Board of Directors

Jennifer Baltes - Secretary

Justin Bell - Board Member

Justin joined the Minds Matter Chicago board in 2022. He leads a variety of internal diversity &
inclusion initiatives at DLA Piper, one of the world's largest law firms. He has nearly 20 years of
human resources experience in DEI, learning & development, and talent acquisition roles at
firms ranging in size from 25 to 250,000 employees, including larger firms such as Capgemini,
Freddie Mac, and Experis, a division of ManpowerGroup. Justin is also passionate about the
hobby board game industry; a lifelong gamer, he travels to tabletop conventions around the
world, reviews games for a popular website and joins gaming podcasts throughout the year.
However, Justin's greatest passion is his family; he lives with his wife and two children in Oak
Park and spends as much time as he can playing with the kids, enjoying a weekly date night,
and watching football with the family on Sundays.


Rhonda Bell - Chair

Rhonda has devoted her professional career to closing opportunity gaps for Chicago youth, often those who are the first in their family to enroll in college or who demonstrate significant financial need. She brings these fifteen years of college and career access leadership to Minds Matter Chicago. In her current position as Director of Postsecondary Initiatives at the Steans Family Foundation which invests in the North Lawndale community.  She is also a private College Counseling Consultant, former School Director for the Schuler Scholar Program, Upward Bound Director, and has spent ten years working for the College and Career Office at Chicago Public Schools where she managed multiple district wide programs. Ms. Bell holds a B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied early childhood education in graduate school, and is the proud mother of two children. She enjoys art, French culture, film, and cupcakes.

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Samir Bhatiani - Board Member

Samir Bhatiani has been involved with the Chicago Chapter of Minds Matter as an external consultant since 2018 and became a Board Member in 2021. Specifically, he has led projects relating to Alumni Engagement and Volunteer Recruiting. He believes that education is a path to opportunity for Chicago youth and is driven to increase the number of students Minds Matter can positively impact – to attend college, succeed while there, and define their future.

Outside of Minds Matter, Samir is a Manager in the Chicago Office of ZS Associates, and leads projects that drive organic growth, via sales and marketing effectiveness. He delivers value for clients by understanding their barriers to growth and then recommending pragmatic solutions with actionable implementation plans. Samir holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and a BSBA from Georgetown University. Although he is from Baltimore originally, he has resided in Chicago since 2010 and now considers it home.


Erikk Bonner - Board Member

Dr. Erikk Bonner has served and held a variety of roles throughout his time in education. He joined Minds Matter Chicago in 2021 as Board Member. He is approaching nearly two decades in the educational field. His professional experience includes working with scholars from grades PreK-12 as well as the college level. He taught at the University of North Texas and has been an administrator in several school systems. Currently, he serves as the Executive Director of Instruction for the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services with Chicago Public Schools. Prior to this role, he served as the Special Education Director of High Schools with Boston Public Schools. Before his time in Boston, he was a Special Education and Advanced Academics principal in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. He started his career as an Astronomy Advisor & Lab Coordinator in higher education before moving into public education as a high school Career Technical Education and Special Education teacher while coaching varsity sports. He then transitioned to campus administration at the middle and high school level; in addition to being a Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) Annual, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) Administrator.

Dr. Bonner earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership with a superintendent certification from the University of North Texas. He also holds two Master’s Degrees in Educational Leadership and Information Science Technology as well as a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. He feels very fortunate to be supporting scholars and community stakeholders with leadership that will facilitate a level of excellence. Chicago is a special community where he is proud to call his new home.

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Esme Carpenter - Board Member

Esme Carpenter joined the Chicago Chapter of Minds Matter in 2022. She serves as a board member and the Director of Marketing. Her career has been devoted to brand & nonprofit partnerships, communications strategy, and storytelling for mission-driven brands. Esme has led partnerships between corporations and nonprofits for the past 5 years, and has worked with Oceana, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and RAINN.

As someone who directly benefited from a well-funded public education and state-funded financial scholarships through college, she understands how much it matters to have a mentor-led support system. She enjoys trail running, sewing, and treasure hunting at garage sales.

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Diana Hyde - Board Member

Diana Hyde has been a volunteer for Minds Matter since 2001 and formerly served as Executive Director of Minds Matter of New York. She is now the Chief Talent Officer & Director of Strategy, Governance, and Engagement of a Global Strategic Account at Capgemini. Prior to CapGemini, she was Director and VP of Global Talent and Culture at Foote, Cone and Belding, a global advertising agency, was a Senior Director of Community and Inclusion at Stern Business School, where she worked in the Office of Student Engagement, and before that served as a Vice President and Private Banker at various banking institutions, including US Trust, BOfA and Bank of New York. She has her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from NYU's Stern School of Business, her Master’s Degree in Policy, Organization and Leadership studies from Stanford University and her B.A. in Economics from Trinity College. She is a certified professional coach. She also runs an independent career and inclusive leadership coaching practice where she focuses on career development and transition, leadership development, and diversity and inclusion education. You can find more information on her services at She currently sits on the Board of Directors at MMC as Chair of Development, Vice-Chair of Data Analytics and on the board governance committee.

