Brushwood Center Board of Directors

Brad Mueller

Bradley Mueller is the Pre-Law Advisor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where he enjoys the energy of a college campus and the wonderfully diverse students he feels privileged to advise. Prior to UIC, Brad worked for the same Chicago law firm for over twenty-five years; practicing law in the areas of health care, adult guardianships and minors’ estates. He was also the Assistant Director of Development at the American Library Association. Brad is originally from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he developed his lifelong respect for, and appreciation of, our natural world. Brad, along with his wife, enjoys hiking the Ryerson Woods’ trails that surround Brushwood during all seasons. He is honored to be connected to Brushwood and its programs that seek to provide nature appreciation/connection opportunities to often overlooked populations; such as veterans, seniors, and children. Brad received a B.A. (Criminal Justice) from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a J.D. from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Brad enjoys fishing, traveling, cooking, craft beers and writing poetry.

Eleanor Ranney-Mendoza

The great-grand daughter of Edward L. Ryerson, Ellie continues her family’s tradition of involvement at the Brushwood Center while offering a delightfully fresh perspective as a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a professional musician. A soprano with advanced music degrees, Ellie performs early music, opera and chamber music. Ellie lives in Miami with her husband, Javier Jose Mendoza, who is a professor and director of orchestral studies, and their three young children.

Emilian Geczi

Emilian Geczi is the new Director of Natural Start Alliance at North American Assoc of Environmental Education. He became acquainted with Brushwood Center during his previous job as Coordinator of the Chicago Wilderness Leave No Child Inside Initiative. He worked alongside Brushwood Center staff to build a coalition of supporters for connecting children and families of all backgrounds with the natural amenities of Lake County and beyond. Emilian received a B.A. degree in Social Science from Shimer College, and a Ph.D. degree in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He is the recipient of a TogetherGreen Fellowship from the National Audubon Society and Toyota in support of his efforts to build bridges between conservation agencies and community organizations. Emilian is a native of Romania.

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Gail Sturm

Board Chair

As Executive Vice President of ProTen Realty Group, Gail Sturm specializes in portfolio advisory services, build-to-suit, brokerage, and consulting and representation for the real estate needs of corporate clients. In her professional career as a commercial and industrial real estate leader with more than $3.5 billion in sales and leases completed during her 34 year career, Gail continues to explore new ways to increase productivity driving profitability for her clients. Previously, Ms. Sturm was President of a National Real Estate firm. While there, she was instrumental in shaping the company’s structure and developing its philosophies.

Ms. Sturm is a member of the Rocky Mountain Institute and its “Green Development Services.” She co-authored “Seeing the Light,” an article illustrating the impact of new lighting opportunities on lowering energy cost to tenants. She was a featured speaker at the Annual Crew Network Convention in San Francisco, “Energy & Real Estate – Adding Value in a Changing Market Place.” In addition, she served as the moderator of a panel discussion on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design regarding neighborhood development (LEED-ND).

Gail served as the first Woman President of the Chicago Office leasing Brokers Association, Past Vice President of Chicago Real Estate Executive Women, Chairman of the Transportation Association of Lake Cook, Past Membership Chair of the Economic Club of Chicago, Resource Board Member of the Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago, Vice Chairman of Lake Forest Symphony and Chairman of the Board of the Luster Learning Institute.

She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with concentration in Marketing and Management at St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame. She is married to William Sturm and has two adult children, Alexandra and Nicholas. The Sturm family has hosted 16 Lake Forest Rotary Exchange students.

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Héctor Rasgado-Flores, Ph.D.

