District 88 Board of Education candidate profiles

Following is the beginning of the Addison Independent’s coverage of the candidates in the race for District 88 Board of Education who will appear on the ballot in the Consolidated Election to be held April 4.

Four candidates (vote for three) are running to serve a four-year term on the District 88 Board of Education. District 88 is comprised of two high schools: Addison Trail and Willowbrook. Willowbrook draws its students from Villa Park, Oakbrook Terrace and portions of Lombard, Oak Brook and Elmhurst.

Here are the candidate profiles listed in alphabetical order. The Independent will not be endorsing candidates in this race, or any of the other races in in the April 4 election.

Mubasher Max Ashrafi

Office sought: District 88 school board member

Family: Jennifer Ashrafi (wife), Michaela Phelps (daughter), Raina Ashrafi (daughter).

Occupation: I am a senior marketing and graphic design consultant for a Chicago-based insurance company.

Education: Triton College, River Grove (1997). AS degree in in advertising computer design; Illinois Institute of Art, Schaumburg (2002). Certificate in multi-media design.

Community/civic involvement: Serve on the Addison Trail High School Theatre Board and volunteer to support the Addison Trail music and athletic boosters. I am also a member of the 46th District of Illinois Immigration Advisory Committee.

Why are you running to serve as a member of the District 88 Board of Education?

To ensure the district keeps academic standards high and challenge our students to reach their full potential. District 88 must continue to assist students who are headed to junior college, trade school, military, or directly into the workforce. I hope to continue to build relationships with the College of DuPage, industry workforces, and trade leaders to help our students plan for their futures. Our community is a true melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. I want to continue to celebrate our diversity by embracing our differences. The combination of our unique characteristics, values, and beliefs makes District 88 schools special.

What do you see as a major challenge, or challenges, facing the district, and what do you think needs to be done to meet that challenge, or challenges?

We must make sure our children are prepared for life after high school, providing students with several pathway options including college and career development. Continue to offer AP classes that will challenge them and offer dual credit opportunities. Also, develop classes that help provide technical skills for the new modern workforce. We must be ready to address any mental health issues our children may be suffering from. Continue providing a safe environment to learn and grow, and have the ability to apply critical-thinking strategies in everyday life once they graduate from our high schools.

What is your philosophy on balancing spending and maintaining a quality education with taxpayer concerns over rising property taxes?

I have been a homeowner in District 88 for over 18 years and understand the concern of property taxes increasing due to funding our schools. I look at it as an investment in the community and the lives of our children. Also, schools that test well are schools that are usually funded well by their local property taxes. In return, schools that are well-ranked in achievements will increase the value of our homes and enrich the lives of our communities.

Donna Craft Cain

Office sought: District 88 school board member

Family: M. David Cain, Jr. (spouse); Theresa, Rachel and Deborah

Occupation: Attorney

Education: Willowbrook High School (1981); University of Illinois, B.S. Accountancy (1985); C.P.A. (1985); Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law J.D. (1988)

Community/civic involvement: Partnership for Inspired Education (PIE) Foundation, 2009; Villa Park Chamber of Commerce, member, president, 1993; DuPage County Bar Foundation member of the board of directors; various other volunteer positions including Girl Scout Leader, 4-H leader; Destination Imagination coach.


Illinois Association of School Boards, Master Board member; Illinois State Board of Education “Those Who Excel” Meritorious Service Award; INSPRA Award.

Previous elected offices held: DuPage High School District 88: appointment ‘04, elected ‘05, ‘09, ‘13, ‘17 and ‘19; secretary 2009-11; president from 2011 to present.

Why are you running?

I have served on the board since 2004. I have always wanted to make sure that every child has the opportunities available to them so that they can pursue their dreams. For some students that may be college, for some it may be trade schools and others may want to enter into a career. I have enjoyed being able to support the district’s initiatives to help our students and would like to continue to work towards those goals.

Major challenges:

Finances will always be a challenge for school boards.  District 88 has always been one of the most diverse districts in the state of Illinois so we always need to be prepared to meet the needs of our students. Education is always evolving and districts need to prepare for the future. We are currently focusing on pathways for students to transition to college and careers. Social/emotional needs of students are also important.

Philosophy on balancing spending, maintaining quality, taxpayer concerns.

I understand the concerns, however, it is important to understand that property taxes are 80 percent of school funding.  I believe in developing balanced budgets within the PTELL limits.  To control costs, we have worked on developing a five-year plan for building maintenance so that we obtain the best bids. We have worked with our unions to develop contracts tied to CPI that are sustainable within our current financial limits. We need to pursue grants to offset costs of programs and initiatives. I have encouraged state legislators to not pass unfunded mandates and for the state to pay their share.

Amy Finnegan

Office sought: District 88 school board member

Family: Daughter Abbigail attends Willowbrook High School

Occupation: Realtor

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Community/civic involvement: Over the years, I have been a Girl Scout leader, Girls on the Run coach, a booster member at Ardmore, Jackson, and Willowbrook, and a member of the Villa Park Jr. Women’s Club.

