Governance

Tracing a new path forward.

Farsighted community leaders established the Yerkes Future Foundation in 2018 to preserve and protect Yerkes Observatory, ensuring that it will remain a civic asset in perpetuity. The Foundation’s directors negotiated with the University of Chicago for the transfer of the Observatory, which was completed in 2020. Yerkes will continue to be a place of intrigue and charm that our community can take pride in for generations to come.

Yerkes Future Foundation Board of Directors 2022
Officers

Working in corporate finance for SC Johnson Company, Dianna became business manager for the Prairie School (Racine). She is retired and serves on various community boards. Dianna received her MBA from Harvard Business School.

“It’s the quiet moments that inspire me at the confluence of the spirit of what Yerkes was and the spirit of what it will become.”

Formerly with Bernstein Wealth Management, Tom held positions with Ernst & Young and IBM. He is retired and serves on various community boards. Tom received his BS from Drake University.

“I could spend an entire day sitting under the oaks by the pollinator meadow: Yerkes in the background, bluebirds visiting their houses, and the meadow humming with butterflies and bees.”

Currently vice president of finance at Chubb Insurance, Bill previously held finance leadership positions with Allstate and Aviva Insurance. He is involved with various community organizations, including Boy Scouts. Bill received his MBA from DePaul University.

“I could sit all night long in the Yerkes dome with the 24-inch telescope and gaze at galaxies, nebulae, and clusters. I’m really excited to start public viewing sessions with children so they can see the wonders of the universe in real life.”

A trial attorney, Frank serves on various community and educational institution boards in Illinois and Wisconsin. He received his JD from Loyola University.

“I am excited that the public (those who have been here and newcomers) will be able to see the Great Refractor at Yerkes in person. Pictures do not do justice to this magnificent piece of equipment. It stirs the imagination!”

Trustees

Previously, Chuck led communications for McDonald’s Corporation and served as an executive with Burson Marsteller agency. He is now retired and serves on various community boards. Chuck received his BA from Bradley University and studied at the Department of Defense Information School.

“Yerkes is again becoming a place of learning where those curious about the universe can share their aspirations and develop their contributions to science.”

Dana is a community volunteer and supporter, along with her family, of a variety of regional organizations. She is current or past trustee of the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation, Wilmette History Museum, and other organizations. Dana received her BA from University of Illinois.

“Every time I head down the driveway into the ellipse and enter the building, I always get a shiver. It’s a grabber which has yet to ebb for me considering all that has happened here and is still to happen.”

Kate is president and majority shareholder of BioLife4D, a biotechnology firm. She is the founder of Nottingham Associates, a strategic consulting firm in the pharma sector. Kate is also a community volunteer and serves on various boards. She received her BA from Ball State University.

“As a child going up on the shores of Geneva Lake, I have fond memories of visiting Yerkes Observatory every summer.  Walking up the front steps to enter the massive structure always made me think of all who traveled over those steps and their accomplishments in exploring our universe. Every time I enter the building to this day, I am in awe and filled with amazement.”

Joe is partner at Barnes & Thornburg. He was previously deputy chief for environmental enforcement for the Illinois Attorney General’s office and is a former criminal prosecutor. Joe serves as a community volunteer. He received his JD from Southern Methodist University.

“You can’t discover something new if you point your big scope at something you already know is there, but pointing a telescope down on Yerkes would be great because I know every day will bring new discoveries.”

Peter is currently partner, at Water Street Healthcare Partners, a private equity firm based in Chicago. He serves on numerous corporate boards primarily in pharmaceuticals, as well as on various community and educational boards. Peter received his BA from Harvard University.

“My favorite astronomer ever to study at Yerkes is Edwin Hubble. His time as a graduate student here meaningfully contributed to his underlying motivation and determination to explore and believe leading to his remarkable footprint of accomplishments. Yerkes can continue to impact the next generation of leaders in astronomy, science, and the arts inspiring all of us to Think Big.”

Staff

Amanda received her PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Texas at Austin studying variations in how galaxies form, how they live their lives, and how they evolve into the diverse array of galaxy species we see today. Amanda aims to engage diverse communities with inclusive stories of technology and space, and inspire moments of discovery in our everyday lives.

“Having spent my career focused on so many different aspects of how astronomical discovery is generated and communicated, working with the talented team at Yerkes feels like the perfect culmination for inspiring creativity and scientific curiosity while engaging in modern exploration of the cosmos.”

Walt runs the tours, programs, marketing, web presence, public relations, and overall visitor experience. He has been in radio, television, tourism, and events for over 25 years and comes to Yerkes after 16 years at Chicago Trolley & Double Decker ,where he began as a tour guide and became executive director. He is currently on the board of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation and the advisory board for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, where he is the former chairman. He has a degree in poetry and creative writing from the University of Arkansas. Walt and his wife Kate got married at Yerkes and live nearby on their wooded acre with their baby Charles.

“I get goosebumps every day at work. As a staff, we want our visitors’ time here to be filled with wonder, tranquility, joy, and the pursuit of knowledge. We work to create a setting where astronomers and artists examine then express the profundity of the miracle of existence. My wife and I got married at Yerkes, had a son, and now I work here. C’mon, we are Cosmos Mariners!”

Dennis is responsible for the leadership and fundraising for Yerkes Future Foundation and the restoration and relaunch of Yerkes Observatory. He previously led science museums, contemporary art centers, and sculpture parks around the United States. He started his career leading exhibit design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian. Dennis is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and New York University. He lives in Milwaukee with his wife Kelly and a mixed family of five kids, ages 5 to 16.

“It is so exciting to be creating something that doesn’t yet exist anywhere in the world: a center for science and big ideas bringing researchers, artists, writers, poets, photographers, astronomers, and composers together to help us understand the universe and our own place in it. We hope to create a beacon for future generations of scientists to be inspired by. Coolest. Job. Ever.”

Keep Yerkes open for a new generation of explorers

Help us continue
the legacy.

More than a century ago a determined founder, masterful architect, skilled trades workers, diligent engineers and inventive entrepreneurs built Yerkes. Visionary scientists put it on the galaxy’s map. A dedicated group of locals saved Yerkes for future generations. And now we look to you. Please consider becoming a contributor and friend of Yerkes Observatory. Your participation means everything.

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