Linda Johnson Rice, President
Linda Johnson Rice is chairman of Johnson Publishing Company, LLC, the Chicago-based publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines and owner of Fashion Fair Cosmetics, a global prestige cosmetics brand for women of color. Rice serves on the boards of United Negro College Fund, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Omnicom Group, Inc., the Magazine Publishers Association, Northwestern Memorial Corporation, the Women’s and Trustees board of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Women at NBCU Advisory Board for NBCUniversal. She has served as President of the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors since March 2012.
Rice demonstrates a strong belief in enhancing the future of today’s youth by supporting education initiatives and corporate internship programs. Through the Ebony Fashion Fair Show, Johnson Publishing Company has raised over $55 million for charitable organizations, the majority dedicated to African American scholarship funds.
Christopher P. Valenti, Vice President
Christopher P. Valenti is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Illinois and he is an accredited professional (LEED-AP) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design with the U.S. Green Building Council. In 2006 he formed Valenti Interests, LLC and its affiliate, Valenti Development Partners, LLC, which is a Chicago-based commercial real estate development and investment firm. Valenti was appointed to the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors in 2007.
Cristina Benitez, Secretary
Cristina Benitez is director of Latino Media & Communication at DePaul University, where she teaches Hispanic marketing and directs the new interdisciplinary communication program targeting the nation’s Latinos. As founder and president of Lazos Latinos, Benitez’s expertise across all aspects of advertising, her passion for Latino leadership and her culturally diverse background as a bilingual native of Florida make her a popular motivational speaker. She is the author of two books, Latinization: How Latino Culture Is Transforming the U.S. and Latinization and the Latino Leader.
In September 2009, Benitez received the Latino Author’s Award from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White at the state’s Hispanic heritage event. She was appointed to the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors in 2011.
Jodi Block was the creator and owner of Children in Paradise Bookstore, the largest children’s-only bookstore in the Chicago area, for 13 years. Block currently sits on the boards of the Open Studio Project (a nonprofit arts and social service organization in Evanston, Ill.), Personal PAC, ASM and the Chicago Children’s Museum. She was appointed to the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors in June 2013.
Barbara Taylor Bowman, the Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Development at Erikson Institute, is one of the institute’s founders and served as its president from 1994 to 2001. Her specialty areas in early education, cultural diversity and education of at-risk children as well as her over 50 publications make her well-qualified to consult on early education. Bowman has served on numerous professional boards, including the Family Resource Coalition and the National Association for Education of Young Children. Currently she is on the boards of the Great Books Foundation, Business People in the Public Interest and Erikson Institute. Honors include honorary doctorates (Bank Street College, Roosevelt University, Dominican University, Governor’s State University, Lewis University and Wheelock College), the McGraw Hill Prize in Education, the Sargent Shriver Award for Equal Justice, the Chicago Historical Society Jane Addams Award, and a Golden Apple for Community Service. In 2014, President Obama named her to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. She was appointed to the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors in July 2013.
Josephine Gómez has over 16 years of experience serving urban schools in both instructional and administrative capacities. Working in public, private and charter school systems, she has taught all levels of junior and senior high school science, including college preparatory, and she integrates writing and reading into curricula to increase student achievement. Currently the school director of the UNO Hector P. Garcia MD High School, Gómez previously served as the dean of academics and the director of curriculum and instruction for North Lawndale College Prep High School. She was appointed to the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors in July 2011.
Lynn Lockwood is a creative professional with more than 25 years experience in nonprofit management and political organization. She has worked for the City of Chicago with the Mayor’s Office and Department of Cultural Affairs. While at the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office, she directed two foundations: After School Matters and the Chicago Cultural Center Foundation. In addition, Lockwood is a founding board member of Chicago Children’s Theater and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Steppenwolf Theatre Company. She was appointed to the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors in March 2012.
Chaka Patterson is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer, having practiced in law firm, government and corporate settings. He concentrates his practice at Jones Day on representing corporations in business/commercial litigation, and state attorneys general investigations and litigation. Prior to joining Jones Day, Patterson served five years in executive management roles at Exelon Corporation, one of the largest public utility holding companies in the United States, where he served as vice president and treasurer as well as general counsel for litigation, and served on the company’s risk management and oversight committees.
Patterson is also a member of the boards of Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital and the University of Chicago Laboratory School. He was appointed to the Chicago Public Library Board of Directors in May 2013.