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Daphne Kinzig - Board Member

Daphne joined the board in 2018.  As a 1st gen college graduate, she understands the challenges of navigating to college success; the mission is what drew her to Minds Matters  She has had a long career in the telecommunications industry and always looking for opportunities to give back to her community and church.  Mrs. Kinzig has a BS in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University and a Masters from Northwestern University.  She enjoys the performing arts, traveling, and cross fit.

Melissa Loeb

Melissa Loeb - Board Member

Melissa joined the Minds Matter Chicago (MMC) Board in June after chairing the 2022 MMC Crystal Anniversary Gala. She currently serves as the Fundraising Chair. Prior to Melissa’s work with Minds Matter, she was on the Make-A-Wish Illinois Associate Board for over 10 years on which she served in every executive committee role. She was also a Wish Granter.

Professionally, Melissa is a Senior Manager in Deloitte’s Global Workforce Consulting group, in which she leads both internal and external leaders (i.e., cross-business Deloitte Partners, client CXOs, client project leaders) in the transformation of their global talent/mobility models, cultures, behaviors, and organization structures to align with and achieve business goals. She has 19 years of experience in leading large-scale, global, organizational change by optimizing talent to accelerate gains from improvements in processes and technology, engaging and aligning executive leaders, and driving
business strategy through cultural/behavioral change. Melissa is known for the growth and development of her teams, hands-on mentorship, facilitation skills and turn-around coaching.

Melissa graduated from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a degree in Finance and General Management and has a B.A. in Psychology from University of Michigan. She is an avid Michigan football fan (Go Blue!)


Michael Bush

Mike Bush - Board Member

Mike Bush joined the Board of Minds Matter Chicago in 2022 and serves on the Data and Analytics committee. He first joined the organization as an ex-officio board member through the Kellogg Board Fellows program in 2016. He believes strongly in Minds Matter’s mission to provide educational opportunities to high-potential students, and previously volunteered with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Mike’s career has spanned consulting and high-growth start-ups, and he currently works as the Vice President of Operations for GoodVets, an emerging veterinary care provider. In his free time, Mike enjoys playing tennis and taking long walks with fiance and dog.

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Bill Malczyk - Treasurer

Bill Malczyk has been involved with the Chicago Chapter of Minds Matter as a board member since 2012. He believes strongly in the mission of Minds Matter and the difference it can make in the lives of mentees. He is a Senior Managing Director in the Ernst & Young Strategy and Transaction Practice where he advises clients on risk and business strategy. Bill grew up and currently lives in the Chicago area with his wife and two children. He enjoys cycling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Sporting Clays.

Linda Miller - Board Member


Meheret Morrison-2021

Meheret Morrison - Ex-Officio Fellow, Kellogg School of Management

Meheret is currently pursuing her Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management. At Kellogg she is a member of the Kellogg Marketing Club, serves as the First Year Director of Academics for the Black Management Association, and is an ex-officio board member for Minds Matter Chicago via the Kellogg Golub Capital Board Fellows program. Prior to business school, she spent 3 years in Marketing Technology at Georgia-Pacific. Meheret believes strongly in the idea that we all have a responsibility to invest in future generations and is excited to do that through her work with Minds Matter.

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Meeli Patel - Board Member

Meeli first became involved with Minds Matter in 2004 as a mentor and then in 2006, volunteered as a Co-Director of PR & Marketing for the New York Chapter. She became a Board Member of the Chicago chapter in 2021. Meeli is the System Vice President of Strategy & Operations Consulting and the Chief of Staff to the COO at Advocate Aurora Health. She leads a team of internal consultants who are responsible for supporting the organization in execution of its strategy and transformation plan. This includes identifying and implementing strategic & operational initiatives and scaling these opportunities across the system.
Meeli has more than 18 years of global healthcare experience and has developed solutions that drive growth, optimize financial performance, streamline operations and enhance the customer experience. Her diverse background includes clinical operations, management consulting, strategy and business planning. Her experience spans across roles based in the US, Australia & the UK.

Meeli earned her Masters in Public Administration from NYU Wagner and her bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Michigan.

Sobeida Peralta - Board Member



Maria Ptouchkina - Board Member

Maria Ptouchkina has been a volunteer with Minds Matter Chicago since 2013 and formerly served as a Student Mentor, Programs Director, and Chapter President. Maria has a strong conviction that all of us hold a duty and a responsibility to invest in the lives of others, and that is why she is honored to advance Minds Matter's mission. Maria’s professional experience is focused on digital transformation, technology and strategy consulting, and value creation. She is currently working as a Value Creation Associate at relayr, an Industrial Internet of Things company. She holds a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


Lisa Souter - Board Member & Chapter Founder

Lisa joined Minds Matter in 1998 as a mentor and team leader in New York. She now serves as the Chairman of the Chicago chapter. Her strong belief in the mission of Minds Matter prompted her to co-found the Boston and Chicago chapters. Lisa received her BS/BA from Georgetown University and MBA from Harvard University.