Sharon Newman, born Sharon Nolberto in Dangriga, Belize Central America and was raised by her maternal grandparents until she was eight years old. In 1984 she migrated to the United States to join her parents in Los Angeles, California and assimilated into the American Culture, as most children assimilate into the culture they grow up in. Despite the fact that Sharon grew up with Garifuna parents she never learned how to speak the Garifuna language.
Sharon is now married with two children of her own and resides in Illinois. In her spare time she volunteers’ teaching children how to read. Meeting her civic duty to give back to her community is part of the moral fiber that drives her life and goal to improve the lives of those less fortunate.
A few years ago she realized that she could not pass on her Garifuna language and culture to her daughters in a way that could strengthen their identity and empower their choices! Sharon realized she had to do something to protect, preserve and promote the Garifuna language and culture, which has been legally declared endangered. She was inspired to develop Improving Minds Inc., the not for profit organization focused on protecting, preserving and promoting Garifuna culture and heritage through education. Now is the time to help the Garifuna community save the children, language, culture, and ultimately the community at large.
Tony Walker graduated from Robert Morris College with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and a concentration in Accounting. He has been in the banking profession for over 20 years. Tony knew early on that he had a love for working with teens and adolescents. He has over 15 years experience working with at risk youth through mentoring at his church and in various schools and organizations throughout the Chicagoland area. Tony has helped promote self-esteem, self-awareness, and empowered them to be the best they can be and help them avoid the common pitfalls most inner city youth succumb to. He combines his knowledge of the corporate world and his passion for youth to help them overcome every day obstacles in a useful and professional manner. “I believe that in order for a child to excel and be successful in everything that they do, they must be empowered. It must be reinforced DAILY that every child can achieve and be anything they want to be. They need support, unconditional love, and all the resources afforded to them in their school and community”.
Shantanoo Govilkar is an optimist always seeking opportunities to contribute to communities in whatever Prof HEadshotcapacity he can. He has been an active volunteer in running orphanages, working in special Olympics and several other causes dedicated to small children since his early twenties. Currently he has been helping several not-for-profit organizations (such as Lumity, NCWIT, Pratham USA, IDRF) in various capacity. His biggest project at present, as a board member of Improving Minds Inc., is to define and manage the Social Media program, develop Summer Reading Program for elementary school children in Park Forest and neighboring communities. He also runs Hindu religious study group in Schaumburg in his neighborhood, and is a ‘go-to’ person in his sub-division to arrange summer picnics, block parties and helping families in needing advice / help.
He works as an Executive Vice President for Technology Consultants, Inc. leading their sales, marketing, and new practice development efforts. He has a Masters in Computer Science from VJTI, India, an “Ivy League” college in India.
He is married to Tanuja and they both have a 15 year old daughter, Shweta. Entire family enjoys outdoors, people-centric activities, and maintaining an active lifestyle where TV has no place in their life whatsoever!
Kimberly L. Reed, a committed and dedicated educator for over two decades with Chicago Public Schools believes all children have a birthright to a first class education.
Kimberly was born and raised in the South Shore neighborhood. After graduating from Whitney M. Young High School, she pursued and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from National-Louis University. Shortly thereafter, Kimberly received a Master of Science degree in Educational Supervision and Administration from Roosevelt University.
In an effort to “give back,” Kimberly serves her community in many ways: tutoring and mentoring girls and young women, raising money for scholarships and visiting the elderly.
Kimberly is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The National Women of Achievement and the Inside Out Youth Foundation. She is the mother of one teenage daughter.
Patricia McNichols was born in Chicago, Illinois and was raised in Chicago Heights.In 1985 Patty married her husband Kevin and moved to Park Forest, where they have lived for the last 30 years. Patty has two children, Steven and Michelle, and two grandchildren. She has worked at Edwards Chiropractic Clinic for 18 years. During her children’s primary education she was a member of the PTO.
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In 1994 Patty and a group of friends from Park Forest form an organization called the Park Forest Family League, they wanted families to feel welcome and get more involved in their community. She is very committed to her friends, family and her community.
Patty enjoys being with her family and friends. She can also be found reading, doing some arts and crafts, and taking care of her flowers in her spare time
After graduating from Illinois State University with a degree in Early Childhood Education, Katie leveraged her strength in connecting with people and launched a career in sales. Katie has spent the past ten years helping companies connect with their most important asset, their people. She has developed a passion for working with non-profits to plan state of the art events to raise money for their cause. Katie was introduced to Sharon Newman, and Improving Minds Inc, and immediately felt connected to their mission to develop educational programs for low-income at risk students, and is excited about working with them to make a difference in their community.