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 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.

Bernard Cherkasov, Esq. | Chief Operating Officer

Bernard Cherkasov is the National Chief Operating Officer of Cradles to Crayons, a national organization providing critical essentials to children living in poverty and crisis situations. The agency is on track to serving over 230,000 children this year alone.

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.

While at EI, Bernard had developed new strategies to engage public officials and political leaders, to partner with major corporations and law firms, to strengthen relationships with religious leadership and communities of faith, and to engage the community at large. EI had grown to become the nation’s second largest state equality organization, with offices in Chicago and Central Illinois.

Bernard came to the Unites States as a refugee 29 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.

Bernard is married to Hon. Dr. Danny M. Cohen, and they have a daughter.

Jennifer Askjaer | Executive Director, Boston

Jennifer Askjaer is the Executive Director of Cradles to Crayons Boston, a national organization providing critical essentials to children living in poverty and crisis situations. The agency is on track to serving over 230,000 children this year alone.

Prior to coming to Cradles to Crayons, Jennifer built a reputation for creating and executing strategic programs that drive profitable sales and community impact for restaurant brands. From launching new products to working with franchisees in the field, Jennifer understands the importance of turning strategy into execution and ultimately results. Her brand work has included Burger King, Nestle, Baskin Robbins and Taco Bell. Prior to starting Swell Marketing Group, Jennifer oversaw fundraising for the Taco Bell Foundation, developing national in-store campaigns that resulted in a 200% revenue increase. Jennifer is also a restaurant and retail owner and has a passion for connecting local business with the community.

Askjaer has a B.S. in Advertising from Syracuse University; S.I. Newhouse School of Communications. She resides outside of Boston with her husband and three children.

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.

Shoshana Buchholz-Miller | Executive Director, Chicago

Shoshana Buchholz-Miller is the Executive Director of Cradles to Crayons Chicago. She has spent her career working to address pressing social and human rights issues and to inspire others to do the same.

Previously, Shoshana was Illinois Holocaust Museum Vice President of Education and Exhibitions, providing strategic leadership, planning, and evaluation for education initiatives and exhibitions. At the Museum, she led the development and opening of the ground-breaking Take A Stand Center, which uses first-in-the-world technology to tell Holocaust Survivor stories and to inspire visitors to engage civically. During her tenure, the Museum experienced double digit-growth in visitorship and created its first special exhibition, Stories of Survival: Object. Image. Memory., which is now traveling around the country.

Prior to then, Shoshana led the consulting business at Arabella Advisors where she helped grow the company from a start-up to one of the leading philanthropic advisory firms in the country. Ms. Buchholz-Miller’s experience also includes consulting program officer at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, as well as associate director of the Anti–Defamation League’s Chicago/Midwest region.

Shoshana is a Truman National Security Fellow and volunteers with the Syrian Community Network as a mentor to a refugee family. She holds a B.A. with honors from Duke University in Political Science and Russian Language and an M.S. in International Relations from the London School of Economics. Shoshana now lives in Wilmette, Ill. with her husband and three children.

Our Staff

National Staff

  • Lynn Margherio, Founder and CEO, National
  • Bernard Cherkasov, Chief Operations Officer, National 
  • Karen Gallahue, Chief Financial Officer, National
  • Ellen Manning, Vice President of Human Resources, National 
  • Karen Grant, Vice President of External Affair, National
  • Zachery Tapp, Director of Technology and Business Analytics, National
  • Jennifer Askjaer, Executive Director, Boston
  • Michal Smith, Executive Director, Philadelphia
  • Shoshana Buchholz-Miller, Executive Director, Chicago