MEET THE BOARD
Serenity Academy Chicago's board of directors are passionate and dedicated administrators, counselors, teachers and licensed therapists with broad experience and expertise in the area of substance use disorder and recovery.
Deborah Lynch taught in urban elementary and high schools for 20 years, served as Assistant Director of the Educational Issues Department of the American Federation of Teachers and was president of the Chicago Teachers Union from 2001-2004.
Debra earned a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is currently a Professor of Graduate Studies in the College of Education at Chicago State University where she teaches online and hybrid courses in educational leadership, curriculum and instruction and special education.
Debrah Lynch, PH.D.
Tim Devitt, Psy.D., LCPC, CADC, has a 30+ year commitment to providing and leading recovery-oriented mental health and substance use services. Currently, he is in private practice and works with adolescents and adults providing integrated mental health and substance use counseling. In his past roles as vice president, program director, clinician trainer, team leader and homeless outreach worker, he was part of implementing and overseeing an array of community based programs serving people with severe courses of substance use and co-occurring psychiatric conditions. Tim has presented nationally and co-authored 20 peer-reviewed journal articles and a book chapter on the integration of evidence-based practices to best meet the needs and preferences of people with substance use and co-occurring psychiatric conditions. Tim is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT), a lecturer at The University of Chicago, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice, and the proud recipient of 2022 William White Lifetime Achievement Award, Illinois Association of Addiction Professionals / IL Chapter of The National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Counselors (NAADAC).
"I have been working in the community mental health and addictions fields for 35 years. I know from working with young people that struggle with addiction and their families that we need to do more to provide safe spaces for them to connect and grow together, with some buffer from the pressures from peers and society to use substances, especially early in their recovery journeys. APGs and Recovery High Schools help to create these safe spaces and contribute to helping develop a foundation for lifelong recovery.”
Tim Devitt, Psy.D, LCPC, CADC
Board Member and Past President
Mary Egan is the Director of Outreach and Community Relations for Rosecrance, a national leader in behavioral health treatment that provides individual therapy, residential, outpatient services and recovery living in multiple locations. She manages school based teams who provide services onsite at contracted schools and oversees the regional community relations team.
Mary has a MA from the University of Illinois at Springfield, a BS degree in Alcohol Education and a BA degree in Psychology from Quincy University. She is also a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and has received several recognition awards during her 40 years of service in the substance use field.
You will find her speaking to professionals and parents on the topics of drug trends, parental influence, and adolescent addiction. Mary was the Student Assistance Program Coordinator at Oak Lawn Community HS for 17 years. She developed the school’s Student Assistance Program, counseled students, parents, and staff on youth substance issues, conducted support groups for students and provided training on substance use and related issues. Mary is committed to helping teens, adults, and families access resources for a healthy life because everyone deserves hope and recovery.
Mary Egan, MA., BS., BA., CADC
Board Member, Secretary
Debra Reed has a MA in Secondary School Guidance and Counseling, a BA in High School English Education and is a Certified Addictions Counselor. She taught high school English and was a high school counselor for 37 years in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
Her personal story of recovery, combined with her clinical work, helped teens and families affected by the disease of alcoholism and addiction. Her passion and commitment to sustain her own recovery in the face of challenges demonstrated to students that, regardless of circumstances, sustained recovery is possible with support.
Debra's dedication, commitment to service, spirituality, and education have motivated her to come out of retirement and work in the area of addictions counseling. She has served on the board since its inception and is passionate about carrying out Serenity Academy Chicago's mission!
Debra Reed, MA., BA.
Board Member, Treasurer
Paige Cederna is an experienced licensed clinical social worker and public health professional who has dedicated over 10 years of her life to advocacy. She has a BA in Anthropology and a MA in Social Work and Public Health from the University of Michigan. Paige also acquired a Certified Health Education Specialist Certificate (CHES) and completed the University of Michigan’s Addiction Certificate Program.
While working for Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4), Paige was awarded the Joyce W. Dugan Service Award for outstanding service to C4 and the community.
Paige has dedicated her life to helping those in need starting from a young age with a focus on substance use by working with college students, coaching, and facilitating group educational workshops. She was an active member and program assistant of the University's Students for Recovery Program and their Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP).
Paige now works as part of an interdisciplinary team at a treatment center. Patients include those with substance use disorder, eating disorders and trauma.
Paige Cederna, MA., BA., LCSW, MPH, CHES
Kelly O’Connor has worked for over 10 years in community organization to reduce underage drinking and substance use in Oak Park and River Forest. She is the Prevention Services Manager at Oak Park Township and the Drug-Free Communities Grant Program Director for the Workgroup for Positive Youth Development (+PYD).
Kelly coordinated a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services and holds a BA in Human Services and a Masters in Conflict Resolution from Dominican University. She is a certified Mediator and Circle Keeper as well as Parent Coach and Administrator for FACE IT, an evidence informed alcohol and drug education program for teens and their families. Kelly also worked with young adults in a Restorative Justice Community Court with the Office of the Chief Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Kelly is passionate in reducing stigma and providing opportunities for youth and their families faced with substance use challenges. She has four children, a dog, and loves to spend her free time in Northern Michigan and out West.
Kelly O'Connor, MA. CR, BA.
Hank Tajkowski, CFP, CLU, ChFC, CPA
Hank has an accounting degree from Quincy University in Illinois and began his career with Ernst & Young. Today, he has a private practice and provides tax, financial and estate planning services.
Hank has played and coached rugby for 3 decades and currently is the Head Rugby Coach for Mount Carmel High School.
He also serves as a board member for St. Mary's High School and MLJ Adoptions.
Hank is committed to his own recovery by staying connected to the recovery community and practices a 12 step program one day at a time.