Chicago State Foundation Announces Addition of Two New Board Members to Support Student Success at CSU

CHICAGO, IL (March 8, 2024): To further support the Chicago State Foundation’s (CSF) on-going work to improve educational and economic outcomes for Chicago State University (CSU) students, CSF is pleased to announce two newly elected members to its Board of Directors:

  • Andre Baker, Executive Director and Market Director at JPMorgan Chase
  • Jason Mercer, CAST US Principal, Due Diligence with Cleveland Avenue

Each new board member brings a wide range of knowledge to help support the initiatives aimed at changing the lives of CSU students and the surrounding community. The University continues its Cougar Commitment initiatives designed to achieve one goal: increasing student enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. CSU’s Cougar Commitment has been supported in part by the work done by the Chicago State Foundation, which works to identify strategic private support opportunities and create suitable fundraising strategies to advance the interests and welfare of the University.

“I am pleased to introduce two new Board Members,” said John C. Robak, Chair of the Chicago State Foundation Board of Directors.  Andre and Jason are both seasoned professionals who bring the skill sets needed to diversify the strengths of the Board. I look forward to the contributions that I know they will make''.

Andre Baker
Andre Baker

Andre Baker is the Executive director and market director at JPMorgan Chase. Baker oversees 16 branches and 180 employees across the Chicago area, which includes the top 10 most diverse communities in Illinois. In 2008, he was a founding member of JPMorgan’s DE&I Council and helped write the playbook for meaningful conversations within its central region. He was instrumental in creating a partnership between JPMorgan and Chicago State University, creating a pipeline to graduates to fill open positions (i.e., licensed banker, relationship banker) with diverse talent. He’s the Illinois co-sponsor for the firm’s Fellowship Initiative, which supports young men of color as they navigate high school, and Illinois co-executive sponsor for the Black Organization for Leadership Development.

Jason Mercer
Jason Mercer

Jason Mercer is a Principal at Cleveland Avenue focusing on its CAST US Fund, leading sourcing and due diligence of investment opportunities. With CAST US, Jason supports, via investment, Black, Brown and Women entrepreneurs, primarily in Chicagoland. Jason has over ten years of work experience in strategy, finance, and mergers and acquisitions-related roles within large, multi-national organizations in the Food & Beverage sector. Prior to Cleveland Avenue, Jason was the Business Manager Consumer for Fonterra USA, where he was responsible for growing volume, profitability, and brand awareness. Previously Jason served as Director, Corporate Strategy for TreeHouse Foods and Manager, Strategy & Operations for Deloitte Consulting. Earlier in his career, Jason was a Senior Financial Analyst for Warner Music Group and an Investment Banking Analyst at Lehman Brothers. Jason earned his Bachelor of Arts in Finance from Morehouse College and an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

“We are thankful that Andre and Jason have agreed to join the Chicago State Foundation Board of Directors. These talented professionals join a distinguished group of individuals committed to the Foundation’s mission and supporting the work of Chicago State University,” said Melanie Sillas, Chicago State Foundation Executive Director. 

About the Chicago State Foundation

The mission of Chicago State Foundation is to advance the interest and welfare of Chicago State University (CSU) by building relationships, securing philanthropic support, stewarding assets and otherwise procuring private support on behalf of the University.

Working in concert with the President of CSU, Chicago State Foundation helps to identify strategic priorities, raise public awareness for the University and secure private support to create new opportunities for students.

About Chicago State University

Chicago State University, founded in 1867, is the oldest public university in the Chicago Metropolitan area. The University’s five colleges offer over 70 undergraduate and graduate degree-granting and non-degree programs. CSU is committed to equity in education, serving as the only U.S. Department of Education-designated four-year Predominantly Black Institution in Illinois and ranked by a Harvard economist in the top 4% of public and private universities nationwide in supporting our graduates’ economic mobility. The University serves as a prominent civic space on the greater South Side of Chicago by hosting a multitude of athletic, educational, cultural, and recreational activities. The University is located near public transit that provides convenient access to the campus. For more information, visit here.