MEET OUR BOARD MEMBERS

Kenny Marshall, I Am Abel Foundation, Board Member

KENNY MARSHALL

Cardiology - Sales, IQVIA

Aaron Kenyatta “Kenny” Marshall is summed up best as a dynamic business leader with the mind of a capitalist and heart of a social worker. An executive and business owner with over 20 years of professional experience, Kenny has had a distinguished career in sales leadership driven by his sincere desire to help. 

For most of his remarkable sales career, Kenny was a top performing primary care, specialty, hospital sales executive, trainer, and manager for Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s largest private pharmaceutical companies. 

 

Currently, he serves as the owner of DJ Kenny B Entertainment, an entertainment company that specializes in event planning, promotion, and disc jockey services. 

 

His passion for mankind is further realized through his participation in civic and volunteer organizations. He is a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., where he has held many leadership positions. He is currently the State Representative for the Tenth District in Illinois. 

 

Kenny earned his B.A. from the University of Michigan in Sociology, with an emphasis on Law, Criminology and Deviance. He is currently married to his wife Nichole of 14 years, and has 3 children (Kennedy 11, Erin 9, and Nicholas, 6. 

Toyin Adeyemi is an attending physician in Infectious Diseases at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS) and Associate Professor of Medicine at Rush University medical Center, Chicago. In addition to patient care and medical education, Dr Adeyemi is actively involved in clinical research in the areas HIV and Aging, hepatitis C and health disparities. She is an avid reader, loves to dance and is the proud mother of 2 amazing young ladies.

OLUWATOYIN (TOYIN) ADEYEMI, MD

Associate Professor, Cook County &

Rush University

Dr. Joy Elion grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago.  She completed medical school at The Pritzker School of Medicine at University of Chicago and completed her pediatric residency at Northwestern University’s Children Memorial Hospital in Chicago.  She currently works at a federally funded health center on the south side of Chicago.  She has a passion for medical missions work and travels to Haiti and Kenya regularly. 

JOY ELION, MD

Director, Global Health & Humanitarian Outreach

 

Dr. David Anyadike is a general pediatrician on staff with UIC and St. Anthony Hospital, and the Pediatric Developmental Center at Illinois Masonic Medical Center. He obtained his degree from Meharry Medical College, did his pediatric residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), as well as his chief residency with UIC at Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

 

Since his residency training, he has founded citywide programs with institutions like the YMCA to address childhood obesity, and has continued to do work and research into the field of family and childhood overweight. He does teaching, mentoring, advocacy, and outreach work while doing general pediatrics in a small private clinic on the near-west side. 

DAVID ANYADIKE, MD

St. Anthony Hospital, Private Practice

Denise Jones currently works for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority   as an Associate Principal Examiner. Prior to this position, Denise worked in Compliance and accounting for NYSE Chicago.  Denise is a member of Living Word Christian Center and serves in the LWCC Prison Ministry working with the Juvenile Detention Center and on the Prison Ministry prayer team.  Denise also work as an engineer on the Can TV Medicine Makers program. Denise loves live theatre, jazz, and classic movies.

DENISE JONES, MBA, CPA

Board Treasurer

TRENA BURKE, MHA

Board Secretary, Quality Outcomes &

Performance

St. Anthony's Hospital

Trena M. Burke is a Quality Outcomes and Performance Improvement professional at St. Anthony Hospital where she is provides leadership and management of system-wide, Quality Management and Performance Improvement Plan activities in accordance with healthcare licensing and other accreditation agencies.

 

Mrs. Burke works closely with her business partners to provide strategic direction across all domains of practice including quality and safety, cost, service and operations.Trena Burke is an Examiner for the Illinois Performance Excellence Board of Examiners including participation in off-site audits to client sites.

 

Prior to her current role, she was Assistant Director of Research and Medical Education with Mt. Sinai Hospital and Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University. Trena holds a Masters of Healthcare Administration and a Bachelor’s of Science in Finance. Mrs. Burke has also presented at national meetings and published numerous articles on quality assurance, patient safety and mental illness.

 

 

​Trena is committed to the community and the development of fellow colleagues. Presently, Mrs. Burke serves as a Board member of several organizations:  (1) “I Am Abel Foundation” and (2) Chicago-Midwest Chapter of the National Association of Healthcare Services Executives (NAHSE). 

