Board of Directors
Ben Rubin, Chair
Benjamin L. Rubin is currently a Vice President in Commercial Lending at Wintrust Financial Corporation and has been with the company for more than nine years. Ben is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. His business management and financial literacy skills are crucial to the growth Bernie’s Book Bank. As a father of young children and an engaged community member, Ben is incredibly passionate about Bernie’s Book Bank.
Jamie Wildman, Vice Chair
Jamie Wildman is a Managing Director in the investment banking division of William Blair & Company, L.L.C. Jamie received his B.A. cum laude from Vanderbilt University and his MBA with honors from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Jamie brings significant financial and non profit experience to our Board. In addition to Bernie’s Book Bank, Jamie is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and the Gorton Community Center Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois.
Brian Hides, Secretary
Brian Hides is a graduate of Northwestern University. For almost 20 years, Brian has enjoyed a successful career working in every facet of the trading industry and has specialized in developing low-latency systems. His leadership experience in other non-profits, including his church, and his “results-based, roll-up your sleeves” approach will be critical to the to the growth and long-term sustainability of Bernie’s Book Bank. Brian is a dedicated husband and father with a large extended family. He enjoys running, biking and the outdoors. These interests and his love for the mission of Bernie’s Book Bank have been a driving force in his leadership as a founding charter member of Team Bernie.
Jeffrey Minner, Treasurer
Jeff Minner is a CPA with Jeffrey Krol & Associates, Ltd in Chicago, IL. He has audit and accounting responsibilities for numerous commercial, ERISA and non-profit clients. His input in strategic planning, growth strategies, and expansion preparation has been critical to the proper governance and strategic growth of Bernie’s Book Bank.
Cynthia Cobb, SPHR is President/Principal of 3C – Cynthia Cobb Consulting, LLC, a human resources consulting firm dedicated to helping businesses and individuals achieve their goals. Known for respectfully connecting with others, process/results orientation, analytical skills, responsiveness, her zest for life, and ability to achieve work/life balance, her partnering approach is a valuable asset. Cynthia has previously served on the Boards of Directors for Center for Companies That Care and YWCA Lake County. A strong believer in volunteerism, her long-time community involvement also includes Girl Scouts and various ministries at her church. Cynthia is a voracious reader. As such, she is thrilled to join Bernie’s Book Bank on its journey to bring books to children. Cynthia is married and has a college-age daughter. She earned her BS degree in biomedical engineering and engineering management from Purdue University and a MBA from Indiana University.
Graham Cook is the Partner in charge of Business Development, Marketing and Investor Relations at Copia Capital, LLC. He received an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a BA in Asian Studies from Pomona College. He brings strong fiscal responsibility skills and a focus on growth to the Bernie’s Book Bank board at a critical moment. In addition to his work with Bernie’s Book Bank, Graham spends time supporting other education and literacy groups and raising his young children.
Barrett Davie is a founder and former CEO of InStadium, Inc., the nation’s largest network of professional and collegiate sports media assets, spanning all major sports leagues including MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA venues. Barrett brings a proven track record of developing and executing business models, building executive teams and support staff, raising capital, and recruiting strong advisors to his position on the Board. Barrett received his B.A. in History at Tulane University in 1997 and his Juris Doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2001.
Rob Davis is a partner in DLA Piper’s corporate practice where he primarily focuses his work on leveraged buyouts and mergers and acquisitions. Rob received his A.B. in public policy studies from Duke University and his JD/MBA from the University of Georgia. Rob lives in Lake Bluff where he is an active member of his community (he currently serves as the vice president of the local youth baseball league and on various committees of his church). Rob and his wife Brooke (who is a pre-school teacher) have three children and all of them are avid readers – seeing his own children develop their love of books has made Rob committed to providing those same opportunities to other children by working to fulfill Bernie’s mission.
Bernard P. Floriani Jr.
Bernie is the son of Bernard P. Floriani for whom Bernie’s Book Bank is named, and the brother of Brian Floriani, Executive Director and Founder of Bernie’s Book Bank. “Little Bernie” is President and Owner of the “Bernie from Gurnee” Floriani State Farm Insurance Agency in Gurnee, Illinois, which he established in 1997. Bernie is a former golfer and basketball player for The University of Virginia. His wife, Christy, is a pre-school teacher. Bernie and Christy have a 12-year-old daughter, Kayla, and an 8-year-old son, Max. His experience in starting and maintaining a successful community business has been crucial to Bernie’s Book Bank.
Melissa Jarmel is a strategist and consultant with expertise across all aspects of corporate communications, particularly in developing engaging communications programs to support an organization’s business objectives. Her background is an asset to Bernie’s Book Bank as it strives to expand its committed base of donors, partners and volunteers by sharing its inspirational mission and achievements with a broader audience. Melissa holds a BA in Japanese studies from the University of Michigan and MSJ in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. After developing a love of books at a young age and watching her own children discover the joy of reading, Melissa is passionate about advancing the incredible success of Bernie’s Book Bank.
Dan McGowan is the president of Big Bowl, Big Bowl Express and L. Woods Tap & Pine Lodge – restaurants under the auspices of the widely revered Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. For the past 25 years with LEYE, which also involves overseeing Tucci Benucch and the Magic Crepe Stand in the world renowned Mall of America in Minnesota, Dan has become known for his innovative and forward-thinking leadership style. His passion for progressive, grassroots organizations that make a direct impact, like Bernie’s Book Bank, combined with his experience in franchise development are invaluable to the staff and board as plans are pursued to expand to other cities.
Mike Smiley is the Chief Financial Officer for Zebra Technologies, a publicly listed company focused on AIDC and RFID technology. Mike also serves on the Board of Directors for Twin Disc, a publicly listed provider of power transmission equipment. He received his MBA from the University of Chicago and BS in Accounting from Brigham Young University. Mike and his wife have three daughters and are passionate about providing educational opportunities and resources to help all children create successful careers and lives.
Gary Swenson is the president and founder of United Services by Permaco, Inc., a privately held company in Lake Bluff, which specializes in restoring property after water, fire, and other disaster related incidents, and owner of affiliated company Dr. Energy Saver. Gary has over 30 years of entrepreneurial and management experience, has served in industry association leadership roles for over 11 years, and holds a diverse and extensive list of industry certifications and credentials. Gary says, “From the moment I heard about BBB, I could see the potential to significantly impact some core societal issues at their source through this mission. The BBB mission is truly “the lighting of the fire, not just the filling of the pail.” Married to a former teacher for over 27 years, Gary and his wife’s passion for reading and education in their household was the key to having raised 2 very successful adult sons.