our founders

From early childhood, John has always loved zebras. He wrote about them when he was 9 years old. They have inspired us in our design plans as well. Unique, isolated, fearful, easily scattered. No 2 are the same. Just like people with autism, and the solutions that will carry them safely through their young lives and beyond. John had it right all along.



Julie + Mike Tracy are the proud parents of two sons, Joseph, 22, and John, 20. While Joseph developed typically, John was diagnosed with autism at age two. Like many children with autism spectrum disorder, John’s growth and development presented with unique and puzzling challenges. Though intelligent, funny and articulate, John struggled in school socially. His unusual observations, sense of humor and sheer determination forged a path in childhood, which was supported by his family and the public school environment. His struggles grew during adolescence, splintering his hard earned success to shards of a challenging diagnostic puzzle. After a number of hospitalizations, John was enrolled at the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School at the beginning of his junior year of high school. The “O” School is a residential, therapeutic school serving children with significant challenges associated with both autism and mental illness, and is affiliated with the University of Chicago in Hyde Park.

Unpredictably, John’s mental health declined, and his autism diagnosis complicated treatment. He was admitted to Rush University Medical Center during the summer of 2011, where he stayed for five weeks. It was almost impossible to stabilize John, and it was during these uncertain months that the impetus for the Tracy’s work emerged. Observing the need for more specific psychiatric and transitional care directed towards young adults with autism and comorbid mental health problems, the Tracy’s vision emerged: a residence for young adults on the spectrum located on the Near West Side of Chicago, working closely with the newly established center for research and treatment at Rush.


Julie Tracy


Julie Tracy has been a Speech-Language Pathologist for over 29 years and is the owner of Pediatric Speech, Language and Literacy Services, a boutique pediatric evaluation and therapy business which has been serving the needs of children with complex language and learning difficulties for over eleven years. Julie has also provided speech and language evaluation and treatment at Evanston and Glenbrook Hospitals, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago Institute for Neurosurgery and Neuro-Research and the Cove School, was a Lecturer and Clinical Supervisor for the Northwestern University Voice, Speech and Language Service in the Department of Otolaryngology and has authored several articles related to communication disorders.

Julie attended Northwestern University and received both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Speech and Language Pathology from the School of Speech- Communication Sciences and Disorders. She is a member of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association and the Illinois Speech-Language and Hearing Association. Julie has served in a wide variety of philanthropic capacities and on community boards. Programs created have served hundreds of children with and without special needs in the areas of recreation, education, religious education and agricultural engagement.

Michael Tracy


Mike is a principal of Lyric Partners, a private investment partnership. He's a former member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where he spent the first 25 years of his career.

Mike was active in his son's Boy Scout troop, AYSO and Glenview Youth Baseball. He has also served as the president of the board of trustees of the Unitarian Church of Evanston.

Mike holds a BA in history from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.


Joe is Managing Director of Corporate Financial Advisors, LLC in Milwaukee, WI. He specializes in merger and acquisition, capital sourcing, and general corporate advisory. His financial career includes 21 years as an investment banker, private equity fund manager, business owner, and consultant.

Joe received a BS in Electrical Engineering, Cum Laude, from Stanford University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Joe serves on the Board of Directors of Herzing University, Novum Structures, Badger Logistics and Titus Group. He is an officer of the Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin and is involved in numerous civic organizations in the Milwaukee area.


Dr. Louis Kraus is the Woman’s Board Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Chief, Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center.

Dr. Kraus completed Medical School at the Chicago Medical School and did his psychiatry training at Northwestern University. He completed a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Chicago. He is board certified in general psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry and forensic psychiatry. Dr. Kraus is a nationally known Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist.

Much of Dr. Kraus’s work focuses on the interface of child and adolescent psychiatry and the law, educational work and advocacy for children. Dr. Kraus is active in many professional organizations. He is the Chairmen for the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Assembly, and is the elected representative to the American Psychiatric Association for Child Psychiatry (AACAP) to their Assembly. He has been the delegate for the AACAP to the American Medical Association (AMA) for the past fourteen years. He also serves as an elected member of the Council of Science and Public Health at the AMA. His lectures and writing focus on issues dealing with autism, delinquency and advocacy. Dr. Kraus is the Medical Director for the Easter Seals Therapeutic Schools, where children and adolescents with autism receive services. He is in charge of the psychiatric services through Rush at the Orthogenic School, a residential school in Hyde Park. Dr. Kraus also consults with approximately fifteen school districts in Chicago and the northern suburbs, as well as the Department of Justice related to civil rights violations of incarcerated children.



