Our Leadership and Staff
Lynn Margherio | Founder/CEO
Lynn Margherio founded Cradles to Crayons in Boston in 2002 with the vision that one day every child would have the essentials they need to thrive…at home, and at school, at play. To realize this vision, Lynn has harnessed the power of community: facilitating the sharing of resources from one family to another, from one community to another.
Cradles to Crayons expanded to Philadelphia in 2007 and to Chicago in 2016. The organization is poised to continue expanding its impact as a resource for combating the consequences of childhood poverty and for its leadership in promoting corporate and family philanthropy.
A graduate of Georgetown University, Lynn’s leadership of Cradles to Crayons is informed by her experience working across the for-profit, social, and government sectors. Trained as a business strategy consultant, Lynn advised Fortune 500 companies on growth strategies, competitive positioning, and investment/acquisition opportunities. She was a senior member of the health care reform team in the Clinton White House and served as Executive Vice President of the William J. Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS Initiative. Her passion for making real, lasting change has been recognized with honors from The National Committee on Child Labor, Bank of America, Facing History & Ourselves, the Boston Business Journal, and the Boston Celtics. Lynn is a member of the Massachusetts Women’s Forum, she serves as a judge for Mass Challenge, and sits on The Friends of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School Board.
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.