JACQUES CONWAY, MDiv

District Superintendent

United Methodist Church

Jacques Conway is District Superintendent of the Southern District of the Northern Conference of the United Methodist Church thereby serving as spiritual and administrative leader to over 60 pastors and churches on his district.  With over 22 years as an ordained elder of the United Methodist church, Jacques is best known for his unrelenting community service and commitment and passion for our community's youth.  

 

Pastor Conway was also well known to many as Sergeant Conway and often chided that "if I don't get you on my first job I'll get you on the second.  After 22 years of police service, he became the first African American police officer to retire from the Oak Park Illinois Police Department.  In his dual ministries his focus has always been on children.  He developed the Oak Park Police Explorers which he ran for nearly a decade.  He also started a ground breaking tutorial program with the support of his then congregation, Neighborhood United Methodist Church, that was game changing for kids of Maywood. Upon retirement from police work, he worked several years at Park National Bank as Vice President of Community Equity and Outreach.   He has traveled widely abroad on service missions from Haiti to Ghana. 

He has been proudly married to his lovely wife, I AM ABEL FOUNDATION Founder and President, Dr. LaMenta Sweetie Conway for 33 years and notes that they met in high school and married in college.  Together  they have 3 children who share their passion for service and have traveled alongside their parents on service missions.  He enjoys reading, old school R&B music simply spending time with family.  

JONATHAN MOREIRA, MD

Asst. Professor of Medicine, Northwestern

Dr. Jonathan Moreira is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System.

 

Dr. Moreira’s clinical expertise lies primarily in head and neck cancers, malignant melanomas and lymphomas. His clinical research primarily focuses on novel therapies for the treatment of patients with head and neck cancers. Additionally, he is interested in exploring cancer care disparities in underserved communities, both in Chicago and around the world.

 

Dr. Moreira also possess a passion for mentoring the next generation of physicians, and is actively mentoring students from across the educational spectrum, from high school to fellowship training. When not spending time with his 2 beautiful young daughters and wife, Dr. Moreira enjoys reading, practicing guitar, and trying new cuisines.

For over 30 years, Marc was a criminal defense attorney, including 24 as a Cook County Assistant Public Defender. He has been an instructor at the U of C Law School Mandel Clinic Intensive Trial Workshop for over 20 years. He is a former Oak Park village trustee. He founded and operates a Mediation practice. He is a conscious aging columnist for the Oak Park Wednesday Journal, a novice beekeeper, a husband of over 40 years, a father and a grandfather. Marc currently facilitates Conscious Aging Workshops and Wise Aging Workshops in the Chicagoland area.

MARC BLESOFF, JD

Retired, Criminal Defense Attorney

SHEILA GORDON, MS

President and Principal Advisor

Greater Purpose Consulting

Sheila is credited for having a pulse on what matters to American workers. She has an HR career spanning almost 30 years with expertise in management development and professional image coaching. Her partnerships have included executive management from various industries such as advertising, commercial print, legal, manufacturing, property management, non-profit and tech services. Helping workers, at any level, thrive at work has been her professional mission, coupled only with her passion to eradicate systemic racial and economic inequities within Corporate America.

Sheila’s personal passion is rooted in youth and peer mentoring. She sees herself as a beneficiary of wisdom imparted upon her from multiple mentors and feels obligated to pass the torch. Through work, church and sorority, she has carved out several venues by which she can devote, time and finances to enriching the lives of others -just as she continues to be poured into by her mentors.

Currently, Sheila serves as Board Advisor to KQ Communications (PR & Communications Agency in Memphis and Atlanta) and as a proud Board Member of I AM ABEL Foundation where she serves as the Posse Foundation (Chicago) Scholarship Coordinator.

Sheila is a University of Illinois, “I-L-L-I-N-I” (Urbana-Champaign) alumna with a B.S. in Psychology and a M.S. in HR & Organizational Development. Her path to helping others was broadened there and sparked a career that would be entirely grounded in Human Resource service.

Dena Beaty grew up on the south side of Chicago and attended Lewis University in Romeoville, IL where she received her Bachelor Of Science in Business Management.  She currently works for AT&T as a Universal Service Executive for over 29 years.  However, she’s always had a strong passion for decorating and party planning.  She is currently utilizing this passion as co-owner of D&V Touch Of Elegance.

