Bernie Mac Foundation Board of Directors Members
Rhonda R. McCullough – President and Chief Executive Officer
In 1974, at Chicago Vocational School on the south side of Chicago, a young Rhonda Gore was introduced by a mutual friend to a young man who proudly professed to her, “Girl you better get on this train cause I’m gonna be rich and famous!” Unbeknownst to either, they were both looking at their future spouses and soul mates. A few years later, at the tender age of 19, Rhonda Gore married Bernard McCullough and a short while later; she birthed their only daughter, Je’Niece, and the rest, is as they say, history.
While the world knows Bernie’s story to be that of a success, life was not always easy for Bernard and Rhonda. After Bernie was laid off from his job at General Motors in the early 1980s, Rhonda put herself through nursing school to be able to afford a better lifestyle for her family. She received her nursing degree from Dawson Technical Institute in 1986 and began her career as a nurse and for a time, became the sole breadwinner of the family. Not only did she support her family financially, she went on to become the backbone of the Mac family, supporting and nurturing both Bernard and Je’Niece and keeping a home while Bernie went on to work towards his comedy career, which took him away for extended periods of time.
Once Bernie’s career began to grow, it was Rhonda who served as his accountant, keeping track of the money and keeping the books in excellent condition. Bernie himself would even say that when it came to matters concerning the money, “You have to ask the Boss,” referring to Rhonda. A consummate giver, Rhonda has been involved with many charities, giving donations anonymously throughout the years on behalf of herself and her family. A savvy and sophisticated woman of many talents, Rhonda understands that she has been blessed by the life she has shared with her husband and that the best way to live is to be a blessing to others.
It is Rhonda’s hope to continue the rich legacy her husband left behind and to reach the infinite possibilities that lay ahead for the Bernie Mac Foundation.
Antonio R. Guillen
Antonio R Guillen serves as President of Wintrust Bank Pilsen and Senior Vice-President of Commercial Lending & Diverse Markets Manager for Wintrust. Antonio has over 35 years experience in the banking industry. Antonio's expertise is business banking, specifically lending to small to medium size businesses and commercial real estate financing and development. Antonio spends much of his out in the field building relationships and supporting Community Organizations; his vast experience allows him to guide and mentor many local businesses. Antonio also serves as the President of the Hispanic Bankers Association (HBA) and serves on several other boards including Little Village Chamber of Commerce (LVCC), Eighteenth Street Development Corporation (ESDC), Latino Professionals for a Cause (LPC), Puerto Rican Arts Alliance (PRAA), and is a member of the Latino Advisory Council (LAC) for Catholic Charites. Antonio is a Chicago native and married with five children. Antonio joined Wintrust in July of 2010.
Edward A. Williams - Treasurer
Edward A. Williams, CPA/Attorney, began his academic career at DePaul University with a major in accounting. He completed his undergraduate degree in 1962 and obtained his certificate as a Certified Public Accountant in 1963. He is the 84th African American in the United States to become a CPA since 1921. Mr. Williams began DePaul University College of Law School in 1963 and graduated with Honors in 1967. After graduation Mr. Williams was the first African American adjunct professor in Taxation during the year 1976.
After graduating DePaul, Mr. Williams began his legal career at the law firm of McCoy, Ming, and Black. This firm was the legal architect of the historic Brown v. Board of Education and other seminal cases, ensuring African Americans and other minorities protection of fundamental rights provided under the United States Constitution. During his career at McCoy, Ming and Black, Mr. Williams was the Tax Attorney for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Foundation, Mahalia Jackson, Muhammad Ali, and numerous lawyers and judges.
After leaving the firm of McCoy, Ming, and Black in 1970, Mr. Williams began his own firm, Edward A. Williams & Associates, Ltd., focusing his practice on federal and state taxation, criminal and civil litigation, and administrative audits and appeals. During his legal career, Edward has brought cases involving tax matters before the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit, and the United States District Courts.
Two of Mr. Williams' cases, Nickerson v. Commission of Internal Revenue, noted in The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 1983, and People of the State of Illinois for the Use of Bernardi v. Bethune Plaza, caused significant changes in the law regarding "hobby losses" and federal and state unemployment taxes.
Mr. Williams served for twenty years on the Illinois State Bar Association's Judicial Evaluation Committee. He is also a long-standing member of the Chicago Bar Association, the Cook County Bar Association, and the Illinois State Bar Association.
In addition to Mr. Williams' many pro bono efforts on behalf of his church, civic and community organizations, he is the Founding Member and Treasurer of DePaul Law Black Alumni Foundation, Inc. providing scholarships to women and minority law students who have been accepted at DePaul University College of Law. Mr. Williams, married, is one of eleven children and has a cadre of children and grandchildren of his own.
