In April, BAPA welcomed new members of the Board of Directors, filling spot vacated by Maureen Kelly, Mike Geraghty, Bill Halvorsen, Dennis McClellan, Mike Martin, and Abby Mazza whose terms have expired. BAPA is grateful for the hard work, organizational support, and expert guidance of these special neighbors.
We look ahead to the talent and commitment already in evidence from our new Board members, Dr. Femi Skanes, Dr. Eduardo Garza, Brian McKeown, Eve Raisleger, Lauren Ditka, and Rachel Hoge.
Dr. Femi Skanes, a Beverly/Morgan Park resident for 15 years, became closely involved with BAPA working with BAPA School Liaison Tina Jenkins Bell on educational topics when she was principal of Morgan Park High School.
Dr. Skanes served MPHS from 2012 to 2022, and in 2018 founded Leadership EDGE LLC, where she shares her considerable experience and expertise in a wide variety of workshops, programs, and presentations. She is currently CEO of Leadership EDGE and her work focuses on “improving equity and excellence in education through strategic leadership.”
“BAPA is important because it is local community members coming together for the benefit of the entire community,” Dr. Skanes said. Her passion for community and education set the stage for the special skills she brings to the BAPA Board.
“I bring strong organizational and visionary skills that can help BAPA engage community residents through various program opportunities,” she said. “My goal for BAPA is to get more residents to participate in local community events in an effort to carry on the rich traditions that make Beverly such a great place to live.”
A parishioner at Christ the King and neighborhood resident for 10 years, Dr. Eduardo Garza said, “I was very familiar with BAPA’s excellent work around building our great community through its various projects and programming. From the arts to retail development, BAPA has been the collective voice with one goal in mind: make our community a great place to live.”
He saw BAPA’s community commitment in action last fell working with BAPA and the Beverly Arts Center to bring a St. Patrick’s Battalion (San Patricios) event to the community. The sold-out show at the BAC “highlighted the remarkable, little known history, of the brave catholic Irish immigrants who fought alongside the Mexican army during the U.S.-Mexican War of 1848,” Dr. Garza said.
Dr. Garza has played several roles in government for the past 25 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, a master’s degree in Urban Planning/Policy, and a Doctorate degree in Education. “I have written countless Chicago ordinances and state legislation that best reflect the needs of our residents,” he said. “I have also been involved in key roles at the Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago where I have explored and led groundbreaking student-centered programming.”
Dr. Garza plans to use his experience in government, policy, data analytics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to explore BAPA’s existing programs and its current and future impact.
“I am a firm believer that leadership begins at home and in our neighborhoods . . . All institutions in Beverly play a critical role in building our neighborhood – schools, community based organizations, churches, first responders, retail, etc. It is important for all of us to voice our ideas with the single mission of further improving the place we all call home,” he said.
“I would like to contribute ideas to BAPA and its neighborhood master plan, always keeping the humanistic neighborly spirit in mind while making sound decisions for generations to come,” he added.
Brian McKeown joins the Board representing Beverly Bank and Trust and has been serving the Beverly/Morgan Park community since 2007.
He looks forward to volunteering his time and giving back to the community, and brings to the BAPA board 17 years of experience in community banking helping small business achieve their financial goals.
McKeown said his goal is to “use my knowledge and experience to help BAPA in any way I can.”
Eve Raisleger has a familiar story around here. Born and raised in Beverly/Morgan Park, she was educated locally: Beverly Montessori School, Clissold School, and Mother McAuley High School. After attending Marquette University in Milwaukee, she moved to the North Side for several years, then she and her husband Brad bought her childhood home in 2020. “My neighbors have become some of my best friends,” she said. “We are looking forward to raising our family, including our two year old daughter here.”
Raisleger was reconnected to BAPA by Board Member Whitney Castle. “I have attended BAPA events since I was a young kid and wanted to get more involved and give back to the community. I love how BAPA has brought our community together.”
Raispeger is a CPA and works as a Senior Manager at Deloitte. With years of experience in data analyzing and financial statements, she looks forward to assisting BAPA in growing membership numbers, particularly among younger families.
“Outside of my day-to-day audit work, I am very involved in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives within my firm,” she said.
Lauren Ditka and her wife moved to Beverly/Morgan Park in 2018 and purchased their first home in North Beverly. “[We] went in to the purchase and updates with the intent of it being our forever home,” she said.
“I started volunteering for a few BAPA events here and there in 2019, as a way to get more involved in the community and make some new friends,” Ditka said. “A few of our friends in the area were involved with BAPA so we would volunteer together, and meet new people along the way. My wife is from the South Side, but I’m not, so it was a great way to feel more connected to my new neighborhood.”
Ditka believes that BAPA is important to our community.
“Our neighborhood is so very unique, for a lot of reasons,” she said, adding that the most important reason for her is the sense of comradery she experiences here. “I moved around a bit growing up, and having a strong tie to a place, to grow up on the same block, in the same house, and your best friend lives down the street, and you can walk to grandma’s house is a really special thing. BAPA keeps that feeling strong, from the porch concerts that allow you to run into old and new friends, to clean up efforts to keep our neighborhood looking amazing, and everything in between.”
Ditka is the Design Director at 555 International, an interior design, fabrication, and management firm that specializes in high-end hospitality and retail spaces all over the country. The firm’s notable projects include the Madhouse Team store at the United Center, the flagship lululemon experiential store, and the SoFi stadium stores. “I specialize in creating environments people want to be in,” she said.
“BAPA is a very special organization that I don’t think gets enough credit for everything it does,” Ditka said. “My goal is not only to bring more awareness to all the amazing things that BAPA does, but to increase membership and involvement through making our neighbors and community more aware of all those small things that we all love about the South Side, but wouldn’t notice until they were gone.”
Ditka said that in her “former life” she was always first to volunteer for all the committees. “As an adult, I find myself with the same drive to do something for all of us to enjoy. So from bringing an aesthetic upgrade to events, getting creative with ways to deliver the BAPA message, to getting my hands dirty to make sure our neighborhoods stay looking beautiful, I’m just excited to help where I can.”
“I have truly enjoyed following all the wonderful work that BAPA does in the community,” said Rachel Hoge, a neighbor since 2020. Hoge, an Executive Vice President at APS & Associates, brings to BAPA’s Board a decade’s worth of board and volunteer management experience, including leadership roles in nonprofit development as well as serving on the local and national board for New Leaders Council, a group that promotes young progressive leadership.
Her goals as a BAPA Board member focus on building awareness and support for the organization. “I want to help grow awareness of the organization and help community members understand the importance of not only participating in BAPA events but contributing by becoming a member. I love living in Beverly and I want to invest what I can to keep building on the positives and be a part of the for areas that need more support.
Hoge is already active in our community. She recently joined the PR committee at Sutherland School and is a member of the Vanderpoel Improvement Association.