Board of Trustees
Stacy Brehm Tate
Stacy Tate is an ordained Presbyterian Minister (PCUSA) who serves a United Church of Christ Congregation in Irvington, IL and is the President of Brehm Oil Company, a local oil production company, and Brehm Investment Group, Inc. Stacy is the daughter of Carol Brehm, the founder of our school. Stacy has served on the board in previous years and also served her local school district for over 20 years. Stacy comes to the board with an extensive background in education and as an activist for students with learning disabilities.
Daniel Maher is a Springfield, Illinois attorney who has been practicing law since 1984 and in solo practice since 1993, concentrating in administrative law. He has served on the boards of several not for profit corporations, including the Springfield YMCA and the Pregnancy Care Center of Springfield. Mr. Maher graduated from Northwestern University in 1979 and from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1984. He and his wife, Sandy, have four children. Their youngest child, Jordan, attended Brehm for 4 1/2 years, graduating in 2008. Dan and Sandy substituted as dorm parents at Brehm while Dan was in law school and had the honor and privilege of knowing Carol Brehm.
Rita O’Leary Dodd obtained Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science degrees from Southern Illinois University in education and supervisory administration. She went on to serve as an educator or administrator in the public and private school systems for 34 years. The last 19 of those years have been devoted to Brehm. Rita also belongs to several civic organizations and currently serves on the non-profit board, Preservation, and Appreciation of Structural Treasures (P.A.S.T.)
Frank M. Poremski
Frank M. Poremski is a seasoned financial executive with significant experience in large, small, domestic, and international operations in a wide range of positions. He is skilled at dealing with a variety of business scenarios, including growth, acquisition, divestiture, and bankruptcy. Frank is currently the Sr. V.P. & Chief Financial Officer of Children’s Home + Aid Society of Illinois, a 130-year-old social service agency which provides help, hope, and opportunities to children and families in poverty and/or abusive or neglectful situations. For the seven years prior to this position, he was Chief Financial Officer of SSP/BPI Group, a privately held human services firm that provides career coaching and counseling to job seekers. Over a 28-year period, he held positions ranging from accountant to Vice President of Finance at USG Corporation, a multi-billion-dollar building products company. Frank received his BA in Accounting and MBA in Finance from De Paul University in Chicago. He also holds a CPA certificate and is or has been a member of FENG, FEI, and FLA.
Paul Kosuth, M.S.
Faculty - Math, Board of Trustee Member
Start Date: 1985
“I enjoy working with students on an individual and personal level; working on what they need to do at that moment regardless of a set curriculum.”
Paul Kosuth has spent his entire teaching career at Brehm starting in 1985. Paul is an authentic person living a simple and compassionate life. He cares deeply for his students and believes in them. He encourages students to believe in themselves and that they will be successful not only in their studies but also in life.
Paul earned his Bachelor of Science with a double major in botany and mathematics; Master of Science degree in botany both degrees are from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He also has his certification in secondary education in math and botany and an Endorsement LBS1.
Director of OPTIONS
Start Date: 1982
“The best part of my job is the people I work with students, staff, families - knowing that our team makes a difference in the lives of our students.”
Charlene (Char) Reed is a former special education teacher with certification in Learning Disabilities Education. She is very proud that she was one of the original teaching staff members of Brehm Preparatory School when it opened in 1982. During her tenure at Brehm, Char has worked in many capacities. She has been an instructor of several courses and has also served as Admissions Director and Supervisor of Educational Services at Brehm. In 1995, she became the Coordinator of OPTIONS Transitions to Independence. In 2012, she was named the Director of OPTIONS. In that capacity, she supervises staff and students; creates teaching materials and staff training materials; presents at conferences at the local, state and national levels; recruits new students; manages OPTIONS admissions and guides the growth of the OPTIONS. Currently, Char serves on the Executive Leadership Team as the Head of OPTIONS.
Char received her bachelor's in special education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Margie DeHaan joined Banner Health, a not-for-profit health system, in May 2010 as the Vice President, Total Rewards. In this role, she leads the development, design, and management of Banner’s compensation and benefits philosophy and strategies covering 47,000 employees with a combined salary and benefit cost of $3.5 billion annually.
Margie has more than 25 years of experience in various human resources leadership roles covering compensation, executive compensation, benefits design, performance management, and as a human resources generalist. She has cross-industry experience having worked for Fortune 500 large global organizations, including Applied Materials, Freescale (the spin-off of Motorola’s Semiconductor Product Sector), Motorola, Honeywell (formerly Allied Signal) and American Express. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Margie lives in Phoenix with her husband, Mike Summers. Together, they have three beautiful daughters and three unruly canines.
David Gibbs is Chairman and co-founder of E|SPACES, Inc., the office as a service innovation for mobile, connected professionals in Nashville, TN (www.espaces.com), 2010 – present; owner and former Vice Chairman of Alacrity Services LLC, a leading insurance claim services network provider (www.alacrityservices.com) and affiliates, 2002 – present. He is also the principal of consultancy The West Bridge Group, which provides business advisory and legal services in risk management, new venture initiation, business strategy, property casualty insurance and litigation strategy, 2002 –present.
From 1996 to 2002, David was Chief Executive Officer, Claim Services, Travelers Insurance Company.
Before joining Travelers in 1996, he served as Senior Vice President of the Domestic Brokerage Group companies of American International Group, where he worked in a range of legal and executive positions from 1989 – 1996. Before joining AIG, he practiced law in Washington, D. C. with Steele & Fornaciari, specializing in complex trial and appellate litigation and business transactions. He also served as Counsel for Sentry Insurance Group in its Atlanta, Georgia regional office, following several years of insurance defense trial practice with Bovis, Kyle & Burch in Atlanta.
