CCF Board of Directors

Michael Bologna, member CCF Board of Directors

Michael Bologna has long been involved in Chicago scholastic chess, coaching teams and helping to run clubs at the elementary and high school level and at a branch of the Chicago Public Library.  He is a journalist working for Bloomberg BNA, which provides services to professionals in business, law and government. He served as the President of the Chicago Chess Foundation from 2015-2017. He now serves as the Board Secretary.

View his profile on LinkedIn.


Michael Cardinale, treasurer, CCF Board of Directors

Michael Cardinale is a financial manager long active in scholastic chess in Chicago, beginning as coach of the Gale Elementary School team in 1997, and from 2002-17 served as president and chief tournament director of the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago.  YCFC organized six free tournaments a year for students in grades K-8, until merging with CCF in September 2017.  As of February, 2017, Mike has directed 84 tournaments for YCFC/CCF, and also served for five years as the Metro Vice President of the Illinois Chess Association. He serves has served as the CCF Board Treasurer from 2015-present.

Mike draws inspiration for his service to the chess community from the legendary “Bad Bishops” chess team of Vaux High School in Philadelphia, who showed in the 1980s that chess could prove a constructive alternative to gang activity for underfunded inner city schools.


John Deligiannis, member CCF Board of Directors

John Deligiannis is a corporate learning and development consultant who helps clients improve employee performance through progressive consulting and technology services. He is a former Chicago Public School teacher and is currently coaching the chess team at Beaubien Elementary on the far northwest side of Chicago. His son is a top junior chess player in the area.

View his profile on LinkedIn.




Adam Geisler, member CCF Board of Directors

Adam Geisler has been a teacher and chess coach at Bateman Elementary School in Chicago Public Schools since 2007.  The Bateman team has been successful at the local and state levels, having won multiple city championships and a few Illinois All-Grades titles.  He previously taught in Beijing, China, where he also dabbled in Chinese chess (xiàngqí).  You can find him at most big scholastic chess tournaments in the Chicagoland area, and occasionally across the board at an open tournament.

View his profile on LinkedIn.


Robert Graham, member CCF Board of Directors

As a lawyer at the Chicago based law firm of Jenner and Block, Bob Graham has a lifelong interest in public education and the value of chess in schools. Raised on the south side of Chicago where he went to O’Keeffe Elementary School from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, Bob took advantage of as many extracurricular activities as he could, including 16-inch softball, touch football, and wrestling. But school funding was tight, and there was no chess education or competition. It was not until he was a teenager that Bob was first exposed to chess, a game which he loved from the start. Ever since, Bob has been interested in bringing more free and low cost activities—and particularly chess— into Chicago public schools. He joined the Board of CCF to help accomplish precisely that.

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Mike Hayes

Mike Hayes recently retired from the global consulting firm Willis Towers Watson, where for 14 years he led the firm’s services in the Midwest, as well as managing his own book of clients.  Mike returns to the chess world after starting and managing the Deerpath Chess Club in the Lake Forest schools years ago; Deepath grew to about 30 members and won awards at local and state tournaments.

View his profile on Linkedin.


WFM Patrycya Labedz, member CCF Board of Directors

Patrycja Łabędź is a Woman FIDE Master and IT professional. Patrycja graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with dual degree in Information Technology and Systems and Marketing. While at UT Dallas, Patrycja played for prestigious UT Dallas Chess Program. She currently works as IT Analyst at a manufacturing company in Northbrook, IL.

View her profile on LinkedIn.


Lawrence Manetti, member CCF Board of Directors

Lawrence Manetti is the school principal of St. Joseph School located in Summit, a community just outside the southwest side of Chicago. St. Joseph is a small Catholic School with an enrollment of just over 200 children. He took over the chess program in 2002 making it an after-school club designed to teach children the basics of the game after reading how chess can improve the concentration of children. In 2003 the club answered the challenge of a neighboring school to play a school on school match. Since then the St. Joseph Chess Club has grown to 44 children in grades K – 8 with 23 members competing on a regular basis.

View his profile on LinkedIn.


Jerry Neugarten, member CCF Board of Directors

Jerry Neugarten, a retired Manhattan prosecutor, has run community-wide chess programs for more than 20 years.  His teams have won numerous awards at state championships in New York and Illinois, and one of his clubs produced a national champion. Jerry has received community service awards for his volunteer chess work in both New York and Illinois. He chaired the Youth Committee and served on the board of the Illinois Chess Association from 2009-2015.  He is the principal author of the CCF curriculum, coaches’ handbook, and strategic plan and is an advocate of tiered coaching. He is the current CCF Board Vice-President.


Edward (Ted) Oppenheimer, the President of the Oppenheimer Family Foundation, has been a major donor to Chicago’s Public Schools for many years, and has long been involved in school reform efforts. A former teacher and principal in Chicago schools, he now serves on several boards and advisory committees, including of Chicago’s Merit School of Music, the Jazz Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Public Education Fund.

View his profile on LinkedIn.


Lee Parkel, member CCF Board of Directors

Lee Parkel is a digital producer, who has worked in the Chicago advertising community for the past two decades. He is a veteran of the United States Navy. His involvement in organized chess began when his sons showed an interest in scholastic chess during elementary school.

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Yael Shalev is a Homeschool educator with a career background in computer programming, marketing and sales for a number of technology companies in Israel. Her four kids and husband are very active chess players and are highly engaged in the Chicago-land chess community. Her two boys are Warren scholars and have been constantly listed in USCFs monthly top 100 players (by age) since 2014. Yael is dedicated to promoting chess to youth and their families and to supporting girls playing chess.



Ben Wong, member CCF Board of Directors

Benjamin Wong is an attorney who has been involved in Chicago scholastic chess since 2007, having coached the Skinner North team, the Taft Academic Center team, the Lane Tech Academic Center team and the Peirce Elementary team.  His teams have won multiple CPS Championships. His sons are top young chess players in CPS. He is the current CCF Board President.

View his profile on LinkedIn.