The Admiral at the Lake Board of Directors
Our board is comprised of residents, civic leaders, and accomplished professionals.
Laura McKee is the Admiral Chairman. Laura taught math as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Central African Republic. She is the founding CEO of Autism Home Support Services, which provides services to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) throughout Chicago, Denver, and Detroit. Laura has a degree in economics and computer science from Swarthmore College and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Her professional experience included Booz Allen, McKinsey, Sears, and the McDonald’s system.
Kate Bensen is an independent corporate director for MicroMetl Corporation, the leading manufacturer of HVAC accessories and equipment in the United States. From 2010-2020, she served as President and CEO of The Chicago Network. Previously, Kate led the nonprofit capacity-building practice for Conlon Public Strategies and was a corporate and public finance partner at the law firm now known as ArentFox Schiff.
Kate is a trustee of NewMusic USA and a director of the Chicago Club and the Arts Club of Chicago (Audit Chair). Kate is a member of the Commercial Club, Economic Club of Chicago, Council of the Graham School of General Studies at the University of Chicago, International Women’s Forum, Chicago Finance Exchange, and the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago (past Chair). She also chaired the board of the Grammy award-winning Eighth Blackbird Performing Arts Association. Her board work focuses on governance. Awards include the 2022 Celebrating Women in Innovation, the 2020 Women on Boards Champion of Women, and the University of Chicago’s Alumni Service Medal.
Kate holds an AB in economics from the University of Chicago and a JD from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.
Carol is a seasoned business executive with 33 years of management experience in companies including GE and Bank One where she was SVP and General Manager of
Global Trade Services when she retired in 2000. Since retiring, she has done independent consulting in strategic planning, executive coaching and chaired nonprofit boards ranging from contemporary dance to affordable housing. As Chair of
Lakefront Supportive Housing, she led a strategic planning effort that resulted in its acquisition by Mercy Housing Inc, the largest U.S. non-profit provider of affordable housing, and recently retired from Mercy Housing’s National Board. Her areas of board
focus include strategic planning and financial sustainability, including serving as Treasurer and Chairing Finance Committees on several boards. She graduated from Marquette University and has an MBA in Marketing from Northwestern University.
Justin Bhandari is the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Special Projects at CareOne, a portfolio of senior care-focused companies. In his role, Justin leads innovation including standing up new businesses that align with the overall mission to improve patient care. In addition, he focuses on evaluating potential healthcare investments that align with the organization’s mission. Justin has served as the EVP, at MPAC Healthcare. He was also part of the strategy team that helped launch Carelon, Elevance’s (formerly Anthem) healthcare services company. Justin also serves as an Advisor at Redesign Health, a Mentor for Matter Health, and as the Co-Chair of the Membership Programming Committee at Next Series. He earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, and Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida.
Chris Braier is Regional Vice President of Northern Indiana for Oak Street Health, a primary care organization working with Medicare-eligible patients, particularly those in underserved communities. Chris has over a decade of experience practicing medicine and is a Physician Assistant in Orthopedics/Neurosurgery at NorthShore University Health System. Prior to Oak Street Health, Chris worked as a Healthcare Management Consultant at Guidehouse as a partner to major hospital systems in the U.S. on operational effectiveness. Chris earned his BS from Lawrence University, Masters in Physician Assistant Studies from Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
Joan Bransfield, Admiral resident, has spent most of her adult life as a teacher and principal in the Catholic School System. She is currently a hospice volunteer, a volunteer with Catholic Charities, and serves as one of The Admiral’s Harbor Mates. She has had extensive experience working with and on nonprofit boards.
Ned has worked directly with the Thorek Board as CEO and previously as CFO. He also serves as a Board member of the Uptown Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Steering Committee of the Illinois Hospital Association Safety Net Hospitals. Nedd’s hospital and healthcare experience help keep The Admiral Board updated on healthcare issues generally and particularly as they pertain to Illinois and Chicago. As a service provider in the Uptown neighborhood, he has a good sense of community opportunities. He has a BBA in Public Accounting from Loyola and a Masters’s in Management from Kellogg.
Irene Dumanis is the CEO of Weiss and the Chicago physician group. She brings 15 years of health care and financial experience to the organization and, in the CEO role, continues to bring more stabilization and cost-efficiency tactics to the hospital. Prior to this, Ms. Dumanis was the CFO for Technology Solutions in Bannockburn, IL. She has also served as CFO for Community First Medical Center in Chicago. She has held leadership finance positions for FDH Velocitel in Northbrook, Vista Health System in Waukegan, IL, and Lincoln Park Hospital in Chicago.
As a professor of the Division of Community Health Sciences at the School of Public Health and a Fellow at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), Naoko has engaged in research, teaching, and service in aging and health for 25 years. Trained in health services research and sociology, Naoko aims to improve the health of diverse aging populations and the quality of long-term care systems. She conducts research on global aging and health, focusing on social, cultural, policy and system factors that shape health and caregiving experience in aging individuals. Naoko is a Fellow of The Gerontological Society of America
Jordan is a graduate of Bowdoin College and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, and he is a Managing Director with Juniper Advisory, a Chicago-based firm that assists hospital boards with mergers, acquisitions and other forms of partnerships. He serves on the Board of the House Theatre of Chicago and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Selection Committees for the Gus Hart Fellowship and Emerging Leaders Program.
Toni Smith is an alumna of Vassar College. She worked with the executive recruiting firm, Spencer Stuart, for 31 years, including 20 as Managing Partner of their Not-for-Profit practice. In that capacity, she worked with boards of nonprofits across the country (and some internationally) to help them find leadership for their organizations. While working, and since retirement, she herself has served in a leadership role on several nonprofit boards, including Lakeview Pantry, Executive Service Corps of Chicago, One Hope United, and Associated Colleges of Illinois. Toni is also an active volunteer with Steppenwolf Theater, the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, and Lakeview Pantry. She has been a resident at The Admiral since 2014.
Fred Wackerle was an executive search consultant specializing in CEO searches for over 40 years. He is the author of “The Right CEO: Straight Talk About Making Tough CEO Selection Decisions.” He is an emeritus Trustee of Monmouth College, an Emeritus Board Member of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and a Board Advisor of the Tucson Wildlife Center.