Meet our Keynote Speaker Jenné Myers Chief Executive Officer Chicago Cares Jenné Myers is a lifelong volunteer who has converted her passion into a successful career. She currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Cares, the city’s premier volunteer service organization. For 25 years, Chicago Cares has fostered leadership and civic engagement among an entire generation of Chicagoans. Now, Myers’ charge is to focus on the next generation. In her time with the organization, she has worked to expand Chicago Cares’ reach and impact. She has led her team to develop innovative programming that meets critical community needs; diversified revenue streams with new funding models; developed an auxiliary board and expanded the existing board; established annual events reaching new audiences; and launched an exciting new brand.
Prior to joining Chicago Cares, Myers was the Senior Director of External Affairs with the YMCA of Metro Chicago, where she helped increase exposure and visibility for the Y by serving as the primary conduit for community and government leaders. Previous to that she served as the first-ever Chief Service Officer for Chicago, where she launched an ambitious effort known as One Good Deed Chicago, a full-scale, integrated awareness campaign around volunteerism.
Myers also served for four years as the Executive Director of Working in the Schools (WITS), a Chicago nonprofit that engages over 1,200 volunteers to serve as tutors and mentors in Chicago Public Schools, served as an assistant to the chair of the Chicago Cultural Center Foundation and served as a member of the advance staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Myers currently sits on the board of The Mikva Challenge and the national Points of Light, where she serves as Chair of their Affiliate Assembly. She is also is a Serve Illinois Commissioner and was selected as a 2017 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow.. She received her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University.
Meet Our Workshop Speakers Donna Adam is the president of Clean Up - Give Back, an organization that she founded after serving on various non-profit boards for over 20 years. She has spent 30-plus years in the corporate world, where she ran a large department in financial services, taught finance courses, and worked to create a team environment. She was a founding member of her company’s Culture Committee, because of her commitment to treating everyone with respect and her desire to make a positive impact on the workplace.
Bethanie Albrecht has been a volunteer coordinator with the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) for six years starting with the LaSalle County Health Department and transitioning in 2018 to the Cook County Department of Public Health. During her time with LaSalle County her MRC unit was awarded a Bronze Presidential Service Award, the Innovator and Photo of the Year Award from the National Medical Reserve Corps Program Office, and a Governor’s Hometown Award from the Serve Illinois Commission. She herself was awarded Outstanding MRC Responder of the Year from the National MRC Program Office. She is the current chair for the MRC of Illinois, an organization that promotes collaboration with MRC leaders throughout the state. She earned her bachelors in Emergency Management from Western Illinois University and her Masters in Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness from Saint Louis University. Kirsten Ballard joined the Alliance for the Great Lakes as Digital Communications Coordinator in January 2019, and brought with her a strong writing and social media background. In her Alliance role, Kirsten partners with staff to develop strategies for engaging social audiences, growing social media, and telling stories. She writes, edits, and designs a broad range of content including personality quizzes, blog posts, and videos. As a communications professional, she is passionate about using storytelling to connect people and drive change. Kirsten came to the Alliance from the News Media Alliance, where she served as the Social Media and blog editor. She previously worked at Washingtonian Media and a small newspaper in North Carolina as a features reporter. She received her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a focus in reporting and minor in creative writing.
Ali Behrens is a Guest Engagement Supervisor at the Shedd Aquarium. Ali started at Shedd recruiting and onboarding volunteers, then added-in working with them day to day in trainings, shift meetings, and mentoring. Ali is a consistent advocate for the capabilities and needs of Shedd’s volunteers and a coach for approximately 150 volunteers in Guest Engagement. She is also a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation. Prior to joining Shedd, Ali completed a year of service with AmeriCorps at Chicago HOPES for Kids, a non-profit that provides an after-school literacy program in homeless shelters. She has extensive experience with volunteers and outreach, including serving as an Associate Board Member with Awakenings, a non-profit whose mission is to make visible the artistic expression of survivors of sexual violence. Ali has a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Communication with a focus in Organization and Human Resources from Elmhurst College.
