Dr. Tom Kostes
Dr. Tom Kostes was appointed to the board in 2006 to fill an unexpired term. Tom was first elected to the board in 2007. Dr. Kostes serves as the board president. He graduated from Tilden Technical High School and received his B.S. and Masters degrees from George Williams College. Tom earned his doctorate in education from Loyola University. He also holds a Chief School Business Endorsement from Northern Illinois University. Tom and his wife Carolyn have two grown children and five grandchildren. Dr. Kostes is retired from North Palos District 117 where he served as superintendent.
Ron Moran was first elected to the board in 2009. Ron graduated from Argo High School and attended Moraine Valley Community College and Winona State University. Mr. Moran graduated from the apprentice school for the IBEW Local 134. Ron and his wife Melissa have three daughters, all of whom have attended the district. Ron and Melissa have been involved in the community and the school district over the years, including PTAs and the Hickory Hills Baseball and Softball programs. Mr. Moran's background as a project engineer for an electrical contractor gives him a wealth of experience dealing with construction management and contract issues. Ron also serves as a part-time electrical inspector with the village of Justice. Mr. Moran serves as the board's vice president.
Debbie Groark was appointed to the board in September 2012. She was elected to the board the following year and was re-elected in 2017. Mrs. Groark graduated from Stagg High School. She attended Moraine Valley Community College. Debbie and her husband Jay have two daughters. both of whom attended District 117. The Groarks have resided in Hickory Hills for more than 40 years. Debbie has been involved in the Girl Scouts for 30 years, including the last 18 years as a Girl Scout leader. Mrs. Groark remains a staunch advocate for quality education for all students. She attained the title of Master Board Member by attending various events, classes, and conferences. Mrs. Groark also completed the LeaderSHOP Academy for continuous learning and she serves as a Delegate-at-large with the South Cook Division.
Bobby Greene was appointed to the board in May 2017 and elected to a four-year term in April 2019. He grew up in Bridgeview and attended Argo High School. Mr. Greene graduated from Illinois Benedictine University where he played football and majored in sociology, which included a concentration in criminal justice. He spent 12 years as a police officer in Bridgeview before being injured on the job and retiring. Mr. Greene now works as an attorney. Bobby and his wife Jaclyn have two children in District 117. Mr. Greene said he believes in "giving back" to the community. "Volunteers are the backbone to great communities." Bobby serves as the board's secretary.
Clara Fraga was appointed to the board in June 2017 to fill a vacancy. Mrs. Fraga was born in Colombia, South America and came to the United States with her family when she was in elementary school. Her family spent time in New York and New Jersey before moving to Chicago when Clara was a sophomore in high school. She attended and later graduated from Hubbard High School. She worked during the day and attended Daley College at night where she earned an Associate's Degree in Early Childhood Development. Mrs. Fraga is married and she and her husband have three children who all attend schools in District 117. The Fragas moved to Hickory Hills in 2011. She said she "did my research" before deciding on Hickory Hills because "I wanted our children to go to a great school district." Mrs. Fraga said she is excited about her involvement on the school board and wants to help continue making District 117 "one of the best around."
Tracy Sukalo was elected to the board in 2015 and was appointed in April 2019. Mrs. Sukalo has been an educator who has spent her entire 21-year professional career teaching advanced science courses at Andrew High School in Tinley Park. She and her husband, Anthony, a pharmacist, have three children: Madison, Morgan and Anthony. All of her children enjoy playing sports, especially baseball, softball and basketball. Mrs. Sukalo grew up in Bridgeview and graduated from Argo High School in Summit. She and Anthony have been married almost 20 years. Mrs. Sukalo said she first ran for a seat on the board because she wanted to "get more involved in what was happening in the schools." "My background in education allows me to offer a different insight, a different perspective on various issues," she said. "What I have enjoyed most is being part of a decision-making process that positively affects all the students. I've also seen what great things can be accomplished as part of a team." She said it's important for her to keep things in perspective and to realize she is representing other parents and stakeholders in the district with her decisions.
Debbie Chafee was elected to the board of education in April 2019. Mrs. Chafee is a business analyst trained in both accounting and finance. She is also a certified public accountant. Mrs. Chafee and her husband Ian, a former board member, have resided in Hickory Hills for more than 20 years and are the parents of two daughters: Grace and Katelyn. Mrs. Chafee said she ran for a seat on the board because she wanted to give back to the community and to share her extensive background in school district finance and school funding. She launched a one-woman crusade to stop a funding bill that would have cut millions of dollars from District 117. During the process, she became one of the most important and outspoken voices in the debate over education funding in Illinois. Mrs. Chafee founded an organization called EDGE Illinois (Everyone Deserves a Great Education) to inform parents and rally supporters. In the new funding formula, District 117 received an additional $1.3 million this year. "I feel very fortunate to live in such a great communiuty and to have such great schools for our kids," she said. "I want to be part of a group that works together to keep our communities and schools successful and strong."