Board of Trustees

Board Members


Marie Lynn Toussaint, J.D.Marie Lynn Toussaint, J.D., Chair

A resident of Evanston, Marie Lynn Toussaint began a six-year term as Oakton trustee in 2019. She has been a criminal defense attorney for more than two decades. As such, she has litigated and negotiated vigorously and passionately in the best interest of her clients. Her client's and her community's interests also include protecting and improving Oakton as a provider of affordable secondary education programs that can increase employability, reduce the cycle of poverty, reduce crime and recidivism, and create positive role models. She brings to the Board of Trustees extensive experience with diverse groups of individuals, ranging from young adults and their families to police officers, doctors, judges, and court personnel.

Toussaint earned a bachelor of arts at the University of Illinois-Chicago; a paralegal certificate at Roosevelt University; and a juris doctorate at John Marshall Law School. She is an active member of the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a member and co-founder of Haitian American Lawyers Association, and president of the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti.


Martha Burns

Martha Burns, Vice Chair

Evanston resident Martha Burns was reelected for a second six-year term on the Oakton Board of Trustees in April 2023.

Burns has been a civic leader in Evanston’s educational organizations, nonprofits, public initiatives and political campaigns for two decades. Her many years of experience in public education spans leadership roles from individual PTAs (Orrington School PTA president) and the PTA Council (president of PTA Council for two years) to 12 years on the Evanston Township High School District 202 Board of Education, where she served two years as president and two years as vice president. Burns worked in social services at Community Economic Development Association (CEDA)/Evanston for more than 15 years.

Burns holds a B.A. in English from Loyola University of Chicago and an associate degree from Truman College. She is a current Executive member of the Organization for Positive Action and Leadership (OPAL) whose mission is to encourage individuals to run for public office and also to monitor governing bodies to ensure that all policies are reviewed through an equity lens before adoption. In addition, she is a member of the local chapter of the NAACP and serves on the Education Committee.

Board of Trustee, Theresa BashiriTheresa Bashiri-Remetio, Secretary

Elected in April 2023, Bashiri-Remetio is a Filipino-Iranian American who was raised by her grandmother in the Philippines during her formative years. Experiencing what it was like to be in foreign territory, trying to assimilate to a new continent and culture, she realized the profound impact representation and allyship had. Professionally, Bashiri-Remetio has held various roles in Accounting, Enterprise Portfolio Management, Revenue Assurance, Revenue Planning & Analysis, Enterprise Testing & Quality Assurance (ET&QA). Today, she is a Sr. Software Test Engineer at UScellular.

Bashiri-Remetio earned her B.S. from Elmhurst University with a major in Marketing and Economics, and minor in International Business before attending Northern Illinois University where she earned a MSEd in Adult Learning and MBA in Organizational Leadership. Passionate about education, this mother of three definitely has her hands full but is never too busy to give back to her community; serving on the Illinois MAP Eligibility Task Force, Oakton College’s Board of Trustees, and Alumni Council.

Gail BushGail Bush, Ph.D.

Evanston resident Gail Bush started her six-year term as Oakton trustee in 2019. She brings to the board a long and distinguished career in educational leadership and instruction as a professor, director, and a librarian in college, school, and corporate environments. She is an author and editor, contributing to works as diverse as educational theory and practice, library management, and most recently a poetry anthology (2013). She contributes her leadership to several additional boards and professional committees and has a continuing and dynamic history of civic and community engagement.

Bush earned a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Loyola University Chicago and both an M.S. in library science and a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She served as faculty at Maine Township District 207 for 10 years, and she is a professor emeritus in reading and language and was the director of both the Center for Teaching through Children’s Books and director of the School Library Program at National-Louis University, and director of the School Library Program at Dominican University.

Benjamin SalzbergBenjamin Salzberg

Reelected to the Board of Trustees in April 2021, Benjamin Salzberg is serving a second six-year term.

Salzberg’s professional expertise involves increasing the efficiency of company operations to achieve increased economic gains. Presently, he is the senior partner of Process through Design, a company that improves the overall efficiencies of businesses.

Salzberg began his education at Oakton and earned an associate degree in engineering from the College. Salzberg has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Illinois, a master of business administration degree from Illinois Institute of Technology, and a master’s degree in education from National Louis University. He is a state-certified teacher and is licensed by the Illinois State Board of Education.

Mr. Salzberg is also a member of Shriners International, an international fraternity that supports Shriners Hospitals for Children®.

William StaffordWilliam Stafford

William Stafford was appointed to the Board of Trustees in November 2007 to fill a vacancy. Most recently, he was re-elected in April 2021 to serve a six-year term.

Stafford has been retired since June 2016. Currently, he is active serving on finance-related committees for both the Evanston YMCA and YWCA. He also serves as a commissioner on the Northwest Water Commission. Stafford continues to evaluate government budgets for the national Government Finance Officers Association’s Budget Awards Program.

Prior to retiring he worked as the chief financial officer for Evanston Township District 202 for more than 10 years and as chief financial officer for the City of Evanston for more than 10 years.

Stafford received a master’s degree from the University of Michigan’s Ford School for Public Policy, a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, and a certificate of professional accounting from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

He and his wife Ingrid enjoy visiting their grandchildren on the East Coast and West Coast.

Wendy B. YanowWendy B. Yanow, Ed.D.

Evanston resident Wendy B. Yanow started her six-year term as Oakton trustee in 2019. As an adult educator, she is a long-time adjunct faculty member, advisor, curriculum and program designer, and consultant who has trained faculty in teaching adult learners and assessing experiential learning. Currently, an adjunct in the Master of Arts in Educating Adults graduate program at DePaul University School of Professional and Continuing Studies, Yanow has also taught adult learners pursuing a high school diploma at the Howard Area Community Center and Dorothy Stang Popular High School in Chicago. She has facilitated community workshops on race, whiteness and privilege and has published about teaching race.

Yanow earned both a master’s degree and a doctorate in adult education from National Louis University and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with a major in music from the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a dual-credit high school student in Chicago, she began her college education at the Wilbur Wright, City Colleges of Chicago.

Franklin Ocaña II, Student Trustee

Franklin Ocaña II joined the Board of Trustees in April 2024 to serve a one-year term in this role.

Ocaña was named the Oakton College Student Employee of the Year for his work at the Emory Williams Academy for Black Men, a program designed to support the success of Oakton's Black male-identifying students. He is pursuing an associate in fine arts and is strongly interested in ceramics. He hopes to transfer to Northwestern University or Loyola University, Chicago.

"I believe in the power of education," said Ocaña. "I look forward to advocating for students on both campuses (Des Plaines and Skokie) and being the voice for them on the Board."

Ocaña participates in the Emory Williams Academy for Black Men, ¡ANDALE! (Association to Nurture and Develop the Advancement of Latino/a/x Students in Education) and Honors Society programs. In addition, he is the founder of Liberation Artists Club at Oakton and an active member of the Student Government Association.