Our Leadership and Staff
Lynn Margherio | Founder/CEO
A leader in the fields of social justice and children’s issues, Lynn Margherio is the Founder and CEO of Cradles to Crayons. She leads this national non-profit with operations in Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia which provides children living in poverty with everyday essentials – including new or gently-used backpacks, school supplies, clothing, shoes and winter coats. To date, the organization has served more than 3 Million children.
In an effort to address the national crisis of children’s clothing insecurity, Lynn launched Cradles to Crayons in 2002. Since that time, she has led the organization to not only successfully fulfill the needs of millions of children, but in doing so, offer meaningful volunteer experiences, engaging over 1 million adult and youth volunteers.
In her role as CEO, Lynn directs all aspects of the organization including strategic planning, operations, fundraising, brand/marketing, product acquisition, external relations and ongoing collaboration with both National and local Boards of Directors. She has led multiple successful capital campaigns raising millions of dollars to fund expansion and has steered the organization through major relocations and organizational restructurings. She is spearheading a national expansion campaign to serve the more than 20 million children across the U.S. who are clothing insecure.
As an industry thought leader and advocate, Lynn’s work has been recognized with numerous awards. With a commitment to community, she has served on a numerous Boards and Advisory roles. A frequent speaker, Lynn has presented to numerous organizations and in a variety of settings. She has also appeared in the media including television, radio and print.
Prior to launching Cradles to Crayons, Lynn served as an Executive Vice President of the Clinton Foundation, in public sector roles for the U.S. Department of Commerce and the White House Domestic Policy Council as well as corporate roles for SJS, IKEA, Telesis and Towers Perrin.
A graduate of Georgetown University, Lynn completed the Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program at Harvard Business School.
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.
Aubrey Henderson | Executive Director, Boston
Aubrey Conquergood is the Executive Director of Cradles to Crayons Boston. She joined Cradles to Crayons following 20 years as an executive working across both the private and non-profit sectors, with valuable experience in development, marketing, operations and customer experience that will enable the organization’s continued growth. Aubrey transitioned from major gift fundraising where she led Beth Israel Lahey Health’s new Health Technology Initiative.
Previously, Aubrey served on the executive team at C Space as Vice President of Client Service, where she focused on building strategic partnerships and setting global strategies to ensure growth and success. She also brings extensive brand management experience to Cradles to Crayons, following many years working at Unilever and Procter & Gamble.
Throughout her career, Aubrey has actively supported community-driven initiatives including 14 years involved in the start -up and growth of the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation – the leading global cancer research foundation for a rare cancer. Aubrey has also been an active volunteer with Cradles to Crayons over the years, spending time in The Giving Factory with her own two children, one of whom took part in the organization’s popular Teen Leadership Corps for four years. In addition, she has volunteered with many other organizations including the Special Olympics, and the Ronald McDonald House.
Aubrey has a BS in Broadcast Journalism from Texas Christian University, and an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Aubrey and her family live in the Greater Boston area.
Dawn Melchiorre | Executive Director, Chicago
Dawn Melchiorre is a seasoned entrepreneur and nonprofit executive passionate about driving social change in her local community. Her nonprofit career began at Voices for Illinois Children where she organized advocacy campaigns raising awareness for issues related to early childhood education, mental health, and nutrition. Her success led her to the Greater Chicago Food Depository as Senior Director of Programs where she helped build the Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign and the Illinois Commission to End Hunger.
Dawn served as Chief Operating Officer of Forefront (Illinois), the regional membership association serving grantmakers, nonprofits, advisors, and public agencies. She directed operations, including member engagement, public policy, education, library services, and research. Most recently, Dawn served as Interim CEO at 360 Youth Services, leading the organization from a governance and asset transfer agency to a larger social service organization that provides stability for staff and the community it serves.
Before her career in the nonprofit sector, Dawn spent ten years in the hospitality field as a small business owner. Dawn holds a Bachelor of Arts, Political Science from Loyola University Chicago, a Master of Arts, Public Service & Public Policy from DePaul University, and a Master of Business Administration, Nonprofit Management from Concordia Unversity Chicago.
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.