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The Team


Shannon Valko, Executive Director

In addition to her work with The Kindness Connection, Shannon is the owner and creator of a Play Cafe called Little Beans Cafe in Lincoln Park. Shannon leads all marketing, branding, programming and partnership outreach for Little Beans. Prior to opening Little Beans in 2010, Shannon worked as an Account Director in the experiential marketing and sales field with a focus on strategy, client service, program execution and sales. With a focus on leading strategy and account relationships, Shannon has worked with big brands including Wrigley, Gatorade, Orbitz and more. Shannon has a BA from Indiana University and an MBA from Loyola University Chicago.

Audrey Pam, Project Design and Operations Coordinator

Audrey has practiced art education and art therapy for over 20 years. She has worked in several settings with many different populations including children with special needs and adults with mental health illnesses. For the last several years, Audrey has taught art privately to school age children, promoting creativity, problem solving and healthy self-esteems using a variety of art materials and projects. She has a BS in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a MA in Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

 Board of Directors 

Julie Lipford, President

Julie is the Owner/Photographer of Photos by Juliet and is currently pursuing a Masters of Social Justice at Loyola University Chicago. Julie’s prior experience includes a Finance Systems Management position at Hewitt Associates, now known as Aon, as well as Financial Systems and Business Process consulting experience with a small start up company and Arthur Anderson. She earned her Bachelors of Business Administration from Ross Business School at the University of Michigan.

Mary Roth, Director of Development, Co-Founder

Mary teaches math at Beacon Academy in Evanston and serves as a resource teacher in the math department of a therapeutic day school. She facilitates the secondary math/science practicum seminar serving undergraduate and graduate Northwestern University students. Mary earned a BA in economics and an MS in secondary math education from Northwestern University.

Lisa Rosenberg, Director at Large / School Partnerships

Lisa was a founding Board Member of The Kindness Connection. Lisa worked as a school social worker for several years and as an active volunteer in the community. Lisa was The Kindness Connection Executive Director for 3 years. She holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a MSW from Loyola University in Chicago.

Jane Donaldson, Secretary

Jane has been active in the community since moving here in 1994. Her past board positions include the Kohl Children’s Museum Women’s Board and the District 39 Educational Foundation. She is currently serving on the Wilmette Historical Museum Board and volunteers at the Chicago Botanic Garden as well as with Urban Edibles in Bucktown. She holds a BA in English literature from the Univ. Massachusetts and an MLS from Simmons College.

Nancy Dellamore, Director at Large

Nancy is currently active in several school related volunteer activities. She draws from 25 years of marketing, product development and company start-up experience. Her last position was as Vice President of Marketing at Seyfarth Shaw at Work, a start-up entity of the law firm Seyfarth Shaw. She holds a Marketing degree from the University of Massachusetts and an MBA from Syracuse University.

Diane Phillips, Director of Finance

Diane has been active in the community in various roles for schools, athletic teams and service organizations for many years. Prior to becoming a full-time volunteer, she worked for 17 years as a Private Banker, most recently with Bessemer Trust Company. She holds a B.A. in Finance from Iona College.

Mark Wierzbinski, Director of Strategic Partnerships

Mark has enjoyed a successful career in finance in several Chicago-based companies.  Besides his work with TKC, he has done volunteer work with children’s hospitals, literacy programs, and wellness initiatives. Mark holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.  Mark has been a board member since 2014.

Bill Bostrom, Director of Creative Design

Bill is a talented graphic designer who owns Bostrom Design in Wilmette. He brings years of experience in design and marketing to TKC. 


Advisory Board

Pam Allen
Stephen Allison
Lisa Axelrod, Co-founder
Marla Bagan
Laura Eilts

Eva Lu-Bonn
Carol Murphy
Kristen Murtos
Felisha Parsons