BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Paula Olszewski-Kubilius - President
Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubilius is currently the director of the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University and a professor in the School of Education and Social Policy. Over the past 32 years, she has created programs for diverse groups of gifted learners and written extensively on issues of talent development, particularly on programming for under-represented gifted students and outside-of-school and accelerative models of gifted education. Her most recent work is a monograph written with Rena Subotnik and Frank Worrell, “Rethinking Giftedness and Gifted Education: A Proposed Direction Forward Based on Psychological Science”, published by the Association for Psychological Science, which received the Award for Excellence in Research in 2013 from the Mensa Education and Research Foundation of Mensa International, Limited, She has served as editor of Gifted Child Quarterly, co-editor of the Journal of Secondary Gifted Education and on the editorial review boards of Gifted and Talented International, The Roeper Review, and Gifted Child Today. She currently is on the board of trustees of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and the Illinois Association for the Gifted. She also serves on that advisory boards for the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary and the Robinson Center for Young Scholars at the University of Washington. She is the past- president of the National Association for Gifted Children from whom she received the Distinguished Scholar Award in 2009 and the GCQ Paper of the Year Award in 2011. (Term Concludes 12.31.19)
Jeanine Buishas - President Elect
Jeanine Buishas is currently the Coordinator of Gifted Services for the DuPage Regional Office of Education. Her advocacy for gifted and talented children is the result of over 30 years of experience in gifted education. In her previous role as an Instructional Specialist for Indian Prairie School District, she supported schools in the development and implementation of a K-8 Gifted/Talented program, led curriculum revision teams in advanced English Language Arts and Mathematics, and facilitated professional learning opportunities for district educators. Throughout her tenure in the district, she served on school and district leadership teams, acted as a liaison to the gifted parent organization, and mentored new gifted-resource and cluster-classroom teachers. Jeanine’s passion for supporting classroom teachers in differentiating instruction and developing a better understanding of the diverse needs of advanced learners continues as she facilitates workshops, conference presentations, and graduate courses. She is a graduate of Western Illinois University with degrees in Elementary and Special Education, and she holds a Master in Educational Psychology/Gifted Education from Northern Illinois University. In addition to her current position as President-elect, she also serves as Co-Chair on the Education Committee of the Illinois Association for Gifted Children. (Term Concludes 12.31.19)
Susan Rhodes - Past President
Susan Rhodes retired after 35 years in public education in Illinois. During her last nine years Susan served as the principal of Iles School, a gifted magnet school in Springfield serving 450 identified gifted and talented students in grades 1-8. Ten years prior to being principal, Susan worked as a central office administrator in mathematics curriculum and gifted education. She was a leader in developing the district’s magnet school that began in 2000. Prior to her employment in Springfield District 186, Susan was at Educational Service Center #8, a five county region in northwestern Illinois working with 40 school districts providing math, science and gifted education staff development, initiating an annual conference for fine arts educators, and successful grant writer. Susan taught in grades 5-8 for eleven years in Walnut, a small rural school she attended as a child and taught summer school programs for gifted learners. In 2001 Susan was a contributor to the NAGC’sStandards in Action Publication. Susan has been a Reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education “Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program” Competitive Grants in addition to evaluating proposals at the Illinois State Board of Education and serving from 1994-2007 on the ISBE Teacher Education Site Visit Teams. She has been a regular contributor to IAGC’s annual Journal, a convention presenter, IAGC board member since 2008, adjunct faculty member for Benedictine University, National Louis University, and Lincoln Land Community College. Susan currently serves on the Illinois State Board of Education Gifted Advisory Council. (Term Concludes 12.31.19)
Denise Kuchta - Secretary
Denise Kuchta is the Coordinator for Gifted, as well as the Mathematics Instructional Coach at Queen Bee School District 16, where she re-established the gifted program in 2015-2016. Throughout her career, she has worked closely with students in grades 3-8, specializing in mathematics, gifted education and acceleration for math and English/Language Arts, and special education and interventions.
