Press Release

Illinois Humanities Welcomes Four New Board Members

September 3, 2015

Illinois Humanities Welcomes Four New Board Members

Brian Bannon, Verett Mims, Vesna Stelcer, and Jennifer Wirtz bring experience and enthusiasm that will help Illinois Humanities continue to bring the humanities to Illinois communities


Chicago — Illinois Humanities is excited to announce the addition of four new members to its Board of Directors. With wide-ranging experience, Brian Bannon, Verett Mims, Vesna Stelcer, and Jennifer Wirtz. “We are lucky to have Brian, Verett, Vesna, and Jennifer,” said Board Chair Deborah Epstein. “Their experience and enthusiasm will make a substantial contribution as Illinois Humanities continues its mission of bringing quality public programming to Illinois communities statewide.”

More about the new Board Members:

Brian Bannon is the commissioner and chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Library (CPL). The CPL is the most visited civic institution in Chicago and among the largest public library systems in the United States. Under Bannon’s leadership, this 140-year-old institution is stepping boldly into the twenty-first century by reimagining traditional services for new audiences and serving as a national model for how large legacy institutions can adapt and thrive in the knowledge and information economy. Prior to working in Chicago, Bannon held leadership roles at the San Francisco Public Library, Seattle Public Library, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Verett Mims is the Assistant Treasurer of Boeing, overseeing processes and controls to ensure compliance with accounting regulations, policies and procedures. Prior to joining Boeing, she served as Senior Treasury Manager at Sun Microsystems in Palo Alto, CA.  Previous experience includes positions at Citibank and NationsBank, as well as Hughes Aircraft Microwave Products Division. Ms. Mims holds an MBA from Stanford University, a Master’s degree from MIT and a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA.

Vesna Stelcer received her MA International Studies with Distinction from DePaul University.  Vesna is the Board Chair of the Ed Paschke Foundation and Director of the Ed Paschke Art Center. She is the past Executive Director of the MGR Foundation, a non-profit that focused on empowering youth through innovative health and well-being programs.  Vesna is the co-founder of the Rabb Family Foundation, along with her soulmate, Lionel Rabb and their two daughters.  The mission of the Rabb Family Foundation is to make our world a better place.

Jennifer Wirtz was raised in Champaign, IL and attended Booker T. Washington Magnet School as one of the first local children in a fully integrated public school. She graduated from Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam, WI, and Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, with a degree in Anthropology. She worked at Recycled Paper Products in Chicago and volunteers for Blackhawk Charities. She is familiar with the cultural, educational, and social environments of both downstate Illinois and the North Shore. Jen is currently a member of the North Shore Women’s Board for the American Cancer Society and is active with North Shore Country Day School, the Family Awareness Network, the Hyde Park Day School, and Glenview Community Church.

About Illinois Humanities

Illinois Humanities is an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, with a mission to strengthen society by fueling inquiry and conversation about the ideas and works that shape our culture. Illinois Humanities engages communities across Illinois in conversation in a variety of humanities programs that focus on Public Policy, Media & Journalism, Business, and Art. Illinois Humanities lowers barriers to participation and offers access to programs, events, and grants to all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. Illinois Humanities is supported by state, federal, and private funds. For more, visit