Awards: As a board, we earned the School Board Governance Recognition designation from the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB).

Why are you running?

I value public education and want to ensure that our schools continue to offer the best education possible to all students, regardless of whether they are college bound, looking for a career right out of high school, have special needs or are a combination of those things.

Major challenges:

Helping students to bridge any learning gaps that resulted from the pandemic is a priority of the district, and it is currently being addressed. I believe that another challenge facing the district is continuing to meet the social-emotional needs of students. As more teens face mental health challenges, it is imperative that our schools work to meet their needs. We have added additional counselors and created new pathways for students and families to access care, but we need to monitor the situation to ensure that it is enough.

Philosophy on balancing spending, maintaining quality, taxpayer concerns.

As a homeowner in the district, I fully understand the importance of fiscal responsibility when managing the budget. As prices increase for homeowners, the same is true for expenses within the schools. In order to maintain a quality education and properly care for our facilities, increases correlated to the consumer price index are hard to avoid, but we continue to look for additional sources of revenue to fund the needs of the district.

Gail Galivan

Office sought: District 88 school board member

Family: I have enjoyed the gift of raising five children who are now thriving adults.

Occupation: Holistic healthcare professional; community college continuing education instructor; business owner.

Education: Holistic medicine certifications and associations.

Community/civic involvement: I served on the board of a nonprofit annual film festival held at the Chicago Cultural Center. The associated youth program, Dialogues for Peace, provided opportunities for film showings and film festival award ceremonies for productions created by youth. In-school programs and field trips were organized with partner schools for conversations around films approved for viewing by school administrators. I have been involved in community conversations around equity and diversity and have volunteered for conflict resolution programming at a high school and library.

Why are you running?

Our youth are the future. The 2022 $68 million public schools Illinois Children’s Mental Health Plan will utilize the “whole child” approach. I bring to the board the experience of the “whole child” holistic approach after doing research in the intensive care unit at Children’s Memorial Hospital. We treated the child, their family and hospital staff. I have been involved in curriculum and equity discussions in education and at a local municipality. I helped children reintegrate socially and learn online at a nonprofit “essential business.”

Major challenges:

There seems to be a growing divide in many nearby communities. This can be prevented by staying focused on education and learning non-judgment. It is necessary to meet each child where they are in order to build confidence and a strong desire for learning. It is important to identify and close knowledge gaps as a foundation for success, avoiding distractions. With a “one-pointed focus” one can achieve goals much quicker and with less stress.

Philosophy on balancing spending, maintaining quality, taxpayer concerns.

Reduce spending by consolidating resources and purchasing in-bulk across districts.  Exorbitant consultant fees must be examined closely, and any costly outsourced curriculum programs must be scrutinized. Local business partnerships may reduce budgetary spending. Develop whole family curriculum for property tax assessment appeals. LEND representatives might help accomplish allocation of a portion of income tax and sales tax toward schools, reducing the burden placed upon property taxes. These savings adjustments would enhance the quality of education.

Daniel Olson

Office sought: District 88 school board member

Family: Three sons: Tyler, Lucas and Sean. All have reached the rank of Eagle Scout.

Social media addresses:

Occupation: Information systems

Education: Bachelors: Northern Illinois University; MBA: Aurora University

Community/civic involvement: Scout leader Scouts BSA – 29+ years; work with Troop 417B in Elmhurst; work with Three Fires Council in leader training, Advancement Committee

Awards: Lifetime Achievement from Willowbrook Athletic Boosters; District Award of Merit; Silver Beaver Award; Wood Badge.

Previous elected offices held: Currently in first term with DuPage High School District 88; currently board vice president.

Why are you running?

Serving on the board is another step in my commitment to service. Others before me gave their time to be on the school board while my sons attended Willowbrook. By attending sporting events, award ceremonies and music concerts, I am showing support for those activities. Then participating and reviewing in the decisions related to finances, safety and the curriculum, I can speak for students, parents and staff that may not be speak to the district.

Major challenges:

There is not just one challenge facing the district. They face many challenges to keep the curriculum as rigorous to help the students meet the demands ahead of them after graduation. There are challenges related to the ever-changing social and emotional issues facing the students. Then, the never-ending financial challenges to providing quality education, retaining staff and teachers, and keeping the building and grounds in quality conditions that are safe for the students. To meet those challenges, it takes a gigantic cooperation effort between staff, the school board, and the community.

Philosophy on balancing spending, maintaining quality, taxpayer concerns.

Balancing spending and offering a quality education has been, and always will be, a major function of the school boards across the country. Not a unique issue to just District 88. The board works with the District 88 staff on planning a budget and following that budget. As a board member, asking questions when the monthly information pertaining to the budget is presented is key. The district’s financial staff works daily to track and monitor income and expenses to keep the budget on track.