Regina Letterman is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. She received a BS from Northwestern University in Radio-TV-film, and a masters degree from Case Western Reserve University in business administration. Ms. Letterman has worked for NBC in New York City and is married to David Letterman. She and her husband oversee The Letterman Family Foundation dedicated to children’s philanthropies in Indianapolis, Indiana. The couple are parents of one son, Harry, and reside in New York City. Regina is an original member of JMTF’s founding board and currently serves in an advisory capacity.


Joseph is John’s older brother and works as the assistant to the Executive Producer for Jimmy Kimmel Live. Prior to joining JKL, Joe was the Casting Coordinator at City Media Entertainment, a television casting company, in Los Angeles, California.

Joe graduated from Glenbrook South High School and recently graduated from Dartmouth College in June, 2012 with a double major in Economics and Engineering Sciences. While at Dartmouth, he earned three varsity letters as a member of the track and field team. Joe was also a member of Chi Heorot Fraternity and of the Jackal senior society.


Jacqueline Russell has worked as curator, writer, and Artistic Director of Chicago Children’s Theatre since co-founding it in 2005. She has also spearheaded, written and directed each of the company’s plays for children with autism: Red Kite /Blue Moon and Red Kite Round Up, and Red Kite by the Sea.

Prior to Chicago Children’s Theatre, Russell was Executive Director of Lookingglass Theatre Company, where she led the company’s build-out and move into their permanent performance space in the Water Tower Water Works and served as Director of Education and Outreach. Before Lookingglass, Jacqueline spent five years as Director of Children’s Programming at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Jacqueline spent 14 years as an artist in residence at Agassiz Elementary School, teaching drama to autism-specific classrooms through CAPE (Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education). Russell’s decade-plus commitment to students on the autism spectrum resulted in a comprehensive theatre curriculum and approach for working with children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). This led her to create The Red Kite Project at Chicago Children’s Theatre, which includes Camp Red Kite and Red Kite productions. Russell leads professional development workshops for educators and artists, continues classroom work with students with ASD, and gives lectures and demonstrations to medical specialists, parents, and educators. Her work in the classroom has been duplicated around the city of Chicago, in Canada and beyond. In 2010, Jacqueline was appointed by the U.S. State Department to serve as a Cultural Envoy to Canada, where she wrote and directed Red Kite/Blue Sky for children on the autism spectrum in Ontario.

Russell holds a BFA from New York University, and resides in Chicago with her daughter Shiri.


Cindy Patrick is the Principal at CP Management Solutions, LLC. Cindy recently left Turner Broadcasting and CNN after 29 years, 20 of which were in executive management. As Sr. Vice President of CNN’s Operations, Cindy was responsible for the operation of CNN’s production facilities and a staff of over 800 employees, worldwide.

Cindy has been involved in the special needs community in Atlanta, primarily through the Coralwood School and the Coralwood Foundation. She also served on the Board of Trustees at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

Cindy is a native of Corning, NY and graduated with a BS in Radio-TV-Film from Northwestern University. She is married to George Emmert. The couple reside in Alpharetta, GA and are parents to 3 daughters


Karen Mozer is a Principal Designer and co-owner of Jordan Mozer and Associates Ltd. (JMA) in Chicago, Illinois. She has been a designer in Chicago for 25 years and previously owned a gallery in upstate New York, specializing in 20th century furniture and decorative arts. Karen’s career includes extensive experience in design of corporate offices, residences, and the development of art collections, both corporate and private. Karen consults on all JMA projects, including residences, hotels, restaurants, retail, and product design.

Karen attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY and the Harrington College of Design in Chicago, Ill, and has degrees in Studio Art, Art History and Interior Design. She has extensive expertise in NFP management and fundraising efforts. Karen is a former president and current board member of the Architecture and Design Society of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a member of the Arts Club of Chicago, the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago and the Society of Contemporary Art of the Art Institute of Chicago. Karen has co-chaired numerous benefits and served on multiple committees to benefit these and other organizations.


Michelle Weiner is Vice President and a respected member of the leadership team at Interior Investments, LLC, a progressive distributorship of commercial and institutional furniture. She is a thirtyyear veteran of the commercial interiors industry where her career has included roles as Regional Vice President of Sales, key marketing executive for corporate accounts, regional project manager, technical consultant, sales trainer and mentor. Before joining Interior Investments in 1998, Michelle was principal and general owner of an independent sales organization representing contract furniture manufacturers in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. As the mother of two sons on the autism spectrum, Michelle is keenly aware of the odyssey every family faces when integrating their loved ones into the community from early intervention, through the education track, and ultimate transition to independent living. She has extensive experience with Chicago’s disability community including advocacy roles with parent-to-parent autism support groups, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District and Special Olympics Illinois. Michelle is Executive Director of the Dream & Believe Foundation supported by Interior Investments, LLC, Board Member of Saint Luke Ministries, Chicago, Board Member and Executive Secretary of the Lane Tech Alumni Association and devoted volunteer for Special Olympics and DIFFA, (the Design Industry Foundation to Fight Aids).


