Bernie Mac Foundation Team
Board of Directors
Bernard J. McCullough
Founder and Chairman Emeritus
Dennis J. Irvin
Vice President and Chairperson of Executive Committee, Community President, United Fidelity Bank
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.
Edward A. Williams, Esq.
Treasurer, Principal and Owner, Edward A. Williams and Associates
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.
Antonio R. Guillen
President of Wintrust Bank, Pilsen
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.
Douglas T. Gaines
Founder and CEO, Gaines & Gaines Financial Services Ltd.
Douglas T. Gaines is a sales professional working as a broker with large conglomerate companies, in 25 states and is the Founder and CEO of Gaines & Gaines Financial Services, Ltd. He has partnered with his mentor and business partner Sol Hicks, CEO of Hicks Global Enterprises & Solomon Hicks Financial Services. He was a member of the Prudential Leaders Council, a seven-time qualifier for Prudential’s prestigious Masters Conference; two time Qualifying Member of the Million Dollar Round Table – Top of the Table; 14 time Qualifying Member of the Million Dollar Round Table – Court of the Table, as well as a 16 time Life Qualifying
Member of the Million Dollar Round Table. Mr. Gaines is a Life Time Member, past president and past member of the Executive Advisory Committee for the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants, Inc.; served on the Board of Directors, Director of Finance and Member of the Endowment Committee for 12 years of eta Creative Arts Foundation; serves on the Board of Directors and is Chairman of the Finance & Audit Committee of the Bernie Mac Foundation, a member of the Board of Directors of the Apostolic Pentecostal Church of Morgan Park, Inc. where he is the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Elder and Sunday School Instructor. Mr. Gaines is a native of Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelor of Accountancy; currently a student at McCormick Theological Seminary perusing the Master of Divinity Degree. He is married to Suzette for 29 years and has two wonderful children, Doug Jr. and Moriah.
Reverend Walter P. Turner, III
Pastor, New Spiritual Light MB Church
Since 1990, Pastor Walter P. Turner, III has served as the Senior Pastor of New Spiritual Light Missionary Baptist Church, located on the south side of Chicago, IL. In this position, he shepherds a congregation of baptized believers, who truly love the Lord, and has various support ministries, to assist in reaching the vision. In 1997, Pastor Turner was elected as President of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Chicago and Vicinity. In this capacity, he leads a large group of Pastors throughout the city to deal with the challenges that face our communities. He is also Co-Chair for Pastors4PCOR, which partners with PCORI (the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute), Northwestern University, and several major hospitals to provide health research training to churches. Pastor Turner serves as President of Illinois Faith Based Association (IFBA), which provides community outreach, and support services throughout the State of Illinois. Through these established faith-based entities, over 50,000 lives are positively impacted annually with various outreach and human services.
Socially, Pastor Turner serves on various boards and organizations including: The Chicago Football Classic, Next Level Health, Southland Ministerial Health Network, The Bernie Mac Foundation, South Shore Connects, Illinois Smart Solar Alliance, ICI Clinic for Substance Abuse, just to name a few. Pastor also serves on The Executive Ethics Commission for Illinois.
In recent years, Pastor Turner has received numerous awards: Chicago Public School Interfaith Leader of The Year Award, Martin Luther King Community Service Award and The Keeper of The Dream Award. In 2013, he received the President's Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama.
He is married to the love of his life, Lynne M. Turner. They have four daughters; Lauren, LaToya, Lynnelle, and Leah, better known as "The Turner Sisters" who are national recording artists. Pastor also has five grandchildren, and two son-in-laws.
Pastor Turner believes that if we are the light that shines in the community, then our community will become a place where hope is renewed, dreams are fulfilled, and families are restored.
Allen Wright, M.B.A
Vice President Wintrust Bank River North & Streeterville
Allen Wright, M.B.A, started his career in the finance industry over 15 years ago. Currently, he is the Vice President of Branch management at Wintrust Bank for the River North & the Streeterville location in Chicago. He also serves on the board of directors of the Northside housing and supportive services. They provide emergency shelter and housing/developmental support to those in need in Chicago. He annually volunteers with his team in providing free tax preparation to low income families. 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.
Dr. Sheila R. Brown, S.R.B.
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.
Medical Advisory Board
Dr. Ansel T. Johnson
Optometrist /Clinical Director/Founder, Vison Salon Eye Care Associates
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 (Ret.)
Obstetrics and Gynecology
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. Kimberly Trotter
Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Section of Rheumatology at The University of Chicago
Dr. Kimberly Trotter is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Section of Rheumatology at The University of Chicago. She completed her medical degree at The University of Maryland School of Medicine and her Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at The University of Chicago. After fellowship, she continued her career at The University of Chicago as a clinical Rheumatologist and serves as the co-director for The Lupus Clinic.
Dr. Trotter is passionate about improving the outcomes for her patients and believes that research can help provide valuable information about rheumatologic diseases. She is involved in several ongoing clinical trials and research studies and has published multiple articles.
