Roosevelt University Seal

The Roosevelt University Board of Trustees elected six new board members at its March 2024 meeting. The newly elected members, who were identified through a public nomination process, will begin their three-year terms in June.

The cohort represents the largest group of new trustees in recent years. Board Chair Jim Connor, says, "Roosevelt University is committed to recruiting and maintaining a diverse Board that is inclusive of all. We are especially focused on individuals who passionately support our mission of social justice." Five of the six new trustees attended Roosevelt University: three graduated with bachelor’s degrees; one received a master’s degree; and one attended as a continuing education student.

Ali R. Malekzadeh, university president, shares, “Our new trustees have a demonstrated track record of leadership, and they understand the challenges and opportunities facing higher education today.” He continues, “We look to the Board as a source of stability and vision, and as a foundation for strategic decision-making. The Board helps University leaders better plan for the future and execute our mission effectively.”

The new trustees are: Dr. Ufuoma C. Abiola, MA ’08; Jon V. Cherry; Maria Doughty; Sean Eshaghy, BA ’15; Rashad Robison, BA ’21; and Kai Zhao, BA ’97. Full bios are included below. 

Dr. Ufuoma C. Abiola, MA ’08

Executive Head & Associate University Librarian for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Princeton University

Dr. Ufuoma C. Abiola is the inaugural executive head and associate university librarian for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at Princeton University. As the first person of color to be appointed as an executive leader at Princeton University Library (PUL), she provides strategic vision, advice and leadership for DEI initiatives across PUL. Abiola is also an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), where she teaches innovative and dynamic courses that she has created and developed based on her award-winning dissertation research and DEI expertise. Abiola is the recipient of the prestigious 2022 Penn Graduate School of Education Educator of the Year Award.         

She is an award-winning scholar-practitioner; a sought-after speaker; and a strong, proven DEI thought leader. Abiola’s research interests involve DEI; skin tone bias/colorism; and increasing underrepresented students’ persistence and success at higher education institutions. She has founded and created award-winning, innovative institutional change programs and initiatives; published numerous scholarly works; presented at many organizations/institutions and national/international conferences; and received multiple institutional and national/international awards. Abiola was recently chosen for the highly selective National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) Academic Diversity Officer Fellows Program for the 2024-2025 academic year. She also currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Solebury School. 

Abiola holds an EdD and MSEd in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania; an MA in clinical psychology from Roosevelt University; and a BA in psychology from Boston College.

Jon V. Cherry

President & Head of North American Brokerage

Northern Trust Securities, Inc.

Jon V. Cherry is president of Northern Trust Securities, Inc. (NTSI), and serves as the chairman of its board of directors. He is responsible for overseeing NTSI's growth and profitability, implementing strategic initiatives and governing the North American brokerage franchise. 

Joining Northern Trust in 2015, Cherry established the North American Options business. Under his leadership, the derivatives business evolved into a global offering that supports institutional asset owners, asset managers and wealth management clients. This service provides comprehensive execution solutions and support for index, ETF and single-stock options. 

Before his tenure at Northern Trust, Cherry led the Cherry Group—a sales trading team developing and implementing sophisticated option strategies for banks, hedge funds and investment managers. 

Cherry is a member of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s Advisory Council, and has been elected to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Mid-West Regional Committee.   

Maria Doughty

Chief Executive Officer

The Chicago Network

As CEO of The Chicago Network, the premier organization of Chicagoland’s most influential women leaders, Maria Doughty leads with deep personal intention. She is an ambassador for the organization and its purpose of empowering women to lead and its mission to connect women for personal and professional growth, advance communities and support and inspire the next generation of women. Prior to this role, Doughty was the director of public policy and regulatory examinations at Allstate Insurance Company.  

She is the board president of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a group of member entities throughout Illinois that provide services for persons experiencing domestic violence. Doughty is a board member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a nonprofit body dedicated to increasing knowledge and engagement in global affairs. She is a current board member and the past board president of the Latino Policy Forum, an organization that provides policy analysis and information in the pursuit of fair housing, education and immigration laws for the Latino community. She was recently appointed as a special advisor to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. Doughty holds a gubernatorial appointment as co-chair of the State of Illinois Employment and Economic Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities Task Force, whose purpose is to reform existing employment systems via implementation of Employment First: a law addressing subminimum wage, housing and transportation. 

Doughty holds a JD from Emory University’s School of Law and a BA from Emory University. She also completed post-graduate work as a Robert T. Jones Scholar at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. The daughter of Italian immigrants, Doughty has a strong work ethic, an ability to foster collaboration and an appreciation for community service. 

Sean Eshaghy, BA ’15 

Educator, Curriculum Writer & Academic Coach

Archdiocese of Chicago

With a dynamic trajectory blending entrepreneurship with education, Sean Eshaghy embodies amultifaceted professional journey. Before assuming the role of a teacher and curriculum expert for the Archdiocese of Chicago, Eshaghy cultivated a rich entrepreneurial background navigating the complexities of business ventures, honing skills in strategic planning, problem-solving and leadership.

Eshaghy now works with the Archdiocese of Chicago across various domains, including teaching, coaching, spearheading new initiatives and shaping curriculum development. This multifaceted engagement underscores his commitment to fostering educational excellence and innovation within the Archdiocese and the city of Chicago.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Eshaghy exhibits a profound dedication to serving the community, particularly the children of Chicago. He has a longstanding history of active involvement in nonprofit roles, working towards initiatives aimed at uplifting and empowering the youth. He believes in the transformative power of education and is committed to nurturing the next generation of leaders.

Rashad Robison, BA ’21

Strategy & Operations Lead


Rashad Robison is a strategy and operations lead at Google. During his tenure he has successfully built a Project Management Office, established steering committees and built strategic roadmaps for multiple product portfolios. He also helped launch the Chicago chapter for a Google work study program, which provides high school seniors with real-world work experience as they prepare for college.

Prior to Google, Robison built a 13-year track record of leading several program, product and project management functions with Discover Financial Services, Grainger, C&W Communications and U.S. Cellular. He is passionate about leveraging technology and innovation to drive progress while prioritizing the human experience.

Robison was a founding board member with Lorde, Rustin & Bates: a civic engagement, social justice and public policy organization centering the lives of traditionally marginalized communities. He also served as a board member with Howard Brown Health, where he supported strategic planning and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Robison holds a BA in political science from Roosevelt University.

Kai Zhao, BA ’97

Vice President of Operations & Revenue Cycle Management

Riccobene Associates

As a healthcare executive, Kai Zhao brings over 20 years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in operations and revenue cycles from retail dental companies including Riccobene Associates, ProHealth Dental, Dimensional Dental Management and Gentle Dental Group. He currently serves as vice president of operations and revenue cycle management at Riccobene Associates—one of the fastest-growing multi-specialty dental groups with 60 locations in the mid-Atlantic. 

Throughout his career, Zhao has led high-performing operating teams, designed operational controls and implemented processes to achieve maximum efficiency and shareholder value. He has a solid understanding of dental group practice concepts, potential opportunities and threats facing dental care professionals today.

Zhao holds an MBA from the University of Maryland and a BA from Roosevelt University. 

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