CCF Announces First Executive Director

MEDIA ADVISORY:   For Immediate Release

The Chicago Chess Foundation (CCF), founded in 2014 with the mission of giving every student in Chicago the opportunity to learn, play, and compete in chess at low or no cost, has announced the hiring of Eli Rollman as its first Executive Director. The selection was made after an extensive search and selection process.

“We are very excited to bring Eli aboard,” said Benjamin Wong, Principal at Benjamin W. Wong & Associates, Ltd. and President of the CCF Board of Directors. “He has tremendous passion for our mission, and is the right person to lead us forward into our next stage of growth so that we can introduce even more students to the great game of chess. His experience as a lawyer, educator, and leader within the nonprofit sector give him a breadth of perspective that will make him a great asset to CCF.”

Rollman comes to CCF after founding Power Through Education, an educational consulting firm. Prior to that, he was School Director with the Schuler Scholar Program, working with low-income students to gain access to and succeed at highly selective colleges. Rollman is also a board member of the Mano a Mano Family Resource Center, helping to empower immigrants in Lake County. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College, and two degrees from Northwestern University, a Master of Science in Education and a Juris Doctorate.

CCF has more than 100 volunteers and runs innovative free programs such as Rook, Rattle, and Roll; Pawns to Queens; summer camps; and open tournaments, reaching a diverse range of students throughout Chicagoland.  Through a partnership with Chicago Public Schools, it directly impacts more than 1000 Chicago area children each year, and is poised to see that number grow, with a particular focus on low-income communities. Chess has been shown to help students improve cognitive skills and measurable school performance benchmarks including grades and test scores.

“I’m incredibly excited and humbled by this opportunity,” said Rollman. “Chess is a great vehicle through which young people can gain critical thinking, resilience, and other skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. Not to mention it’s a fun and rewarding game. We’re going to work very hard to give every single student in the Chicago area the chance to benefit from learning to play chess.”