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District 215 Board appoints Charles Townsend to fill vacated seat

LANSING, Ill. (October 24, 2023) – Last month’s announcement of an open Board seat resulted in eight valid inquiries expressing interest in filling the position. After a review of resumés and letters of interest, two waves of candidate interviews, and a Board vote, Lansing resident Charles Townsend has officially been appointed. At the regular District 215 Board meeting on Tuesday, October 24, Townsend accepted the board’s unanimous vote and then read the required oath of office.

Townsend’s passion was noticeable as he read, in part, “I shall strive to work together with the district superintendent to lead the school district toward fulfilling the vision the board has created, fostering excellence for every student in the areas of academic skills, knowledge, citizenship, and personal development.”

Support from family and fraternity

The board room was unusually full for the meeting, as members of Townsend’s lodge attended to show their support. During the time the board was in closed session before their vote, the masons chatted with each other and expressed their pride in Townsend for this newest form of community service he has chosen to undertake.

Charles Townsend (yellow tie) was surrounded by fellow members of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge State of Illinois – Ashler Lodge #139, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry PHA Northern Jurisdiction – Western Consistory #28, Commanders of the Rite, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., who attended the District 215 Board meeting to watch his appointment. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Townsend’s wife Sia was also present. She considers board service a logical extension of the family’s involvement in District 215, following the graduation of their daughter from TF South.

Sia and Charles Townsend are proud of the quality education their daughter received in Lansing and happy to give back to the community through service on the District 215 Board. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Charles Townsend (left) reads the board member oath of service while his wife and fraternity brothers document the moment. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Qualified to serve

In addition to meeting the basic qualifications for service — U.S. citizenship, residency in the district, voter registration, and at least 18 years of age — Townsend brings a combination of relevant education and experience to board membership. He earned a degree in Sociology from Illinois State University and is a Construction Initiatives Program Manager with the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership. His community service roles have given him opportunities in workforce development, career coaching, service delivery, and training opportunities for job seekers through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

In his letter of interest regarding the board seat, Townsend said, “I have come to know and love this community for its open and wonderful display of socio-economic diversity. This is a beautiful community for families to live and grow. In these challenged economic times, I feel compelled to perform my civic duties and assist in any way possible, to ensure a better quality of life.”

Full board

It was August 30 when health difficulties forced then-Board President Rich Dust to step down as president. At that time he was hoping to continue as a board member. However, on September 19 Dust made the decision to resign altogether, “with deep regret.” In an email to the district, Dust said he considered it an honor to represent community members. He served for 15 years until “my current health situation will not allow me to continue to carry out my duties as a board member.”

Dust had most recently been elected in 2021, and Townsend will now complete that term, which ends in April of 2025.

The full District 215 Board of Education includes, from left, Andrea Ballard. (Secretary), Marcie Wilson (Vice President), Dominique Newman, Charles Townsend, Patricia Stepp (President), Interim Superintendent John Robinzine, Jackie Terrazas, and Diana Jackson. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

District 215 serves the students of Burnham, Calumet City, Lansing, and Lynwood at TF North High School, TF South High School, TF Center for Academics and Technology, and TF Center for Alternative Learning. The mission of District 215 is to provide diverse learning opportunities that inspire all students to become life-long learners who contribute to their community.

The D215 Committee of the Whole meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. Regular Board meetings are generally held on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. Meetings are held at the TF Center for Academics & Technology, located at 1605 Wentworth Avenue, Calumet City, Illinois.

More information about school board member duties is available in the Illinois Association of School Boards’ “School Board Governance Basics” PDF.


Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.


  1. Congratulations to Mr. Townsend and the Board for having the insight in selecting him to join. He exemplifies service excellence and thoughtfulness especially when dealing with those most in need in our community!

  2. Congratulations to Mr. Townsend. He has some wonderful people on the board to work with and seems very well qualified for the position. I am sure he will do his best to help District 215 move forward toward more excellence in the future.

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