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Board of Education


Erik Held 

Elected: 2019 – 4 years (first term)
Term Expires: April 2023 

Committee Participation: Chair of the Negotiations (HHSTA) Committee; member of the Finance Committee, and Insurance/Employee Benefits Committee

Erik M. Held has worked at UBS Financial Services, Inc. for 14 years, and currently serves as a first vice president of wealth management and corporate stock benefit consultant for the company. His career is centered on goals-based wealth planning, advising on investments and risk for individuals, endowments, foundations and executive compensation. Throughout his career, Held has advised corporations and executives on long-term strategies for equity awards and navigating complex governmental compliance and regulations. In 2017 and 2018, Forbes recognized him as one of America’s next-gen wealth advisors.

For the past four years, Held has been the lead educator for a seminar series centered on understanding corporate benefits, taxes and financial literacy. He is currently serving his first term on the District 86 Board of Education, and is a member of the Maercker Educational Foundation.

After graduating from Hinsdale Central in 1999, Held earned his bachelor's degree in English - creative writing from Miami University.

Held has lived in District 86 for more than two decades, and his family has lived in the district for over 60 years. He currently lives in Westmont with his wife, three children, two dogs and a cat.


Kathleen Hirsman
Vice President

Elected: 2019 – 4 years (second term)
Term Expires: April 2023

Committee Participation: Chair of the Policy Committee and Closed Session Review Committee; member of the Human Resources Committee, Parent-Teacher Advisory Committee, Facilities and Special Committee for Community Engagement with Construction, and Negotiations (HHSTA) Committee

Kathleen Hirsman is a senior lecturer in residence at the Education Law and Policy Institute at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. At Loyola, Hirsman teaches courses in fundamentals of school law, special education law and advocacy, legal issues in school discipline, and labor and employment law in the education workplace. Hirsman also served as adjunct faculty at Concordia University Chicago, where she taught in the masters and doctoral programs in graduate and innovative programs. She has served on the District 86 Board of Education since 2015.

Prior to joining the faculty at Loyola, Hirsman practiced school law for 25 years. She represented and counseled school districts in board governance issues, student issues, special education, labor and personnel matters, collective bargaining, general litigation and in a general corporate advisory capacity.

Hirsman holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Kalamazoo College, a master’s degree in linguistics from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a juris doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Hirsman is a member of the National School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys and the Illinois Association of School Boards Council of School Attorneys. She and her husband have lived in Clarendon Hills since 1985.


Terri Walker

Elected: 2021 - 4 years (first term)
Term Expires: April 2025

Committee Participation: Chair of the Facilities and Special Committee for Community Engagement with Construction; member of the Human Resources Committee and Negotiations (HHSTA) Committee

Terri Walker is an accomplished executive with more than 20 years of experience in human resources. She currently serves as the senior vice president of the corporate functions people leader team at Nielsen. In this role, Walker and her team will operate as strategic advisors to the corporate functions business leaders globally. Prior to joining Nielsen,  Walker was the vice president of human resources for McGraw-Hill’s higher education and professional business units.

Walker was a member of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council for Syneos Health, which is a fully integrated biopharmaceutical solutions organization. She served as a board member for The Cara Collective, which works with job seekers, employers, and other organizations across the country to break the cycle of poverty through the power and purpose of employment. She was also a room parent volunteer at her children’s school.

Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She currently lives in Hinsdale with her husband and two sons, one who attends Hinsdale Central and another who attends Hinsdale Middle School.


Peggy James
Elected: 2021 - 4 years (first term)
Term Expires: April 2025

Committee Participation: Chair of the Insurance/Employee Benefits Committee; member of the Policy Committee, and Parent-Teacher Advisory Committee

Peggy James has more than 20 years of experience in the areas of strategic execution and business process initiatives. 

She has served as a volunteer for a number of community and school programs. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Michigan State University, and has been a resident of Hinsdale since 2004. She currently lives in the village with her husband and children, all of whom are either alumni or current students in District 86.  


Cynthia Hanson
Elected: 2019 – 4 years (first term)
Term Expires: April 2023

Committee Participation: Chair of the Human Resources Committee and Parent-Teacher Advisory Committee; member of the Policy Committee

Cynthia Hanson is a longtime District 86 resident and an alumna of Hinsdale South High School. Committed to education and the student experience, Hanson held positions at a number of local institutions including the University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul University, Aurora University and Moraine Valley Community College.

Throughout her career, Hanson counseled and advised students on academic issues related to college success, managed a team of student tutors to support under-represented populations as they made their transition into higher education and taught as adjunct faculty. Hanson is a member of the Illinois Counselor Association and previously served on the Gower School District 62 Board of Education.

An Illinois licensed professional counselor, Hanson holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in higher education and school counseling from Loyola University.

Hanson grew up in Willowbrook and currently lives in Burr Ridge with her husband and four children, who attended Community Consolidated School District 181, Gower School District 62 and Hinsdale South High School.

Debbie Levinthal
Elected: 2021 - 4 years (first term)
Term Expires: April 2025
Committee Participation: Chair of the Finance Committee; member of the Closed Session Review Committee, and Insurance Committee


Jeff Waters
Elected: 2021 – 4 years (first term)
Term Expires: April 2025 

Committee Participation: Member of the Finance Committee, and Special Committee for Community Engagement with Construction

Jeff Waters is a professional derivatives trader who has been a member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) since 1996. Waters was one of the first members to be included in the CME’s electronic trading liquidity market making program. He also served on the CME Group’s Electronic Trading Oversight committee, which was responsible for orderly electronic trading and the transition from trading pits to the electronic trading platform called Globex. After spending eight years as an independent trader, Waters co-founded the Eldorado Trading Group in 2004, which is a proprietary trading firm.

Waters has been actively involved in the community since moving here in 2004. He has helped advance the work of several local charitable organizations, including Horizons for Youth, the Wellness House and Feed My Starving Children. He has also coached various youth sports programs and served on the Hinsdale Little League Board for five years.

Waters earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is the proud father of two current students (Dean and Natalie) and an alum (Hayden) of Hinsdale Central. His hobbies and interests include skiing, scuba diving and biking.

Board Email

Emails sent to will automatically be forwarded to all seven current board members and copied to the superintendent and director of communications. If you email the BOE, an automated reply will be sent at most once every four days. This is a limitation of the email system and cannot be changed. 

Kindly be advised that any communication received may constitute a public record, which might be released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) when and if applicable. In addition, please note that communications may be forwarded to other district employees who can help the board answer questions, provide information or assist with responses.