Paulette Boyd recently joined The BASE of Chicago as their Director of Development. In 2009, she created Inspire – a full spectrum of nonprofit consulting in fundraising, grant writing and nonprofit areas. During her 14 year career at Metropolitan Family Services, she developed creative campaign strategies to grow resources as the United Way Campaign Coordinator and received United Way of Metro Chicago’s first Frances Wisebart Jacobs award and their ambassador speaker of the year award. In 2006, she graduated from the University of Chicago’s Management Fellows Program with the Development Leadership Consortium (DLC). The DLC identifies emerging fundraising leaders and engages them throughout their careers, encouraging their growth into committed, connected leaders of the Chicagoland philanthropic community and beyond. Since 1994, approximately 500 nonprofit professionals have graduated from DLC programs and are now considered alumni. Throughout her non-profit career she has worked with both small and large non-profits, churches and schools in several areas of resource development, including special event galas.
Leslie Crouch is the Director of Events for the American Brain Tumor Association. She has 15 years of experience in fundraising events, and development.
Sarah Davis is a lover of musicals, tattoos and fixing haywire situations. With over 13 years in the nonprofit world, she has gained experience in local, state, and national fundraising, small and large scale volunteer engagement events and creating creative training programs in 3 different nonprofit environments focused on the veteran population. Currently, Sarah works with the American Red Cross where she manages local disasters in Western Maryland and manages Disaster Assessments on national, large scale disasters. Sarah can be found often with her Hula Hoop at many disasters, as she has deployed five times for disaster recovery operations. Most recently, she was assigned to Typhoon Yutu that devastated Saipan in the Northern Marianas Islands, managing volunteers with a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. Sarah has her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and just last year, received her master’s degree in Business Management and Leadership from Western Governors University.
Linda Dean started at the Aurora YMCA as an enthusiastic member who was recruited as a volunteer for special events and to teach fitness and gymnastics. She quickly came to love the YMCA and the work that it does, and decided to pursue a career in the organization. She has held Program Director positions at three YMCAs, and was recognized with the Illinois State YMCA Alliance “Physical Director of the Year Award” and the National Association of YMCA Professionals “Knebel Program Director Award”. As the Operations Director at the Lattof YMCA in Des Plaines, Linda managed the program and membership departments. She also held the Training Director position for the Chicago YMCA Association for ten years, developing and facilitating workshops for both part-time and full-time staff and for volunteers and eventually became the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Director of Volunteerism Linda earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, with minors in Spanish and Physical Education.
Tyrone Dobson is the Volunteer Manager, of the Alliance for the Great Lakes where he oversees all of the Alliance’s volunteer programs. This includes the Chicago Ambassador program, the Alliance’s Chicago Young Professional Councils, and Adopt-a-Beach, which engages over 15,000 volunteers in beach clean-ups across the eight-state Great Lakes region. Prior to joining the Alliance in 2018, Tyrone served as Volunteer Services Manager at Americas’ SAP Users’ Group and Volunteer Engagement Manager at the Center for Economic Progress before that. Tyrone received his bachelor’s degree in communications from University of Tennessee and a master’s in public administration from University of Illinois at Springfield. In addition to his role at the Alliance, Tyrone serves in a volunteer capacity as Vice President of Marketing and Communication for the Association of Volunteer Administrators of Metropolitan Chicago. Tyrone is from Tennessee – the Volunteer State – and has a deep passion for volunteerism is in his blood. He is driven by the belief that volunteerism is a force that can unite people from all walks of life and he loves that he gets to work towards that vision every day.
Billy Donnelly is the Volunteer Engagement Specialist at the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). In this role, he strives to engage both volunteers and corporations—keeping MDA’s mission at the forefront—forming national partnerships and creating a Volunteer Leadership Committee for high impact volunteer leadership opportunities. Starting in Development at the Elks National Foundation, Billy has spent his entire career in the nonprofit sector. With a background of service through organizations including the Boy Scouts of America and the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, volunteerism has been, and continues to be, ever present. Preferring to get his hands dirty, Billy finds inspiration working alongside volunteers—forming relationships over hard work and the satisfaction of making a direct impact. A lover of animals and the outdoors, Billy tries to focus his personal volunteering/fundraising efforts on local parks/animal shelters.
Mark Freedlund is a NatureStart Supervisor at Chicago Zoological Society. He has worked at the Hamill Family Play Zoo at Brookfield Zoo for 18 years. He supports the Early Childhood Docents in their volunteer position as they engage guests at the Hamill Family Play Zoo.
Noel Gilligan is a Volunteer Supervisor at JourneyCare, a non-profit hospice and palliative care organization serving the ten counties of northeastern Illinois, serving in various roles for the past 20 years. He earned his undergraduate degree from Maynooth College in Ireland and has done graduate work at Loyola University in Chicago and Keller Graduate School. He is certified in Volunteer Administration.