Douglas T. Gaines
Douglas is a sales professional from Chicago, working as a broker with large conglomerate companies such as Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, The Lincoln FinancialGroup and The Prudential Insurance Company of America,subsidiary of Prudential Financial, Inc. Douglas Gaines is the Founder and CEO of Gaines & Gaines Financial Services, Ltd. He has partnered with his mentor and business partner Sol Hicks, CEO of Solomon Hicks Financial Services of Acworth, Georgia who mentored him to the Top of the Table of the Million Dollar Round Table. Mr. Gaines is appointed with approximately 30 insurance companies in 25 states. Mr. Gaines joined The Prudential Chicagoland Agency in 1996, where he won The Rookie of the Year Award during his first year with the company.
Allen Wright, M.B.A., started his career in the finance industry over 15 years ago. Currently, he is the manager of the flagship location of Byline Bank located in Chicago. He brings his robust knowledge of corporate and community finance background to LMI communities where he regularly volunteers. He has a deep passion for serving the community. He has served on the board of the Boys & Girls club of Chicago, Lathrop Young Life, and Logan Square Neighborhood Assn. (L.S.N.A). He spends his spare time consulting and developing small businesses.
Medical Advisory Board
Dr. Ansel T. Johnson
Dr. Johnson received his bachelor's degree in biology from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois and his Doctor of Optometry degree from the New England College of Optometry in Boston, Massachusetts in 1985. Dr. Johnson has done research for the Glaucoma Research Foundation based in California and has participated with them on their national public education projects on glaucoma.
Dr. Johnson serves on the Board of Directors for United Eye Care Providers (www.UECP.com), as well on the executive board for the Central Cities Optometric Society. He is a member of the the Illinois National Optometric Association and the American Optometric Association.
Dr. Johnson is the recipient of numerous distinguished awards and a member of distinguished boards.
Dr. Jackie Williams
Dr. Williams received his bachelor's degree majoring in chemistry and minoring in psychology from Tarkio College in Tarkio, Missouri. He studied medicine at Howard University's College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. and Columbus Cuneo Cabrini Medical Center in New York City.
Dr. Williams is retired with over 20 years of medical experience as a private physician, clinician with the Cook County Dept. of Public Health, medical director of Laboratory Services, and assistant medical director.
Dr. Williams is a memeber of the National Medical Association, and he served as the vice president of his local chapter of the National Medical Association.
Dr. Sheila R. Brown
Dr. Sheila R. Brown graduated from Johnson C. Smith University with a B.S. in biology and received her Master of Education from Texas Southern University. She began her professional life as a teacher focusing in biological sciences. This profession took her across the United States as well as West Africa.
After four years of teaching and uplifting our youth, Dr. Brown began to pursue a Doctorate in Dentistry at the University of Michigan. After graduating, Dr. Brown worked as an associate dentist before beginning her own practice.
In 1987, Dr. Brown began her dental practice, focusing on general dentistry with an emphasis in cosmetics and comprehensive care. Today, with more than 1,200 active patients, S.R.B. Dental is a flourishing practice. Dr. Brown's success emanates from her knowledge of dentistry and ability to make her patients feel comfortable.
Dr. Brown is a respected member of the community and the dental industry, and has received several awards and honors. She has been a proud member of the Seattle Study Club since 2004. As a member, she works with over 215 specialists across the U.S., Canada, and Australia to advance dentistry and further comprehensive care for the patient.
Max Elliott is an Illinois estate planning attorney and principal of The Law Offices of Max Elliott, Ltd. Her firm focuses on “nontraditional” families and women smallbusiness owners.
Ms. Elliott’s firm represents clients in estate planning for large and modest estates, estate administration, and wealth preservation. She routinely speaks to lawyers, students, and community groups on the effects of adverse marriage equality laws, such as (DOMA); estate planning; the intersection of estate, Medicaid, and retirement planning; and small business essentials, including succession planning. Ms. Elliott is also ranked “Superb” and received the 2013 and 2014 Top Contributor in Estate Planning Award from Avvo, a lawyer peer ranking site.
In addition to her legal experience, Ms. Elliott has more than 20 years of non-legal experience, including several years' employment in the American Bar Association's International Liaison Office and several years with Fortune 500 companies, including a former “Big 8 Accounting Firm” and a leading international management consulting firm. Throughout her career, she has also assisted entrepreneurs in creating viable business planning solutions such as creating and implementing strategic plans, securing capital, succession planning, and winding up affairs. She has worked with start-ups in the personal care, financial, healthcare, and nonprofit sectors.
