Niles Township Supervisor Bonnie Kahn Ognisanti is a graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University, where she studied social and public policy. She has been a Niles Township resident since 2007, residing in the village of Skokie.
Bonnie was appointed trustee in 2017 and became Niles Township Supervisor in 2020.
Bonnie is a strong believer that social and civic participation leads to vibrant and thriving communities. She invites collaboration and fellowship with community members, other stakeholders, and the Niles Township Board and staff.
This collaboration was hard at work during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic through a Niles Township led enterprise to ensure that families receiving free and reduced lunch at our local schools would have access to increased groceries when the schools closed in March of 2020. With the support of our village governments and school districts, Bonnie and Niles Township Food Pantry Manager Tony Araque devised a contactless, drive-up system to deliver necessary food, masks, and toiletries to hundreds of residents weekly.
She is especially fond of including youth in her work and creates community service opportunities for students whenever feasible. She initiated a Kindness Counts campaign that runs in multiple Niles Township schools to encourage upstanding and anti-bullying behavior. Under her leadership, Niles Township developed a scholarship for graduating seniors interested in township government that wish to attend an Illinois Public University.
Bonnie’s passion to build equity in education can be seen through her efforts to create meaningful pathways to ameliorating socio-economic hardship for the families attending Niles Township schools. She spearheaded an intergovernmental agreement with numerous school districts to ensure that families with school children facing eviction would receive financial assistance to help them keep their homes and allow their children to stay in school, without interrupting their education. This IGA also helps to pay for mental and behavioral health services, summer camp, and child care for area students in an effort to provide all children with equal opportunities and chances of success in their educational careers. Further, through her increased efforts to fundraise, the township delivers thousands of fully supplied, high quality backpacks to students receiving free and reduced lunch.
Recognizing a need for a dignified space for community members experiencing homelessness, Bonnie successfully advocated for a daytime Respite Center. The Niles Township Respite Center, located in a former school building of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Skokie, provides a safe and welcoming space to use storage lockers, wash clothing, take showers, get a meal, relax and work with social workers. The Respite Center opened in the fall of 2022 and has provided another avenue to uplifting and giving dignity to those in need and to the broader community by expanding an ethos of care and fellowship.
An avid gardener, Bonnie designed and organized volunteers to help plant a certified Monarch Waystation on the grounds of Niles Township Government to help protect endangered Monarch butterflies. Additionally, she leads a community grown, organic, vegetable garden to provide fresh produce for the Niles Township Food Pantry. She also started a composting program to turn unused food from the food pantry into garden soil.
As part of her Township work, she oversees the General Assistance program which includes the Niles Township Child Care and Summer Camp Scholarship program. Bonnie is also actively involved in advocating for policy changes at the state level that would empower townships across the state to offer more services for the unique needs of their residents.
Her long history of volunteer work includes tutoring children in English through the RegfugeeOne organization, leading her daughter’s Girl Scout troop and teaching Sunday school.
She founded the Sandra Kahn Cartwright Hospice Residence Fund to honor her mother in 2016 with the support of her three siblings. The Cartwright Fund helps those in need of 24 hour Hospice care receive it, despite financial hardship.
Bonnie has been active in the PTA of her daughter’s school at Skokie School District 68. She also serves as a deputy voter registrar and has hosted multiple voter registration drives and “Get Out the Vote” efforts.
She served on the Townships of Cook County Trustees board in the office of secretary, making connections and learning about the important work of other townships throughout the county.
In celebration of her birthday in March, Bonnie hosts a campaign to collect menstrual products for the clients of the Niles Township Food Pantry, in an effort to end period poverty and ensure that what is a normal, monthly occurrence never impedes the goals and aspirations of girls and women.
Bonnie is the proud mother of three wonderful children (and two very good dogs).