Amber Hartwig is the Volunteer Team Specialist at the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). In this role, she is the learning and development lead, the policy and process lead, and is developing the department’s internal handbook regarding volunteers. As a lover of rules, and collaboration, Amber enjoys forming partnerships within her organization, to ensure that MDA’s Volunteer Program is best in class. Since moving, Amber has dedicated her time to volunteering in her new community. Amber started at the MDA in August of 2014 in the Communications & Marketing department and made the transition to the Volunteer Program team in April of 2018. Before MDA, Amber’s career path led her to the for-profit world of staffing, logistics, and the coffee slinging world of Starbucks.
Jorge Hernandez is a return presenter at ICOVA having presented in 2018. He brings academic lessons from work as a PhD student in Learning Technologies. International relations, emergency management, and military experience have provided him with incredible opportunities to serve, and Jorge shares those lessons learned to encourage the next generation of community and public servants.
Alana Svenson Hults is an Assistant Program Director with AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) North Central Region. NCCC is a national service program for 18-24 year-olds that strengthens communities and develops leaders through team-based national and community service. She has served with NCCC for 10 years. As an Assistant Program Director, she focuses on developing projects in IL, ME, NH, VT & WI, which includes listening to hundreds of organizations tell their story. Prior to joining the AmeriCorps NCCC team, Alana served with the Corporation for National and Community Service on the National Conference and Volunteering Planning Team.
Abby Johnson is a community driven team leader with a background in the development of innovative and resourceful programs including skills-based volunteering, teen leadership and transitional housing. She is also a skilled communicator in Spanish and English with 10 years of national and international experience in the non-profit sector, specializing in volunteerism and strategic program development. Abby is dedicated to the collaboration of community resources for a global influence and is currently working on her second degree with Harvard University Extension focusing on Non-Profit Management.
Pari Karim is the Training Director for the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) where she manages numerous training programs, including CCR’s 40-Hour Mediation Skills Training. Since 2008, Pari has been a volunteer mediator and trainer at CCR. She received her J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2010, earning a certificate in Labor and Employment Law. Additionally, she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006. Pari is also Adjunct Faculty at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Her interest in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) comes from a belief that the people experiencing the conflict are those best able to resolve the conflict.
Bethann Kosiba is an Engagement Specialist at Shedd Aquarium where she works with volunteers to help them learn how to engage their 2 million annual visitors through the power of conversational interpretation and hands-on activities. Beth believes that volunteers have the power to connect visitors to your organization's mission by considering the audiences' interests and the meanings and stories of your resource. Beth has worked with volunteers for the past 5 years and has supported the re-imagining of the volunteer training models at both Lincoln Park Zoo and Shedd. Beth is a Certified Interpretive Guide and Certified Interpretive Trainer through the National Association for Interpretation, as well as a Conscious Inclusion Diversity Training facilitator. Beth holds a bachelor's degree in Biology with a marine/aquatic specialty from Bowling Green State University and a post-baccalaureate certificate in Zoo and Aquarium Studies from Western Illinois University.
Alicia Morris, MPA, C.V.A is currently the Director of National Volunteers for the American Brain Tumor Association. She has over 8 years of experience in volunteer management.
Brian Nestler is the Regional Preparedness Manager for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and Northern Illinois. He played a major role in coordinating Sound the Alarm, the Red Cross initiative to install one hundred thousand free smoke alarms across the country per year to reduce home fire deaths. This initiative requires thousands of volunteers, doing a multitude of tasks at every level. As a member of the Disaster Action Team, he has responded to hundreds of fires across Northern Illinois and has been involved in seven different major disaster response, all of which require the coordination of a variety of different volunteers. He holds a bachelors in Emergency Management from American Military University where he is currently pursuing a Masters in Homeland Security. He holds certifications from the International Association of Emergency Managers and Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Locally, he is part of the Public Safety Curriculum Board at Harper College in Palatine. He is also a subject matter expert in areas relating to persons with Access and Functional Needs in Disaster situations, having published articles and having presented at multiple conferences in the US and Internationally.
Jennifer O'Grady has been in Volunteer Administration for over twenty years. She has worked and volunteered for started non-profits as well as national foundations. She has always been a goal setting junkie and is honored to have a second career helping others identify meaningful goals and supporting them in attaining those goals. It is not about the destination, but the journey!