Dr. Trotter is an active member of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and is working with the ACR on the Lupus Clinical Trials Training (LuCTT) program; a national program focused on increasing minority patient participation in Lupus clinical trials.
In addition to her clinical duties, Dr. Trotter serves as a mentor to undergraduate and medical students, residents, and fellows and has been an invited speaker for a number of organizations. She is a vigorous advocate for her patients and is dedicated to advancing the field of rheumatology.
Crystal L. Johnson
Attorney & Counselor at Law
Crystal L. Johnson followed in her parents and uncle’s footsteps when she chose to become an attorney and entrepreneur. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Wilberforce University and her Juris Doctorate from Valparaiso University School of Law. After working at a CPA/Law firm for twenty (20) years as a Senior Accountant, she started her own law practice in Northwest Indiana, Law Office of Crystal L. Johnson.
Crystal’s primary practice areas are small business formation, tax controversy and dispute resolution, tax preparation and property tax lien sales. She also offers bookkeeping and payroll services.
Crystal is an advocate for her clients and works relentlessly to resolve their issues before the Internal Revenue Service and state departments of revenue. She is admitted to practice law in Indiana, in the United States Tax Court, in the United States District Courts of Northern Illinois and Indiana, and in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
As an entrepreneur, Crystal understands how difficult it can be to start and maintain a business. She works closely with her clients to ensure that they form a proper legal structure for their business, in addition to operating the business efficiently and maintaining accurate records for tax purposes. She has helped several clients, including herself, obtain properties through the Lake County Commissioners and Treasurers tax lien auctions.
Crystal sits on the Board and is the Treasurer of e-Engaging Northwest Indiana Business Women and she serves as a member of the Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce; Indiana State Bar Association; James C. Kimbrough Bar Association; Lake County Bar Association; National Association of Tax Professionals; Northwest Indiana Creative Investors Association; Northwest Indiana Influential Women Association; and, Women Lawyers Association.
Bernie Mac Foundation Administration
Mary Ann Grossett, M.Ed.
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."
In 2018 Miah Rogers began her quest for a higher education in the field of clinical psychology at Heartland Community College in Bloomington Illinois. During her time as a student at Heartland Community, she academically earned an achievement honors award and was involved in multiple community service organizations. Miah volunteered her service to the YMCA, YWCA, The Boys & Girls Club and The Lincoln Towers for low income housing assistance. At the Lincoln Towers, Miah provided tutoring and emotional support to young children and teenagers from low income communities. This kind of work motivated Miah to become more involved with struggling minority communities.
In 2019 Miah moved to Chicago Illinois, where she is currently enrolled as a student at Harold Washington Community College. Since her enrollment, Miah has obtained status on the dean’s list. She has been able to maintain a GPA of 3.6.
As the Bernie Mac Foundation’s Administrative Assistant Miah’s goal is to help the organization shine a light on promoting Sarcoidosis awareness and research. Miah views the life and accomplishments of Bernard Jeffery McCullough aka Bernie Mac as a stunning example of black excellence. Miah plans to follow in his footsteps and to continue to be motivated by his quote, “Whatever success I’ve had, I always like to top it.”
Simone Ramsey was born in Chicago, Illinois. After being placed in child protective services Simone was raised in Zion, Illinois from childhood to her teenage years. She was part of the Naval Junior Reserves Officer Training Corporation (NJROTC) all four years of high school. Her love for people and life catapulted her in the direction of leadership at an early age. Simone became a youth camp counselor for the Y.M.C.A. and worked there for 2 years. Due to Simone working closely with children in the Chicagoland area, she realized a great need for healthcare. Placing her dreams of working in healthcare on hold, Simone decided to enlist and serve in the United States Army as a cook and a member of the Female Engagement Team.
Working alongside her male-counterparts, she deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 to aide units in missions where they encountered local women and children. Throughout Simone’s time deployed, she learned the value of life and its importance. Simone also learned how necessary it is to provide resources for healthcare, food, and water to challenging communities around the world. After experiencing the loss of her fellow comrades, Simone had a completely different perspective of life and wanted to make sure no matter what she did, that it brought her happiness. After serving in the United States Army for 6 years and being stationed in 6 locations including South Carolina, Virginia, South Korea, Tennessee and Hawaii, Simone left the military to continue her pursuit of higher learning.
Simone returned to Illinois where her family resides in 2016 to make the adjustment back to civilian life easier. For 2 years Simone worked as a customer service representative and went to school part-time at the College of Lake County. In 2019 Simone decided to focus solely on school and enrolled at the City Colleges of Chicago. Simone is currently enrolled at DePaul University in a combined psychology program obtaining her bachelors of science and masters of science. Through adversity and opposition, Simone has triumphed through obstacles and is now ready to show the world her various skill sets. Simone looks forward to working with the Bernie Mac Foundation as the new program assistant. She hopes to bring a new and innovative perspective to the promotion and awareness of sarcoidosis.