Dr. Héctor Rasgado-Flores is the Director of Diversity, Outreach and Success and a Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University. He is a conservatory-trained pianist and composer who went to medical school but decided instead to pursue a career in basic sciences research and studied a Master’s and doctorate in Neurosciences and went through the ranks of an academic career performing biophysical research and teaching graduate and medical students. Contrary to common practice, he decided not to choose between his passions for research, education and music, but decided instead to simultaneously fully follow all these paths to the best of his abilities. The result has been a rich and rewarding life: a scientist who continues helping develop new and better therapies to treat cystic fibrosis; a pianist who gives concerts on a regular basis in such venues as the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Paraninfo in Guadalajara, Moscow State University, and the Chicago Cultural Center; a composer who has written a symphony about the physiology of the human life cycle, commissioned by the American Physiological Society, and which has been performed by outstanding symphony orchestras; a researcher who studies the effects of music on elderly dementia patients and young children; a composer who wrote a piano suite about the chemical elements commissioned by the Colegio Nacional in Mexico; an educator who teaches medical students the mechanisms of skeletal muscle contraction using as models XVIII century Italian operas, and organizes workshops to teach non-musician medical students to compose four voices music cannons. But most importantly, as he clearly states at every opportunity, an educator whose goal and greatest reward is to bring underserved, underrepresented in medicine students to higher education.

Jacalyn Ramdin Johnson

As a Marketing Director in the pharmaceutical industry, Jacalyn Ramdin Johnson has been instrumental in introducing to the medical community and the general public such life-changing medications as Humira (for rheumatoid arthritis) and Trilipix (cholesterol), along with working on numerous established brands in healthcare. Her focus has been on educating patients on disease management and giving them a voice to advocate for better health.

A firm believer in giving back to her community, Jacalyn serves as adviser to Lake County and the City of North Chicago in their ongoing efforts to support the Eden Restoration project, which serves to provide fresh, locally-grown produce to economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in the area. Previously, she served as Vice President and Board member for PADS Lake County Homeless Shelter focused on marketing initiatives that developed community relations and funding. A longtime North Shore resident, Jacalyn lives in North Chicago with her husband and two children. She is a lifelong foodie and travels the globe, immersing herself in its expression of love through food and culture.

John Leonard

Board Secretary

John Leonard is an emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He spent his early years out west in Oregon, Montana, and Colorado where he attended high school and college (Colorado U, Boulder). He is also an avid birder, and received his doctorate from the Neurobiology and Behavior department at Cornell University. While he helped with some field work, John has mainly been a laboratory scientist studying nervous systems in diverse organisms including mice, lampreys and frogs. Before coming to Chicago in 1988, he worked at Caltech in Pasadena CA on isolating molecules involved in electrical activity in nerve cells. He most recently traveled to the Galapagos Islands to see evolution’s workshop up close! He is interested in all aspects of natural history. John and his wife Pat have lived in Glenview for the past 20 years, and enjoy biking, birding, camping, skiing and traveling.

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Jonathan Huisel

Jonathan Huisel is a senior Supply Chain professional at W.W. Grainger headquartered in Lake Forest, IL. He grew up in Lake County and has been an active member of the community over the years. From coaching youth sports teams to coordinating catholic charity festivals, his passion is being able to assist the community. His Father is the commander at the Gurnee American Legion and is an avid supporter of assisting and developing programs for our nation’s veterans. His father’s involvement in these many programs have passionately driven Jonathan to wanting to get more involved with organizations that focus on Veterans. Jonathan received a B.A. degree in Business economics from the College of Wooster and currently resides in Chicago, IL. In his spare time he enjoys running near Lake Michigan, golfing, and always being active outside.

Lorra Rudman

Lorra Rudman is happy to join the Board of Directors after years of supporting BCRW, and participating in its programs. Lorra enjoyed a successful 30 year career in advertising, working with national clients including Anheuser Busch, McDonald’s, and Energizer (creative director on the first “pink bunny” commercial). She became a mental health counselor (L.C.P.) in 2012, often integrating nature into her practice. She works in a practice known as Chicagoland’s Asperger and Autism Experts.

Lorra received her B.F.A. degree from The University of Michigan cum laude, and later earned a Masters in Counseling degree. She lives in Lincolnshire, just across the road from Ryerson Woods. She is a painter and photographer of birds and nature, a founding member of the Brushwood Bird Photography Group and loves working in her garden. A full time mother, animal lover and naturalist, Lorra appreciates daily the beauty around her. She is grateful for Ryerson Woods and is pleased to contribute to enhancing its impact on our community.

