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The Team


Lisa Rosenberg, Executive Director

Prior to becoming an Executive Director, 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. She holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a MSW from Loyola University in Chicago.

Shannon Valko, Program Outreach Manager

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 

Mary Roth, President, 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.

Cheryl Bickford, Director at Large

Cheryl has been active in the Northfield community for over 20 years in various roles for schools, private boards, athletic teams and has a passion for volunteering.  Prior to becoming a full-time volunteer, Cheryl had a successful career in sales and marketing with United HealthCare of Illinois.  Cheryl has a degree in Communications from the University of Illinois at 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.

Suzanne Gayle, Director at Large

Suzanne taught 6th grade for the past 13 years. She coordinated The Kindness Connection for her school and instantly knew she wanted to play a role in such a wonderful organization. When she isn't spending time with her three young children, she is spending time volunteering in the community and tutoring. Suzanne has her BS in education from Bradley University.

Jean Halferty, Director of Corporate Programming

Jean comes to Kindness Connection with over twenty years experience in sales, product development and marketing. Prior to that she was a corporate attorney at a law firm in Chicago. Jean has held various roles in the community for various schools and athletic teams. Jean holds a B.A in Political Science and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Julie Lipford, Director of Special Projects 

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.

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.


Advisory Board

Pam Allen
Stephen Allison
Lisa Axelrod, Co-founder
Marla Bagan
Dr. Molly Cinnamon
Laura Eilts

Julie Kennedy
Eva Lu-Bonn

Carol Murphy
Kristen Murtos
Felisha Parsons