DENA BEATY

Universal Service Executive, ATT

Revita Prowell grew up in the south and moved to Chicago 20+ years ago. She obtained her MBA in Management at Robert Morris University in Chicago, IL. She enjoys working in Accounting and Financial Planning for over 25 years. She uses her knowledge to help others with finances or group event budgeting. However, she’s always had a strong passion for volunteering, working with youth and planning travel for groups.  She is currently utilizing this passion as an Independent Travel Agent of Travel With Vita 2. 

REVITA PROWELL

Independent Travel Agent, Travel With Vita 2

TAKIJAH HEARD, MD

Division Head of Child Neurology

& Epilepsy

Director, Pediatric Neurophysiology

NorthShore University Health System

Dr Takijah Heard is a Chicago native, born on the south side of Chicago. Dr Heard received her doctorate of medicine from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.  She remained on the south side at UIC/Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital for her pediatric residency. Dr Heard’s pediatric neurology residency and epilepsy fellowship was completed at Harvard’s Boston Children Hospital. After completing her fellowship in epilepsy, she attended the Harvard School of Public Health to learn more about how to conduct epilepsy research in order to impact the world on a broader level. She has travelled to various countries in Africa including Zambia and Tanzania teaching and spreading awareness about epilepsy.  Dr Heard plans to continue these educational efforts with Kenya in the future as a medical mission.

Dr Heard’s teaching skills have been honored as she was the recipient of the Dean’s Excellence in Teaching Award during her first position as the Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Houston.  She has worked extensively with the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas and Greater Chicago. She currently serves on the Physician Advisory Board for the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago. Dr Heard’s passion for epilepsy has been shared on National Public Radio (NPR). She has been named as one of 2013’s Top America Doctors. Dr Heard has authored chapters in books focused on pediatric epilepsy. Additionally, she has been featured in a book called Against All Odds Celebrating Black Women in Medicine that has recently turned into a documentary renamed Changing the Face of Medicine which was released in 2017.  

Dr Takijah Heard is currently the Division Head of Pediatric Neurology and Epilepsy and the Director of Pediatric Neurophysiology at Northshore University HealthSystem. She has recently established a pediatric epilepsy surgery program at Northshore and continues to teach medical students and residents about pediatric neurology and epilepsy in hopes of broadening the field. 

CHRISTIAN A. CONWAY, ESQ

Trial Lawyer

Christian A. Conway is a trial lawyer who practices in the areas of criminal and civil litigation at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Conway has successfully tried multiple cases to juries and over 50 Bench trials. Conway has also argued and won a case in front of the Illinois Court of Appeals. In addition to her legal work, she has a deep commitment to volunteer work and service. In law school, Conway volunteered her time with the Wisconsin Unemployment Appeals clinic --aiding the underserved in their quests to obtain unemployment benefits.

As a lawyer, Conway has volunteered at expungement clinics helping those to expunge their criminal records and at driving exposition fairs where she has dismissed old traffic cases, assisted persons to re-obtain their driving privileges and much more. 

 

Christian Conway received a J.D. from The University of Wisconsin Law School in 2017 and a B.S., from Emory University in 2013. She clerked for the Hon. LaShonda A. Hunt of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois from 2018-19. Conway is an active Board Member of the I am Abel Foundation and proud member of the Black Prosecu

DEONNA WARDLOW

Senior Associate,Health & Benefits NA

Brokerage & Advisory

Willis Towers Watson

Deonna joined Willis Towers Watson in May 2019 and has more than 8 years of consulting experience in employee benefits. She has worked in partnership with various clients across multiple industries.  Her knowledge and expertise include:

  • Providing a high level of support to obtain, maintain, and expand client and vendor relationships

  • Overseeing all projects surrounding the contract renewal/marketing process

  • Recommending additional solutions that align with derived strategic objectives and guiding principles 

  • Overseeing carrier implementation projects

  • Preparing key deliverables and managing deadlines outlined in the client service plan

  • Serves as a member of the Diversity & Inclusion recruitment team responsible for partnering with organizations in efforts to attract and retain African American and Latinx talent 

 

Outside of WTW Deonna preforms her greatest work as a loving wife and mother to her four children. She enjoys being an active member of her church, supporting worthy causes, and volunteering with various organizations.

