Board of Directors

Deborah Gershbein
President

Having lived in Streeterville for almost 30 years, Deborah joined the SOAR Board of Directors in 2014, and she is now serving her fourth term as President. She joined the organization because she truly believes in SOAR’s mission to preserve, promote and enhance the quality of life and community in Streeterville.  She is inspired by the many changes she has seen in the neighborhood over the years and has made it her goal to build and celebrate community. She enjoys all that Streeterville has to offer- the lakefront, the river, the skyline, the parks and meeting the people that call Streeterville home.

Brian Butler
Vice President

As an Illinois native, Brian Butler has called Chicago home since 2006 and became a Streeterville resident in 2013. Since 2016, Brian has been on the Board of Directors. Since childhood, he has been inspired and amazed by Chicago’s architecture. He believes that Streeterville’s economic and social diversity is a strength that allows Streeterville to remain the world-class neighborhood that it is. When he isn’t volunteering with SOAR, you can find him walking his dog around the neighborhood or singing in a neighborhood choir.

Pam Woodward
Secretary

Pam joined the board in May of 2019 and has been a SOAR member for six years. Seeking a sense of community in the neighborhood, she actively volunteers with local groups. Pam retired from Morgan Stanley after 25 years as a financial advisor and branch manager.  Prior to those years, she taught in higher education. Pam’s hobbies include international travel, studying the Italian language, and taking advantage of the many cultural opportunities in the city.

Howard W. Melton
Treasurer

Howard joined SOAR in 2000 and has served on the board since 2006. He enjoys the convenience and excitement of living in the City of Chicago and stays involved with SOAR due to his belief in the importance of neighborhood involvement. He is inspired by the opportunity to improve Streeterville and the city at large. When he isn’t volunteering with SOAR, Howard is a practicing attorney, is involved in civic affairs, and is the author of several books.

Malek Abdulsamad
Board Member

Urban planner and commercial real estate professional Malek Abdulsamad started his career by interning for SOAR in 2013, while finishing his Masters’ program in urban planning and policy at UIC. Working with the planning committee gave him an intimate understanding of residents’ needs, wants and vision for the neighborhood. Following his internship, he remained a volunteer with the traffic and transportation and real estate committees and participated in the review of more than 10 new developments between 2014 and 2018.

Currently with Compass Commercial, Malek negotiates real estate transactions not only in Streeterville but in all of downtown. He is involved with a number of planning and advocacy organizations in the city including the Ely Chapter of Lambda Alpha Internationals (LAI) and the Chicago Central Area Committee (CCAC). This constant immersion within planning, development and advocacy continually refreshes his connections with business leaders, property owners, city officials and neighborhood leaders, giving him an evolving understanding of what contributes to a better quality of life in downtown Chicago.

“I believe that I can leverage the knowledge and connections I built over the years to help achieve the mission of SOAR,” says Malek. “I look forward to continuing to advocate and promote Streeterville in as Chicago’s best neighborhood to live, work and play.”

Judy Aiello-Fantus
Farmers Market co-chair, Land Use & Development co-chair

For over 15 years, Judy  has been a member of SOAR. In 2015, she joined the Board of Directors. Judy joined SOAR looking for an opportunity to get involved and give back to the community. She has a desire to help build a strong neighborhood as well as a sense of community within Streeterville. Nature, especially Lake Michigan, art, music, and politics all inspire Judy. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, reading, and exploring the city.

Derek Brewer
Safety & Security Task Force Chair

Newly-elected SOAR Board Member Derek Brewer and his wife, Teresa, moved to Streeterville from Milwaukee, where he was an administrator in the Milwaukee Public Schools and an educational consultant for 35 years. Derek is a native Chicagoan from the Southside who chose to return to his hometown for retirement. A member of the SOAR Safety and Security Task Force, he chose to live in Streeterville “because it represents the best of Chicago, the diversity of people, activities and ideas.” Derek said of SOAR, “The term ‘Active’ says this is a group of people who are strategically and effectively working to improve the neighborhood and city. A membership in SOAR is an excellent way to stay informed about relevant neighborhood issues.” Derek, a self-described “amateur diplomat/peacemaker and ‘drum major for peace’,” studies current events and challenges and strategizes solutions.

Joel Brosk
Board Member

Joel has been in SOAR for the past 13 years and joined our Board of Directors in 2017. He joined because he saw the positive impact our organization had on the neighborhood day in and day out. He is committed to living in the City of Chicago and knows that Streeterville provides the best quality of life to its residents. He is inspired by the opportunity to influence someone’s life in a positive way. When he isn’t volunteering with SOAR, Joel enjoys biking, winter sports, traveling, and trying new foods.

