We are beyond thrilled to welcome six new individuals to the Working in the Schools (WITS) Board of Directors. The new WITS Board of Directors members will help support our vision by creating opportunities for every student in Chicago to be literate. Keep reading to learn all about the new WITS Board of Directors members.
Sana Hakim, Partner at K&L Gates LLP
Sana Hakim is a partner at K&L Gates LLP. She assists clients with trademark clearance, trademark and copyright registration, protection, enforcement, strategy, counseling, domain name, social media, web-related issues, and licensing and transactional work.
“I am excited to be part of an organization that is supporting literacy and impacting children’s lives so profoundly. I have really enjoyed tutoring third graders in the program and have been so impressed with the WITS team in the schools.”
Marcus Jean-Simon, Market Executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Marcus Jean-Simon is the Merrill Lynch Market Executive for the Chicago North Market located in Northbrook, IL. He leads approximately 165 financial services professionals across three offices, managing $20B in assets and generating revenues in excess of $125 million. Prior to this role, Marcus served as the Market Executive for the Mid Land Market and Associate Market Manager for the Indiana Market. Before entering field leadership, Marcus served as the Goals-Based Strategy Consultant for the UHNW Client Segment, covering Merrill Private Wealth. He was also a dedicated partner to Private Wealth Advisors and their teams as they adapted and/or enhanced their practices to deliver a world-class client experience with a goals-based wealth management approach.
He has been with Merrill Lynch for over eighteen years and earned his bachelor’s degree with dual concentrations in finance and international business from Loyola University Chicago. Marcus lives with his wife, Yamiley, and their two children, Marcus and Chloe-Emelie, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.
“What excites me the most about being part of the WITS Board of Directors is the opportunity to intentionally make a difference!”
Orrin Murray, Principal Researcher at American Institutes for Research
Dr. Orrin Murray is a principal researcher at American Institutes for Research where he focuses on issues of equity, supporting knowledge use with data visualization and storytelling while using design thinking to improve education interventions. As the Director of Technology and R&D at UChicago Impact, Dr. Murray led the development of tools that supported literacy development, school climate, improvement of student academic outcomes that focused on social/emotional development, among others. Prior to earning a doctorate from the University of Michigan, he spent a decade in the computer industry, working principally at Apple in their education division. He earned an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and a BA from Williams College.
“Across various points in my past, I have worked in research and tool development to support the capacity building of literacy skills in young children. Literacy and reading are a powerful instrument that supports not just our social connections to one another but provides us infinite opportunities to explore new realms, expand our imagination, and build on our capacity to thrive. I am excited that I have been asked to support WITS as a board member. WITS’ efforts to support the literacy development of youth in Chicago is tremendous. From the simple act of having someone read to youth to having bright, engaging adults spend time with students to help develop their literacy skills, these human engagements are a large part of why support for WITS is a priority for me.”
Crystal Reynolds, Director of Marketing & Communications at The Family Institute at Northwestern University
Crystal Reynolds is the Director of Marketing & Communications at The Family Institute at Northwestern University where she leads integrated marketing and communications strategy. She is a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management and has several years of experience in the consumer goods industry driving increased consumer awareness and brand equity. Some of her previous experience includes global brand marketing at KitchenAid Small Appliances (Whirlpool Corporation), ConAgra Foods, Farmers Insurance, as well as several years in ethnic hair care marketing. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and four-year-old son. Crystal also enjoys movies, music, spending time outdoors and watching sports, specifically the Chicago Bears.
“I am excited to join the WITS Board of Directors as I have always been passionate about providing access to quality education and educational materials despite economic statuses. I want to see the communities I live in thrive and be afforded the same opportunities as others while truly appreciating the work of WITS.”
Maria Seimenis, Global Director, IT Portfolio Leader at Deloitte
Maria Seimenis is the Global Director and Technology Leader at Deloitte where she leads a multi-million-dollar program and team of more than one-hundred global professionals for the audit & assurance practice. In this role, Maria is responsible for relationship management, strategic road mapping, budgeting, delivery, operations, stability, and performance for a number of cognitive solutions used by practitioners around the world. Since joining Deloitte in 2011, she has supported multiple areas such as tax & legal, financial advisory, consulting, and more, leading global teams to deliver technology-enabled innovative solutions for both Deloitte practitioners and clients.
Prior to her work at Deloitte, Maria worked as a technologist for over ten years working with some of the largest companies in the world in the IT and management consulting fields. Relentless in delivering value and passionate about relationship management, developing people, and well-being. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s in chemical engineering. Outside of work, Maria enjoys spending time with her family and loves music, boxing, running, and being outdoors.
“I’ve been leading the WITS program at Deloitte for a handful of years, and the organization’s mission is so important to me. I am so excited that I am now getting a valuable seat on the board where I can meaningfully contribute more towards the strategy, decision making, and also learn! This is my first time as a first board member, and I am certain it will be an incredible opportunity to not only learn about how the organization is run but learn from other influential and intelligent members about fundraising and stewardship.”
Kevin Yao, Principal, Skybox Capital
Kevin Yao is a Principal at Skybox Capital. Kevin graduated with a bachelor’s in economics from Northwestern University. As a volunteer and Associate Board member, Kevin helped develop WITS programs and partnerships with Lazard and GTCR. In 2015, He joined WITS as a volunteer and served as the Associate Board’s Vice President from 2017-2019.
“Working with students as a WITS volunteer was an incredible and rewarding experience for me. I’m so excited to be part of the WITS mission and help provide others the opportunity to share their love of reading, too!”