TKC Staff & Board


Shannon Valko, Chief Operating Officer

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 and Evanston as well as Board & Brush Creative Studio in Evanston. 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.


Ashley Alford, Northbrook Court Store Manager

Our new store manager!











Board of Directors


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.


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.


Stephanie Linn, Director of Partnerships

Stephanie is currently serving as the Global Mobility Manager for Baker & McKenzie LLP as well as a semi-weekly volunteer at Connections for the Homeless.  Prior to holding these roles, Stephanie worked for almost 20 years in public accounting, most recently as a Senior Manager in the Global Employer Services practice at Deloitte, assisting multi-national organizations with a focus on global rewards and global mobility tax consulting.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis.


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 consulting, finance management and system implementations. She earned her Bachelors of Business Administration from Ross Business School at the University of Michigan.

Maggie O’Brien, Secretary

Maggie is currently the Director of Marketing and Communications for an education technology firm in Chicago. She has over 15 years of experience across advertising, retail, consumer packaged goods, and education technology industries. Maggie became involved with TKC after seeing how it inspired her three young daughters to give back and spread kindness to others.



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.





Lisa Rosenberg, Director at Large / School Partnerships

Lisa is 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 four years. She holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a MSW from Loyola University in Chicago.


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. Her prior experience includes facilitating 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.



Stefanie Ryan, Director of Corporate 

In addition to joining The Kindness Connection Board, Stefanie has been an active volunteer in the community working at various outreach programs through her church as well as her children’s schools and athletic teams.  Prior to this Stefanie held a 25+ year career in publishing at Dow Jones and The Hearst Corporation where she was a Director of Integrated Sale. Publications she worked on included The Wall Street Journal, SmartMoney and Good Housekeeping.  She holds a B.A. in English and Economics from Skidmore 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

Laura Eilts

Eva Lu-Bonn

Carol Murphy

Kristen Murtos

Felisha Parsons