“Brian has the soul of an educator, the brain of a business leader, and the empathy of a parent. He is the ideal person to champion Quest’s mission of providing gifted children with a challenging curriculum and a nurturing environment, emphasizing character as well as scholarship.”
Mr. Curtis Maas, Board Chair, Quest Academy Board of Directors
Quest Academy Names Brian Frank as Incoming Head of School
After a seven month search, the Board of Directors is honored to name Mr. Brian Frank as incoming Head of School of Quest Academy, succeeding Mrs. Jacquelyn Ault Negus, who is retiring effective June 30, 2021.
Brian has been an educator at Quest Academy for the past seven years where he elevated the middle school mathematics program through the use of technology and helped launch a “first in the nation” Artificial Intelligence curriculum for K-8 students, in partnership with Microsoft. Brian earned Bachelor of Science degrees in both Mathematics and Computer Science from Illinois State University and a Masters in Education from Roosevelt University. Prior to his teaching career, Brian held senior management leadership positions at Andersen Consulting, United Airlines and Sears Holdings Corporation, managing large teams and international initiatives focused on organizational change, program governance and business strategy.
Brian’s interest in teaching was born of his own experiences as a parent. He saw firsthand the disconnectedness between the mathematics that his own children were being taught and the demands and trends in the business world, in which he thrived. Though Brian had reached a level of success in the business world, a new passion was ignited. Brian set out to improve the development and implementation of math curricula, focusing on teaching the application of mathematics in the “real” world. Brian achieved those goals as a math teacher at Quest Academy and he will continue to do so as Quest Academy’s next Head of School. Upon learning of his appointment, Mr. Frank shared his thoughts on his new role:
“I am honored and excited to lead Quest Academy. I have loved my time teaching at Quest, where brilliant educators, involved parents and talented students combine to create a truly unique learning environment. As Head of School, I will work closely with our Quest community to build on the creative strategies, programs and resources that have made us a leader in gifted education.” On behalf of the Quest Academy community, the Board would like to express its profound appreciation to Mrs. Jacquelyn Ault Negus for her selfless dedication and illustrious career leading Quest Academy. Mrs. Negus honorably concludes a 42-year career in teaching with fifteen years spent at Quest Academy.
“It is with great excitement that I congratulate Brian Frank for being chosen as the next Quest Academy Head of School. Brian’s dedication to classroom teaching, coupled with his extensive experience in business management, will serve our school well for many years to come. Under the present Board of Trustees and Brian Frank’s very capable leadership, Quest Academy will step into the future with the confidence, innovation, knowledge, and enthusiasm to catapult this school forward to further greatness!”
Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Brian as he assumes his new role as Head of School and join us in our gratitude to Jacque for her many accomplishments at Quest Academy.
Curtis Maas, Board Chair
The Board of Trustees
The Quest Academy Board of Trustees promotes and safeguards the school's mission, strategically plans for the future of Quest Academy, appoints and oversees the Head of School, establishes broad policies, and develops and shepherds the capital resources of the school. The individuals on the Board serve Quest Academy with a wide range of experience, interests, and expertise. All board members are volunteers and Quest Academy expresses its gratitude for their guidance and commitment to gifted education.
Board of Trustees Officers
Curtis Maas - Chair
George Reichl - Vice Chair
Don Mitckess - Secretary
George Reichl - Treasurer
The daily operations of Quest Academy are led by the Head of School, Jacquelyn Negus, and the Leadership Team that includes school administrators. In addition, both the lower school and middle school are led by Team Leaders who play an important role in coordinating the efforts of the faculty.
Curtis Maas, Chair, is the parent of four Quest Academy alumni who each spent their K-8 school years at Quest. He has served on Quest's Board of Trustees since 2006, which is his second "cycle" of trusteeship, having held the post of Vice-Chair and Chair of the Finance Committee previously and has been involved with Quest since 1992. He is the Chairman and CEO of The RDI Group in Itasca, IL and holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He and his wife, Cathy, live in Inverness and strongly support the mission and dedicated professionals who serve our students.
