Our Leadership and Staff
Lynn Margherio | Founder/CEO
Lynn Margherio is the founder and CEO of Cradles to Crayons, a national non-profit that helps provide children with the everyday essentials they need to thrive: at home, at school, and at play. With the conviction that, if donating was easy, families would gladly pass on new or gently used children’s items they no longer needed to families who needed them more, Lynn opened the first Cradles to Crayons warehouse in Boston in 2002. Cradles to Crayons now has operations in Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia and annually provides more than 245,000 children in poverty with essential items – including backpacks, school supplies, clothing, shoes and winter coats.
A graduate of Georgetown University, Lynn began her career as a business strategy consultant, advising Fortune 500 companies on competitive positioning, growth strategies, and market analysis. She served as a senior policy analyst on the White House Domestic Policy Council during the Clinton Administration, focusing primarily on health care and on the early frameworks for regulating the internet. After leaving the White House she was Executive Vice President of the Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative where she led international health care and policy teams working in regions across the globe.
Her passion for pairing business acumen with mission-based service initiatives has led to honors from The National Committee on Child Labor, Bank of America, the Boston Business Journal, and Facing History and Ourselves. She is a is a member of the Massachusetts Women’s Forum and the Friends of Martin Luther King Jr. Board, and serves as a judge for Mass Challenge. Lynn and her family live in the Boston area.
Michal Smith | Executive Director, Philadelphia
Michal is a graduate of London University and North London University, and holds a certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership from Bryn Mawr College. Michal is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of the Arts, a member of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Main Line Chamber of Commerce. She is on the boards of Child’s Work USA, Philadelphia and The Teacher’s Place. In 2013, SmartCEO Magazine recognized her with its Brava Award for top female CEOs. Since joining Cradles to Crayons, Michal has doubled its operating revenue, the number of children served, and has grown the service delivery area to include a second state, New Jersey.
Bernard Cherkasov, Esq. | Executive Director, Chicago
Bernard Cherkasov is the Executive Director of Cradles to Crayons in Chicago. Bernard came to the Unites States as a refugee 28 years ago. When Bernard was a kid – before he and his family fled Azerbaijan – his family used to receive an occasional package with winter coats and other clothing, organized by the Joint Distribution Committee in the U.S.. He remembers how empowering it felt that someone showed care and support for his family; and he feels that emotional connection to the Cradles’ mission.
Bernard is a lawyer by training, and practiced law at corporate law firms before joining the nonprofit sector. He also served as the International Law Clerk for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel. He earned his J.D. degree from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in the relationship of theology, policy, and law from Harvard.
Prior to Cradles, Bernard served as CEO of Equality Illinois, Midwest’s largest civil rights organization advocating for LGBT equality. Under Bernard’s leadership, Equality Illinois passed several pieces of historic legislation, including the marriage equality law, bullying prevention measures, and a national model ban on so-called conversion therapy. EI had grown to become the nation’s second largest state equality organization, with offices in Chicago and Central Illinois.
Bernard is married to Hon. Dr. Danny M. Cohen, and they have a daughter.