Denise serves on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Association for Gifted Children, and is the Secretary of the organization. She has served on the Social/Emotional Committee as well as the Networking Committee for several years. She also recently served as the chair of the IAGC Leadership Retirement Committee. Her passion in gifted education stems from life-long giftedness and the unique path students will take from the K-8 system to high school and into adulthood. She is committed to the needs of underrepresented learners and providing opportunities that facilitate life goals. She is also an advocate for educating the parents of gifted children – as well as parental involvement in education.
Denise has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with endorsements in Mathematics, History, Language arts, and Middle school Teaching from Western Illinois University. She has a Master’s Degree in Administrative Leadership (Type 75) and an endorsement in Gifted Education from Aurora University.
Denise met her husband, Nick, in an undergraduate English course for gifted and talented students. Over the years, her interest in giftedness for adults has been of interest. Together, Denise and Nick have one daughter. (Term Concludes 12.31.19)
Jill Ko - Treasurer
Jill Ko is a Certified Public Accountant, Controller and Human Resources Manager with Allways Precision, Inc. Jill earned a Bachelors in Science, Accountancy, from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Jill has over 20 years CPA experience in non-profit, for-profit, entrepreneurial, and auditing. In 2008 and 2009, Jill organized the IAGC Springfield Day with hundreds of children in yellow shirts visiting their legislative representatives advocating for their needs to be met. Jill has also served as President of PACE parent organization (now PTAG) in Oswego District 308 and was a member of the Illinois Math and Science Academy Parent Advisory Council. (Term Concludes 12.31.19)
Eric Calvert, Ed.D., currently serves as co-chair of IAGC’s Policy and Advocacy Committee. Dr. Calvert is Associate Director at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development (CTD) where he oversees programs for middle and high school students and provides consulting and program evaluation services to K-12 school districts. Previously he has overseen gifted education policy and international education initiatives for the Ohio Department of Education, led K-12 student programs at Purdue University’s Gifted Education Resource Institute, taught graduate courses in gifted education and educational technology, and served as a consultant to the International Studies Schools Network. He earned his doctorate in educational leadership from Bowling Green State University, a master’s degree in educational psychology from Purdue, and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the University of Central Missouri with certifications in language arts and speech and theatre education. He is also an active member of the Ohio Association for Gifted Children and the National Association for Gifted Children. (Term Concludes 12.31.21)
Dr. Adrienne Coleman, a Diversity & Inclusion speaker/researcher, serves as the Multicultural Education Specialist at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA). In this role, she is responsible for promoting a culture that appreciates, affirms, and includes students, faculty, and staff from a multiplicity of cultural backgrounds, who have high talent and interest in mathematics and science. She previously worked at Rutgers University as a Program Development Specialist, Research Assistant and Adjunct Faculty with the Bloustein School of Public Health as well as at Illinois State University as a Health Educator. She has served as an AmeriCorps member and has been part of the United States delegation team that assisted Moldova (Eastern Europe) in addressing issues of human trafficking and inadequate health education.
Dr. Coleman is the recipient of the NAACP 2016 Trailblazer in Education Award, the 2013 - 2016 Leon Lederman Scholar’s Awardand the IMSA 2012 E = MC2 award. Her areas of interest include public health, social justice/diversity education and higher/gifted education. She is a qualitative researcher who has examined the motivation of Black and Latino students to engage in the STEM education and careers. Her research has informed STEM programs throughout the nation. She hopes to contribute to the education and economic development of students from underrepresented populations by continuing her research on the motivation of culturally and linguistically diverse students engaged in STEM, ultimately strengthening and diversifying the STEM education to career pipeline.
