Preston Kendall, President
Preston Kendall is president of Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep. He was part of the leadership team that founded the original Cristo Rey school in 1996: Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago. As its vice-president, he filled the responsibilities of CFO and Director of Cristo Rey’s innovative Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP).
In 2004 he left to become the first full-time employee of the Cristo Rey Network, formed to replicate the school model, and made possible by generous grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Cassin Educational Initiative Foundation. After helping open the first 19 network schools across the U.S., Kendall left the network to be part of the founding team of its 20th school, Christ the King Jesuit High School on Chicago’s west side. He served as the Vice President for Corporate Internships for both Christ the King and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School from 2007 to 2011, running a single CWSP that served more than 900 students.
In September 2011, Kendall was tapped to serve as President and lead a turn around effort at its school in Waukegan, IL, St. Martin de Porres High School, now Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep.
Previously, Kendall worked in the insurance and financial services sector. He was Washington National Financial Services’ Vice-President when he left to start Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. Kendall has a BA in English and Writing from Northwestern University and a Masters of Management from its Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
Michelle Mehlis, Director for The Corporate Work Study Program
Michelle Mehlis joined Cristo Rey St. Martin as the Director of the Corporate Work Study Program in June 2016; she brings a background in educational program management and corporate search and staff development with her.
As a former consultant with the Evanston/Skokie School District 65, she was a designer and program manager for Everybody Reads and Math Is FUNdamental. Her extensive corporate experience includes roles as Co-Founder of Chrysalis Investments, LLC, a business focused on revitalizing distressed residential properties in Evanston; Risk Manager and Trader for Denali Trading LLC, a global options market maker; and Principal for Desaulniers MacLeod Ltd., a Chicago-based IT Search firm.
Mehlis is passionate about helping people reach their full potential, as well as helping organizations identify, acquire, and develop talent. Her focus is creating systemic change that enables staff and students to practice and refine the skills needed for maximum professional success and fulfillment.
She attended the Harvard School of Continuing Education, is a graduate of Pomona College, and studied abroad at Oxford University in England. Mehlis is a frequent volunteer for the Evanston/Skokie School District 65, a part of the Cradle to Career Collective Impact Initiative, and an Alumni Admissions Interviewer for her alma mater, Pomona College.
Michael Odiotti, Principal
Michael Odiotti, the principal of Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep, joined the school in 2008. His career and research interests revolve around leadership, urban education, and systems thinking. Odiotti began his teaching career at Dom Savio High School in East Boston where he taught history and business for six years before moving into administration. From 2004 to 2008 he worked as an assistant principal in the Boston Public Schools system under the guidance of Elliot Stern, a professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, who influenced his approach to generating and sustaining adaptive change within organizations. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management documented Odiotti and CRSM’s teaching team in its case study, “Creating a Culture of Empowerment and Accountability at St. Martin de Porres High School”.
Odiotti earned his B.S. in Finance from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management in 1996 and his M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis on Leadership, from Boston College’s Lynch School of Education in 1998. He earned his Doctorate of Education Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015.
Charlie Pullin, Chief Financial Officer
Charlie Pullin became our Chief Financial Officer in June 2016. He brings over 25 years of corporate financial experience to our school, having served as the Chief Financial Officer of various organizations located in Brazil, Mongolia, Australia, Western Europe and the United States. In addition to holding financial and executive roles in the telecommunications, mining, pediatric therapy and food packaging industries, more recently Pullin owned a math learning center where he developed the desire to serve students’ educational needs. Pullin received both his Bachelor of Science in Management and Master of Business Administration from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. He is a Certified Public Accountant and a Chartered Global Management Accountant, and is a USSF soccer referee.
Kristen Watson, Director of Development
Kristen Watson joined our school as Director of Job Acquisition in support of the Corporate Work Study Program in January 2012. In March of 2013, Watson expanded her role to become a member of the school’s Leadership Team as Director of Development. Watson has family roots in Waukegan and is a graduate of Carmel Catholic High School. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Georgetown University and a Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Her professional experience includes both business to business sales roles as well as business development roles. Watson was first exposed to the Cristo Rey model of education in the early days of the first Cristo Rey school, where she served on the Executive Committee of the VIVA! fundraiser for Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, IL from 2000 to 2003.