The Urban Prairie Board of Trustees is the planning and oversight body for the school. The Board keeps the school’s mission central in all of its processes. The Board is accountable for the fiscal and legal health of the school.
The Board of Trustees welcomes all members of our community to its monthly study and meeting. Board meetings are held the second Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. and are open to the public prior to closed sessions. There is no meeting in July or December.
Minutes for the monthly meetings are available to the community.
Adriana HaroBoard Member
Adriana Haro (she/her) is a dedicated professional serving as the senior performance analyst at Altair Advisers, with over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. She is proud to have grown up in Pilsen, her upbringing offering a unique perspective of the resilience and hard-working families of the south side in Chicago. She treasures quality time spent with her loved ones and enjoys road trips, traveling, and time in the great outdoors, indulging in activities like glamping with her husband Miguel. Adriana is parent to Miguel (class of 2024) and Matias (class of 2028).
Celeste AddymanBoard Member
Celeste Addyman (she/her) joins the Board as secretary. She is an attorney with a fierce dedication to indigent criminal defense. She is currently a member of the Forensic Science Division of the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, where she litigates complex forensic science issues, such as forensic DNA profiling, firearms examination, and acoustic gunshot detection, on behalf of her clients and in conjunction with trial teams. In addition to her litigation practice, Celeste trains other lawyers on how to handle forensic evidence in their cases. Celeste is a fifth-generation Chicagoan, born and raised on the south side. She and her husband, Dave, have three children at Urban Prairie: Colm and Olivia in grade 1 and Aoife in grade 3. She is a proud member and executive board secretary of AFSCME Local 3315, and enjoys traveling, knitting and reading in her spare time.
Heather La RiviereHandwork Teacher/Board Member
Heather La Riviere
Heather La Riviere (she/her/hers) is a native of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and grew up in an Army family. She earned a BA/MA from the University of Chicago with general and special honors in Romance Languages. She worked as the Director of Adult and Youth Programs at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and as the Director of the Shoreland Language Commons at the University of Chicago. A self-taught fiber artist and seamstress, Heather has made clothing, costumes, quilts, and many, many knitted projects. She also enjoys abstract painting, playing the piano, performing in community dance and theater, and open-water swimming. She lives in Hyde Park with her family.
Jennifer SuttonBoard Member
Jennifer Sutton (she/her/hers) is the Principal of the CPS high school Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center (which 3 UPWS alumni attend) and the parent of a ‘21 UPWS graduate.
Laura GrenholmBoard Member
Laura Grenholm (she/her) is senior enrollment director at the Chicago Waldorf School where she has served for the last six years. She has invested the last two decades in progressive education, including work in nonprofits and both public and independent schools. Laura began her career as an outdoor educator in Los Angeles, CA. This unique entry point led her to become the founding principal of an environmental, alternative public charter high school for inner city youth who were not successful in the traditional school system. Her passion for supporting educators, students, and their families has led to various leadership roles including head of school at the Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica, deputy director of program with Citizen Schools Illinois, and program manager with Office of New Schools in Chicago Public Schools.
Rachel ManigaultBoard Member
Rachel Manigault (she/her/hers) joined the Board of Trustees at Urban Prairie Waldorf School in the Summer of 2020, where her husband of 9+ years, Dan Galat, co-directs the Orchestra Program. Rachel’s background is centered in the Tech Industry and she currently works at Kin + Carta, a global consulting firm, as a Sr. Manager across two roles: technical product owner for the firm’s global Professional Services Automation system, and business intelligence lead for delivery operations in the Americas region. Colleagues often describe her as a positive, energetic, and collaborative person where her greatest strength is found in producing order from chaos. At home, Rachel enjoys artistic hobbies such as painting, poetry writing, baking sourdough bread, making kefir, and even home roasting her own coffee. Aside from her crazy 10-year old cat named Monkey, her main love is discovering new systems of organization and planning, and then sharing out those useful tidbits of practical application with others.
Robert WelcherClass Teacher/Board Member
Rob Welcher (he/him/his) began his Waldorf teaching career in 2011 during Urban Prairie's nascent years in the storefront at 16th and Halsted. He taught math and science (7th-12th grades) at Chicago Waldorf School from 2012-2019, where he was also a high school class advisor. Throughout his treasured time as a high school teacher, he always held in his heart that the grades were where he eventually hoped to share his love for the curriculum and regale younger students with stories. So, he was delighted to rejoin the Urban Prairie community in 2019 to become the class teacher for the class of 2027.
Outside of the Waldorf world, Rob has strong interests in dance, swimming, and biomechanics. Among his many adventures, he was a college professor and swim coach (University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, 2000-2006), a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist (2018), and has taught and performed contact improvisation dance in the Chicago area, around the country, and a couple times abroad.
Rob holds a Waldorf teaching certificate from Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program, a B.A. in Mathematics (Minor: Dance) from Potsdam College of State University of New York, an M.S. in Kinesiology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and has completed Post-M.S. studies in exercise science biomechanics at Arizona State University.
Sharla PaulHead of School
Sharla Paul (she/her/hers) is responsible for the overall operational management and vision of Urban Prairie. She oversees the school’s financial health, shepherds its governance policies and procedures, and works in collaboration with pedagogical leadership to ensure robust educational programs to meet the students and families who are drawn to Urban Prairie. Sharla chairs the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Team. Together with the Board, she led the Sustainability Team's successful effort to reduce Urban Prairie's carbon footprint by nearly 70% and receive the 2022 US Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools Award. As a co-founder of Urban Prairie, she has been engaged in the life of the school since 2008 through strategic planning, fundraising, creating its visual and written identity, and establishing its people processes. Sharla holds a BA in English language and literature from Grinnell College and completed her Waldorf Foundations certification in 2018. She has 25 years of nonprofit communication experience, including her work with the University of Chicago Magazine and the National HeadStart Association. Sharla enjoys river paddling, biking the Chicago lakefront, and backpacking remote trails. She has three sons, including UPWS alumni in the classes of 2017 & 2020 and a student in the class of 2024.
Sue MukherjeeBoard Member
Sue Mukherjee (she/her/hers) MD is a pediatric rehabilitation specialist and the medical director of Rehabilitation Services at Shriners Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She has Marina in grade 6 and Zale in grade 2. Their family transferred to Urban Prairie after homeschooling.
Valerie FairchildBoard President
Valerie Fairchild (she/her/hers)