People are what make Marklund special. The people we serve…the people who volunteer…and most importantly, the people who work here. We love to share the unique stories of those who have become a part of the Marklund family, whether as staff, board members and volunteers.

Click below to discover more about those who really are the heart of Marklund.

I am lucky to work with the greatest team in the world and have many wonderful memories of my co-workers over the years.
Click here to learn more about Joanna Vicker's Marklund story

A conversation with Joanna Vicker, Assistive Technology Coordinator, Marklund Therapy Dept.

I have been with Marklund for 27 years. Always a COTA/L, but switched a lot of my job responsibilities 2 years ago when I became the Assistive Technology Coordinator.  I will always be an Occupational Therapy Assistant, and I feel like those skills and my background in Occupational Therapy transfer over really well to what I am currently doing, and help me to be successful in this role.

Background: Education, Community Involvement

Associates of Applied Science, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, RESNA certified Assistive Technology Professional

Q. What attracted you to Marklund?

When I was first hired by Marklund, I was hired to work at our school, which was in Roselle at the time. I really had always wanted to work with kids and loved the idea of being a school therapist.  Since then I also have worked with our adults and have been involved at all sites, it is nice to get around and get to work with all of our residents/clients/students.  Being involved at all our locations gives me a unique perspective as to everything we do as an organization.

Q. What attracted you to the role of working in occupational therapy with the DD population?

I had originally envisioned myself working at a large rehab hospital upon graduation, but decided to interview at Marklund. I immediately know I was in the right place for me serving the population I was meant to serve, it was a perfect fit.  It has felt like home ever since.

Q. What are your priorities for working residents/clients/students? 

My first priority is always to establish trust.  I always want my residents/clients/students to know they can trust me to listen, to get to know them, to care, to always do my best to help them communicate and reach their highest potential.

Q. What vision would you like to see for the therapy department regarding communication technology?

I would love to see a time when all our residents/clients/students have some type of technology to help them communicate whether high or low tech, and all the resources we need to support that.

Q. What challenges do you face in this role?

Because technology changes so much it can be difficult to keep up with the latest equipment and practices. I can also be difficult to know how to troubleshoot all the different devices that our residents own, there are many different manufacturers and models to keep up with.

 Q. What is a favorite memory from your tenure at Marklund?

I have worked her so long and have had so many wonderful memories, it’s difficult to name just one.   I have enjoyed watching our residents/clients/ and students grow, some from babies to adults as well as watching them grow and gain skills over the years.  A few times do stand out and those are the Christmas Plays we have put on over the years as well as seeing MHC open and realizing the dream of starting an aquatic therapy program.  I am also lucky to work with the greatest team in the world and have many wonderful memories of my co-workers over the years.

Q. What would you say to other people thinking about a career move to Marklund or specifically into Occupational Therapy?
I am and have always been very happy working at Marklund and would always encourage anyone considering a career here. I also love Occupational Therapy and would encourage anyone considering that to go for it.

Glad to be part of this amazing group of people that are “Marklund”! It feels like home to me…thank you!
Click here to learn more about Tim Caruso's Marklund story

Tim has been with Marklund for 5 years.

I have had a number of great jobs over the “many” years of my professional career:

Staff physical therapist at the University of Chicago Hospitals & Clinics where I covered orthopedics, NICU/PICU, ran the prosthetics clinic; Home health therapist in the Chicagoland area; Contract physical therapist at a number of Chicagoland hospitals & clinics which started my introduction to Shriners Hospital Chicago; National trainer at Formations/Medi-Risk for the Functional Independence Measure at rehabilitation hospitals across the country; Manager of Oak Park Physical Therapy, an outpatient orthopedic clinic in Oak Park, IL.; Staff therapist & chair of the ergonomics committee at Shriners Hospital, Chicago; Staff physical therapist/wheelchair guy at Alden Village & group homes; Staff physical therapist at Community Physical Therapy Outpatient clinic; Healthcare sabbatical – Clinical Sales Rep Invacare Corporation Chicagoland and northern IL; National speaker on ergonomics, wellness, efficiency & effectiveness in the dental profession since 1988.

Background: Education, Community Involvement, Family

President & co-founder of the Kids Equipment Network a not-for-profit that provides gently used adaptive equipment to children with special needs at no cost…18 years old this year!

I have been involved with the American Physical Therapy Association & Illinois Physical Therapy Association as a member, delegate and one-time vice president of the IPTA.

BA in psychology from U of I-Chicago; BS in physical therapy Washington University, St. Louis; MBA in organizational behavior/MS in management from Benedictine University; Cert. Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy McKenzie Institute; Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist Back School of Atlanta

I am married with 2 daughters who keep me on my toes.  I have 2 dogs Wrigley and Theo who are cute and sassy!

