Two finalists are vying to become the next superintendent of Oak Park Elementary School District 97, according to a districtwide email announcement sent to families, Jan. 8.

Of the top six candidates, the D97 Board of Education narrowed its list to Kim Nalls, assistant superintendent of human resources and benefits for Rich Township High School District 227, and Ushma Shah, interim chief portfolio officer for the Chicago Public Schools Office of Portfolio Management.

Ushma Shah

As a chief portfolio officer, Shah supports and supervises six of CPS’ instructional and operational departments, including its charter and alternative schools, as well as analyzes enrollment and demographic data, according to her LinkedIn profile. Shah also served as assistant superintendent of elementary schools and a chief of equity and social justice at Elgin School District U-46 and has held other positions, including a middle-school teacher and principal, the email announcement stated.

During Nalls’ career in education, she served as an assistant superintendent of human resources and technology and assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction at Proviso Township District 209. Nalls is also a former high school principal, guidance counselor and elementary school teacher, the email announcement stated. 

Kim Nalls

The school board began its search last summer, working alongside representatives from the search firm, Hazard, Young and Attea (HYA), to find D97’s new superintendent. Over the last couple of months, HYA conducted screening interviews with 13 of the total 19 applicants and presented a slate of candidates to the board. From there, board members selected their favored six and interviewed them during executive sessions at school board meetings.

With Nalls and Shah now named, board members are inviting the community to participate in an online forum, Jan. 12. The forum will be held over Zoom and allows attendees to meet Nalls and Shah and ask questions, said district spokeswoman Amanda Siegfried. The forum starts at 6 p.m. and runs for about two hours. Nalls will be featured during the first hour of the forum, from 6 to 7, while the latter half of the program will be reserved for Shah, from 7:15 to 8:15. The link to access the Zoom meeting can be found on the school website:

According to the email announcement, Nalls and Shah will have about 10 minutes to introduce themselves, share why they believe they are a fit for the superintendent position and talk about their professional experiences and accomplishments. Then they will answer questions from the community.

HYA President Max McGee and Constance Collins, the firm’s senior associate and former D97 superintendent, are to take on the Q&A portion of the forum. District families, local residents and other stakeholders are encouraged to submit their questions to before 5 p.m. Jan. 11.

Siegfried said attendees will be asked to complete a survey and provide written feedback about the candidates after the forum. The board plans to review those responses before making any final decisions. A link to the survey will be shared after the event.

The board plans to announce the final candidate by the end of the month, Siegfried said.

For more information on District 97’s superintendent search, visit

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