KELLY FAIR – President
Kelly Fair is the Founder and Executive Director of the Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program. This Illinois Gold Star-rated mentoring program enhances girls’ and young women’s life skills, career readiness, and leadership ability. She is the author of They’re All the Same Girl, and Every Girl Is a CEO. Kelly is an award-winning social entrepreneur and sought-after speaker who advocates for girls, women, mentoring, and workforce pipelining.
BETSY COVELL – Board Secretary
Betsy Covell has enjoyed a 30+ year career at Nokia, where she is a leader in developing global wireless standards, most recently for 5G. In addition to applying her problem-solving skills to telecommunications, Betsy is involved in various volunteer efforts promoting the health, education, and well-being of women and girls in her community. Betsy has been on the Polished Pebbles Board for three years. During that time, she volunteered at the Saturday program, brought in speakers and programs on STEM and other career options, and actively played Board development and fundraising.
ANDRE FAIR – Treasurer
With over 20 years of business experience, Andre Fair is a seasoned professional known for his expertise in improving financial conditions and operational dynamics on a global scale. Currently serving as the President of Omar Supplies, a leading global supply company. As a Certified Public Accountant, he skillfully manages planning and control, consistently delivering outstanding financial results by reducing costs and increasing overall profits. Besides his professional achievements, Andre actively contributes to several boards, including the Reflections Foundation, Centers for New Horizon, and the Dr. Willie Wilson Foundation, where he serves as Director and Treasurer. These organizations focus on empowering individuals and communities with programs such as the Polished Pebbles mentoring program, family development, and support for the underserved.
MAE BYS TAYLOR, CPA – Assistant Treasurer
Mae is a results-driven and highly organized executive with over 20 years of accounting, financial reporting, and analysis expertise. This accomplished professional has a track record of successfully executing and supporting critical initiatives to drive growth within the nonprofit and financial services sectors. With a proven ability to manage diverse teams, this executive excels at aligning organizational mission and values with strategic goals, fostering an efficient, effective, and motivated team. A strong team player, they possess exceptional relationship-building skills and excel in communication with individuals at all levels of management, professional staff, and other stakeholders.
Koshonna Brown is a highly accomplished Biological Scientist with Radiation Oncology and Public Health expertise. She holds a PhD in Radiation Oncology and a Masters in Public Health from Northwestern University. During her doctoral research, she focused on utilizing nanoparticles to enhance radiation treatment for lung and HPV-associated head and neck cancer. Koshonna actively collaborated with the Chicago Department of Public Health to improve HPV vaccination rates among adolescents and young adults. After completing her studies, she transitioned into the pharmaceutical industry, where she has held significant medical and scientific positions at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Daiichi Sankyo, and Exelixis. She is pivotal in Exelixis’ medical and scientific strategy group, delivering clinical and scientific education to oncologists and healthcare professionals.
Erlisa King, a Chicago native, is an accomplished insurance industry professional with over 30 years of experience. She is a Team Lead, overseeing broker relationships and managing a portfolio exceeding $20 million in premiums. Passionate about service, Erlisa chairs the International Committee for the Chicago Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., leading impactful community projects worldwide. She’s also a dedicated real estate investor and enjoys family time, reading, and travel, most recently exploring St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.
Oreal James, a Principal Partner at MD Capital Partners, Ltd., brings over 25 years of real estate, business, and community development expertise. He excels in optimizing core business functions and is renowned for advising on capitalization and financing for commercial and not-for-profit entities. Oreal’s strategic acumen is highlighted by his role in successful private/public joint ventures, such as the $90 million Harper Court Development in Chicago.
He has served as a senior advisor to State Senator (now Attorney General) Kwame Raoul. He is an active board member for faith-based organizations and community enterprises on Chicago’s southeast side. In 2019, Oreal was appointed to the IL Prisoner Review Board, and since August 2022, he has practiced law with a focus on criminal and constitutional matters. Oreal holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political and Economic Analysis and a Juris Doctor from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.
Dawn C. Milhouse is a native Chicagoan with over 25 years of proven non-profit management, marketing, public relations, and community service. In 2012 she and her husband Wilbur co–founded Milhouse Charities, a 501c3 organization purposed to “reinvest in the community by giving.” Dawn focuses on creating partnerships with local and global organizations, intent on impacting the lives of underrepresented children in STEM education and life skills. In addition to philanthropy, Dawn is a restaurateur and the President of a music marketing company that supports the arts, local musicians, and events with live performances.
Chanel Reid, a Lead Business Controls Specialist at Discover Financial Services, specializes in Customer Service and Experience. In her current role, she focuses on assessing and mitigating risks in customer-facing processes. Previously, as an Operations Manager, she emphasized relationship building, leadership development, and succession planning for her team. Chanel holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Jackson State University. Raised in Chatham, she attended Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep and participated in The Upward Bound program at the University of Chicago, where she first recognized the importance of mentorship. This experience was transformative and influenced her life’s path.
Chanel is passionate about preparing young individuals for life beyond college pathways. She actively engages with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, where she serves as a big sister, believing that teaching life skills at an early age fosters well-rounded members of society. Grateful for her mentors who gave her a broader perspective, Chanel now strives to offer similar support to others. She also serves as a professional mentor to her colleagues at Discover, embodying her commitment to being the mentor she wished she had while growing up.
LATRINA (TRINA) SHEPHERD
LaTrina is an accomplished communications professional and is Wells Fargo’s VP, Philanthropy, and Community Impact lead for Illinois and Wisconsin. With over 15 years of corporate communications experience, she offers valuable expertise in media relations and strategic communications counsel. LaTrina’s career spans diverse industries, including telecom, iconic brands such as EBONY, JET, and Fashion Fair cosmetics, where she held positions as a corporate communications manager and project director. She has also served as a spokesperson for the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office and worked as a crime reporter and columnist for the Herald News. LaTrina holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and radio/television broadcasting from Lewis University and actively contributes to the boards of City Incite and Polished Pebbles, an organization focused on mentoring and empowering girls.
SHAUNNA D. SIMS-DAVIS
Shaunna currently serves as the Chief Deputy of External Affairs at the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, overseeing Legislative Affairs, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Policy and Programs. Her previous role was as the Director of Community Development Initiatives at the University of Chicago, focusing on community economic development in the mid-south side neighborhoods. Shaunna brings a wealth of experience, having served as the Deputy Procurement Officer in the City of Chicago’s Department of Procurement Services and as the Political Director to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Beyond her professional roles, Shaunna’s strong commitment to her community and passion for mentoring youth is evident in her dedication to her family and her role in public service.
President Kari K. Steele was elected as a Commissioner at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) in 2012 and re-elected in 2018. In January 2019, she assumed the role of President of the Board of Commissioners. Within the MWRD, President Steele serves as the Chairman of the Engineering Committee and the State Legislation and Rules Committee while also holding the position of Vice Chairman of the Procurement Committee.
With more than 11 years of experience as a chemist, including roles at the Jardine Water Purification Plant and MWRD, President Steele brings valuable expertise in water chemistry and operational efficiencies to her leadership. She is a respected member of various organizations, including the Illinois Women’s Institute of Leadership, Sierra Club, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. President Steele holds a Pre-med degree in Chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana and has received numerous honors and awards for her outstanding leadership and contributions to the community.