Rob Pabon is the Senior Manager of Volunteer Development at Chicago Cares where, since 2016, he has successfully created and implemented innovative pathways for volunteers across Chicagoland to become more civically engaged. Prior to Chicago Cares, he served as a Lead Youth Employment Specialist at Central States SER, where he trained, supported, and coached hundreds of opportunity youth toward their career objectives – and even inspired them to become community leaders through a voter registration drive targeted at young people in Spanish-speaking communities. In addition to his career accomplishments, Rob is a well-known and experienced leader in his own community of Berwyn where he spearheaded a coalition of community leaders, nonprofits, schools, and city government officials to install and maintain 20 new little free libraries in Berwyn. He is a fellow in the prestigious Leader Lab of the Oak Park and River Forest Community Foundation where he is working with other up-and-coming community leaders to create civic engagement opportunities for women and people of color. He is also a Board Member of the Berwyn North School District 98, where he advocates for education equity, civic leadership, and parent involvement. Rob is a lifelong Chicago-area resident and proud Latino, committed to using his resources and gifts to inspire even more people – especially those not usually represented – to have a seat at the table. He returned to college as an adult and is on track to complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Justices Studies from Northeastern University this year.
Lisa Petersen is a Volunteer Supervisor at JourneyCare, a nonprofit Hospice organization serving patients across Illinois. She manages the Chicago Inpatient unit along with volunteer recruitment and training for the organization. When not at work Lisa is usually traveling, at the gym, enjoying the Chicago food scene or catching up on trashy TV.
Matt Porth has managed the Museum of Science and Industry’s Volunteer Department for 13 years. He specializes in creating engaging volunteer experiences through trust, transparency, and STEM Education. Matt and his team lead a dedicated corps of 350 active, adult volunteers. Those volunteers include scientists, engineers, doctors, teachers, lawyers, homemakers, submariners, coders, historians, artists, Master Gardeners, airline pilots, 35 U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officers and one service d0g.
Chris Rechsteiner is a Volunteer Supervisor at JourneyCare, a non-profit hospice and palliative care organization serving 13 counties of northeastern Illinois. She also coordinates JourneyCare’s “Kids Who Care” program. Before joining JourneyCare she served with volunteers in ministry-related roles for over 20 years. Chris earned her undergraduate degree from Valparaiso University and is currently pursuing a master’s in Leadership. She is Certified in Volunteer Administration.
Catrina Reynolds- After completing the bachelor’s degree program at University of Illinois at Chicago studying Biological Science, Catrina's passion for science brought her to the Museum of Science and Industry where she is a Guest Experiences Administrative Coordinator, In that capacity, Catrina works with the volunteers to support guest experiences programs’ operations that supports the Museum of Science and Industry’s mission to inspire the next generation of innovators.
René Roy is Senior Coordinator of Guest-facing Volunteer Programs at the Museum of Science in Industry where he auditions, trains and coaches volunteers to lead inspiring and compelling engagements with guests. He has worked with volunteers throughout his career which has included producing Skylight TV, the live, interactive television station inside Lurie Children’s Hospital (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital) and teaching theatre and communications as a professor at National Louis University. René holds a BFA in Drama/Musical Theatre from the Boston Conservatory and an MFA in Stage Directing form Northwestern University.
Hina Sowinski is the Operations Manager, Volunteer Engagement for the Chicago Zoological Society / Brookfield Zoo (CZS). Hina has worked for CZS for over 11 years, both as a Volunteer Coordinator and Operations Manager. She provides management and operations support for the Volunteer Program, along with supervising Guest Guide and Special Events Volunteers.
Jason Theuman has a passion for connecting people to wildlife and nature. He is currently the Docent Program Manager at Brookfield Zoo and oversees the daily operations of Docents, the annual Docent training program, and interpretive touch carts. Jason is also a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation.
Kristina Wilkes is the Manager of Volunteer Projects at the Museum of Science & Industry (MSI). Kristina has worked with volunteers in cultural institutions for 10 years developing programing, reinventing recognition events and contributing her voice to the growing volunteer management industry. She specializes in the coordination of large scale volunteer run projects and exhibitions at MSI. Her largest undertaking is the world-famous Christmas Around the World and Holiday’s of Light Exhibition spotlighting many of Chicago’s ethnic communities through thousands of hours of volunteerism and cultural celebrations
The Illinois Conference on Volunteer Administration (ICOVA) provides valuable networking opportunities for volunteer management professionals. The ICOVA Conference promotes innovative and dynamic thought by presenting quality professional development opportunities focusing on the future of volunteer administration, including the role of technology and its impact, and strategic approaches to issues facing our society.