Q. What attracted you to Marklund?

I wanted to get back to caring for special needs individuals.  I was also interested in the awesome work that we do,  the culture of caring, and the welcoming of  the staff!

Q. What attracted you to the role of working in therapy with the DD population?

The amazing therapy team and working with individuals who have been close to my heart for many years.

Q. What are your priorities for working residents/clients/students?

Meeting their functional, mobility & positioning needs, and making certain they are appropriately positioned to interact with their world.

Q. What vision would you like to see for the therapy department?

Being able to continue to provide our services across all Marklund environments into the future.

Q. What challenges do you face in this role?

The changing face of healthcare, funding and reimbursement for our residents and their needs.

Q. What is a favorite memory from your tenure at Marklund?

For the longest time many of my co-workers would tell me that they were glad that I was here working with the residents.  I would always look over my shoulder to see if Ashton Kutcher was there “punking” me!!  Glad to be part of this amazing group of people that are “Marklund”!  It feels like home to me…thank you!

Q. What would you say to other people thinking about a career move into Therapy at Marklund?

Marklund is a special place caring for special people unlike no other.

Cassie Bieberstein, instructional coach said, "When you finally see a student succeed it is like magic before your eyes!"
Click here to learn more about Cassie Biebertein's Marklund story

Cassie has been with Marklund Day School for 5 years, moving up from a paraprofessional to teacher to Instructional Coach with Marklund Day School-Geneva.

Q. What attracted you to Marklund Day School as a teacher?

I actually started my career here at Marklund as a paraprofessional, but that is not actually what I applied for. I originally applied for a teaching position in a Multi-Needs classroom. As fate would have it, I didn’t get the job, but this was for good reason, I had no idea that schools like Marklund existed as I was just coming out of college. Then about a week later Marklund called and offered me a paraprofessional position in the Life Skills department. I was so intrigued with the day school after my initial tour and observation that I accepted and embarked on this adventure. I was a paraprofessional for about two months when I was offered a long-term subbing position. I was the long term substitute for only about 6 months when Paula, and the rest of the Marklund team, convinced me to become the full-time life skills teacher! Transitioning into the teacher role was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It was also the best decision I ever made!

Q. What attracted you to this position as Instructional Coach?

Being a first year teacher is very challenging. I struggled a lot during my first couple years. This ignited a new passion of mine; supporting teachers to navigate the teaching role at Marklund. I want to help teachers so they can provide the best education for their students! I love figuring out how people (teachers/students) learn information/skills! I can definitely nerd out on these topics!

Q. What are your priorities for working with other teachers and the students?

My priority for the teachers is to support them so that they can create, implement, and reflect on different sustainable instructional strategies and approaches. This will then benefit the students because the teachers will be giving their students the best education possible.

Q. What challenges do you face in this role?

I think that the biggest challenge that I am facing right now is transitioning from being a teacher. I am still trying to get a feel for what my new “day to day” will look like. I am currently taking an instructional coaching class to further my skill set as an instructional leader. I have already learned so much from this class, and I am excited to see what else it has in store!

Q. What would you say to other teachers thinking about a career move to Marklund Day School?

I would say it is 100% worth all the work! I tell people that when you finally see a student succeed it is like magic before your eyes!

Q. What vision would you like to see for MDS’s faculty as the world moves on from the pandemic?

The pandemic seemed to have put a lot of extra stress onto all the employees at MDS. Teaching remotely isn’t ideal at all! My vision would be for the staff to feel less stressed about COVID exposures or having to teach remotely as we move away from the pandemic.

Q. What’s the best part about working at MDS?

There are so many great things about working for Marklund, but if I could pick one thing it is that we are always student centered and because of that everyone at the day school is always willing to help out a student or coworker in need. It is pretty rare in the educational world for administrators to work directly with students when a classroom needs support. This is a daily occurrence here!

Nicole Molleur, nurse case manager said, "I was drawn in by the positive attitudes of the staff and their comments about how much they enjoyed working with this population, coupled with the amazing residents who truly made me realize how special life is."
Click here to learn more about Nicole Molleur's Marklund story

Nicole has been with Marklund for four years, moving up from a PSP to Nurse Case Manager for the Marklund Richard & Dreher Homes on our Geneva campus.

 

Q. What attracted you to Marklund?

I have always enjoyed working with different groups of individuals from all walks of life. When I was in nursing school I saw that there was a position open for a PSP and I had to jump at the opportunity. I was drawn in by the positive attitudes of the staff and their comments about how much they enjoyed working with this population, coupled with the amazing residents who truly made me realize how special life is. I have continued to stay here at Marklund because I love the work that we do and I am so blessed to spend time with our residents every day! They truly make my life better.

