Board of Trustees

 

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.

Chrisna Perry

Chrisna Perry

Board Member
Chrisna Perry

Chrisna Perry

Board Member

Chrisna Perry (she/her/hers) is an educational psychologist and founder of Comprehensive Learning Services, which provides academic, social-emotional, and executive functioning support services to individual students, families, and schools across the city. Chrisna is a member of our school’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Team.

Danila Miranda

Danila Miranda

Board President
Danila Miranda

Danila Miranda

Board President

Danila Miranda (she/ella) is the project coordinator and bookkeeper for Gonzalez Liquors, which has long donated to our fundraising events. For over a decade, she was a program director in the School of Continuing Studies at UIC, served on the board of Hyde Park Suzuki Institute, and serves as a non-scientific member of the Institutional Review Board at Lurie Children’s Hospital. As co-chair of UPWS’s Finance Committee, Danila has helped drive scenario planning and cultivate our relationship with the Rudolf Steiner Foundation, our primary financial partner. A longtime member of the Development Committee, she served on the school’s governance task force and the Interim DoA search team. Prior to the Board, Danila was a longtime room parent and parent organization delegate. She and her husband, Ruben Gonzalez, have three children, including two UPWS Alumni who graduated in 2020 and a student in the graduating class of 2023.

Elisa Davis

Elisa Davis

Board Vice President
Elisa Davis

Elisa Davis

Board Vice President

Elisa Davis (she/her/hers) is Assistant General Counsel Corporate & Compliance at Kaplan and a parent in grades 2 & 8. She was a board member at Urban Prairie in the school's early years and returns to serve as vice president.

Jen Kang

Jen Kang

Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Jen Kang

Jen Kang

Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Jennifer Kang (she/her/hers) is an educational leader who has led and taught for 15 years in American public schools and in international schools in Morocco, Lebanon, and Myanmar. Jen also homeschooled her own four children for six years, and she taught adults to design and build rainwater harvesting systems through a non-profit she founded in Texas. Before becoming an educator, Jen worked on economic development, salmon, and spotted owl issues for the State of Oregon in a public relations capacity, and she worked for five years as a journalist in Korea. Jen holds a master’s in Curriculum with a concentration in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern New Hampshire, as well as an MBA from the University of Oregon and a BA in Behavioral Science from the University of Chicago.

 

Jennifer Sutton

Jennifer Sutton

Board Member
Jennifer Sutton

Jennifer Sutton

Board 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.

Kelly Quesada

Kelly Quesada

Co-Orchestra Program Director/Board Member
Kelly Quesada

Kelly Quesada

Co-Orchestra Program Director/Board Member

Kelly Quesada (she/her/hers) is a cellist and educator based in Chicago. Active as both an orchestral and chamber musician, she has been playing in professional ensembles for over 10 years. In addition to performing with the Eugene, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa Symphonies, she was also the founding cellist of the Delgani String Quartet based in Eugene, Oregon. Kelly recently completed her tenure as principal cellist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, where she had the pleasure of sharing the stage with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Riccardo Muti, and the future leaders of the music world. Kelly is equally dedicated to teaching the next generation of musicians, currently teaching cello at Merit School of Music and South Side Suzuki. Kelly is extremely excited to be joining the Urban Prairie family in her first year!

Mike Grill

Mike Grill

Board Secretary
Mike Grill

Mike Grill

Board Secretary

Mike Grill (he/him/his) has served as the Secretary of the Board of Trustees since 2018. He joined the Urban Prairie community in 2015 when his oldest child began first grade at the Urban Prairie location on Lexington. He and his wife, Cody, now have two children at the school. Mike is a business litigation attorney with the law firm of Holland & Knight, where he focuses on disputes between owners of family and closely-held businesses and serves as the pro bono partner for the firm’s Chicago office. He also serves his community as an executive council member for Cara Chicago, and as a longtime member of his condominium board.

Nisreen Al-Qamari

Nisreen Al-Qamari

Board Vice President & Finance Chair
Nisreen Al-Qamari

Nisreen Al-Qamari

Board Vice President & Finance Chair

Nisreen Al-Qamari (she/her/hers) joined the Board in the Fall of 2018 and has been a member of the City Garden-Urban Prairie community since 2014. Her background is in Finance and she started her career doing Business Valuation. After taking a few years off, she now works in the Budget Department at the Chicago Transit Authority(CTA), which is challenging work considering the financial situation of the city and state!  She has 3 children attending UP - two in the graduating class of 2024 and one in 2025.

Rachel Manigault

Rachel Manigault

Board Member
Rachel Manigault

Rachel Manigault

Board 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 Welcher

Robert Welcher

Class Teacher/Board Faculty Representative
Robert Welcher

Robert Welcher

Class Teacher/Board Faculty Representative

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 Paul

Sharla Paul

Head of School
Sharla Paul

Sharla Paul

Head 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 Mukherjee

Sue Mukherjee

Board Member
Sue Mukherjee

Sue Mukherjee

Board 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 Fairchild

Valerie Fairchild

Board Member
Valerie Fairchild

Valerie Fairchild

Board Member

Valerie Fairchild (she/her/hers)