Rush Medical Center

Rush Autism Assessment Research Treatment Services Center

To ensure that our goals for residents are accomplished with due care and medical oversight, JMTF has formed a partnership with Rush Autism Assessment Research Center.

Building on its clinical strengths and community partnerships, Rush aims to establish the region's first "one-stop shop" for autism spectrum disorders, welcoming patients from early child- hood into young adulthood. To reach its goals, Rush is developing a core infrastructure of services across the full continuum of care. The Rush AARTS Center aims to provide specialized assessment, diagnosis, and treatment from early childhood through adolescence and adulthood. In doing so, Rush is assuming a leadership position in this new domain. The existing body of research on the transition to adulthood among those with high-functioning autism is minimal. Few clinicians have yet had the opportunity to build specific expertise in the provision of clinical and behavioral therapies for this age group. Furthermore, treatment options will be multifaceted. Rush will offer a model that centers on care for the patient. The opportunity to build a provider-patient relationship over time will allow clinicians to observe changes both in the short term and longitudinally. Treatments specializing on the needs of this unique demographic will include medication management, assistance with behavioral regulation, individual and group psychosocial therapies, family therapy and focused rehabilitation services. Educational consultation for individuals still in school will also be available.

Whether coming to the Medical Center campus or moving into JMTF Foundation residences, each young adult will benefit from a comprehensive age-appropriate assessment to provide person-centered life-planning as mandated by the Department of Human Services. Wrap-around services will transcend the traditional boundaries of medical and mental health care to foster the transition into adulthood.

Julie and Mike Tracy have joined other families in making financial gifts to help establish the Rush AARTS Center. Under the leadership of Dr. Louis Kraus, Rush's team aims to build the evidence base for new best practices that can improve the quality of life for families across the nation. www.rush.edu

Center For Independant Futures

The Center for Independent Futures

The Center for Independent Futures (CIF) is a ten- year- old not-for-profit organization that helps individuals with disabilities and their families access the skills and opportunities to realize full lives. CIF create products and services to establish sustainable solutions through community living options, personal networks, lifelong planning and education.

We have been privileged to consult with CIF on our staffing and supported living support philosophies to provide a fully integrated community life for our residents. www.independentfutures.com

steve vorass

Steve Vorass / Designer & Developer

I've been designing and developing for the web since 1998. I have a passion for creating meaningful experiences through design and function. I have had the great fortune to work with many clients across the world including the Julie + Michael Tracy Family Foundation. You can praise / blame me for the website you're looking at right now. If you have any questions or concerns about the site, or need a site/brochure/sign/t-shirt/cd/poster yourself, feel free to give me a shout at steve[at]sv3design.net or see more of my work at stevevorass.com.


Jordan Mozer + Associates, Ltd.

Jordan Mozer and Associates, Ltd is an internationally celebrated architecture and design firm founded in 1984. Located in downtown Chicago’s River North neighborhood, JMA takes pride in work that is personal, inter-disciplinary, seamless and highly customized, with most every detail manufactured locally. www.mozer.com

JMTF consulted with Jordan and Karen Mozer and Jeff Carloss during our inception process to help define future residential needs, develop drawings to illustrate concepts, explore real estate potential and create our logo.


MRSA Architects & Planners

From quick and cost-sensitive tenant development projects under impossible deadlines to complex lap space to corporate headquarters that extend your brand identity, MRSA has a proven track record of delivering exceptional results.

Michael Semenzin is working with JMTF to open create a specialized interior environment that will support our residents of 1212. www.mrsachicago.com


Selden Fox

Selden Fox is a team of knowledgeable and experienced professionals offering a wide range of auditing, accounting, taxation, and business consulting services. The organization prides itself on premier client service with attention and commitment to every important detail.

We are very grateful to Edward Tracy and his colleagues for their financial representation, accounting and audits. www.seldenfox.com

central law group

Central Law Group is made up of four attorneys with extensive experience in the fields of real estate, estate planning, small business corporations, and conflict resolution. Central Law Group prides themselves on attention to detail and uncompromising professional ethics.

Thank you to Andrew Werth and Mary Frenzel for months of real estate representation and negotiation that led us to Project 1212. www.centrallawgroup.net

Corporate Financial Advisors, LLC

Corporate Financial Advisors, LLC, is a nationally recognized “middle market investment bank” located in Milwauke with a distinguished record of helping its clients achieve their capital markets objectives. The company specializes in M&A, Capitol Sourcing, Restructuring,and Chapter 128. We gratefully recognize Joe Froehlich for consultative services associated with operating models and financial projections. www.CFA-LLC.com


Corporate and individual sponsorship relationships are in development. If interested, please contact us for further information.