This year's theme for the


Professional Development Network

Jan Fitzsimmons


Jan Fitzsimmons, Ph. D. taught and administered programs at North Central College (NCC) from 1985 – 2020, most recently as Executive Director of the Urban Education Laboratory. A former public school teacher, principal, and curriculum director, she is the founder of NCC’s Junior/Senior Scholars Program (serving 200 students from under-resourced communities in Chicago and East Aurora), Promise Teacher Corp, and the Urban Education Laboratory. In 2004 with the support of the The Associated College of Illinois she established the Center for Success for High-Need Schools. She has attracted more than $17 million in funding for preparing future and beginning teachers to serve in the country’s most needy schools. 

Jerry Berbert


Jerry Berberet, Ph.D., has edited the Center online journal Success in High Need Schools since the journal’s inception in 2001. During his long academic career, Dr. Berberet served as a State University, of New York tenured American historian and director of a SUNY environmental science program; liberal arts dean at Willamette University in Oregon, vice president of academic affairs at North Central College in Illinois, Carroll College in Montana, and the Associated Colleges of Illinois; and founding executive director of the Associated New American Colleges. He has edited several books and numerous articles and can be reached at and 850-766-2656.

Kijuana Boulrece


Kijuana Boulrece is passionate about youth and education. Currently she is a practicing therapist in Naperville, IL assisting adolescents and adults empowering to face and overcome adversity. Previously she has worked in psychiatric residential facility serving for youth with acute mental illness from 6-21 years of age. She has over 20 years of experience helping students who are considered marginalized and underprivileged to navigate systems, give hope, and inspiration toward success.
She is a member of the DuPage County NAACP serving as Chairperson of the Education Committee. Her primary role is to ensure that all and students of color are on the path to college or a successful career and dedicated to eliminating racial inequities that plague our education system. Additionally, as a facilitator for the Education Committee, she planned and developed a partnership with North Central College for a summer Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEM) Program for students in 4 th -6 th grade. This research program has been successful and has been in existence for four (5) years. Kijuana has worked in Higher Education and Accounting and Finance. She has taught in the public school system to gain an understanding of the school to prison pipeline to interrupt the trajectory of students. Additionally, she serves as a teacher in Children’s Ministry for 15 years at Life Changers International Church, an active member within in the Oswego School District, as well as served as a mentor/volunteer for Jr. and Sr. scholars of North Central College for students in the Aurora and Chicagoland area.
Kijuana received her undergraduate degree from North Central College in Naperville, IL and graduate degree from Northwestern University. She is a member of American Counseling Association.

Teri Marx


Dr. Teri Marx began her educational career over fifteen years ago as a team lead through the Center for Success in High Need School’s Junior/Senior Scholars Program. She served as a mentor to both K-12 public school students and their educators in this position. Additionally, she co-directed the Program’s educational summer camp, which provided college exposure to youth from high need communities and simultaneously prepared educators to work in high need settings. These experiences prepared Dr. Marx for her career as a school social worker in urban and Title I public schools, where she implemented positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) infused with trauma-informed practices. She went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), where she focused on culturally responsive inclusive education for students with emotional, behavioral, and intellectual disorders. Dr. Marx is a published author on topics related to disability policy and advocacy in special education. She presents nationally on topics related to implementing PBIS and multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS), universal design for learning, equitable education for students with disabilities, intensive intervention through data-based individualization, culturally responsive practices, and effective teaming practices. In her current role as Senior Researcher at the American Institutes for Research, Dr. Marx provides intensive technical assistance and professional development to states, districts, and schools through the National Center on Intensive Intervention, the PROGRESS Center, the Rhode Island Intensive Math Intervention Project, and the Utah State Personnel Development Grant. Across these projects, Dr. Marx collaborates with state and local administrators to help improve their systems, competencies, and practices to ensure the best outcomes for all learners. She has an A.A. degree from the College of DuPage, a B.A. from North Central College, an M.S.W. from the Jane Addams College of Social work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Special Education from UNLV.

