MEET OUR TEAM


James Smith

James Smith - President

James joined Chess Scholars/Afterschool Enrichment Solutions in July 2018. Before acquiring the firm, James worked in financial services for over 20 years. During his tenure at companies like Ariel Investments, Goldman Sachs, MFS, and Procter and Gamble, he consistently served education-focused institutions including board service for the Chicago Children’s Museum, Talladega College, and the Ariel Community Academy (Local School Council). James received his Bachelor of Science and Engineering in 1992 from Princeton University and in 1998 he graduated from Northwestern University where he received an MBA and a Master’s in Engineering. Away from the company, James enjoys precious time with family, golf, and he longs for the next Chicago Bears Super Bowl victory.


John Suits

John Suits - Operations Manager

John is a class A chess player and an expert guitarist. He is a very experienced chess coach, having taught with Chess Scholars for about ten years before becoming an Operations Manager in 2011. John is also fluent in Spanish and enjoys languages and history.


Matthew Schultz

Matthew Schultz - Software Engineer / Curriculum Specialist

Matt is a former chess instructor, with a passion for chess and engineering, joining the Chess Scholars team full time in 2015. Matt brings over 15 years as an experienced software engineer, specializing in user-first, data-driven web and mobile application development. When he isn't writing software or engineering curriculum for Chess Scholars and AES, Matt is an avid musician, an obsessed wood and metalworker, a Chicago Cubs fan, a martial artist, a motorcycle enthusiast, and an experimental pilot.


Paul Szuster

Paul Szuster - Operations Manager

Paul has been with Afterschool Enrichment Solutions since 2013. Initially starting as an instructor, he quickly grew into his current role as one of our Operations Managers. He is experienced in understanding the importance of class management and incorporating positive incentives in the process of youth learning. Paul enjoys analyzing calculated investment in the stock market on his free time as well analyzing new efficient ways to develop our children's minds while at work.


Agustin Celentano

Agustin Celentano - Client Services Manager

Agustin is a class A chess player and taught classes with Chess Scholars before joining the office staff. He is from Argentina, which explains both his fluency in Spanish and his passion for soccer. Other interests include philosophy, logic, and biking.


Nicole Borchers

Nicole Borchers - Program Coordinator

Nicole began working for Chess Scholars/Afterschool Enrichment Solutions in February 2016. Before coming to Chess Scholars, Nicole worked in Recreation for a number of years, with positions ranging from Camp Counselor, Intern, Preschool Teacher up to Recreation Supervisor. She received her Bachelor's of Science in Exercise Science in 2005 from Truman State University with an emphasis is Sports/Recreation Management and Minor in Business Administration. When Nicole is not working hard for Chess Scholars, she is watching Netflix or hockey (Go Blackhawks!), going to concerts or singing with her brother-in-law's band, where her husband is the bassist as well.