Press Release

Illinois Humanities Council Adds Five Members to Board of Directors

CHICAGO, IL- June 18, 2012— The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) Board of Directors is pleased to announce that effective July 1st, five distinguished Illinoisans: Josh Andrews, Elizabeth E. Cadwallader, Virginia Gerst, Jane A. Hays, and Karen Schmidt have joined the board. 

Each will begin a three-year term, and be eligible for two more terms. They join a board that recently elected Deborah E. Epstein as the new incoming chair, replacing the outgoing Alton B. Harris. Mr. Harris, along with outgoing board member Arthur M. Sussman, have been elected Life Directors of the IHC.    

Josh Andrews is a media and technology consultant and a partner at Lackner/Andrews, where he is a content producer, specializing in multi-platform communications and internet strategy. He has 15 years of experience working in public media. While at WBEZ – Chicago Public Radio, he served as the senior producer for Odyssey, a daily talk-show, which featured in-depth conversations on the issues and ideas that shape our world. Mr. Andrews studied Politics at the University of California-Santa Cruz. 

Elizabeth E Cadwallader (Betsy) has over 25 years of experience in credit risk management, senior, subordinated and equity financing and client management in the U.S. Middle Market. Betsy was Head of Middle Market Risk at Bank One Corporation, and Head of Middle Market Risk at Bank of America and Credit Risk Executive for Constellation Energy. Betsy led investment origination and portfolio management for JPM Mezzanine Capital, JPMorgan’s $1bn proprietary principal investment platform and co-managed Bank One Mezzanine, LLC’s $250 million legacy proprietary portfolio.  Betsy was also head of middle market loan syndications for Bank One Corporation and Head of Corporate Finance Product Origination for Bank One. 

Virginia Gerst is a community volunteer and a writer and editor specializing in the areas of food and the arts. She is immediate past chair of the board of the Court Theatre at the University of Chicago, is a member of the executive committee of the Green City Market and is a docent for the Chicago Architecture Foundation. She is a past recipient of the Chicago Headline Club Ethics in Journalism award and the University of Oregon’s Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism.

Jane A. Hays
is Managing Director of the Downey Group, Inc., an independent insurance advisory firm with offices in Chicago and Champaign. Ms. Hays works with business owners, executives, professionals, and families in funding business transition, retirement, wealth transfer, philanthropic and executive benefit plans.  A former practicing attorney, her legal experience includes estate planning, private securities offerings, general corporate, contract, and transactional representation, commercial real estate development, insurance defense litigation, and public pension matters. A native of Champaign, IL, Ms. Hays is a graduate of the University of Illinois and the University Of Illinois College Of Law.  

Karen Schmidt is University Librarian and Professor at Illinois Wesleyan University Ames Library and serves on the Bloomington city Council as Alderman for Ward 6. At IWU, she is responsible for leading the University Librarian faculty and staff in all areas, including information literacy, information technology, public & technical services, outreach. Prior to IWU, she was the Director of Library Collections and at the Graduate School of Library & Information Science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). She holds a Ph.D. in Library and Information Science at the UIUC, the M.A in Library Science and the B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Indiana University. 

“We are so pleased to add Josh, Betsy, Virginia, Jane, and Karen to our board of directors,” said Kristina A.Valaitis, IHC Executive Director. “They each bring a deep appreciation of the humanities, knowledge of Illinois, and individual creativity and expertise to the organization.” 

With these additions, 34 members now comprise the Illinois Humanities Council Board of Directors. They are:

Deborah Epstein (Chicago), Chair; Danielle Allen (Ex Oficio); Josh Andrews (Chicago); H.O Brownback (Ashland); Michelle L. Collins (Chicago); Marvin J. Dickman (Highland Park); Michael C. Dorf (Chicago); Maria L. Finitzo (Wilmette); Virginia Gerst (Chicago); Adam P. Green (Chicago); Alton B. Harris (Chicago); Jane A. Hays (Champaign); Joel F. Henning (Chicago); J. Paul Hunter (Chicago); Falona Joy (Chicago); Thomas E. Kallen (Chicago); Dwight A. Mcbride (Chicago); Anita Nagler (Chicago); James M. Newcomb (Wilmette); Diane L. Nyhammer (Rockford); John H. Peterson (Chicago); Gregory N. Petrowich (Carbondale); Robert P. Scales (Chicago); Karen Schmidt (Bloomington); Gerald Skoning (Chicago); Arthur M. Sussman (Chicago) Roger L. Taylor (Galesburg); David Thigpen (Chicago); Nancy Tom (Chicago); Maria (Nena) Torres (Chicago); Kay Torshen (Chicago); The Honorable George Van Dusen (Skokie); and Theodoros G. Zervas (Chicago). 

The IHC accepts public nominations for new Board members throughout the year. For more information about the IHC, call 312.422.5580 or visit

About the Illinois Humanities Council 
The Illinois Humanities Council is an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. The IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.

Media Contact:
Carlos Velázquez
(312) 422-5580, x233 


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