Education and Credentials 

Deonna holds a bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management from Concordia University Chicago. She actively maintains Life and Health Insurance licenses in over twenty states.

RENE ROBERTS, MD

Co-Director, Saturday Morning Professor

Executive Producer, Medicine Makers

I Am Abel Foundation is pleased to welcome Dr Rene Roberts to the Board of Directors.  She is the Executive producer of our public broadcasting show Medicine Makers beginning beginning Season 3 and one of the main hosts.  She is also a physician mentor and co-director of the Saturday Morning Professor Intro to History Taking series with Dr Conway.   

Dr. Roberts, is a board-certified Family Medicine physician, speaker and former competitive figure skater.  Since 2016 she has been a physician mentor with the I Am Abel Foundation and enjoys working with high school, college and post-baccalaureate students pursuing their dreams of becoming a medical doctor.   She has recently joined the foundation as a board member as well. 

After her competitive figure skating career concluded, Dr. Rene began to pursue her passion for medicine full time.  She completed her medical degree at Indiana University School of Medicine and her residency at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chicago.  When she is not caring for her own patients, you will probably find Dr. Rene traveling the globe serving on medical missions including trips to Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Africa, and Moldova.  In her free time Dr. Rene enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling and staying active by running, figure skating recreationally and walking her dog. 

PRENTISS TAYLOR, MD

Vice President, Medical Affairs - Doctors On Demand

Physician, Advocate Christ Hospital

Prentiss Taylor Jr., MD, FACP, currently serves as Vice President of Medical Affairs at Doctor On Demand, a leading innovative national telemedicine company. There he is currently co-leading national health initiatives with Walmart, Humana, and several other national companies. He is also an attending physician on staff at Advocate Christ Hospital in Metro Chicago.  He is involved with three local mentoring programs for students as well as on the National Alumni Council of National Medical Fellowships, which gave him a scholarship to Harvard Med School.

He was awarded the Unsung Hero Award by WGN-TV for his volunteer work at a free clinic. Prentiss has volunteered as guest lecturer for the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple Seven program, has spoken to church groups, and has appeared on local radio stations in support of Hypertension Awareness and Control. 

He has most recently been Medical Director at Advocate Aurora Health Care, the largest health system in the Midwest. He also had responsibility for launching Advocate’s successful Patient Centered Medical Homes sites. 

Prentiss is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, the Kellogg Business School, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. Prentiss is board-certified in Internal Medicine and  Preventive Medicine. He has been chosen as a Top Doctor by Chicago Magazine, Castle Connolly, and US News, multiple times, including in 2018-2020. He has previously been a faculty member of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. 

CHRISTOPHER L. GANDY

Founder | CEO, "The Coach"

The Midwest Legacy Group, LLC

Chris has spent the last 21 years helping individuals reach their most important financial goals.  In 1999, Chris started his own financial services practice, and, since then, has traveled the U.S. working with athletes, key executives and minorities.  Chris specifically focuses on the areas of individual and corporate Life Insurance, Disability Income Insurance, Investments*, Unique Tax Reduction Strategies, Retirement Income Optimization and Pension Maximization.

Chris was a communications major at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Outside of the classroom, he played on the Fighting Illini basketball team where he was co-captain and earned 2nd Team All Big-Ten honors.  After college, Chris played basketball professionally for the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, and in L’Hermaine and Vichy, France.

In 2010 he started his own Agency, where he leads a team of highly skilled advisors, meanwhile still developing his clientele nationwide. He has been featured in numerous magazine articles; Crain’s Chicago Business, GQ, Black Enterprise and African-American Career World.

In 2012 Chris found a way to give back to sports by becoming a member and sitting on the board of the Chicago Concussion Coalition which goal is to make the games safer for children in amateur sports, Founded by Chris Nowitski of the Emmy Nominated movie “Head Games” he finds passion in helping resolve the issue of CTE in sports.

Chris donates his time and efforts to many organizations.  He is on the Board of Directors for the Urban League, is part of the United Way’s Young Community Leaders, volunteers for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization & and joined the board of the SAME Network of Chicago’s RUSH medical center.

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