Rebecca Nelson


“Becky” is an Associate Professor at North Park University and Dean of its School of Education. In her role as dean, she works with all of the School of Education’s programs including undergraduate and graduate teacher education, principal preparation, and continuing development for licensed teachers. “It is a privilege to work with students who come to us with a desire to develop their educational skills and an honor for those of us who teach and lead in the School of Education to walk alongside our students as they learn, grow, and serve,” says Dr. Nelson.
An alumna of North Park, Dr. Nelson returned to the University and the School of Education for its mission and vision. To Dr. Nelson, North Park’s unique identity, distinctively Christian, intentionally urban, and purposefully multicultural values provides a framework for incorporating faith into our daily interactions with students. She believes these values help inform her students’ teaching abilities.
“Our students become teachers in schools throughout the country and world. The School of Education provides a unique opportunity for students who are looking to be exceptionally well trained and want to serve others,” exclaims Dr. Nelson.
Dr. Nelson also brings significant real-world experience as an educator and administrator to her role as both dean and professor. She taught grades one through six in the Prairie-Hills School District in Markham, Illinois. She was the principal of Markham Park School and of Greenbriar School in Northbrook, Illinois and served as the superintendent of schools in Skokie School District 69.

Marian “Lisa” Pettaway,


Lisa Pettaway has had a distinguished career in higher education fundraising and currently serves as Director of Annual Giving at her alma mater, North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. In her primary role as Director, Lisa leads a team of development professionals responsible for growing the College’s unrestricted giving. Additionally, Lisa formulates and guides the College’s relationships with many business and civic organizations, including INROADS (the premier resource for the development of talented, underserved youth in preparation for corporate and community leadership). As recognition of her leadership, Lisa accepted INROADS’ outstanding University Partner Award, in 2013, for establishing the gold standard as the College’s liaison for INROADS.
In her over 25-year career, Lisa has delivered measurable, impact-driven fundraising results. She enjoys meeting people, getting to know them and hearing their stories. Also very important to her, is the desire to be a valuable resource in the lives of college students — many who seem to regularly find their way to her office for guidance or just to talk.
Lisa’s fulfillment of her civic responsibilities equally matches her passion for the collegiate ecosystem. Her community involvement has included Board Member of the Naperville YMCA Child Development Center, member of the Re-Accreditation Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee, the Coalition on Diversity in Education (CODE), the NCAA National Track & Field Steering Committee, and several committees focused around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion—all at North Central College. Lisa served on the Naperville School District 204 Educational Foundation Advisory Council and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Lisa is a two-time graduate of North Central College, first earning a Bachelor of Arts degree double majoring in Sociology and Theatre, and later, an MBA with a multicultural marketing concentration.
Married to her college sweetheart, Frank, for close to 24 years, Lisa is also the proud mother of their three boys: Myles, Luke and Brock. As a self-described foodie, Lisa enjoys good food, reading a good book — with good food, and traveling to places with family to enjoy — more good food.

Glenn “Max” McGEE


Glenn “Max” McGee is recognized as a dynamic leader and inspiring speaker on critical issues concerning leadership, student mental health, and racial equity. He has made it his life’s work to advocate and act decisively to support underrepresented students to assure their opportunity and access to impactful programs and services. Max’s passions lie in developing the potential of historically underrepresented youth and leading school districts through turbulent times. Since 1972 Max has held positions ranging from substitute teacher to the State Superintendent. He has coauthored two books, several articles and served on numerous boards. His cover story, “Confronting Student Suicide” for School Administrator received wide acclaim as have his “community conversations” series and student and staff wellness workshops. He is also the monthly contributor to that journal’s Ethical Educator column. His most recent publication was a case study titled “Have Nots to Have: A Compelling Case for Minority Talent Development” published in Transformative Leadership in Action: Allyship, Advocacy & Activism