About the Presenters:
Jim Kales, President and CEO, Aspire
Jim Kales is CEO of Aspire, a nonprofit recognized throughout the Midwest as a leader in providing bold, pioneering and uncompromising services to kids and adults with developmental disabilities. Jim is an evangelist on building a winning, performance-based culture among Aspire’s team of 200 employees. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Aspire was named one of the 101 Best and Brightest Places to Work in the United States. Prior to joining Aspire, Jim served as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lake County, and as the director of communications for the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. He graduated summa cum laude from Bucknell University and received his master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Sandee Kastrul, Co-Founder and President, i.c. stars
Sandee Kastrul is president and co-founder of i.c.stars. i.c.stars provides opportunities to break the cycle of poverty that limits inner city youth. Through training in technology, leadership and business skills, i.c.stars prepares future leaders for careers in information technology and community leadership. As the founder of a nonprofit and social enterprise, Sandee discusses the powerful result of optimism and raising standards for our communities with a unique perspective on capitalism and civil rights. She has been working in education and transformation for over two decades. She worked as a teacher and consultant from early childhood classrooms through adult education affording her a wide perspective in project-based learning, leadership development, reverse mentoring and asset-based pedagogy.
Michelle Morales, Chief Executive Officer, Mikva Challenge
Michelle Morales is the CEO of Mikva Challenge Chicago. Prior to Mikva Challenge, Michelle worked as a teacher at an alternative high school and as associate director at the Alternative Schools Network. At Mikva Challenge, Michelle leads a staff that provides professional development to Chicagoland teachers in action civics and student-centered teaching, as well as facilitating youth councils that inform major city institutions. Michelle is passionate about the wisdom that youth possess. She has committed her career to reminding others of the power of youth voice and ensuring that there are spaces throughout Chicago that empower youth. She received a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University, a master’s degree in special education from UIC and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Michelle is also a fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago.