College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board

The College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board was established as a small, informal group of “friends of the college” in 2009 to enhance the connection between the college, alumni and greater community. The CAS Advisory Board serve as a “sounding board” for present and proposed programs, activities and issues relating to the College of Arts and Sciences, identifies opportunities for Arts and Sciences students and alumni to enrich their education, career, and cultural opportunities through internships, mentorships, social activities and other beneficial experiences, assists in the development and maintenance of external support and participate in the ongoing strategic planning process for the college.

The CAS Advisory Board is transitioning. A complete listing of the 2022 Advisory Board will be available here in April.

Marilu Gonzalez

Marilu Gonzalez
In her community Maria Luiza Gonzalez born in Michoacán, Mexico and raised in Harvey, IL is known as Coach “Marilu” Gonzalez. She is the middle child of seven brothers and sisters who happen to all be professionals. Her siblings cumulatively have accomplished 5 bachelors and 6 master’s degrees. Her phenomenal family knows hardship very well. Her mother raised them alone in poverty after the death of their father from cancer. Nonetheless the family motto has always been education. Her siblings are currently in Math, Spanish, Early Childhood, Physical Education, educational superintendent assistants, ELL and behavior specialists. Coach Marilu has spent the last eleven years building a competitive Women’s Soccer Program and teaching at Thornton High School. She has been part of the soccer community since 1994. Marilu has been the head coach at both the high school district and South Suburban Community College. Soccer is her passion, teaching is her love, coaching is her life and leadership is her calling.

Marilu is a graduate from Chicago State University and Concordia University where she earned a B.S. in Physical Education and M.A. in Educational Leadership respectively. Coach Marilu describes her philosophy as “learning life skills through education and athletic experience”. As the trajectory of her career has evolved, she may have the opportunity to be the first Latino administrator in the history of her current district. She states, “It is not a matter of ambition but the strong sense of debt I feel I owe my community. We have an urgency to have decision making individuals that understand the Latino students, parents, community members and businesses at any table within all educational levels in this dynamic community. Not because it is failing but because it is RICHLY THRIVING”.  She was selected as the teacher spotlight up and coming leader in the March 2016 newsletter published by IALAS the Illinois chapter of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents. Presently her career mentor is Dr. Jose Leyba and he has been named national academy director in Washington DC.

Much of Coach Marilu’s work has been centered on getting all students and parents abreast of the great opportunities of higher education. She has granted thousands of athletic scholarship dollars to many students from the community. Her internship with District 205 administrators included audits from ISBE and drafting the strategic plan of a groundbreaking afterschool program. She is also the co- author with Ovidilio D. Vasquez of Who Coaches the Coach (2015) and is a professional motivational speaker. Recently she traveled to California to interview and is now working with Advance Sports Technology with the phenomenal Jim Madrid and will be working with Professionals, division 1 athletes and any championship building organization.

Marilu Gonzalez has been in district 205 as a Physical Education Teacher at Thornton High School for over eleven years. She matriculated her bachelors in Education emphasizing in Physical Education at Chicago State University and masters in educational leadership at Concordia University. Upon her committed arrival she coached the Girls Soccer team for 10 years and was the head women’s coach at South Suburban College for 8 years simultaneously. Coach Marilu is an alumnus graduate of Thornridge High School and Coolidge Middle School. She is currently a board member for the Communications and Arts department at Governors State University. Coach Marilu is the author of the book Who Coaches the Coach. She is a relentless health and fitness advocate. She enjoys her family and motivational speaking.

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Jackie McKethen
Born In 1946 as Jack G. Mckethen, in Topeka, Kansas. I transitioned as MTF transgender in 2004. I was in the Air Force, Iowa Army Reserves and Air National Guard, and received 3 Honorable Discharges. I was In Vietnam in 1968. I attended Washburn University, Topeka Kansas, Richard Daley College, Chicago and Columbia College Chicago. I have lived in Chicago-land since 1969.

