Oakton College Board Of Trustees reorganizes leadership; Marie Lynn Toussaint selected as chair

The Oakton College Board of Trustees selected Evanston resident Mary Lynn Toussaint, J.D., to become board chair for a one-year term during its meeting on April 16. The board also selected Evanston resident Martha Burns to serve as vice-chair, and Morton Grove resident Theresa Bashiri-Remetio as secretary.

“I am proud of the progress Oakton has made during my time on the board of trustees, and I look forward to serving as chair,” said Toussaint. “My board colleagues and I will continue to prioritize supporting students as they work toward their educational goals and setting policies that align with our strategic plan’s bold vision of building just and thriving communities. Together we can move mountains, so let's continue to move forward.”

Toussaint began a six-year term as Oakton trustee in 2019. She has been a criminal defense attorney for more than two decades. She is deeply committed to offering affordable secondary education programs that can increase employability, reduce the cycle of poverty, reduce crime and recidivism and create positive role models.

Toussaint earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a paralegal certificate from Roosevelt University, and a juris doctorate from John Marshall Law School. She is an active member of the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a member and co-founder of the Haitian American Lawyers Association, and president of the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti.

Prior to the restructuring, trustee Wendy B. Yanow, Ed.D., Evanston, served as the board’s chair, Gail Bush, Ph.D., Evanston, as vice chair, and William Stafford, Evanston, as board secretary. Oakton’s seven-member board of trustees also includes Benjamin Salzberg, Glenview.

Franklin Ocaña II will serve as the student trustee of the Oakton College Board of Trustees. Courtesy of Oakton College

Franklin Ocaña II joins the board as a student trustee, having been elected by Oakton’s student body to serve a one-year term in this role.

Ocaña was recently named the Oakton College Student Employee of the Year for his work with the Emory Williams Academy for Black Men, a program designed to support the success of Oakton's Black male-identifying students. He is pursuing an associate in fine arts and is strongly interested in ceramics. He hopes to transfer to Northwestern University or Loyola University, Chicago.

“I believe in the power of education,” said Ocaña. ” I look forward to advocating for students on both campuses (Des Plaines and Skokie) and being the voice for them on the board.”

Ocaña is active in student life at Oakton, participating in the Emory Williams Academy for Black Men, ¡ANDALE! (Association to Nurture and Develop the Advancement of Latino/a/x Students in Education) and Honors Society programs. In addition, he is the founder of Liberation Artists Club at Oakton and a member of the Student Government Association.

For information about the Oakton Board of Trustees, visit

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