Board Members and Advisors

Vance Kenney


​​Vance Kenney is an established entrepreneur, business leader, and urban economic development expert in the Gary and Northwest Indiana region and is considered one of the pioneers in the ongoing redevelopment of Gary, Indiana. He is the Founder, CEO and Managing Partner of Advance Energy LLC, a multi-million dollar minority-certified fuel supply and transport company with customers including FedEx, Airport Car Rental Agencies at O’Hare and Midway, USS, Norfolk Southern, CSX, and many other regional and national firms. Kenney is also the Managing Partner of 504 Redevelopment LLC, a commercial real estate development firm committed to advancing underserved communities. Additionally, Kenney is the Founder and President of V.R. Kenney & Associates, a business development consulting firm for companies such as Republic Services, the Skillman Corp and others. Kenney is an influential business leader who has served on numerous boards and commissions and holds a B.A. from Northeastern Oklahoma University.

Christie Hefner

Governance Board Member

Christie Hefner is a seasoned professional with more than thirty years’ experience at executive levels in both public and private companies, as well as multiple company directorships. Presently, her portfolio consists of advisory work for a company with patents to convert CO2 and methane to biodegradable plastic and artificial leather, a company that owns 30 newspapers and four TV stations, and a cannabis company. Hefner also serves as Chairman of the Board of Hatchbeauty Brands and on the Advisory Board of the Offutt Companies, a multi-billion dollar agricultural conglomerate, Previously, Hefner served as Chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises for 20 years making her the longest serving female CEO of a publicly traded company. Under her leadership, the company was transformed into an international multi-media, brand driven company. Hefner was one of the founders of both The Chicago Network and the Committee of 200, and is a member of Women Corporate Directors and National Association of Corporate Directors. Hefner holds a B.A. from Brandeis University.

Tom Younkin

Governance Board Member and Chief Solutions Advisor

Tom Younkin has over 29 years of experience working in the ERP software space. He spent 17 years at Oracle in various roles where he received many individual awards, including Oracle HCM Sales MVP in 2005 and 2007. He was also named the 2014 MVP for the Oracle HCM Applications and Cloud Services business, which at the time had over 800 employees. Younkin was deeply involved in many of Oracle’s earliest HCM Cloud deployments starting in 2014 at firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Dun & Bradstreet, CDM Smith, Sutherland Global, and Akamai Technologies. Younkin departed Oracle in 2018 to pursue entrepreneurial interests. For the past several years he has served as an independent technology advisor and small business owner. Younkin holds a B.S. in Marketing and Finance from the University of Rhode Island.

Marc Joseph


Marc Joseph is a senior partner at the law firm of Levenfeld Pearlstein, a nationally recognized mid- sized law firm located in Chicago for its innovation, sophisticated business-oriented practice, and commitment to unparalleled client experience. With more than 35 years of legal and business experience and a certified public accountant, Joseph has served his clients as an experienced business advisor and in their complex legal needs. Joseph has served on the firm’s Executive Committee and as an effective member of numerous company and charity boards and committees. He earned his bachelor’s degree (Magna Cum Laude) at the Business School at the University of Illinois and his law degree (Magna Cum Laude, Law Review and Order of the Coif) at the University of Illinois. Joseph is an active investor in various businesses, involved in numerous charities and an avid golfer.

Jawanza Hughes


Jawanza Hughes is the Chief Investment Officer and Small Cap Value co-portfolio manager at Morningside Asset Management. Prior to joining Morningside, he was a founding member of Channing Capital Management and a Portfolio Manager on the Mid, All and Large Cap Value products. He also was a member of the three-person team that launched Channing’s Small Cap Value product. Hughes was formerly with Profit Investment Management where he was a senior research analyst covering multiple industries. Prior to joining Profit Investment Management, he was a research analyst with Ariel Capital Management and covered the Health Care and Environmental Services sectors for its Small and Mid Cap Value products. His previous experience includes three years at J.P. Morgan & Co. as an investment banking financial analyst in the Financial Institutions Group primarily focused on the asset management industry. In addition, he was an investment banking financial analyst with Kidder, Peabody & Co. Hughes earned his MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Finance from Morehouse College (magna cum laude). He is also an Executive Board Member of the John Howard Association of Illinois.

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