Denise Delves
Board Member

Denise Delves has lived in South Streeterville for four years. A registered nurse with a certification in Nurse-Midwifery from the American College of Nurse-Midwives, she is a graduate of Wright Graduate University and holds B.S.N. and M.S. degrees in nursing from the University of Illinois in Chicago, as well as an Ed.D. degree from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara. Denise currently is Assistant Professor in nursing programs at Resurrection University. Her volunteer work includes positions in Rape Victim Advocates and at the Cook County Jail.

Sandra Djordjevic
Board Member

Sandra has been a SOAR member since 2017. She enjoys the full benefits of Streeterville including the museums theatre businesses and the lake. She also works at Northwestern University so that adds to her well rounded Streeterville background. She joined the Board so she can help make a difference in the neighborhood. She believes that in order to live in a good neighborhood participation is key in making it a place you want to be. In her free time she studies French likes to sail and travel.

Adam Flickinger
Board Member

Adam Flickinger, a professional planner and urban designer, is not only a new board member but has also joined the Land Use & Development and Environmental Issues task forces.

Currently planning director for Friends of the Chicago River, Adam brings vast career experience to SOAR. “I am inspired by innovative cities all over the world,” he says. “Dense, urban neighborhoods—like Streeterville—bring together diverse groups of people to learn from each other, connect and create community.”

A Streeterville resident for more than eight years and SOAR member for more than five years, Adam is passionate about neighborhood planning, design of the built environment, and sustainability. Though enthusiastically recognizing Streeterville for its convenience, amenities and quality of life, he understands the challenges facing our community today, such as adapting to our changing economy, an increasingly virtual environment and the challenges of climate change.

“The advocacy of SOAR should reflect our current world, with a focus on sustaining the positive characteristics of this unique community while investing in weak areas. I am excited for the future but recognize that there will be a need to always adapt, diversify and attract new residents.”

In his free time, he enjoys exploring the city and discovering different neighborhoods, cooking and trying new foods, and supporting arts and culture.

Christine Foh
Membership Co-Chair

Christine has been a member of SOAR since 2004, and since then has had various roles in the organization. She rejoined the Board of Directors in October 2018. She joined because of the role SOAR plays in protecting and serving the neighborhood. She loves living in Streeterville and stays involved with SOAR because she likes having a voice in her community and believes SOAR has a strong leadership role here. Christine is inspired by the thought that she can make a difference in the community and other people’s lives by volunteering. When she isn’t volunteering with SOAR, Christine is an avid bridge player, volunteers for Holy Name Cathedral, and enjoys reading and golf.

Clare Hennessy
Communications and Marketing Chair

Looking to join an organization that would allow her to contribute in more ways than just writing a check, Clare joined SOAR in 2014 in hopes of using her marketing skills to advance the organization. Joining the board in 2015, Clare stays involved with SOAR because getting to know the members makes Streeterville feel like a small neighborhood rather than the bustling area it is. She is inspired by the impact SOAR can have on the neighborhood, and when she isn’t volunteering with SOAR, Clare spends time with her family and friends, travels, and always has a project or two to keep her busy.

Robert Johnson
Safety & Security Task Force chair

After seeing SOAR’s flower garden at Lake Shore Park, Bob decided to see what our organization was all about. He became a member in 2015 and joined the Board of Directors in 2016. He enjoys living in an exciting neighborhood with such active community support. Bob is inspired by his ability to use his previous safety experience to help keep Streeterville a safe, thriving community. In his free time, Bob continues to give back by supporting Chicago’s 5-11 Club.

Gail Spreen
Land Use & Development Task Force co-chair

Gail joined the organization and Board of Directors in 2002 and since then has contributed to significant city planning efforts. From improving the plans for some projects to actually stopping other developments from being built, Gail enjoys being a part of SOAR due to our power to make a true difference in the community. She’s worked in Streeterville real estate for the past 21 years and works to keep the history of the area alive – from Cap Streeter to the present. In her free time, Gail enjoys boating, working on historical projects, and spending time with friends and family.

Steven Wine
Board Member

Steven joined the board in May of 2019. After retiring from his career in financial planning and financial service, he decided to devote his time to several not-for-profits that he feels passionate about in order to add value to the objective of the organization. He is passionate about parks and has served as a member of the PAC for Oz Park in Lincoln Park and is currently on SOAR’s Parks Task Force.

Board Member Emeritus

Mary Baim

Jim Houston

Irene Newman

Edward Pearl