Williams and Kasalo-Terihaj fill vacant park board seats

April 17, 2024 08:00 AM

After convening several special meetings of the Skokie Park District board of commissioners over the past two months, the board has chosen Courtney Williams and Antonia Kasalo-Terihaj as the district’s fourth and fifth commissioners. Both were installed Tuesday at the April meeting of the board of commissioners.

In December 2023, commissioner Mary Oshana moved out of Skokie and vacated her seat. On Tuesday, board vice-president Minal Desai formally announced she will also vacate her position, after being appointed Clerk of the Village of Skokie at Monday's Village board meeting. Per board policy, vacancies are filled by appointment. The four members (prior to Desai’s departure today) subsequently chose to interview many Skokie residents through an application process, finally naming Williams and Kasalo-Terihaj. After being sworn in at Tuesday's meeting, they filled the two vacant positions, both of which will be up for election in 2025.

A 10-year resident of Skokie, Courtney Williams is strategic communications professional with nearly 20 years of experience in higher education, corporate, and non-profit work. She is currently the director of communications at the Obama Foundation, overseeing the group’s internal and external communications, and planning and managing large-scale events such as speaking engagements for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Her expansive career includes working as a journalist in print, radio, and television. She specializes in executive and crisis communications; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work; and human resources efforts.

Prior to her work at the Obama Foundation, Williams worked at the Kellogg School of Management and at the Exelon Corporation. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Memphis. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and a former board member of Chicago’s Pride Arts and Chicago Canine Rescue.

Williams currently plays in Skokie Park District tennis and pickleball leagues, enjoys music festivals, outdoor gardens, spending time at the library, and traveling with her family.

Antonia Kasalo-Terihaj currently works for Chicago’s S & F Interior Design, where she manages communications, projects, budgets, procurement and orders. She attended Regina Dominican High School and Loyola University Chicago, and later attended classes at and worked for The Art Institute of Chicago.

A lifelong Skokie resident, Kasalo-Terihaj’s parents arrived in Skokie from Croatia in the 1960s, immediately taking advantage of Skokie Park District parks and programs. As an adult, she, her husband, and her four children have enjoyed the district’s parks, Skatium Ice Arena skating lessons, both swimming pools, Emily Oaks Nature Center events, summer camps and clinics. Her son Adrian has Asperger’s Syndrome, and she says that the park district’s summer camps have accommodated all of his needs with love and dignity. 

Kasalo-Terihaj describes Skokie as having a heart that transcends race, religion or job title. In her spare time, she organizes homeless drives, block parties, charity events, and PTA fundraisers. Her family enjoys traveling and have been to many beautiful destinations, including her parents’ beach house on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. 

The Skokie Park District’s other current commissioners are President Mike Reid, Susan Aberman and Ezra Jaffe. The board of commissioners meet at the Weber Leisure Center, with regular monthly meetings held every third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.

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