D65 council to fill Tanyavutti seat in October

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After Anya Tanyavutti, longtime member and former president of the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board announced his resignation last weekthe board announced in a press release Tuesday morning a plan to appoint her replacement next month.

Tanyavutti’s resignation follows the resignation of former board vice-chairman Marquise Weatherspoon in August. The board received 13 applications from parents and community members interested in filling the Weatherspoon seat, ultimately selecting Tracy Olasimbo, Evanston Public Library’s Family Engagement Coordinator, at a meeting held on Monday. September 19.

In Tuesday’s press release, the board said it would select one of 12 other candidates who applied for Weatherspoon’s vacancy to replace Tanyavutti at a special board meeting scheduled for Monday, October 10.

“The Board of Directors recently observed a thorough and timely process of seeking candidates to fill another vacant position,” the press release reads. “The application process resulted in the receipt of 13 completed applications from a diverse group of community members. The Board will appoint a highly qualified candidate from the pool to the new vacant Board seat.

Below is a list of the other 12 candidates, not including Olasimbo, and previous roundtable coverage. has more detailed information about each candidate.

  • Erin Booker, a former early childhood educator who is currently a real estate broker with Engel and Volkers
  • Chanelle Brown, Personal Stylist and Head of Visual Merchandising for Target
  • Joan Chiao, assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern University, also with a doctorate in psychology from Harvard University
  • Robert “Bob” Easter, Managing Director of Central Piedmont Investment Group, Finance Committee Member of the Evanston Community Foundation, Board Member of Lending for Evanston and Northwestern Development, and Mayor’s Employer Advisory Council Volunteer
  • Jo Ann Flores-Deter, Acting Site Manager for the Ravinia Festival and a former specialist in school partnerships for non-profit associations Communities in Chicago Schools
  • Tammytha Johnson, senior insurance broker at AON, former Foundation 65 board member and a mentor and board member for Evanston Scholars
  • Jenna Morgan, executive assistant at a law firm and freelance writer and writer with a BA in English from Northwestern University
  • Sharon Riley Morris, an early childhood educator who works for Right At School, an organization that provides before and after school child care to families in District 65
  • Christine Percheski, associate professor of sociology at Northwestern University
  • Omar G. Salem, director of professional issues for the Illinois Federation of Teachers and former teacher and coach at Niles North High School in Skokie
  • Henry Wilkins, chief financial officer of operations at SC Johnson and executive at Evanston Rod School who participated in planning discussions for the new Fifth Ward School
  • Mya Wilkins, executive director of marketing research at JPMorgan Chase, holds an MBA from Northwestern University

Kevin Jauch, the regional superintendent for school districts in Northern Cook County, Illinois, told the roundtable that drawing from the same group of candidates who applied for a different vacancy is common practice when ‘another vacancy arises shortly after the previous one.

The school board has 60 days after the announcement of the resignation to appoint a replacement. As long as members make a timely selection, they can choose the nomination process they think is best, according to Jauch.

“I think it makes perfect sense [to use the existing applicant pool]. As a board, they may have sat down and said, “Oh my God, look at this. We have two, three very good candidates, but we can only offer the job to one, ‘and they offer the job to that one,’ Jauch said. “They just went through the process, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that they do it that way.”

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