Hareena Meghani-Wakely

Home: Riverside
Age: 46
Profession: Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney (since 1992)
Princeton University – BA Psychology (1987)
Loyola University of Chicago Law School –   Juris Doctorate (1992)

Community / Political experience:
District 96 School Board Member (2007-present)
-Chair of Education Committee
-Co-Chair of World Language Study Group
-Member of Policy and Building Committees
Ames School PTA President (2006-2007)
Riverside Junior Woman’s Charity (1999-present)
Riverside Community Caucus

Other / Professional experience:
Chicago Bar Association Member
Princeton Alumni Schools Committee Member

List the top challenges facing this board and how you would address them: Affording our children an excellent education is the primary mission of District 96. Our children will live in tomorrow’s world, with its challenges, opportunities, and career choices.  We are fortunate that District 96 provides a level of excellence in education that is almost unparalleled in Illinois.  I am proud to say that during my first term as a Board member, the District was recognized with numerous Illinois Academic Excellence awards.

One of the near term challenges for the Board is to identify a candidate to replace our highly respected superintendent, Dr. Jonathan Lamberson, who is retiring in 2013. His expertise in administration and finance has been critical to the success of our district. We must also identify a candidate for the Central School principal’s position in 2013. Dr. Janice Limperis not only served as the principal of Central School, but also guided the direction of  the  District 96 curriculum and gifted program.  Our school district’s tradition of excellence in education can and must continue. As a re-elected Board Member, I will ensure that the candidates we select for these positions will meet the high standards of the District.

The demographics of our school district are changing, and we must adapt.  Fortunately, the Board I have served on, for the past four years, has been very proactive in ensuring that we have the programs in place to meet the educational needs of all our children. Finally, our schools are operating in a difficult economy. The School Board has redoubled its efforts to guarantee that tax dollars are spent wisely. My record as a Board member demonstrates that I carefully review and challenge all budget related expenses.

Given these challenges on the horizon, I am well-suited to continue serving on the District 96 School Board for three primary reasons.  First, with my first term as a Board member almost complete, I have gained a level of insight and knowledge of our school system that can only come from experience.  I know the students, and have worked with the teachers and school administration.  My efforts and decisions as a Board member in the future will reflect this experience.  Second, as an attorney, I know and understand the law as it applies to our schools and community.  Third, my commitment to District 96 is whole-hearted.  My son is a student at Ames School.  My daughter graduated from District 96 in 2009, and I have seen how her educational background has brought her success in high school.  With my own children and the children of this community in mind, every decision I make as a School Board member has promoted the high degree of educational excellence that District 96 represents. Given the opportunity, I intend to continue this work. 

Michael O’Brien

Home: Riverside

Age: 44

Profession: Custom Editor for Cengage Learning.  Cengage Learning develops and provides educational materials for Colleges and Universities across the country.  I work with professors and their Colleges and/or Universities to provide information and content customized for the courses they teach.

Community / Political experience: I have coached several Riverside Recreation teams and organized a Riverside 4-year old T-ball league last year.

Other / Professional experience: I have previously worked for Motorola and Thomson Learning in the fields of project management and sales.

Education: Millikin University Decatur, Illinois B.A. in History and Education

List the top challenges facing this board and how you would address them: The challenge of fiscal responsibility.  District 96 is facing many proposed capital projects.  The next Board will have to decide what projects are necessary while keeping our strong financial ratings in place.  This has to be a collaborative effort.  I will work with the architect, facilities managers, principals, other board members and interested citizens to find consensus.  With my business background of project management and working with budgets I will bring these projects in on time and under budget.

The challenge of maintaining high academic achievement and finding the right curriculum for student needs.  In particular:

Mathematics:  The District has not evaluated the math curriculum since its adoption.  District 96 needs to employ research-based instructional strategies, including differentiated instruction for diverse learners.

Technology:  This District needs to integrate specific technology requirements in curriculum.  These requirements should include keyboarding and Excel.  We need to provide our teachers more training on technology during institute days.  D96 should require all teachers to post assignments on their class websites.  We need to recognize teachers from each school that go above and beyond integrating technology into classroom use.  These are the teachers we need input from on how best to use technology for this District.

Library/Information:  Access to information is becoming more and more decentralized.  This trend shows no signs of abating.  Think about how our students are accessing information. Yet our libraries are still set up and administered the way we went to school.  How can we set up our libraries to be more efficient and meet the needs of our students?  If elected I will seek to benchmark and borrow ideas from other high performing school systems on how our libraries should be set up to meet the needs of the 21st Century learner.

The challenge of hiring the next superintendent.  The search for our next superintendent is one of the most important decisions the District 96 Board of Education will make.  The individuals elected on April 5th will be involved in this vital selection.  As a Board member I will:

Develop hiring criteria to find highly qualified candidates based on Vision, Education/Academic Background, Moral Character, Leadership Skills, Financial/Management Success and understanding our District.

