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Board of Education

The Board of Education consists of seven elected officials who each serve a four-year term. These are unpaid, volunteer positions. Board elections are held during the month of April as part of the consolidated election cycle in odd numbered years.

The Board welcomes your questions and greatly values your feedback. If you would like to send a message to all Board members, as well as the Superintendent of Schools, please fill out the form below.

Please note, if the topic of the message is a question that can be answered by a member of the administrative staff, the message will be referred to the appropriate person for a response. Board members regularly read through their emails and it is important to note that lack of immediate action or a direct response following your message does not imply a lack of interest in what is being shared.

Meet the Board

Robin Cleek, President

Board President Robin Cleek

Elected 2015, 2019, 2023

Robin Cleek attended Hawthorn schools as a child and returned to reside in Vernon Hills with her husband in 2004. She has three children, the youngest of which attends a Hawthorn school. Over the past several years she has volunteered at various PTO events and weekly in the classroom. In addition to serving on the Hawthorn District 73 School Board, she also is a Court Appointed Special Advocate with CASA Lake County. Robin has a Bachelor of Science in Child & Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin and a Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She currently stays home with her children but still practices law when called upon by family and friends. She ran for the school board because she is passionate about education, and being an advocate for children.

Wes Polen, Vice President

Board Vice President Wes Polen

Elected 2017, 2021

Wes Polen resides in Vernon Hills with her husband, Scott, and their two children, both of whom are enrolled at Hawthorn District 73. She actively participates in the Hawthorn community by volunteering at various PTO and school events, coaching 1st and 2nd grade basketball, serving as a Girl Scouts Brownie Troop Parent Volunteer and volunteering as a Midwest Young Artist Conservatory parent volunteer. Wes holds a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences from the University of Southern California, and a Master of Business Administration from Keller Graduate School of Management. She is currently a chief operating officer for a government relations consulting firm in Chicago. Wes ran for the School Board because she believes ALL Hawthorn students should receive a high-quality education from top-notch educators, regardless of their abilities or background.

George Fievet, Secretary

Elected 2019, 2023

George Fievet currently serves as Vice President, Software Engineering for AIM Specialty Health in Deerfield, Illinois, where he has held multiple positions over the years. George earned a Bachelor of Science in computer engineering from Iowa State University, and a Master of Business Administration with a specialization in organizational behavior from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He and his wife, Julie, have lived in Vernon Hills for more than 15 years. They have two sons who both attend a school in Hawthorn District 73. He is active with the Boy Scouts of America, presently serving as the Cubmaster for Cub Scout Pack 273 in Vernon Hills. George ran for the School Board because of a desire to serve and help make our community the best possible place to live and learn.

Karl Borchers

Board Member Karl Borchers

Elected 2021

Karl Borchers lives in Vernon Hills with his wife and three young children, the oldest of which began school at Hawthorn District 73 in the Fall of 2021. He works in Human Resources at Abbott Laboratories, earned his Bachelor's Degrees in Biology and Psychology from Lake Forest College, and a Master of Business Administration from Loyola University Chicago. He is passionate about the future of Hawthorn District 73, saying, "I’m invested in the future of our schools and our community; being a member of the Board provides the opportunity to leverage my personal and professional experiences, as well as my perspective as a parent of young children, to help with the challenges of today and in setting the direction for our future success."

Michael Engle

Elected 2021

Michael is a Hawthorn District 73 graduate having moved to Vernon Hills in 1984. He now resides in Mundelein with his wife and three children, two of which attend District 73 schools. Michael currently works in sales for a marketing company in the West Loop. Outside of work, he enjoys baseball, hockey, traveling, being outdoors, and spending time with family, friends and neighbors. When asked why he ran for the board, Michael says, "It is an opportunity to share my time and give back to the community and school district that I grew up in, and work to provide/maintain a quality public education for current and future students."

Joel Finfer

Elected 2019, 2023

A resident of Vernon Hills, Joel Finfer is retired from a four-decade career in sales and marketing. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Northern Illinois University and brings 30 years of passionate advocacy for public education to the Hawthorn District 73 Board. Currently, Mr. Finfer serves on the District 73 Site and Facilities Committee and is the District representative to ED-RED, an 81-school district public education advocacy group. In addition, Joel sits on the ED-RED Executive Board as its Chairman. The titles he holds most dear are husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather.

Julie Clifford

Elected 2023

Julie Clifford resides in Libertyville with her husband and their two children, both who attend Hawthorn District 73.  She has lived in the district for 12 years observing education as a cornerstone of the community as well as a key value in her home. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Illinois State University, and a Master of Business Administration from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. Julie works remotely as an eCommerce Brand Manager for Church & Dwight out of Ewing, NJ. She is excited to join the board as she is eager to contribute her energy, knowledge, and dedication to ensure our schools continue to thrive and provide the highest quality education for our students.

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