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 start 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.
Kevin, after leaving the airline industry, serves as the CFO and administrator for payroll and benefits, accounting, and all of the Bear’s financial records. Black Bear currently has a staff of 36 professionals with a variety of academic backgrounds and skill sets to support all three of our programs to be the absolute best in the city!
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. Both long term and short term goals 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.
As you know, this work is important for all of us. It truly does represent the model of how to facilitate the most effective neurological development for our children in their first seven years of life. The first seven years, when 90% of our brains are constructed.
One can only imagine the impact that our children will have on our world, later in their lives. They will be the future doctors, scientists, the architects, and the leaders, bringing our country, our world, through difficult times and beyond. Your support on a daily basis at Black Bear is appreciated. Your kind words to staff, your smiles to other families, volunteering, your understanding and compassion of the difficulty of others, represents your grace and the family community we hope to continue to foster. Most of all, your willingness to stand for what you know to be right and good in an educational environment, your participation in our afternoon programs, your positive representation to others, supports all of us as we create an energetic and influential Black Bear parent community. This character speaks to the quality of our families, staff and the strength of our convictions.
A heartfelt and sincere thank you,
Maureen, Kevin, and Colin Black