Seek input from the entire District 96 community:  The public, Parent Teacher Organizations, and D96 Teachers and Principals.

Work collaboratively with school board members to hire an exceptionally qualified superintendent and make sure he or she has a clear vision for District 96.

Arthur Perry

Home: Brookfield

Age: 39

Profession: Application Developer, Vice President, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Chicago

Community / Political experience:
Hollywood School PTA, Brookfield, 2005 to present
Cub Scouts Riverside Pack 24, 2008 – present
Riverside School District BOE Flexible Boundary Committee, 2010
Riverside School District Middle School Study Group, 2006

Other / Professional experience: 15 years in the Information Technology Field

Education: B.Music, 1993 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

List the top challenges facing this board and how you would address them: I believe being on the Board of Education would be a natural next step for me given the work I have done with the children of District 96. I would like to serve on the Board of Education because I want to create the most optimal educational experience for all children in the district. 
I am able to hit the ground running because of the time I have spent at school board meetings and the work I have done as a member of District 96 committees. I participated in the 2005 District 96 Middle School Study Group with district staff, administrators and parents which paved the way for the successful implementation of the Middle School concept at Hauser Jr. High School.

This past year, I participated in the Board Of Education Flexible Boundary Policy Committee with Board of Education members, parents and administrators to produce recommendations to the Board for revising and updating our Flexible Boundary and Class Size policies to deal with our growing enrollment, program and building needs. Enrollment is one of the most pressing issues the district is facing.

Although technology comes naturally to our children, integrating technology into the curriculum for students, providing teachers and administrators the resources to utilize technology and building the infrastructure to support devices used in our school buildings are key issues. My professional experience positions me to take a leadership role in creating the vision for these critical educational tools.

Effective vision and leadership is also needed on the Board of Education in order to hire and transition to a new superintendent and administrators. Because of my past work with the district and its children, my technical and educational background, and most importantly, my ability to listen to the needs expressed throughout our community, I believe I am an ideal choice to serve on the District 96 Board of Education.

David Kodama Jr

Home: Riverside

Age: 42

Profession: Sr. Director, Research & Policy Analysis, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, a trade association representing over 1,000 insurance companies that provide coverage for home, auto, and business nationwide.

Community / Political experience:
Volunteer Coach for Riverside recreation soccer 2002 – 2009
Licensed coach for Riverside-based travel soccer club 2007 – 2008
Sunday School Teacher, Riverside Presbyterian Church 2004
Founder and President, Riverside Soccer Association 2005 – 2009
RSA is a year-round soccer development program for boys and girls from 1st – 3rd Grade
Member of Community Events Council 2010 – Present
The CEC is a developing group of individuals focused on promoting community in Riverside through special events and activities
CEC Chair, Hullabalooza – A Celebration of Riverside Recreation November, 2010
Chaired a community event at the RBHS Field House that was attended by some 125 adults and children with the support of the Riverside Village, Parks & Recreation, RB High School, local businesses, and numerous volunteers

Other / Professional experience: 16-year career as an actuary and business operations director in various capacities for CNA Insurance Company (1990 – 1999, 2002 – 2006) and Kemper Insurance Company (1999 – 2002)

Education: Bachelor of Science in Mathematics – Actuarial Science from The Pennsylvania State University

List the top challenges facing this board and how you would address them: Maintaining the level of academic achievement that the school district community has become accustomed to expect. I will use by professional and community background to bring about continued Board leadership and focus on our mission and garner strong collaboration with administrators, teachers, parents, and other stakeholders.

In a few short years, school district superintendent Jon Lamberson and Central School Principal and director of curriculum Janice Limperis are scheduled to retire. These are two significant leadership positions. I will actively engage the Board members and other stakeholders to gain their input to effective put forth and execute a transition plan and executive recruitment for their timely replacement.

Technology continues to be an influential factor in our lives. I will continue to be an advocate for its continued implementation in our school district. But, it must be done in a fiscally responsible manner and it must be demonstrable that its use in the classroom is an effective tool for the academic achievement within the core curriculum subjects (e.g. math, reading, writing, science, social studies).

District 96 leadership has afforded the community with a financially healthy school district. As we have seen elsewhere, this can evaporate quickly if not aggressively managed in a fiscally responsible manner. The district continues to face the challenges of an at-capacity school enrollment. I will use my professional background and community experience to conduct the due-diligence, technical analysis and collaboration to come up with effective and innovative strategies to manage these issues, with a focus on the best interests of our children.


  • Hareena Meghani-Wakely
  • Michael J. O’Brien
  • Arthur Perry
  • David Kodama Jr.