Dr. Adrienne Coleman possesses a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Argosy University and a Master of Science Degree in Health Education as well as a Master of Science in Educational Administration and Foundation both from Illinois State University. (Term Concludes 12.31.19)
Susan Corwith is an Associate Director with Center for Talent Development (CTD) at Northwestern University. Dr. Corwith leads the Admissions & Advising, Assessment, School and Family Services, and Marketing and Communications teams at CTD. She brings to her role extensive experience in program design and evaluation, advocacy and outreach. She received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in educational leadership and policy analysis with an emphasis on high-quality programs for gifted students. For over 20 years Dr. Corwith has been active in the field of gifted education, working as a K-12 educator, gifted program coordinator, administrator and researcher. Dr. Corwith is also an instructor in the School of Education and Social Policy’s gifted masters and certificate programs and serves on accreditation teams for AdvancEd and CAEP. Prior to joining CTD, she was President of the Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to meeting the needs of gifted students. (Term Concludes 12.31.20)
Newenka came to the field of giftedness out of concern for her two gifted daughters. A former management consultant with Accenture, she put her management skills to work advocating for their needs. She started the Gifted Education Cooperative, GECO, which supported the needs of gifted children and their families in her community. As a member of the IAGC advocacy committee, Newenka organized the first Take Our Gifted Children to Springfield Day, where hundreds of yellow-shirted gifted children, their parents and teachers descended upon our capitol to meet their representatives. Newenka is a founding member and the current president of the Chicago Gifted Community Center, a 501(c)(3) organization committed to facilitating educational and emotional support for gifted children and their families. Newenka is also the SENG liaison for Illinois, an experienced SENG Model Parent Group facilitator and frequent presenter on topics related to raising gifted children. Newenka joined the IAGC Board of Directors in 2016. As a board member she has focused on the needs of parents and on the technology needed to manage the organization. She would love to hear what parents feel IAGC should be doing to support their needs and the needs of their children. (Term Concludes 12.31.20)
Connie Lee is an assistant principal in a Chicago Public School Regional Gifted Center. She is a proud graduate of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and has worked for CPS as teacher and administrator for over 15 years. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign, Urbana with an Elementary Education degree and a minor in Mathematics. She also has a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership.
Her passion is to continue to serve gifted students in an urban school setting. With a growth mindset, Connie knows that she still has a lot to learn, to grow, and to accomplish. She strongly believes in the importance in collaborating and working alongside with other educators, parents, students, and administrator to advocate and support the academic and social and emotional needs of gifted and talented children. (Term Concludes 12.31.19)
Dr. Jose M. Torres was named President of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in 2014. He is a recipient of the Dr. Effie H. Jones Humanitarian Award (2014) from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), an award honoring leadership in educational equity and excellence to those demonstrating an extraordinary “commitment to the advancement and mentorship of women and minorities in positions of leadership and/or demonstrate a commitment to address social justice issues among children, youth and adults in schools.”
At the invitation of the Governor of Illinois, Dr. Torres serves on the advisory committee for the Governor’s Technology Advisory Group; and the Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Youth. He also serves on the Cost of Segregation Education Advisory Group; and on the board of directors of the Illinois Association for Gifted Children, the Governor’s P-20 Council and Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois.
He is the former School Superintendent of Elgin School District U-46 where he implemented a five-year accountability plan that established new benchmarks supporting the District's 40,000 students' efforts to achieve academic success. He served on the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Equity and Excellence Commission (2011-2013) and provided recommendations for closing the achievement gap of English language learners. He is a past regional superintendent for theChicago Public Schools and has worked in school districts in San Jose, CA; Anne Arundel, Baltimore; Rockville, MD; Washington, D.C.; and the U.S. Department of Defense Schools.
Dr. Torres holds the degrees from the University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland): Bachelor Degree in General Studies (1983), Master of Education (1985), and a Doctor of Philosophy in Education Policy, Planning and Administration (1999). His hometown is San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Term Concludes 12.31.19)
April Wells is the Coordinator for Gifted, Academies, Advanced Placement and World Languages in Illinois School District U-46, where she facilitated the comprehensive redesign of the District’s gifted programming in 2012-2013. April serves on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Association for Gifted Children, and has presented at conferences including IAGC, National Association for Gifted Children, the Statewide Conference for Teachers Serving Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Students, and the College of William and Mary Center for Gifted Education. Her interests emphasize equity pedagogy, underrepresented learners, developing a gifted continuum of services, and providing instructional supports that allow students to maximize their pursuits. April is honored to support legislative efforts at the state level aimed at developing systemic supports for high ability learners. April has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from DePaul University, a master’s in Teaching and a master’s in Administration and Supervision from National Louis University. April is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Chi Alpha Omega Chapter in Schaumburg, IL. (Term Concludes 12.31.21)