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Board of Directors

Laura S. Washington

Laura has more than two decades of award-winning experience as a non-profit professional and multi-media journalist. She specializes in African-American affairs, local and national politics, race and racism and social justice.

Aside from her long-standing Chicago Sun-Times column, Laura is a political analyst for ABC 7, Chicago’s ABC-owned station. She served as a 2015 Visiting Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. 

Previously, Laura was editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter, a nationally recognized investigative monthly specializing in racial issues and urban affairs. She also served as deputy press secretary to Mayor Harold Washington and worked as a producer for the investigative unit at CBS-2/Chicago.

Her investigative work has been honored with dozens of local and national awards, including two Chicago Emmys, the Peter Lisagor Award, and the Studs Terkel Award for Community Journalism.

Her civic activities include serving on the boards of The Field Museum, The Arts Club of Chicago, and, of course, Block Club Chicago.

She is also a member of the Better Government Association’s Civic Leadership Committee and an advisory board member of Global Girl Media.

Brant Houston

Brant is the Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and heads the online newsroom, a lab for digital innovation and data journalism at Illinois.

Houston previously served as Executive Director of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and co-founded the Global Investigative Journalism Network and the Institute of Nonprofit News (INN).

Before joining IRE, he was an award-winning investigative reporter at daily newspapers for 17 years.

Houston wrote “Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide,” and co-authored “The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook.” He has taught and spoken about investigative and computer-assisted reporting at newsrooms and universities in 25 countries.

Dan Israelite

Lending Block Club Chicago his financial knowledge, Dan Israelite is Executive Director of Investments of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., an investment firm in Chicago.

Israelite served as President of the Board of Directors of the McGaw YMCA in Evanston, Ill. and Treasurer of the Board of Directors of Evanston Scholars.

Charles Whitaker

Charles Whitaker is dean and professor at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Whitaker, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Medill, is the first alumnus of the school to serve as dean. He previously served as the Helen Gurley Brown Professor and associate dean of journalism for the school. Since joining the Medill faculty in 1992, he has taught courses in news writing, magazine writing, magazine editing, and blogging. Whitaker has also taught in Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies and the Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute (aka, the Cherub program).

Before joining the Medill faculty, Whitaker was a senior editor at Ebony magazine, where he covered a wide range of cultural, social, and political issues and events on four continents, including two U.S. presidential campaigns, and the installation of the first black members of the British Parliament. Whitaker began his journalism career as a newspaper reporter at the Miami Herald, where he covered education in Dade County and municipal government in Palm Beach County. From the Herald, he went to the Louisville (Ky.) Times, where he worked as a deputy feature editor and enterprise feature and arts writer. Whitaker has also contributed articles to the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Magazine, Jet Magazine, Essence Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Saturday Evening Post, Chicago Parent magazine, and Folio, the magazine of the magazine industry.