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Mariah Madson Named Next Executive Director of The Winston Knolls Education Group and Foundation

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Will take over for retiring Val Belmonte; To begin duties July 1, 2024

ELGIN, IL. – Mariah Madson (Chicago, IL.), Assistant Professor and Department Chair of Early Childhood Education at National Louis University, Chicago, IL., has been named executive director of the Winston Knolls Education Group and the Winston Knolls Foundation, it was announced today.  Madson will replace Val Belmonte, President / CEO, who announced earlier this year his plan to retire July 1, 2024.

“We’re excited to have Mariah lead our two organizations as we continue to move forward,” said Ross Biank, chair of Winston Knolls Education Group and Foundation Boards of Directors. “She brings a vast knowledge of education, foundation development, nonprofit leadership, and is extremely well connected at all levels of the Illinois education industry.”

“I am humbled and honored to have this opportunity,” said Madson. “So many people have helped build these organizations into the benchmark educational and nonprofit organizations that they are today, and I look forward to working with our boards, staff, and the many other constituent groups involved as we continue to elevate our organizations to the next level of excellence.”

Mariah Madson is an assistant professor, and Department Chair of Undergraduate Education for Teacher Preparation at National Louis University. Additionally, she provides professional development through the Chicago Teachers’ Union Foundation. Mariah serves on two boards - The Winston Knolls Education Group, as well as the Association of Illinois Middle Schools. Mariah brings a diverse set of experiences as an educator and leader, and as a Golden Apple Foundation Scholar.

“As you might expect, we had a very strong group of candidates,” said Dom Belmonte, secretary of Winston Knolls Foundation and a member of the executive director search committee. “She balances care for the mission with care for the colleagues in pursuit of the mission. In this manner, she values the nobility of the teacher and exhibits deep regard for the organization’s purpose. Her potential to bring Winston Knolls to greater chapters of accomplishment is limitless, bringing success to the mission and honor to the institution.”

Mariah’s passion for social-emotional learning soon led her to De La Salle High School where she served as Dean of Students and Choral Director. This experience opened her mind to a future in educational and nonprofit leadership. Mariah joined District 89 in 2016, as a Principal at Stevenson Middle School where she also served as the District Music Coordinator, and in 2018-an Assistant Principal at Foreman College and Career Academy in the Chicago Public Schools.

“Both Boards of Directors of the Winston Knolls’ organizations very much look forward to working with Mariah and are confident she’s an excellent choice,” said Gloria Harper, vice-president of Winston Knolls Education Group. “We have known and engaged with her for the past two years, and she brings the acumen and passion that will suit her well as the next executive director of the Winston Knolls Education Group and the Winston Knolls Foundation.”

Throughout Mariah’s career, she has been passionate about engaging colleagues in collaboration and professional development. She has presented at schools and conferences throughout Illinois, Texas, New York, and Alaska. As an educational consultant, she focuses on culturally responsive pedagogy and social-emotional learning.

A 2009 graduate from VanderCook College of Music she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education K-12, and in 2014 earned a Master of Education degree in administration and educational leadership from Nation Louis University, along with a principal certification. In addition, Madson is a certified Illinois teacher performance evaluator and has an endorsement as a learning behavior specialist.

Madson will be on board at Winston Knolls in April 1,2024, and officially begin her duties on July 1, 2024, replacing Val Belmonte, president and chief executive officer of the Winston Knolls Education Group and the Winston Knolls Foundation, who will be retiring June 30, 2024, from his positions.

About Winston Knolls Education Group: Winston Knolls Education Group’s educational facility, The Winston Knolls School at Hoffman Estates Campus is a non-public special education Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade high school approved by the Illinois State Board of Education. Here we provide school-based services to children (ages 3-19) diagnosed with autism spectrum and related disorders such as emotional / behavioral disorders, developmental disabilities, and other health impairments. We believe every student should be given the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

About Winston Knolls Foundation: Winston Knolls Foundation is the supporting organization of The Winston Knolls School that helps families affected by ASD understand and access essential educational and therapeutic support with ease and efficiency, providing all children with Autism have every opportunity to achieve their best life. The Foundation also provides philanthropic support for projects, programs, equipment, services, and / or other initiatives of The Winston Knolls School.

What They’re Saying About Mariah Madson

Kristie Charles - Professional Development Facilitator and Mentor, Golden Apple Foundation - "It is with distinct honor to be celebrating Mariah Madson and her consideration for the position of Executive Director for the Winston Knolls Education Group and Foundation. Mariah and I worked together as self-contractors for The Golden Apple Foundation. Mariah used her classroom and administrative experiences and expertise as she mentored teachers entering their first two years in the profession. Mariah was also part of a groundbreaking Golden Apple initiative called The Accelerator Program where she mentored career changers entering the field of education. In collaboration, Mariah and I planned and provided professional development using Golden Apple's Core Competencies: Cultural Competency, Instructional Best Practices, Growth Mindset, Civic Engagement and Professional Expectations. Using her sense of humor and down-to-earth personality, anyone who encounters Mariah leaves the interaction wearing a HUGE smile and a better person after learning with and from her.”

 Michael Cox - Principal at Stevenson Middle School“Mariah Madson is an elite level educator for all levels of the educational system.  She has worked with students of a variety of ages from middle school to high school, and college.  Her passion for the field of education is second to none as a passion driven leader that wants all levels of the school or University to be successful.  The students respect her for her compassion and care she demonstrates for each individual student.  She endears herself to her staff by being a servant leader ensuring that all their needs are addressed in a timely manner. On behalf of the Stevenson Middle School community where she served as Assistant Principal, we recommend her without reservation for the role of Executive Director for Winston Knolls Education Group and Winston Knolls Foundation.” 

 Dr. Lauren S. Fagel - Assistant Principal of Instruction, Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy“I had the privilege of working with Mariah for one year at National Louis University.  In that brief time, I was able to see her unique talents as an educator.  She is bright, creative, passionate, collaborative, and deeply committed to creating and sustaining equitable learning communities.  She has a magical combination of pedagogical expertise and strong leadership instincts, and she brings these gifts to her work in a professional and dynamic manner.  Winston Knolls Education Group and Foundation is making a wise decision in putting its trust in Mariah Madson as Executive Director.” 

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