At its annual meeting, Polk Bros. Foundation Board of Directors appointed Ellen Multack as a Board member. Multack becomes the newest member of the private, independent Foundation’s Board, which expands to nine members with her appointment.
“As Polk Bros. Foundation continues work toward its vision of an equitable, thriving Chicago, we are delighted to welcome Ellen to our Board,” said Sandra Guthman, chair of Polk Bros. Foundation’s Board of Directors. “Ellen’s strong Polk family ties, understanding of the family history and values and her professional background will add a valuable perspective to our work.”
Multack is an instructional assistant with Township High School District 113 in Deerfield, Ill. She supports student learning across a number of classrooms, with a special focus on students who have learning disabilities or who are on the autism spectrum. She also serves as a job coach for students who participate in the school’s special education program and who are placed in jobs within the school and within the community. In addition to her role with the district, Multack serves as president and previously secretary of the Polk Family Charitable Fund, a separate, small private family foundation. Multack is a daughter of Samuel Polk, one of the original Polk siblings who founded the Polk Bros retail stores.
“My dad, his brothers and sister all felt Chicago gave them wonderful opportunities. The many ways the Foundation is giving back to ensure all Chicagoans still have access to similar possibilities would make them very proud,” said Multack. “I am grateful to become part of Polk Bros. Foundation’s Board. Every organization the Foundation supports is so impressive because their work touches on an overwhelming diversity of what’s needed in Chicago right now.”
Multack began working in the Polk Bros retail stores during high school, and fondly recalled, “My family would do whatever they could do to help their customers. ‘No’ was never a word in their vocabulary.” After she earned her environmental design degree from Syracuse University, she returned to the stores as a salesperson and soon began marketing and interior design for the stores and their customers — something her aunt, Goldie Bachmann Luftig, had previously managed. She went on to establish her own interior design practice, and also worked for a period of time in advertising.
“We look forward to working with Ellen as the Foundation explores ways to help Chicago’s communities heal after the pandemic and to address longstanding and systemic racial inequities in our city,” said Polk Bros. Foundation CEO Gillian Darlow. “The legacy of the Polk Bros stores and the many ways the original Polk siblings gave back to Chicago continue to infuse our approach to grantmaking today.”
In addition to Multack and Guthman, Polk Bros. Foundation Board of Directors members are: