Executive Committee


E. Bernard Jennings

Executive Director



Mr. E. Bernard Jennings serves as the Executive Director of Lawndale Business Renaissance Association, having taken a role in its formation. Prior to assuming this role, he worked eleven years as Vice-President of Industrial Programs for Lawndale Business and Local Development Corporation on Chicago’s Westside.

For over a decade, Mr. Jennings has proven himself in economic development by having completed over $70 million in projects. He has demonstrated his ability to analyze and interpret the industrial needs and concerns of companies in the Western/Ogden and Roosevelt/Cicero industrial corridors. Mr. Jennings is competent in the use of economic development incentives and programs available from the city, county, state and federal government.

Before joining Lawndale Business and Local Development Corporation, Mr. Jennings was the Business Development Manager for Shore Staffing Works, an affiliate of Shore Bank where he worked collaboratively with the Mayor’s Office (Chicago) on Workforce Development.

Other Professional Accomplishments and Community Involvement:

  • Advisory Board of the U.S. 7th Congressional District’s Economic Development Taskforce
  • African American Advisory Board member for U.S. Senator Mark Kirk
  • Economic Development Advisory Board member – Current and past two State of Illinois Treasurers
  • Advisory Board for Small Business Development under Mayor Daley’s administration
  • Past Advisory Board member for the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Licensing
  • Advisory Board member for the State of Illinois Comptroller
  • Founding member of Government Partnership for Economic Development (GPED)
  • Guest speaker and judge for the SBA Emerge 200 classes

Education and Professional Development:

In addition to holding a B.S. degree in Marketing from Northern Illinois University, Mr. Jennings has completed all courses for his MBA from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. In addition to his collegiate studies, Mr. Jennings has received certification in the following areas:

  • Economic Development – Southern Illinois University
  • International Trade by the State of Illinois – Bradley University
  • Construction Project Management by ReHab Network – University of Illinois – Chicago
  • Certified by the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity as a Small Business Advisor – Illinois State University


Mr. Jennings is married and resides in Chicago, Illinois.

Executive Committee

Eric Lindsay

Board Chair


Eric J. Lindsay is the owner of the E. Lindsay Agency of American Family Insurance.

The agency specializes in providing insurance protection for individuals and small businesses.Prior to opening his insurance agency, Eric held positions in retail sales and social services. His most recent employment was with Rush University Medical Center, where he served as the Coordinator in the Community Affairs Department. This position entailed bringing resources from the medical center to the community. In collaboration with companies that did business with the medical center, they implemented math and science programs in schools, churches and community youth centers with the goal of increasing the aptitude of students in these two disciplines.Eric is a well respected business owner and resident of the North Lawndale Community. He has served on a number of community boards and committees. Mr. Lindsay is currently the Chairman of the Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago–North Lawndale and a member of the Lawndale Business and Local Development Corporation Board of Directors. He is a member of the Chicago Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, where he is the Chairman of the Membership Committee. Some of his volunteer activities include: Real Men Read, mentoring to high school males at the Air Force Academy High School, and Career Day speaker at Manley High School.Born in Chicago, Illinois July 7, 1958, Eric graduated from Quigley North Seminary in 1976. He subsequently obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Illinois University.

Eric is married to Sandretta Lindsay and they have two adult daughters, Jasmine and Erica.


  • Northern Illinois University, BS- Family Social Services
  • NIU Black Alumni Council Member
  • All American Award Qualifier
  • Life Diamond Award Qualifier
  • Past Board Member of Family Focus
  • North Lawndale Business of the Year

Darren DeMatoff

Vice Board Chair

Darren DeMatoff is the owner of Gold Leaf Design Group, Inc. Gold Leaf Design Group designs and produces original decorative elements inspired by nature. Their work can be found at hotels, casinos and restaurants worldwide, and are available for purchase on a consumer level through their network of independent retailers across the country.

Evan Birnbaum


Evan Birnbaum is Vice president of Charter Steel Trading a Carbon Flat Rolled steel service center that specializes in slit coil, cut to length sheet metal, blanks and shearing applications. Charter Steel services a wide range of customers in the automotive business, HVAC, agriculture, mechanical tubing, racking systems, and home appliances. Evan is the 2nd generation to work at Charter which was started by his father Gary Birnbaum in 1976. Currently, Evan and Gary work together to ensure continued success of the family business which takes great honor in employing roughly 100 people most of whom are from the Lawndale area.


  • University of Kansas where he received degrees in business and history

Tom Ragen


CEO Color Communications

  • Restored Chicago division to profitability despite impact of Covid
  • Chicago had no lost time accidents in 2021 for first time in over a decade
  • Led international entities to growth through sales enablement process

President and CEO of Precision Dialogue

  • Guided strategic transformation from direct mail company to integrated marketing services company
  • Initiated two acquisitions and directed integrations to increase profitability
  • Successful sale to RR Donnelly

Senior VP at Quebecor World

  • Led company in lowest incidence rate across his 3 facilities – 600 employees of $5b company

Ragen and Ragen

  • Consulted with Fetter Printing – largest client was Benjamin Moore
  • Led Strategic planning process that led to transformation of company

Chief Operating Office – Smyth Companies

  • Led company in turn around effort that realized profit in year 1 for first time in 3 years

Group President Fort Dearborn Company

  • Led facilities that produced labels for paint customers including Sherwin Williams, Valspar, PPG
  • Set 75 yr. old company records for no lost time and incidence rate while leading $120mm business unit

Stacy Pegues

Project Manager