2018 NextGen Mentors

After lunch, NextGen will feature an hour of mentoring time. This is a great opportunity to learn from the expertise of these experienced school business officials.

We've asked each of our mentors to share some tips for emerging school business officials, as well as what has contributed to their success as they have continued deeper into their careers. Read their comments below to get some great insights on what it takes to succeed in the profession — and get excited about learning from them at NextGen!
Dada_M.jpgMohsin Dada, CFP, RSBA CFO/ Treasurer
Comm. Cons. Sch. Dist. 181
mdada@d181.org

Dale.jpgKevin L. Dale Business Manager, CSBO
Rochelle Twp. HSD 212
kdale@rthsd212.org

Advice For New SBOs

Don't be afraid to ask questions and seek out the advice of others in the profession. Don't reinvent the wheel or struggle when others are willing to help. Get involved in a PDC or regional group and be an active advocate for your district and the needs of schools and students in general. Be willing to volunteer for committees and give back to an organization. It is in giving that you receive more than you thought possible. Volunteering and getting involved will help advance your career and prepare you for your current or future positions within a school district.

What Contributed to His Success 

Seeking out professional development and networking opportunities to learn what is affecting other districts and schools and how they handle those situations.

Gordon_Speaker.pngSean Gordon Dir./Buildings & Grounds
Comm. Cons. Sch. Dist. 93
gordons@ccsd93.com
Harkin.jpgSusan L. Harkin Chief Operating Officer
Comm. Unit Sch. Dist. 300
susan.harkin@d300.org

Advice For New SBOs

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. You don’t have to know everything out of the box. Lean on your colleagues to ensure your success.

What Contributed to Her Success

Being a school business official can feel like you are learning a new language. Take advantage of all of the various seminars and conferences that you can participate to immerse yourself in the world of school finance. You may not understand everything out of the box. Over time, things will start to make sense the more you immerse yourself in all aspects of school finance.

Areas of Expertise to Share

I believe my experience/expertise lies in my participation on the Illinois ASBO board and being a future ASBO board of director. I believe this experience has provided me with a deep bench of colleagues to lean on as well as allowing me to help shape the future of school finance. These experiences allow me to be a valuable contributor for my school district and a trusted advisor to my superintendent to ensure my district’s students are receiving an exceptional educational experience.

Hermes.jpgJennifer J. Hermes, SFO Chief Operation Officer, CSBO
Lake Forest SD 67 & 115
jhermes@lfschools.net
Jeffers.jpgLinda M. Jeffers Business Manager, CSBO
Indian Springs SD 109
ljeffers@isd109.org
Jilek.jpgJulie A. Jilek Assistant Superintendent, CSBO
Northwest Suburban Spec. Ed. Org.
jjilek@nsseo.org

Johns.jpgStephen R. Johns Business Manager
Millburn SD 24
sjohns@millburn24.net

Advice For New SBOs

Be active in your professional organization so you get to know your counterparts in other districts. Don't be afraid to seek advice from those that have had more experience. They will want to help you avoid mistakes that could put you and your job in jeopardy.

What Contributed to His Success

What has most contributed to my success is the knowledge I gained from attending seminars/classes as well as the information I gained outside the seminars/classes when interacting with my colleagues.

Areas of Expertise to Share

My mistakes and successes in my 26 years of working to solve school facility issues.

Johnson_Cathy.jpgCathy L. Johnson Assoc. Supt./Finance & Operations
Twp. High Sch. Dist. 214
cathy.johnson@d214.org

Advice For New SBOs

Don't be afraid to ASK! Most everyone in Illinois ASBO is HAPPY to help. There are no dumb questions, and why spend HOURS researching something that your neighbor or someone else has already worked on extensively? We are happy to SHARE, our work, our understanding and your frustrations. It's ok. We have all been there.

What Contributed to Her Success

Establishing a network of people that I ask questions of regularly. We can't all be experts in everything, so we need to create a network of experts. You will soon become one yourself, and when you do, share that expertise.

Areas of Expertise to Share

Negotiations, Purchasing, Politics, Networking, Payroll, Benefits

Johnson_Ron.jpgRon Johnson Dir./Support Services
Indian Prairie SD 204
ronald_johnson@ipsd.org

Advice For New SBOs

Whether you are a new business professional, new to the education environment or an experienced school business official, you need to learn new things and build that habit early. It’s very easy to fall back on your natural talents or training. Make sure to invest the time in yourself to overcome your greatest areas of weakness early and often in your career. Always look for new things or areas of the profession to learn!

What Contributed to His Success

Networking has been vital in my growth as a school business official. Illinois ASBO’s core mission is professional development and the association has helped me further my professional growth each year. Through Illinois ASBO, I have been able to not only identify one person to learn from and ask questions of, but have built a network that contains a wealth of expertise and experience. I truly believe we have two ears and one mouth for a reason, listen twice as much as you talk! Write down what you see, know and observe about what works and what doesn’t. You don’t think you’ll forget it as you evolve in your career, but unfortunately you will. Having it written down somewhere will help you maintain perspective throughout the years. My practice is to take hand written notes and then afterwards, transfer them to OneNote. Throughout my experience as a school business official, I have also made it a goal to identify people I can learn from, but not wait for a formal mentorship relationship to do so.

Areas of Expertise to Share

My key areas of expertise are purchasing, contracting, transportation and food service. I also have a strong background in finance and cost containment.

Kolstad.jpgLuann T. Kolstad Chief School Business Official
Park Ridge Niles CCSD 64
lkolstad@d64.org

Advice For New SBOs

Have a good mentor. Don't be afraid to ask questions.  Use the Illinois ASBO network to learn best practices. We were all new once and understand that it is overwhelming in your first CSBO job. We work in the public eye; always be honest. Be a good leader; don't just be a boss.

What Contributed to Her Success

My mentor played a key role in my success, as well as my network of fellow CSBOs and professional development I have done through Illinois ASBO. In addition, having an open mind and being willing to take advice and learn new things stepping out of my comfort zone.

Areas of Expertise to Share

Construction, negotiations, budget development, operations, transportation, food service, insurance and financial projections. I have worked in small districts where you wear many hats and now in a large district where I have more of a strategic position.

Lesniak_M.jpgMaggie A. Lesniak Chief School Business Official
Park Ridge Niles CCSD 64
mlesniak@aerosped.org
Miller_Eric.jpgEric M. Miller Asst. Supt./Business Services, CSBO
Glenview CCSD 34
emiller@glenview34.org

Advice For New SBOs

 Network well and often.

What Contributed to His Success

Networking and long hours.

Areas of Expertise to Share

All of the ways in which savings can help push student achievement

okeeffe.jpg Brian K. O'Keeffe Assistant Superintendent/Finance
Arbor Park SD 145
bokeeffe@arbor145.org
Parisi_Speaker.pngAdam P. Parisi Asst. Supt./Finance & Operations
Mt. Prospect SD 57
aparisi@d57.org

Advice For New SBOs

Networking is key. Get out there and meet people; develop relationships and learn as much as you can.

What Contributed to His Success

Everything that I said above including having an open mind. Look at solutions to problems and don't let barriers stop you from implementing the right solution.

Areas of Expertise to Share

Leadership Development. Every aspect that I have picked up through the Leadership Institute and follow up sessions are golden. I feel I have a unique perspective coming from the education field, which helps me to be more of a visionary.

Schuster.jpgLyndl A. Schuster, Ed.D. Asst. Supt./Business Services, CSBO
River Trails SD 26
lschuster@rtsd26.org
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