Board Member since 2006 (second term)
Board Committees: Admissions and Marketing, Development, Executive (Chair), Finance, and 403(b)
Jennifer Basden and her husband, Steven, are the parents of Quest Academy alumnus Dominic Scheerer, who went on to attend high school at Lake Forest Academy and is now pursuing a degree in Entrepreneurship & Informatics at Indiana University. Jennifer is the owner of a web-based floral business, Chicago Silk Florist, designing faux floral arrangements for homes, weddings, events, and businesses. Helping to advance the mission of Independent schools has been one of Jennifer's passions for many years. She served as President of the Parent Group at Creative Learning Montessori in Barrington. At Quest Academy, she was a member of the PSA Board, led the Madrigal Fest committee and ran the Teacher Raffle. Jennifer actively volunteered within Lake Forest Academy’s choir and theatre programs, eventually assuming the role of Fine Arts Liaison on the PSA Board. Jennifer strongly believes in Quest's mission, and she is excited to continue supporting the school in new ways.
Board member since 2020
Valerie Campbell has been a Real Estate Broker with Baird & Warner in Barrington since 1992, specializing in residential real estate sales. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Quincy University in Business Management. She and her husband Roy, are the parents of one child attending Quest Academy and two alumni of the school. She has been actively involved with the school since 2007 and has volunteered at numerous levels within Quest including the "Knight of all Knights" Auction & Gala, Knights on the Run and various other activities at the classroom levels. Valerie also holds a seat on the Council of Messiah Lutheran Church and serves on the Advisory Committee at her office in Barrington. She enjoys spending time with her family, boating and attending her kids' sporting events.
Board member since 2015
Board Committees: Development (Chair), Executive, and Admissions and Marketing
Tim Daum is a Managing Director in the tax practice of Crowe LLP, where he focuses on executive compensation matters in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. He holds a BA in Business Management from Muskingum University and an MBA in Finance and Human Resources from the University of Pittsburgh (Katz Graduate School of Business). He and his wife Christine have one child at Quest Academy. Tim enjoys attending Quest events, visiting national parks and reading about early American history.
Board member since 2017
Board Committees: Committee on Trustees (Chair), Executive, Finance, and 403(b) (Chair)
Matt Hernacki lives in Cary with his wife, Andrea, and their two young Knights, Lucas and Adam. Matt loves camping with the kids, cycling, and dogs. He has over 20 years of local residential Real Estate experience and is the co-owner of MisterHomes Real Estate in Palatine. He has also served on the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors Board of Directors.
Board Member since 2017
Board Committees: Admissions and Marketing (Chair), Committee on Trustees, Development, and Real Estate
Dominique Kendrick is Vice President, Technical Operations for West Therapeutic Development, LLC. Ms. Kendrick holds both a B.S. in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and B.S. in Environmental Health from Purdue University; a Master’s in Business Administration from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and is a Licensed Pharmacist. She and her husband Kevin have one child at Quest Academy.
Board member since 2019
Sedhu Krishnamurthy serves as the Great Lakes Region Digital Transformation Leader for Microsoft. Sedhu holds an undergraduate degree in Electrical & Electronics Engineering from Guindy Eng. College, MS in Computer Science from Illinois Institute of Technology and an MBA in Strategy and Finance from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. He is passionate about the role of education in shaping the society. Sedhu & his wife, Radha, have one child, Vedant, at Quest Academy and they reside in Long Grove, IL.
Board Member since 2018
Board Committees: Admissions and Marketing, Curricular Innovation (Co-Chair with Head of School), Development, and Strategic Planning
Jae Lee is husband to Myonsook and the father of two daughters; Quest Academy alumna, Allison, who currently attends Deerfield High School and Abigail who will graduate in 2021. Jae has been a Quest Academy parent since 2012. He is a graduate of Lane Technical High School and is a member of their alumni association. He holds a B.S degree in Finance from Northern Illinois University. Jae is currently the chef/owner of two restaurants in Chicago.
