at Haines Elementary School. June's daughter now attends a Noble charter HS providing support with her daughter's athletic teams.
Cassie Creswell, in addition to being on the RYH Board, leads More Than A Score Chicago, a coalition working towards ending the overuse and misuse of standardized testing. Cassie is an active member of the Logan Square community, having served on Goethe's Title I Parent Advisory Council and the board of Friends of Goethe School and helping establish and run a community garden at Haas Park. Cassie transferred her kids to private school last year due to CPS policies that she's currently trying to change. She has a PhD in linguistics and an MSE in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania and worked as a research scientist in the software industry before staying at home with her daughters.
Brenda Delgado-Als is the mother of 3 CPS students: a 6th grader and 1st grader at STEM Magnet Academy and a 3rd grader at Skinner North. She lives in Hyde Park, where her husband’s family has resided for 35+ years. She has served as both LSC Chairperson and Secretary of her children's schools. She has a Masters of Public Health from UIC. As a public health professional, her educational viewpoint reflects a global perspective of prevention and reducing disparities to achieve equity, quality, and accessibility. She often applies similar community health principles (identifying data bias, correlation vs causation, prevention focused) when advocating for high quality, public education for all students.
Deb Hass is the parent of a current CPS student and a CPS graduate. She is a member of her neighborhood's CPS Community Advisory Council. Deb has worked and volunteered for over 25 years in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors and has extensive experience in the areas of education and employment. Her areas of expertise include evaluation, program development, strategic planning, research, and writing. Deb earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Spanish from Beloit College, from which she received a Distinguished Service Citation in 2013. She also holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago.
Mary Fahey Hughes is the parent of a High School Freshman, 6th Grader, 2nd Grader and soon-to-be-Kindergartener in CPS. Seeing the need for a collective voice for families of children with special needs in the Beverly/Morgan Park/Mt. Greenwood neighborhoods, she founded and is the Director of the 19th Ward Parents for Special Education, a parent support and advocacy group that serves families in the 19th Ward, where she has worked to protect Special Education services within CPS and at the State level. Mary is the LSC Chair at Cassell Elementary and LSC Parent Representative at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. In a district-wide capacity, Mary was a member of the Parent Advisory Committee for the CPS Office of Diverse Learners Supports and Services and a former member of the Illinois PEP (Parent Educator Partnership) Program, where she worked with parents as an advocate for children with special needs. Prior to becoming a mother, Mary worked extensively as an actor and improviser at various Chicago theaters. Mary holds a B.A. in Theater from Southern Illinois University and has taught improvisation and theater workshops with The Art Institute of Chicago’s Young Artists Studios, Noble Fool Theater and The Second City Training Center.
Tiffany Norwood is a mother of 3 children and a current CPS parent. She is very involved with the south side Hyde Park community and Special Education community. She is an advocate and parent educator due to her first hand experiences with navigating the Special Education system through CPS, with her oldest. She has worked in all avenues of education from private to non for profit public and residential facilities. She received her bachelors in Fine Arts and is currently pursing her masters in Early Childhood Development and is a preschool prep coordinator for a children's play space located in Ravenswood. Her husband currently works for a small charter school located in Englewood.
Eric Reyes is a proud product of CPS and a parent of a CPS student. His work in education has been driven by an interest in social justice. He holds an M.A. in Sociology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. There his graduate studies focused on school equity, dropout prevention, gender and schools, school discipline policies, charter schools, and education policy. Eric lives in Pilsen.