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July 1, 2021

Meet UMS’s New Board Leadership


As part of our annual meeting in June, the Board of Directors elected new officers and members whose appointments begin on July 1. For the first time, UMS’s Board will be co-led by two women: noted economist and Professor of International Relations and Economics at Michigan State University Lisa D. Cook and local attorney and philanthropist Rachel Bendit, who was re-elected to the Board after serving two years as the co-chair of UMS’s National Council. Cook and Bendit are joined by Vice Chair Brian Willen, Treasurer Rob VanRenterghem, and Secretary Christina Kim.

Lisa D. Cook and Rachel Bendit

Lisa D. Cook and Rachel Bendit

The class of new board members elected for a renewable four-year term is composed entirely of women: Karen Chapell, a managing partner at Retirement Income Solutions; Dr. Preeti N. Malani, the University of Michigan’s Chief Health Officer; visual artist Chrislan Fuller Manuel; and Alicia Torres, an executive and entrepreneur who currently serves as Chief Financial Officer for FreightVerify.

Rachel Bendit, an attorney and mediator who served on the Board from 2012-20 and has been co-chair of UMS’s National Council for the past two years, was also elected to the Board. Biographies for the new elected directors are listed at the end of this release.

Additionally, four members were re-elected for a second term: Ibrahim Jarjoura, Barbara Kaye, Timothy Lynch, and Rob VanRenterghem. Three non-voting representatives were also appointed: Norman Herbert and Prue Rosenthal, co-chairs of UMS’s Sustaining Directors, and Michael Lee, chair of the UMS Ambassadors volunteer group.

View a full roster of UMS’s Board of Directors


Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Rachel Bendit first attended a UMS performance in the 1990s while an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. In addition to her role at UMS, she currently serves on the boards of Baltimore Homecoming and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and as a member of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission. Rachel is trained as a lawyer, mediator, and Montessori teacher and holds a JD from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, a MEd from Loyola University, Maryland, and a BA from the University of Michigan.

Lisa D. Cook is Professor of Economics and International Relations at Michigan State University. She was the first Marshall Scholar from Spelman College and received a second B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University. She earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley with fields in macroeconomics and international economics. Prior to this appointment, she was on the faculty of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Deputy Director for Africa Research at the Center for International Development at Harvard University, and a National Fellow at Stanford University. She serves on the Advisory Boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Academic Advisory Council), the National Science Foundation (Social and Behavioral Sciences), the Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation of the Smithsonian Institution. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Cook has been a Sigma Xi (Scientific Research Society) Distinguished Lecturer and was recently named an Edison Fellow at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Dr. Cook served as the Deputy Team Lead for the Federal Reserve, Banking, and Securities Regulators Agency Review Team on the Biden-Harris Transition team.

Karen ChapellKaren Chapell is a Managing Partner at Retirement Income Solutions (RIS), where she and three other partners lead an advisory team in managing the firm’s $2B assets under management and helping 1,200 families prepare for and financially manage through retirement. She has long believed in the importance of supporting the arts, education, and her community’s greater welfare. Those are values she shares with RIS, who is a corporate sponsor of UMS and who invites 100+ clients to attend UMS performances each year. Karen graduated from the University of Michigan before starting her three-decades-long career in financial services at E.F. Hutton. She then moved to Beacon Investment Company before joining RIS in 2007.

Preeti MalaniPreeti N. Malani, MD, MSJ is the University of Michigan’s Chief Health Officer and Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases. She is also the director of the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging. Dr. Malani is a graduate of the University of Michigan and received her MD degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine. Prior to medical school, she completed a master’s in Journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She completed her internal medicine residency and infectious diseases fellowship at the University of Michigan where she also received a master’s in Clinical Research Design and Statistical Analysis. Dr. Malani completed fellowship training in geriatric medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University. As Chief Health Officer, Dr. Malani has taken a broad approach to well-being while building community and amplifying diverse voices. She has looked to the arts and humanities as essential ways to accomplish health and well-being goals for the entire campus community.

Chrislan Fuller ManuelChrislan Fuller Manuel is a native of Massachusetts, but has lived in Ann Arbor on and off for over 25 years. She has a B.S. degree from Howard University and a MPH from the University of Michigan. She worked at the University of Michigan Health System before moving to Buffalo, NY where she worked for St. Jude Medical. Later, she and her family moved to Connecticut where she focused on her life-long love of the arts and painting full-time. A visual artist herself, she supports arts organizations and is passionate about making art accessible to all. Chrislan actively serves as a board member for the Ann Arbor Arts Center and The Chad Tough Defeat DIPG Foundation. She has also been very involved with the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the University of Michigan Athletic department throughout her career.

Alicia TorresAlicia Torres is an executive and entrepreneur with proven skills in strategy, finance, business development, and building highly effective teams, who can execute on strategy. She is currently Chief Financial Officer for FreightVerify, an Ann Arbor company which provides predictive, real-time transportation visibility at every step of the supply chain process for complex enterprises, such as the world’s top automotive manufacturers. She has also held executive level positions at Altarum Institute and Zebra Technologies. She and her late husband founded Rosebud Solutions, a healthcare software company, which had a successful exit with the company being purchased by McKesson Corporation. Alicia holds a degree in accounting from the University of Texas RGV. She was born in México and grew up in south Texas, relocating to Ann Arbor in 1998.