Martha Twaddle

Dr. Martha Twaddle combines nearly thirty years of experience in the care of seriously ill people and their families in a variety of areas of service. She currently serves as the Medical Director for Palliative Medicine & Supportive Care at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital north of Chicago. Her academic work includes developing curriculum guidelines to facilitate the training of healthcare professionals to provide home-based primary care through Home Centered Care Institute’s national Centers of Excellence.

In addition, at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, she works with teams that are evaluating the impact of communication skills training on healthcare culture and creating and testing systems of care for seriously ill people and their families across settings of care. As Senior Medical Advisor for Aspire Health, she focuses on education and quality. She was most recently appointed as Co-Chair for the National Consensus Project for Community-based Palliative Care, representing the American Academy of Hospice & Palliative Medicine.

Dr. Twaddle’s unique talents and contributions to the field of Palliative Medicine have helped increase the understanding of and access to this continuum of care, regionally and nationally. In 2013, she was named one of the 30 most influential visionaries in Hospice and Palliative Medicine by nomination of her peers via the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM). She served as President of the AAHPM from 2002-2003 and on the AAHPM Board of Directors from 1997-2004. She represented the AAHPM in the creation of the initial NCP Guidelines published in 2004. She was honored with the inaugural AAHPM Josefina B. Magno Distinguished Hospice Physician Award in 2005. She was recognized in 2016 as a Distinguished Alumni of Purdue’s College of Science and “an exemplary educator and pioneering contributor to end-of-life care” as the recipient of the Compassion in Action Award by Hospice of the Valley and Santa Clara University in 2015. After graduating summa cum laude from Purdue University, Dr. Twaddle received her medical degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis and completed her residency in Internal Medicine through Northwestern University McGaw School of Medicine, where she was Chief Resident. She currently serves as an Associate Professor of Medicine for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and is board certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Dr. Twaddle is active in curriculum development and education to enhance the competencies of generalist, champion, and specialty level Palliative care at a local and national level, actively participates in quality research and pilots to evaluate models of care delivery, speaks regularly to local and national groups and is published extensively in peer-reviewed articles and other publications.

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Mike Levin

Board Treasurer

Mike Levin has a love and passion for nature. He enjoys photography, cooking, hiking, scuba and golf. His passion for hiking and photography are what led him to discover Ryerson Woods. He has spent countless hours photographing the plant and wildlife that live right here among us in the suburbs. He has had many personal experiences working as a volunteer alongside his children as a chaperone on several national and international service trips. These experiences have allowed him to witness the therapeutic power of interacting with nature as a way to heal past traumas and promote future personal growth.

His professional career is limited to two employers over 30 years. He worked for Aetna Life and Casualty for two years following college then for my current company Total Insurance Services, Inc. (formerly GP Assurance Group), where he worked as an entry level consultant. In 1998 with 20 employees, they evolved into Total Insurance Services,Inc., where he became owner and President.. Today he is very proud that they have over 100 employees that have become a part of his extended family. Total Insurance Services, Inc. focuses on commercial insurance and corporate benefits. HIs expertise revolves around their Employee Benefits Division, while his partner oversees our Commercial Insurance Division. He currently serves on the membership board of the Illinois Restaurant Association as well Agency advisory boards for Blue Cross, Aetna, Humana and United Healthcare.

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Honorary Board

Barbara Whitney Carr • Thomas E. Donnelley, II • James G. Godshalk, Jr. • John M. Haight, III • Maxine Hunter • Jossy Nebenzahl • Albert E. Pyott • Susan Spears • George A. Ranney, Jr.

Advisory Board

Gerald W. Adelmann• Henry W. Barkhausen• Patsy Benveniste• Barbi Donnelley • Joseph Kayne • Heeyoung Kim • William Kurtis • Barbara G. Mahany • Gregory M. Mueller • Arthur M. Pearson • Laurel Ross • Adele Simmons • Judith M. Stockdale • Douglas F. Stotz