Board Members

Prairie Crossing Charter School (PCCS) is governed by a board of directors who help ensure the success of our mission and values. The board consists of nine directors, each serving a 3 year term. Each year, three new directors are elected - one elected by the parents of PCCS and two appointed internally by the currently seated directors. To contact the Board of Directors, click here.




Steve Achtemeier is President of Lightscape, Inc., a premier exterior lighting company specializing in design, installation, and service of outdoor lighting scenes and products. Steve has a Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. In 1992, he took over management of the lighting division of a local landscape firm, and he purchased the division in 1995.  Steve is also a principal of two other local companies, one providing custom landscape wood products and the other is a commercial real estate investment firm. 

Steve Achtemeier
Term 10/2011 – 10/ 2014


Anita Jones Thomas, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist with specializations in multicultural counseling and family therapy.  Dr. Thomas received her bachelors degree in human development and social policy from Northwestern University, and a masters degree in community counseling from Loyola University Chicago.  Her doctorate in counseling psychology was received from Loyola University Chicago.  Dr. Thomas is associate professor and Graduate Program Director at Loyola University Chicago, where she teaches courses in multicultural issues, family therapy, and human development.  Her research interests include racial identity, racial socialization, and parenting issues for African Americans.   She has also conducted training seminars and workshops on multicultural issues for state and national professional organizations in counseling and psychology, hospitals and corporations, as well as served as a consultant for human service organizations.  Dr. Thomas has served as Chair of the Committee for Children, Youth, and Families for the American Psychological Association.

Anita Thomas
Board Appointed
Term 10/2012 – 10/ 2015

Sue Ross is an Assistant Director of Scientific Compliance at AbbVie, where she is responsible for ensuring compliance of the drug product development organization with relevant corporate policies and government regulations. She has an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Illinois.  Sue lives in Gurnee with her husband, Matt, and their two PCCS children.


Sue Ross
Term 10/2013 – 10/2016


Jeff Barhorst currently is the VP of Software Engineering for the Analytics division of Symphony IRI Group.  Prior to joining IRI, Jeff was the Chief Technology Officer and EVP of Global Program Management for Symphony Marketing Solutions a global marketing solutions and outsourcing company.  He brings almost two decades of delivering technology and process solutions covering a variety of business and analytical domains.  Previous work experience includes positions as the CIO and VP of Software Development for BVM Olenti and as the co-founder and President of Olenti LLC.  Jeff holds several patents, a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a Masters in Business Administration specializing in Entrepreneurship.   Jeff and his wife Connie have been part of the PCCS family for the past 10 years and with their 4 children will be with us for years to come.









Jeff Barhorst Treasurer
Board Appointed
Term 10/2011 – 10/2014


Nick Kotzamanis is currently a Sr. Director of Infrastructure Architecture & Design and is responsible for the cross tower (network, infrastructure service, unified communications & collaboration) strategic direction, R&D initiatives and technology roadmaps globally for Aon.  With over 18 years of technology experience, Nick has had several roles at Hewitt Associates and Aon from managing the Solutions Architecture team to leading distributed systems as the Director of Distributed Systems where he was responsible for all engineering and operational actives for Aon’s distributed systems in the US.  Prior to joining Hewitt, Nick worked at Andersen Consulting and graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the Robert McCormick School of Engineering where he specialize in computational linguistics and pursued his passion of astronomy.

Nick Kotzamanis
Board Appointed
Term 7/2013 – 10/2016


Brian Conlon is the father of three PCCS students.  He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and a master’s degree in M.E. from Northwestern University.  He is currently a software development director for a large software vendor.  Brian is also a former options trader and member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.  Brian strongly supports the PCCS mission of integrated environmental education and believes that the most important lessons we can teach our children are the responsible stewardship of our planet and accountability to one another.


              Brian Conlon,                     Vice President
Board Appointed
Term 11/2012 – 10/2015




Dean Thorson is a Fellow of the Technical Staff at Motorola and is the Senior Director of Advanced Technology Trials in the Mobile Devices Business.  He is responsible for developing and shipping next generation technologies in handheld devices and holds 19 United States Patents. Dean is the proud parent of a PCCS alumni, a current student, and a future student.

Dean Thorson
Term 10/2012 – 10/2015

Ed Jamison is Account Management – Team Lead at MBX Systems, Inc, a Libertyville based company that builds server appliances for software companies worldwide.  He has been with MBX since 2001 and has helped them grow from 17 employees to over 100 today.  He is passionate about the mission of the school and hopes to help support that mission and assist in pursuing the goals of the administration, board and parents.  He lives in Wauconda with his wife, Amy and their two children, both of whom attend PCCS.  


Ed Jamison
Term 10/2013 - 10/2016

Sean Daw is a design executive who has lead creative teams in the development of new experiences and products. He has created new and compelling products and experiences for Motorola, Starbucks, US Surgical and Jim Henson's Muppets. Sean currently is Director of Design and Innovation at Radius Product Development, a global design and innovation firm with offices in Chicago, Boston, Beijing and Hong Kong. Sean graduated from the University of Kansas with a BFA in Industrial Design.

Sean Daw, Secretary
Term 11/2011-10/2014

We believe that children are our best hope to improve the world.

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