About the Founder

Maureen Black | Founder of Black Bear Academy – Chicago Private
Maureen Black | Founder of Black Bear Academy – Chicago Private

Maureen Black, after living in Dallas for many years, moved back home in 1987. She received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. She then moved to Chicago with her new husband, Kevin Black, in the winter of 1989 where he attended the MBA program at the University of Chicago.

In 1990, they started a company called Clinical Assist with the goal of providing speech therapy services to Chicago area schools, hospitals, pediatric clinics, and TBI programs. The first year, being the only unpaid employee, Maureen worked 12-14 hour days, seven days a week for a solid year. Kevin, the income-earner, accepted a position in the airline industry where he worked for twelve years during the day and at Clinical Assist at night in their tiny one-bedroom apartment.

In 2002, after both 9-11 and the birth of their son Colin, Kevin joined Clinical Assist full-time. The concept of Black Bear was developed many years prior to its establishment, but having an 18-month old and being unwilling to leave him with others, the concept was quickly put into motion.

In June 2003, Black Bear Academy began in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood as a pilot program. They started out in 1400 square feet on Irving Park and Hermitage with three employees.

Maureen served as the Executive Program Director and consulted with families, schools, and therapists regarding service provision at both Black Bear Academy and external programs to support the success of the Black Bear students as they transition into other city programs.

Additionally, in the fall of 2009, after 20 years in business, Maureen and Kevin Black stopped operations at Clinical Assist, Ltd. in order to continue their research and continuous improvements in their primary area of focus, Black Bear Academy.

Sadly, Maureen was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in 2012. She struggled with declining health through a double lung transplant in 2016. She passed away in November 2019. Her legacy lives on through Black Bear Academy.

Both long term and short term goals of the company will remain on the quality of the programming, maintaining the excellence of the professional staff through rigorous direct training and offering caregiver training for Black Bear families and external consultants in our new training center designed to serve all of the programs at Black Bear Academy.