BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Our team brings a wealth of passion, youth and academia experience from some of the most distinguished schools, halls of ivy, organizations, and establishments. We each share a unified mission, to serve children and help develop their love for reading and literature.

JuDONNE HEMINGWAY

CHAIR

JuDonne Hemingway is an experienced, innovative, and adaptive systems leader who helps emerging leaders persist unapologetically in pursuit of their visions. She explores how strategic analysis, responsive practices, and values-based leadership development work together to help leaders ignite their superpowers and re-imagine what’s possible. 

JuDonne currently serves as the Managing Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness Strategy and Leadership Development for Teach For America’s National Admissions team. Prior to this role JuDonne served as the  Senior Managing Director of Leadership Development at Teach For America Indianapolis. In this seat she was responsible for building the capacity of over 300 beginning educators and alumni systems leaders in ways that disrupt inequitable practices for nearly 5,000 students across Indianapolis.

 

Before  rejoining TFA's staff in 2018,  JuDonne Hemingway served as the Assistant Principal of Academics at Butler College Prep, a campus of the Noble Network of Charter Schools. As Assistant Principal, she led as the campus's chief academic leader responsible for developing, supervising, and leading all instructional policies, strategic planning, programming, curricular decisions, and teacher development. 

JuDonne is also the President and Founder of the Foundation for Racial Equity in Education (F.R.E.E). F.R.E.E consults with educators, organizations, and school systems across the country to provide leadership development and support for anti- racist curriculum and systems more broadly. . FREE also runs a high impact fellowship for leaders of color in education seeking to increase their impact at every level of the education system.

Dr. MARkenya L. WILLIAMS

VICE CHAIR

Dr. Markenya L. Williams is a Chicagoan, with great Southside pride.  She has been an educator since 2005 and is an active member of the NAACP, National Action Network (NAN,) and a proud Board Member of the Illinois Principals Association (Kishwaukee Region,) Burst Into Books Inc. (Chicago,) & St. James Community Church (Chicago).  Dr. Williams has held multiple positions and titles throughout her career: teacher’s assistant, teacher, grade level team leader, private tutor, preschool site director, technology coordinator, Local School Council (LSC) member, PBIS coach, attendance team leader, MTSS co-coordinator, assistant principal, diversity & equity chairperson, CEO, and much more.  Dr. Williams’ personal mantra is “expect, implement, transform!”  Her passion and commitment to public education have been the fuel for her success as a transformational leader. Dr. Williams strongly believes that all children deserve effective, highly qualified educators and committed leaders who believe in diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice!  Dr. Williams’ strong passion for inclusivity, equity, literacy, and social-emotional development for all students has enabled her to be a passionate activist, trailblazer, researcher, transformational leader, and CEO.  

MIKE SIMONTON

TREASURER

After almost a year of following and being inspired by Jurema, Mike & Jurema connected in 2020. Mike wanted to start a Jurema fan club 😊 and Jurema offered that he could join the Burst Into Books' board of directors! 

Mike and his wife Natania Crane have each lived in Chicago for over a decade and currently reside in Chicago’s South Loop with their son, Jack who was born in 2019. They are passionate about youth, literacy, education and social justice. 

Mike is a Managing Director and Head of U.S. and Canada Corporates at Fitch Ratings. He is the global senior sponsor for Fitch’s Pride Network - employee resource group. He also sits on Fitch Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility committee. Mike received a BS in finance from the University of Wyoming and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. 

DANA WILLIAMSON

SECRETARY

Dana Williamson is a Vice President, Assistant General Counsel at JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. In addition to her traditional legal, contractual responsibilities, Dana works within JPMorgan to support initiatives focused on increasing diversity and inclusion in the engagement of outside counsel. A graduate of New York University School of Law, Dana participated in the Juvenile Defense Clinic and worked at the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights representing minors in family courts in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Orleans Parish. Dana was a founding member of The Associates’ Committee – a member-funded grant foundation that supported legal aid and impact litigation non-profits, and currently is an advisory member of Working on Womanhood - a counseling and clinical mentoring program working to improve the social-emotional competencies for teen girls exposed to traumatic stressors in under-resourced communities.

LESLIE WOOTEN

Leslie Wooten is the Director of Development for Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN). TPAN is a non-profit organization that provides services to people affected by HIV, Hepatitis C and other illnesses. Leslie is responsible for overseeing the organization’s fundraising activities and strategy, donor relations, and communications. 

Prior to joining TPAN, Leslie served as Director of Development for The Posse Foundation, where she raised nearly $3 million annually for Posse’s Chicago site. Leslie has worked in fundraising roles for organizations such as The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, Glenwood Academy, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, and UChicago – Ingalls Hospital Foundation.

Leslie has served on Burst into Book’s Board of Directors since 2018. Leslie earned a B.S. in Health Education from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and a M.S. in Public Service Management from DePaul University.

MARCHELLO LEE

Marchello Lee is an accomplished professional dancer who attended Columbia College and Northeastern Illinois University. Over 17 years performing and teaching dance and theater where his fusion of acting, hip hop culture and dance were spotlighted. Marchello’s passion and versatility has led him to many lead roles as an actor and dancer. Including a lead role in ‘DREAMS THE MOVIE’.

 

Marchello also works in restorative justice at Storycatchers theater. He has worked with world renown artist and choreographers such as Chris Brown, Method man and Red Man, Dave Scott, Drew Sidora, Gustavo Naveira & Giselle Anne, and more.

He would like to thank God for his gifts and talents and honored to be a part of Burst Into Books. 

RICHARD DOKES

Richard Dokes, Board Member Burst Into Books. Currently a Senior Technical Project Manager with AT&T Wireless Construction & Engineering, where he manages all aspects of executing the construction of AT&T’s cellular network, including cell tower site acquisition, construction, installation, maintenance and provisioning. With over thirty-one years of Project Management and Performance Management experience and a varied background in business ownership and management.