I have worked in credit collection, finance, bank management and retail at all levels to include supervisor and management. After retiring, I have done acting and production work in TV, Film and Theatre. I designed clothes under my own label “Jackie Oooo” . I have a cable access CAN TV show for The Civil Rights Agenda. I have served on several boards as President and Secretary. I have been a volunteer firefighter, Boy Scout and Cub Scout leader, and am now a Girl Scout Co-leader. I was President of Dupage County NOW (National Organization for Women), am now Vice Commander of American Legion Post 1291, President and CEO of Mobile Moniker Productions Inc., caretaker for friend and activist for the Transgender LGBQIA community. I try to serve in any capacity which will help to promote knowledge, understanding, respect and an equal and just future for the community to which I belong. I do speaking engagements in association with my knowledge and experiences as member of the LGBTIA community.

I like playing baseball, tennis, golf, bowling and pool. I also like horseback riding, camping and canoeing, playing bridge and other card games, movies, theatre, cooking, fashion shows, painting and being around other people. I like to get involved in community activities.

Gia Orr

Gia Orr
Ms. Orr holds a B.S. in Political Science/Criminal Justice, an M.S. in Human Services Administration and an M.Ed in Leadership/Organizational Structure. Gia began her tenure as the Director of Community Rights, Relations and Resources in July 2013. Her responsibilities are centered on agency public awareness, programmatic support to community/service entities, and advocacy in areas underserved/underrepresented.  Additionally, she is the responsible for coordinating training for employees and for citizens of Illinois focused on human rights, research, collaboration, advisement, education and resolutions in the areas of safeguarding the rights of persons with disabilities in traditional and non-traditional settings. Her advocacy, policy and organizational structure roots date back to career ventures in other state and state supported systems as well as a fifteen-year tenure in education that included seven years as an assistant principal and/or principal. Gia is a former appointed Legislative Committee Member (ASCD, Washington, DC) where she was involved in work on creating the annual legislative agenda, which guides advocacy activities with the United States Congress and other policymakers. In 2016, Gia was confirmed as a Commissioner with Cook County’s Human Rights Commission.  She was recently invited to join boards at Governors State University and Lake Forest College.

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Ayom Siengo
For more than a decade, Ayom has supported the holistic advancement of developing communities throughout Chicago. Currently, as the Senior Manager of Financial Capability at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago (UWMC), Ayom manages a $4 million dollar investment focusing on the advancement of economic stability (job training and placement, tax support, and financial education and asset building) throughout the six-county region. Since 2006, Ayom has held various leadership roles in community and workforce development. In addition to his work at UWMC, Ayom is currently a board member of the Economic Development Committee at Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the Chicago Workforce Funders Alliance. He was the 2014 recipient of Chicago Jobs Council’s Betty J. Wilhoitte Award, has served as co-chair of the 741 Collaborative Partnership’s Executive Committee, and was an inaugural member of Cabrini Green Legal Aid’s Young Professionals Board. Raised in Rogers Park, Ayom currently resides in Flossmoor, IL with his wife, Gabrielle, and their four children. When not at work, he loves to bike ride and garden, and he has cheered for the Cubs since the 80’s. Ayom holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Illinois State University and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Christopher L. Torres

Christopher L. Torres
Christopher Torres is the South/Southwest Regional Director for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. With 153 programs at 154 locations throughout Cook and Lake Counties, Christopher and his staff engage the two regions that serve the greater southland of Cook County.

Christopher started as a Site Manager for The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). This is a USDA food and nutrition program administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and is operated by Catholic Charities. The Centers provide a variety of WIC-approved foods for eligible participants in Chicago. The food centers also provide access to social services, nutritional education, job training, and educational programs.

Christopher’s background is in operations and management. He is a servant leader who works with community partners, two regional advisory boards, parishes, and the greater community to serve those in need.

Christopher holds a B.A. in Management from National Louis University and a Master of Public Administration from Governors State University.

Through a broad spectrum of services, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago annually assist more than 1 million persons in Cook and Lake Counties without regard to religious, ethnic or economic background.

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