Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees of Harrington College of Design is comprised of seven recognized leaders across various industries who lend their professional experience and credentials in support of Harrington’s mission to create the next generation of design professionals to lead and serve the global community.

Janet Blutter Shiff, ASIDM

Janet Blutter Janet Blutter-Shiff, president of Blutter/Shiff Design Associates, has provided residential and commercials interior design services throughout the United States for more than 30 years. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin and completed her interior design education at Harrington. To enhance her design skills and technique, she studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Janet is a recognized professional in the design community, frequently asked to participate on industry discussion panels nationwide. She has appeared on the House & Garden cable network and on the Discovery Channel. Her work has been published in trade magazines and consumer publications.

Blutter Shiff Design Associates was first established in 1958, by Janet’s mother and partner, Joan Blutter. Their firm has been located in the Merchandise Mart for more than 50 years.

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    Carlos Martinez, AIA, FIIDA, LEED AP

    Carlos Martinez Carlos Martinez is a firm-wide design director for Gensler and has over 20 years of diverse experience in architecture, design and business strategy consulting. Praised by peers and press alike both locally and nationally, Carlos is widely acknowledged as one of the industry's most innovative and influential designers. He is passionate about design and adept in the creation of memorable spaces that promote collaboration, enhance communication and elevate productivity.

    In addition to his former leadership roles at other prominent design firms, Carlos' expertise and perspective was also shaped by his years of experience with Doblin, a Chicago management consulting firm specializing in innovation strategy. Doblin's think-tank model of multi-disciplinary collaboration has deeply influenced Carlos' work as a designer, showing him new approaches to furthering his clients' business goals.

    Carlos devotes himself to community service. He is a past chairman of the Board of Directors for DIFFA Chicago. In addition, he serves on Board of Trustees of the Chicago Architecture Foundation and as president of the Condominium Board of a historic Holabird & Roche 19th Century building, located in a landmark district of Chicago’s Gold Coast.

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    Mitchell Obstfeld - Chair of the Board

    Mitchell Obstfeld Mitchell (Mitch) Obstfeld. As founder and president of i4design Media, Inc. he has successfully launched an award-winning magazine and website focused on the business-to-business side of architecture and design in the Midwest as well as producing numerous private-label magazines for clients in the design industry. Most recently, Mr. Obstfeld has launched a procurement services company, i4design Procurement Services giving full support to Architects and Interior designers by providing FF&E from Europe; fully furnishing and procuring high–end custom home designs, restaurants, resorts, hotels, cruise ships, schools, universities, airports and commercial buildings.

    Prior to founding i4design Media, Mr. Obstfeld was a senior manager for several media companies publishing regionally focused, business-to-business trade and/or consumer magazines in niche markets worldwide and has been responsible for developing and procuring contract publishing projects for special events, show programs and consumer and B2B publications nationwide for clients such as The W Hotel Group and the Hilton Corporation.

    In addition to serving on the Board of Trustees for Harrington College of Design, Mr. Obstfeld was an executive board and founding member of the Asia Pacific Federation of Architects and Interior Designers, Senior Consultant to the International Creative Design Festival (Shanghai) and has served on the board of directors for Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids (DIFFA) and a board member of Designs For Dignity, a program of Heartland Alliance.

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    Thomas H. Segal

    Thomas Segal Thomas (Tom) H. Segal received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a Master’s of Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He worked in the architectural field prior to making the transition to interior design in 1992. Tom was senior designer at Paul Granata Interiors from 1993 to 1995 and began his own firm in 1995. After collaborating on a few projects with designer David Kaufman, Tom and David realized that their backgrounds and styles complemented one another very well, bringing the perfect mix of traditional and contemporary, conservative and expressive. In 1996 they merged firms, and Kaufman Segal Design was formed.

    Kaufman Segal Design, located in Chicago’s River North, specializes in high-end residential and commercial interiors with innovative design solutions that enhance architecture, landscape and client lifestyle.

    Kaufman Segal Design was selected as one of Chicago’s hottest designers in 2006 by the Chicago Merchandise Mart Design Center for their luxury kitchen design featured in the 2006 Dream Home in the Chicago Merchandise Mart. Previous awards include the Vox/Out Magazine Voices of Style and Design Award in 2004 and the Fashion Group International Style Makers and Rule Breakers Award in 2000. Projects have been featured in Shelter, New York Times Chicago Life Magazine, Chicago Social, Robb Report, Midwest Home, Traditional Home, North Shore Magazine, HGTV and CS Magazine.

    Tom is actively involved in the Chicago community. He previously served as Vice President on the Howard Brown Health Center Board of Directors and is past Chairman for the Harrington College of Design Board of Trustees.

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    Gretchen Frickx

    Gretchen Frickx  Gretchen Frickx, EdD is a higher educational professional with over 20 years of experience in design education.  She is Campus Director and the Accreditation Liaison Officer to the Higher Learning Commission for Harrington College of Design.  Gretchen holds a doctorate in Higher Education Administration and Organization Change from Benedictine University.  She also holds a master’s degree in from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy.  She completed her undergraduate work at George Washington University with a BA in History and worked for the White House in the Office of National AIDS Policy and was instrumental in producing materials for the Federal Workplace AIDS Education Initiative. 

    Relocating to Illinois from DC, Gretchen began working at Harrington and fused her passion for education with design.  Gretchen joined Harrington in 1995 in the Office of Admissions, holding various positions including Director of Student Management and Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Director of Academic Affairs and Director of Academic Services.  As a senior examiner and team leader for Illinois Performance Excellence, Illinois’ Baldrige program, Gretchen brings a passion for continuous improvement to Harrington.

    In her spare time, Gretchen gives tours at Oak Park’s Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, travels, reads and spends time with her family.

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    Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP

    Cheryl S. DurstIn her role as Executive Vice President and CEO of IIDA, Cheryl Durst maintains overall responsibility for guiding the efforts of the 13,000-Member Association. She leads the Board and Members of IIDA, championing and elevating the profession of Interior Design and its practitioners. In 2001, in recognition of Durst’s many accomplishments within the Association and in the industry at large, the IIDA Board of Directors conferred upon her the status of Honorary Member. She became the Association’s first and only Honorary Fellow in 2009.

    A sought-after speaker on the future of Design and other explorations into Design, Cheryl has spoken before or moderated panels for groups ranging from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Library Association (ALA) to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). Durst sits on the Advisory Board for the Kent State University College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED), where she provides curriculum feedback in addition to supporting their Diversity Committee and offering a firm voice for Interior Design. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID), where she delivered the 2011 commencement address, and has been referred to by Interior Design magazine as “an ambassador for innovation and expansion, and a visionary strategist.”

    Cheryl is a former Docent for the Museum of African Art and Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, and is an active member of the Organization of Black Designers. She is past President of the Kohl Children’s Museum Women’s Board. She is a graduate of Boston University, where she received dual bachelors in Print Journalism and Economics. Cheryl is a LEED-accredited professional and a past Executive Board Member of the Chicago Chapter of the US Green Buildings Council.

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