Liz Thompson appointed chair of University of Chicago Charter School board

University of Chicago Trustee Liz Thompson has been appointed governing board chair of the University of Chicago Charter School.

As chair, Thompson will lead the UChicago Charter School’s 21-member governing board, which oversees the school’s four South Side campuses. Her appointment was effective Aug. 20.

“The University of Chicago Charter School is an important resource for our nearby neighborhoods, with educational outcomes and college acceptance rates that have made it a national model of urban school success,” said President Robert J. Zimmer. “Liz Thompson brings an exemplary background in youth development and education issues, and she has the skill to work with the school leadership to help advance the ambitious vision for the Charter School.”

Thompson has served on the governing board since 2010. The board includes faculty and leaders from the University of Chicago and the Urban Education Institute, parents from each of the school’s campuses, and community, business and philanthropic leaders.

“I’m honored to have this opportunity to help guide the progress of a school that is delivering such impressive results for its students and is so committed to ensuring that every one of them not only earns a college degree, but becomes a critical thinker and leader in the process,” Thompson said. “The work the UChicago Charter School is doing is rewarding for me personally, but it’s also meaningful for the entirety of the South Side, and for what we want to accomplish for urban schools nationwide.”

Thompson brings to the role extensive experience in nonprofit organizations and expertise in youth development and education. In 1993, she was named founding executive director of City Year Chicago, the local chapter of a national service organization that served as a template for the AmeriCorps Program. She then led Family Star in Denver, Colo., one of the only Early Head Start Montessori programs in the nation. Thompson served on several local boards in Denver and San Diego, Calif., where she developed a greater understanding of youth and education issues and expanded her philanthropic activities. Prior to her work with nonprofits, she spent ten years with Ameritech Corporation.

“Liz is as inspirational as she is impressive,” said Sara Ray Stoelinga, the Sara Liston Spurlark Director of the Urban Education Institute. “She connects with our students and staff in a way that energizes us to work harder, and she brings to the governing board the kind of perspective, expertise and vision that will drive us forward. We are so fortunate to have someone of her stature as our partner in our work, on behalf of the 1,900 students at the Charter School.”

Thompson is a member of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees and its Women’s Board, is a director for the Museum of Science and Industry, and serves as co-chair of Purdue University’s Minority Engineering Program Advisory Panel. She is an alumna of the Non-Profit Leadership Program of Denver and the Leadership Greater Chicago Program, where she is also a member of the board of directors.

She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Donald Thompson, and their two children. She holds a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University.

Thompson succeeds Margot Pritzker, who has led the governing board since 2011. During Pritzker’s leadership of the board, UChicago Charter School has made marked progress toward its goal of 100 percent college graduation for its students, achieving four consecutive years of 100 percent college acceptance, as well as a college persistence rate that is second among all high schools in the Chicago area. Pritzker also has spearheaded a successful fundraising effort to build a new campus for the Charter School’s Woodlawn secondary program, which is expected to break ground in 2016.