Board Briefs: May 2021 Board Reorganization

Board Briefs: May 2021 Board Reorganization

Downers Grove Grade School District 58 welcomed one new Board member and three returning members to new four-year terms of office during a Special Meeting/Reorganization of the Board on Monday, May 3 at O’Neill Middle School. Click here to view the meeting’s video.

Last month, voters elected new member Melissa Ellis and incumbents Gregory Harris, Darren Hughes and Tracy Weiner to serve four-year terms. They each took the oath of office and joined Kirat Doshi, Emily Hanus and Steve Olczyk on the Board.

Ellis was born and raised in Downers Grove and went to Downers Grove South High School. She and her husband moved back to Downers Grove in 2013, and they have two children attending Pierce Downer School. She currently holds the position of senior assistant general counsel for The Joint Commission Enterprise and serves as adjunct faculty for International Commercial Arbitration at her alma mater, Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Ellis previously served on the Policy Committee for District 58 and is currently appointed as a commissioner for the Village of Downers Grove's Environmental Concerns Commission.

“I am looking forward to serving the District to the best of my ability,” Ellis said. “I feel like I have good experience that will help us move forward as a District. I look forward to working with this great Board and administration, and hopefully we can make some good progress in the years ahead!”

Learn more about all District 58 Board of Education Members at

The Board elected Darren Hughes to serve as president and Gregory Harris as vice president. The Board also appointed Melissa Jerves to serve as Board secretary and approved her stipend. The Board also appointed members to serve on the following committees:

  • District Leadership Team: Tracy Weiner (chair), Kirat Doshi
  • Legislative: Emily Hanus (chair), Melissa Ellis
  • Policy: Greg Harris (chair), Tracy Weiner
  • Financial Advisory: Darren Hughes (chair), Steve Olczyk
  • Education Foundation: Kirat Doshi
  • IASB: Emily Hanus
  • LEND: Melissa Ellis
  • SASED: Emily Hanus
  • SASED Alternative Representative: Gregory Harris
  • Health & Wellness Committee Liaison: Gregory Harris

During the regular April Board of Education meeting, the Board recognized retiring Board member Jill Samonte for her four years of dedicated service.

“Jill Samonte is not only one of the finest Board members I have ever worked with, she is also an outstanding person,” Dr. Russell said. “Jill is a champion for all students. She cares deeply about providing the best education for the children in District 58. Jill is a champion for those in need, for those who struggle, for those with a disability, and for those that may not have as much as others. Jill is a champion for equity. Jill is a fighter and will always do what is best for kids.”

During the meeting, President Hughes also noted that this week is Staff Appreciation Week and shared his appreciation for District 58’s teachers, staff and administration.

“I want to give a heartfelt thank you during a year that just was anything but normal. Thank you so much to every staff member throughout District 58,” Hughes said.

In addition, the meeting included two public comment opportunities. During the first public comment section, one community member voiced concerns about Longfellow Center community engagement. During the second public comment section, the same community member asked the Board to take their vows seriously and to engage the community regarding Longfellow. A second community member also spoke, requesting the Board provide community engagement opportunities before making a Longfellow Center decision.