Bernie Mac Foundation Administration
Mary Ann Grossett - Executive Director
I first met Bernard Jeffery McCullough, when he was sixteen years old. At that time, he was courting my sister, Rhonda. He came to visit Rhonda at our home. I remember liking him from the very beginning. He was confident, yet friendly and engaging. I remember being specifically impressed with his ability to rise above situations and life crisis. Rhonda had shared with us about the recent passing of his mother. Although he had experienced a major loss of a parent, as a young black male, there was a spirit of confidence he possessed. Even then, his strength to persevere was amazing, you could clearly see that he was destined for greatness. I think he had a sense that if could make it through the hardship of losing a parent that he would make his life matter and count for something special. As a family, we embraced him whole heartedly. My parents, sisters and I and Bernard became very close through the years. To this day, we refer to him as our brother. He regarded us as his family, not as in-laws.
Bernard and Rhonda eventually married and remained so for over 30 years. It is through these years, that I have experienced the private, Bernard and the public “Bernie Mac.” I have seen him work, laugh, cry, grieve and enjoy life’s moments. I know that family and friends were very important in his life. I also know he loved and respected his fans. He understood that that his gift was nothing to be taken for granted. To the day he died, he remained humble and thankful for his blessings. The Bernie Mac Foundation provides a catalyst for me to work on behalf of our dear beloved brother’s legacy. During his last years, he worked tirelessly in establishing the foundation. He wanted to use his celebrity to bring attention to Sarcoidosis and positively affect the lives of those persons who are challenged with Sarcoidosis. It is through the foundation that Rhonda, family, friends and countless fans are ensuring that his legacy continues. It is because of this journey with Bernard, my sister and family that I am deeply committed to the Bernie Mac Foundation. It is a labor of love and dedication to his memory that I seek to serve the foundation. "It is all personal for me."
As Executive Director, my role will involve preserving the legacy of Bernard Jeffery McCullough, while executing the roles and responsibilities in my position. My mission and goals for the Bernie Mac Foundation are the following:
- To preserve the legacy and integrity of Bernard Jeffery McCullough
- To provide full support to the Board of Director Members and Staff
- To implement The Bernie Mac Foundation For Sarcoidosis Research Mission and Vision
- To advocate for patients who are challenged with Sarcoidosis
- To establish a community network, medical doctors and researchers, stakeholders, contributors and individuals who support the foundation
- To advocate for the medically disenfranchised
I look forward with anticipation to the work we will facilitate as an organization. I am honored to serve on the Bernie Mac Foundation where my expertise, talents and work ethics can be utilized for a great cause. Together, our involvement and commitment places us in an elite community that makes a difference in the lives of others.
Mary Ann Grossett is not only Rhonda's oldest sister, but also a proven leader. She holds a Masters Degree in Education Administration and has over 30 years of experience with Chicago Public Schools. She began her career in the classroom and eventually moved on to become a leader and manager within the Chicago Public Schools. Most recently Mary Ann worked at Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School which is her sister and brother-in-law's alma mater. Additionally, Mrs. Grossett retired as Director of Culture of Calm, Chicago Vocational Career Academy in 2011 after an illustrious career as an educator with Chicago Public Schools. As Executive Director of the Bernie Mac Foundation, Mary Ann is committed to keeping her brother-in-law's legacy, mission and vision alive for the betterment of serving patients who are challenged with Sarcoidosis.
Denise Jordan-Walker - Director of Media Relations
Denise Jordan Walker has been a well-known fixture in the Chicago radio market for over 21 years. From Chicago’s top ten R&B stations to smooth jazz and straight ahead formats in the Windy City, Denise is a sought after voice over talent as well as being featured in hundreds of national documentaries and commercials. In 1994, Denise’s media career took on an additional twist. While working in radio, Denise began moonlighting as a celebrity publicist, a career that would soon introduce her to a new world of entertainment. And who would have guessed that one of her first clients would be the legendary Bernie Mac? Denise and Mac worked together for several years. 14 years later, Denise has worked as a publicist for some of the largest names and companies in the entertainment industry such as Diane Sawyer, Iyanla Vanzant, Les Brown, Jesse Jackson, Jr., The Michael Jordan Foundation, Simon & Schuster, The Walter Payton Foundation, and Showtime Networks, to name a few.
Yvonne Moore - Administrative Assistant
Yvonne Moore is the Administrative Assistant for the Bernie Mac Foundation. It is with great honor that she brings her service, talent and expertise to the foundation. Yvonne's experience includes more than thirteen years of work in the field of social service. A creative, tenacious and diligent spirit is what she offers to promote Sarcoidosis awareness and to raise funds on behalf of the Bernie Mac Foundation. Through the foundation, Yvonne is living her dream, which is to make a difference in the lives of patients and the world. Through hard work and dedication to the legacy and vision of Bernie Mac, she pledges her commitment. Bernard Jeffery McCullough's, aka "Bernie Mac," mission was to use his celebrity to bring awareness to the disease of Sarcoidosis and to, ultimately, find a cure. Dreaming the impossible and overcoming obstacles are the achievements of Bernie. One of Bernie's quotes is "I'm not a star, just an ordinary guy with an extraordinary job." Yvonne now says that she is the ordinary girl with an extraordinary job.