Board Member since 2018
Don Mitckess lives in Bolingbrook with his wife Lora and their two children, Maya (Quest alumna) and Julian. Don has been a therapist in the behavioral health field for over 25 years, receiving his MSEd in Counseling from Northern Illinois University and BS/BA in Psychology/Theater from Loyola University of Chicago, and currently is the Director of Business Development for Banyan Treatment Center in Naperville. Don most recently served as Quest PSA Vice-President during the 2017-18 school year and was on the PSA Board for two years prior to that. He is the Cookie Dad for Quest Girl Scout Troop #41592 and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Northern Illinois Employee Assistance Professional Association.
Board Member since 2018
Board Committee: Audit
Luke Praxmarer is the father of two Quest Academy alumnae, one of whom is an officer in the US Navy and the other is an insurance broker, after having been a high school math teacher for six years. Luke has had three stints as a trustee; first from 1997 to 2003, then from 2006 to 2015, then rejoining the board in 2016. He has served on or chaired every committee at Quest, but has always served on the Development Committee, chairing it a few times over the years. He also served on the school board at Our Lady of the Wayside Catholic School in Arlington Heights, IL, chairing the board in 1996-1997. Luke is president and partner of Corkill Insurance, an independent insurance agency in Elk Grove Village. As an insurance agent, Luke served as the president of the Independent Insurance Agents of IL in 2009-2010. Luke is perhaps best known, however, for his award-winning, organically grown tomatoes in his suburban garden. He has a BS from DePaul University and resides with his wife, Carol, in Palatine.
Board member since 2016 (second term)
Board Committees: Development, Finance, and Real Estate (Chair)
Nader Qaimari is an executive in the education space, currently serving as Chief Product Officer and Chief Learning Officer for ISACA, a global non-profit focused on technology education and services. Prior to that, Nader served as Group President of Follett School Solutions, a multi-billion-dollar education company. While there, he launched a new book fair business and a digital curriculum business, while also running Follett's software and service platforms, leading 1,700 associates globally. Prior to Follett, Nader was a senior executive at Cengage, a leading higher education company. At Cengage, he led sales and marketing across global markets, after many years of product management and strategy roles. Nader earned his undergraduate degree from Kenyon College in Literature and Creative Writing and a Master’s in Business Administration from University of Michigan.
Nader lives with his wife Ahlam and two kids, Reed and Calla, in Inverness.
Board Member since 2019
Board Committees: Admission and Marketing, Finance, and Strategic Planning (Chair).
George Reichl is the parent of a Quest Academy alumna who is now attending Fremd High School. He serves on the Finance Committee, 403(b) Committee and Executive Committee. George has been a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley for a little over 30 years and also serves as a director for his homeowners association. He has a B.S. from De Paul University and resides with his wife Cathy in Palatine, IL.
Board Member since 2014
Board Committees: Executive, Finance (Chair), and 403(b)
Brad Schulman is an attorney at Motherway and Napleton, LLP where he specializes in medical malpractice litigation. Mr. Schulman graduated from Lehigh University, where he played baseball for four years. He continued his education and obtained his J.D. at The John Marshall Law School where he graduated Cum Laude. He and his wife have one child at Quest Academy and they reside in Deerfield, Illinois.
Board Member since 2019
Jorge Seoane, PhD, is an Engineering Manager with IMC Financial, a proprietary, high frequency trading firm. He holds a PhD and MS in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, and a BS from Louisiana State. He and his wife Jennifer reside in Palatine, and have one Quest alumna, and a current 7th grader attending Quest.
Board Member since 2015
Board Committees: Audit and Finance
Carl Siemianowski is a Hybrid IT Solution Architect for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, supporting HPE’s distributors and channel partners throughout the US. He holds a BS in Computer Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Carl has served at Quest Academy for many years as a PSA Board Member, Treasurer, President, Trustee and everyday volunteer. He has also served on other local community boards and works as a volunteer instructor at St. Theresa's Parish. He is the father of one Quest alumnus, Jon, who now attends Fremd High School.
Board Member since 2015
Board Committees: Admissions and Marketing, and Development
Head of School, Trustee Ex Officio
Joan Franklin Smutny,