Highland Park Neighbors Magazine Articles


HPCF’s Governing Board Welcomes Two New Members!

Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) is honored to welcome Ashley Kelly and Cere Woods to our Governing Board! Both Ashley and Cere possess experience, skills, and qualities the Foundation looks for in its Board members, including an unwavering love of the Highland Park and Highwood community. Their presence on the Governing Board promises to bring innovation and progress to the Foundation, and we look forward to all their contributions.

“An important role of the Governing Board is to better understand what the needs of the community are and how we can help meet them,” said Cookie Kohn, a member of the Executive Committee and Membership Committee Chair. Many wonderful organizations, dedicated to addressing unmet needs in the community, operate in Highland Park and Highwood. The Governing Board is committed to getting to know them on a personal level through a liaison program, which helps the Board members determine how to best allocate funds. “Every member of the Governing Board is a liaison to two or three organizations, and they share with the rest of the Board how their specific organizations improve the community and how they think grant funds should be distributed,” added Cookie. “We were thrilled that Ashley and Cere wanted to help with this and cannot wait for them to be a part of our grant-making process!”

Ashley Kelly

Highland Park native Ashley Kelly has been a member of the HPCF since 2019 when she helped found the Associate Leadership Council (ALC), of which she now serves as Co-Chair. Ashley looks forward to all the new opportunities available to her as a part of the Governing Board, and specifically looks forward to “forming relationships with the people within the organizations that the Foundation awards grants to and being a part of the process that allocates funds to keep the community thriving.” Ashley’s work at Allstate Insurance Company, where she oversees national sports and entertainment sponsorships, and engagement marketing, helped prepare her to step into her role as a member of the Governing Board. The sponsorship deals that she manages each have an important philanthropic component; whether that be recognizing student athletes for ways in which they improve their local communities or organizing community service events in markets where sporting events occur, they are always looking for ways to have a positive impact. “I hope my skills, background, and experience can help fill any gaps, and I can jump in wherever there is a need, drawing on my work experience and other volunteer efforts,” Ashley added.

Cere Woods

Having moved to Highland Park in the midst of the pandemic in May of 2020 with her husband, Tom, and two children, Cere Woods was nervous that the social restrictions would make it difficult to integrate into the community. She discovered, however, that she was welcome with (socially distanced) open arms and found her home here. Wanting not just to live in Highland Park, but also to become involved in the community, Cere was excited to learn there was a vacancy on HPCF’s Governing Board. “Now that we’ve been in Highland Park for four years, I was looking for a way to meaningfully give back to the community. The HPCF stood out to me as an organization that gives back to a broad network of organizations that serve the community in a variety of ways,” she said. Cere was also struck by how the Board looks out for the well-being of the entire community and cares about the needs of people from all walks of life. “I’m thrilled to have the chance to oversee how the funds are used and make a difference in the community on a broad level as opposed to getting involved in a single organization,” she added.

HPCF’s Governing Board ensures the funds, which are so generously donated by individuals, businesses, and foundations to help our community, go to organizations that can positively impact Highland Park and Highwood residents. The application deadline for this year’s annual grants is July 15th. Like the rest of the Board, Ashley and Cere are eager to dive into the requests, meet with applicants, and help decide which programs and services to support, and at what level, to best address needs and strengthen our entire community. For more information, visit hpcfil.org.