Our People

Mara Tapp, Founder and Director, Cool Classics!

An award-winning journalist and broadcaster for more than 30 years, Mara Tapp’s work has appeared in Chicago magazine, the Chicago ReaderChicago Sun-TimesChicago TribuneCatalystBookforum and Playbill, on many public radio and television broadcasts, as well as on public access television.

During the seven years she spent doing The Mara Tapp Show on WBEZ, Chicago’s National Public Radio affiliate, she had the privilege of interviewing children’s authors including Eric Carle, Tomie dePaola, E.L. Konigsburg, Madeleine L’Engle, Maurice Sendak and William Steig.

Fifteen years ago, Tapp added teaching to her professional activities and is proud to be a substitute teacher in several Chicago Public Schools, including the one where her daughters began their formal education. She also taught students how to think and write critically about a wide range of arts and culture in the graduate program for New Arts Journalism at the School of the Art Institute and at Columbia College Chicago. Tapp is honored to have been recruited by the late Irving B. Harris to serve as a mentor at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago, which she did for 25 years.

Cool Classics, Inc. Board of Directors

Mara Tapp, President and Secretary
Cool Classics, Inc. Founder and Director
Former Host, The Mara Tapp Show, WBEZ, Chicago’s National Public Radio Affiliate
Former Part-time Faculty, School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago

Amal Amin, Treasurer
Of Counsel, Mallon & Johnson
Former General Counsel, Advanced Equities Financial Corp.
Former Senior Enforcement Analyst & Senior Surveillance Analyst, Chicago Stock Exchange

Mariana Calderón
Senior Analyst, U.S. Government Accountability Office*
Kindergarten Teacher, Teach for America Corps Member, Clyde C. Cox Elementary School, Las Vegas, NV

Ms.Calderón’s participation and views are hers alone and are not intended to reflect the institutional views of the U.S. Government Accountability Office

Dr. Lynn McGinnis-Garner

Former Principal, Chicago Public Schools Interim Administrator, CPS

Alex Winks
Chief Financial Officer, Paulson Investment Company, LLC

In Memoriam

Hon. Marilyn F. Johnson served as Board President for 12 years. Her commitment to and support of our work never wavered.A Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Juvenile Division, Judge Johnson was Former General Counsel for the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Housing Authority.

Former Board President Marilyn Johnson, Former Head of CPS Legal Department

Cool Classics, Inc. Advisory Council

Ronne Hartfield
Former Executive Director, Urban Gateways
Former Woman’s Board Endowed Executive Director for Museum Education, Art Institute of Chicago
Former Dean of Students, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Author of Another Way Home: The Tangled Roots of Race in One Chicago Family, University of Chicago Press 2004

William B. McClellan
Former Director, Arts Academy, Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, The Salvation Army
Former Music Curriculum Supervisor, Office of Arts Education, Chicago Public Schools
Former Managing Director, CPS All-City Groups and the Contests
Former Principal Conductor, CPS All-City HS Band
Former Chicago Band Chair, Illinois Music Educators Association, Chicago Public Schools

Leah Marcus
Former Columnist, Chicago Sun-Times Education Guide
Former President, Oak Park River Forest High School District 200 Board of Education

Mark Rodriguez
Chief Operating Officer at Elements Holdings Group and Subsidiaries, Elements Holdings Group & Subsidiaries
Former Executive Director, Changing Worlds
Former Associate Director of National Recruiting and Admissions and Chicago Program Operations, New Leaders for New Schools

Alaka Wali
Curator of North American Anthropology
Applied Cultural Research Director, Environment, Culture and Conservation
– The Field Museum

In Memoriam

Two of our Advisory Council members died. Both were leaders in the world of education and their counsel and support was of inestimable value.

Linda Lenz
Founder and Former Publisher, Catalyst Chicago
Former Education Reporter, Chicago Sun-Times
Former Editorial Writer and Reporter, Chicago Daily News

Bernice Weissbourd
Founding President, Family Focus


Photography for the pilot was by Kirk Shepherd of Kirk Shepherd Photography, LLC at ksphoto.net

Videography by EyeQuilt, Inc.and Big Foot Media at bigfootcreates.com

Logo Design by Christian Gonzalez and Devyn Taylor

Website design and maintenance by Brian Dady

Books for Cool Classics! are purchased from and donated by Powell’s Books Chicago at www.powellschicago.com