David is a graduate of the University of Richmond and the Emory University School of Law. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Brehm Foundation, which supports two comprehensive academic programs focused on children and young adults with complex learning disabilities located in Carbondale, IL. He also serves as a member of the Board of the Omicron Delta Kappa Foundation. He is past Chairman and member of the Board of Trustees of the Klingberg Family Centers, New Britain, Connecticut – a provider of educational and therapeutic services for at-risk children and their families. He also served as a member of the Richmond Council of the University of Richmond
David is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society, Life Member of Safari Club International (2009 North American Major Award Recipient), Life Member of the National Rifle Association and member of Dallas Safari Club. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Tennessee.
David and his wife, Kaye LaFollette, have two adult children: Grant (25), currently on enlisted active duty the United States Marine Corps, and Rachel (21), a student at OPTIONS – Transitions to Independence in Carbondale, IL. David and Kaye are members of Franklin First United Methodist Church in Franklin, TN.
Matthew Marosek is a Professional Engineer (PE) in the State of Kansas and a Project Management Professional (PMP). He has served as a Civil Engineer for Black & Veatch Special Projects Corporation in the Federal Services Division for more than five years on both domestic and international projects. He received an M.S.M in Project Management in 2012 and prior to working for Black & Veatch; Matthew attended college at Marshall University where he achieved a B.S. in Geology and then at West Virginia University Institute of Technology where he achieved a B.S. in Civil Engineering. Matthew is also a Brehm Alumnus.
Mary Jane Peterson
Mary Jane Peterson is the mother of a current Brehm student. Currently, she is president of a small startup business dedicated to safety in the Thoroughbred racing industry which makes use of her background in management and database development. She previously worked in finance and management information systems at the University of Maine, in logistics for the Santa Fe railroad, and as a management consultant at McKinsey and Co. She has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from General Motors Institute. However, her most important education has come from the experience of sharing her life with her two children. Seeing the different challenges children face has helped her to recognize the great diversity of human capability. This experience has also exposed her to the many wonderful people who have committed their lives to help those with learning differences achieve their potentials and live happy, fulfilling lives.
Gerry Schermerhorn, Ph.D.
Gerry Schermerhorn has been a Brehm parent since 2007, and her two sons graduated from Brehm Preparatory School and enrolled for several years in OPTIONS. One son remains enrolled in the OPTIONS Extension program. She is retired from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine where she served as the Associate Dean of Students, heading an office that oversaw student affairs, admissions, financial aid, records, and alumni affairs. She also held a faculty position in the Department of Medical Education and served on regional and national groups and committees within the Association of American Medical Colleges. She has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana; an M.A. in Administration from the University of Illinois at Springfield; and a Ph.D. in Education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Edward J. Blake, Jr. is the founding partner of the Blake Behme Law Group, P.C., a law firm engaged in private practice in Belleville, St. Clair County, Illinois and a former member for the Belleville Public School District #118 Board of Education. Edward hold several degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from St. Louis University School of Business and Administration, a Masters in Business Administration from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, a Juris Doctor from St. Louis University School of Law, and a Master in Taxation Law from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. Edward and his wife, Irene, have three grown children. Blake Behme Law Group, P.C. is an “AV” rated preeminent law firm and Mr. Blake who has been engaged in private practice law for more than thirty-eight (38) years has been recognized as a Leading Lawyer and an AVVO Superb Rating of 10 and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates. Mr. Blake has also taught part-time for McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, and was formerly a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles minor league system prior to retiring and pursuing various degrees and becoming an attorney.
John LV Bobell is a retired Professor Emeritus of Idaho State University who also taught at Southern Illinois University and spent 49 years as a high school Industrial Arts teacher and wrestling coach. He received his bachelors and masters degrees from Humboldt State University in California and his doctorate from the University of Missouri at Columbia. He then pursued advanced studies at nine different universities. Dr. Bobell’s specialties are teacher/instructor traits, task analysis, and curriculum design, assessment and evaluation, career development, cooperative occupational education, and grant writing. He is currently a member of the adjunct faculty at Southern Illinois University, where he teaches physical fitness and conditioning.
Shirilyn Holt serves the Mt. Vernon Township High School as Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools and Assistant to the Board of Education. She has facilitated electronic training classes for Administrative Assistants and Board Members at the Triple I Board Conference in Chicago for multiple years. In the Corinthian Baptist Church, she serves as Bible teacher, Music Director, Couples Ministry Co-Director, Trustee and Financial Secretary. Having three brothers and a sister with learning disabilities, Shirilyn certainly appreciates the need for Brehm Preparatory School.
Jennifer Purdon is an executive coach who works with a wide variety of individuals to help them achieve their vision and better understand their strengths. While she has worked within major corporations such as The Coca-Cola Company and AXA Financial Services, she is committed to women’s career development and professional advancement. Previously, Jennifer was Vice President for Leadership Development at Merrill Lynch and Director of Leadership and Organization Development at Pitney Bowes. She received her BA degree in English from Emory University, an MS in Career Development from Georgia State University, and her coaching certification from the Coaches Training Institute. She serves on the Board of Girls, Inc. of Westchester, New York, an organization that helps adolescent girls become Strong, Smart, and Bold, and she is also a certified bereavement counselor.
Darla Wexstten is a psychotherapist in private practice in Mt. Vernon, IL, where she has served children and families for over two decades. Her professional experience gives her a desire to facilitate the availability of the “Brehm Way” to all who might benefit from the cutting-edge excellence. Darla received her MSW from Washington University in St. Louis, MO in 1988, as well as a specialization in family therapy. Darla comes to the board having been a personal friend of Carol Brehm, founder of Brehm School, and remembers fondly Carol’s passion and energy in the early days of Brehm’s conception.