Deerfield Parents, Community Members Endorse Four Candidates for the 109 School Board
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2020
DEERFIELD, Ill. (Tuesday, December 15) -- The 22 members of the Deerfield District 109 Caucus comprised of volunteer parents and community members are endorsing four candidates for the 109 Deerfield Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education. The candidates will be running for the four open seats in the April 6 election. Each seat is for a four‐year term.
To gain the Caucus’ endorsement, these candidates competed with others in an extensive vetting process that included detailed written answers and interviews.
“Our Caucus allows Deerfield parents and community members to engage significantly with potential candidates in a very fair and rigorous process,” said David Mutnick, Caucus Chair. "We support these four candidates as the best-qualified Deerfield community members, who can navigate the enormous challenges COVID-19 has brought, as well as other important issues that this district will face.”
“Each is an independent thinker, bringing a unique set of skills and views to the Board,” Mutnick continued. “They will challenge not only themselves but their fellow board members to think creatively and work together on issues, both big and small, with the aim of ensuring the best education for all 109 students.”
The endorsed candidates are:
Kelly Jakymiw, a former special education teacher, is a wife and mom of four who has lived in Deerfield for 13 years. Three of her children currently attend 109 schools—one at Shephard and two at Walden—and one goes to Deerfield High School (DHS). She graduated with a B.S. in education with honors, and went on to work for Northern Suburban Special Education District (NSSED) as a teacher and consultant for eight years, including teaching at Ravinia and Wilmot elementary schools. She has also served in leadership roles for Walden’s PTO, including as president, and the local Pegasus FC nonprofit travel soccer club.
“I believe that I represent the characteristics that would allow me to build connections between stakeholders and that would allow me to put our children first,” Jakymiw wrote in her application about why she is seeking a seat on District 109’s Board of Education. She sees her fundamental goal as bringing the community together to provide the best educational practices and highest educational achievement for all 109 learners.
Maureen G. Wener, a nonprofit leader and former political strategist, has served as a Deerfield Public Library Trustee since 2015 and will be stepping down from the library board when her term expires in April. She attended Deerfield schools as a child and moved back to the village in 2008. She has one child in District 109 who attends Wilmot. Among her experiences, she has served as chief of staff to an Illinois state senator and worked in external relations for Rotary International. She holds a master’s in political science.
She has ideas for new initiatives to improve district communications, seek wider community/stakeholder input, enhance social-emotional learning, promote diversity, and improve best practices, among others. Wener would like to see these included in a revised strategic plan in light of the district’s current learning environment and new superintendent.
“Our school system is in a time of transition,” Wener wrote in her application of her desire to seek a 109 Board seat. “I have the ability to bring new ideas and new ways of approaching ideas/concerns/recommendations that will help the district continue on a successful path.”
Two of the endorsed candidates are currently board members, looking to continue their commitment to public service. They are:
Sari Montgomery, an attorney focusing on legal ethics, has lived in Riverwoods for 16 years and has three children, all of whom attended 109 schools and DHS, where her youngest currently attends. She has served on the DPS 109 Board of Education since 2013. She is currently Board secretary, and she chairs the executive development committee and sits on the policy committee. She holds a JD and is a member of the American, Illinois State, and Chicago Bar associations.
“I cannot overstate the complexity of the issues that the District faces with regard to the current pandemic,” Montgomery wrote in her application. “It is truly like no other issue that anyone on the Board, in the administration, or in the community has ever faced before, and the consequences of the decisions that we make can literally be life and death. … [The] experience and stability of support I can provide will be extremely helpful in the transition to a new superintendent.”
Andrew S. Morrison, the CEO of an education company, has worked in the field of education for 25 years. He has lived in Deerfield for 17 years and has four children, all of whom went to 109 schools. He was appointed to serve on Board in 2019, and currently serves on the finance and policy committees. He holds an MBA and a JD and has been a lawyer and investment banker.
He sees bringing the community together as one of the major issues the district faces, in addition to the pandemic. “For all the heat that has been generated by many of the issues over the past year, the feedback and criticisms are typically thoughtful, resourceful, and respectful,” Morrison wrote in his application. “I do not want to walk away in the middle of these challenging times, and perhaps I can also serve as a bridge between the old guard and the new guard.”
“I believe I have a lot to offer as we work our way through our current challenges,” he said.
More biographical information will be made available about the four endorsed candidates on the Caucus website in the coming weeks.
The Caucus Process
Caucus members are residents and parents in District 109, who come from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds.
“These 22 Caucus members represent a vibrant cross-section of our community, and 14 of them are serving for the first time,” Mutnick said.
Nineteen currently have children in 109 schools. Most serve, or have served, in various roles within the district, including as part of PTOs, 109 task forces, and others.
After five hours of lively deliberation and voting, the Caucus finished endorsing the four candidates around 12:30 a.m. on Friday, December 11.
“I was so impressed with all of our members’ hard work, attention to detail, and passion for our community and the issues at hand," Mutnick continued. “They were determined to ensure that only highly qualified candidates could earn our support. They kept open minds and the tenor of the discussions was insightful, respectful, and thorough.”
First-time member Kate Joyce said she was impressed by the “hours and hours” the Caucus spent vetting the candidates and her interactions with other members across the process.
“I really enjoyed meeting people from our community with differing backgrounds and views, and hearing why their opinions were important to them,” Joyce said. “We were able to finalize endorsements that I felt proud of because we allowed the process to happen. We did the homework and contributed as a team to reach that consensus.”
The DPS District 109 Caucus is a nonpartisan, community-based organization dedicated to maintaining and expanding the tradition of excellence manifest in Deerfield's elementary and middle schools, with its role in candidate endorsement at the core of its commitment to the citizens and students served by District 109 schools.
All candidate interviews were held virtually and recorded. These videos will be made available for viewing for a limited time. For access once they are available, please fill out the registration form here.
For more information, please visit www.dps109caucus.org.