Q. What attracted you to this position as Nurse Case Manager?

I was attracted to the position of Nurse Case Manager because I have always had a passion for advocating for any resident or patient I have worked with. I have a background in law and I was originally a paralegal working for an attorney at a large hospital in Massachusetts before I moved to Illinois to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. Ethics remain at the forefront of the work that we do as nurse managers. We can work closely with the resident’s care teams to advocate for them, the best that we can, to help provide a comprehensive care plan here at Marklund.

Q. What are your priorities for your staff and the residents?

There are many priorities for my staff and the residents. For my staff, the goal is to focus on creating an environment that empowers the nurses so that they can confidently work their shifts knowing that they are competent. We are very fortunate to have a nursing staff that is diverse and multi-faceted which in turn provides a rich, unique nursing community that the residents can benefit from.

The idea of managing a successful team starts with the understanding that there is much more than clinical skills, critical thinking skills, and ideas that you were taught in nursing school. My priorities include keeping communication open and honest with staff, providing opportunities for staff to learn and grow, being open to change, being a mentor, and setting a positive tone. I want my staff to come to work feeling supported, safe, and excited to spend the shift with our amazing residents!

My priorities for the residents start with providing evidence-based, safe nursing care that they all deserve. My other priorities are intertwined with my daily workflow. As nurse case managers, we conduct individualized clinical evaluations of our residents, identify their health needs and concerns, and try our very best to advocate for the safest approach to their personalized action plans. At Marklund, we have worked very hard to develop a strong team-oriented relationship among our interdisciplinary team. Our hospitalist is extremely knowledgeable, and the support from our DON and Administrator helps ensure that we can advocate on behalf of our residents the best way we can. Our residents deserve quality care, a team that is willing to advocate, and a supportive environment, and that is what Marklund provides.

Q. What challenges do you face in this role?

With any management position, especially in healthcare, there can be many challenges. The goal is to stay positive and maintain an open mind when these arise. One to note is the many different generations and work styles that I come across. Some people work well in a group setting, while others prefer to work more independently, and this can cause staff to have to work through those barriers. This is OK. Things like this happen in all work environments and approaching it with a teamwork-based mindset helps. Another challenge is communication styles. Many people communicate very differently or interpret certain communication styles as positive or negative. Navigating how each of my staff prefers to be addressed, taught, etc. can be difficult, but the positive is that it helps me build my interpersonal skills and I have become much more confident in working with different groups of personalities since starting this role.

Q. What would you say to other nurses thinking about a career move to Marklund?

To a nurse contemplating a career move to Marklund, I would say “do it.” I say this because I have the work-life balance that I was craving. To accompany a better work-life balance, with 8-hour work days, I can have a more hands-on approach with my residents. I am so blessed to be able to have the ability to build long-term relationships with the residents, caregivers, and their families. In a hospital setting, this does not happen as often and it is one of the many reasons why I love my job.

Another reason why a career move to Marklund would be beneficial for a nurse contemplating the idea is that they would be supported by the nursing staff and management greatly. Our nurse management team tries our absolute best to create a positive work environment that allows staff to share their concerns, ask questions, and feel confident in the work that they do. We are all here for the residents, and we would love to have any of those nurses join us, especially if they feel the pull to serve a community that needs our advocacy so greatly.

Q. What vision would you like to see for Marklund’s nursing department as the world moves on from the pandemic?

Post-Covid-19 has been a very interesting time for us all. The emotional and mental strain that this pandemic has caused the nursing profession will need some time to recover. I urge people to be patient with us and supportive of us during this time as we try to move forward from what occurred. Burnout is a real issue, and this happens in many different medical departments all across the country. My vision that I would like to see for Marklund’s nursing department would be the opportunity to have more applicants for the nursing positions that remain open. My comment to these potential applicants would be “Marklund is an inviting, safe space, where you can provide amazing nursing care while also having the work-life balance that you so desperately need post-Covid-19.” I am optimistic for the future, and I ask anyone that knows of a nurse looking for a change to reach out to us. We want to grow our nursing family very much so.

[I enjoy] spending quality time with residents and getting to see them happy.
Click here to learn more about Kayla Atkins' Marklund story

Kayla has been with Marklund for 7 years, serving at the Marklund Wasmond Center in Elgin.

 

Q. What attracted you to Marklund?

I developed an interest and wanted to work with those in the disability population and make a difference.

Q. What attracted you to this position as a PSP?

I had experience working with those with disabilities in my family and wanted to give being a caretaker a try.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your position?

Spending quality time with residents and getting to see them happy. Coordinating the outings and seeing them happy in the community, makes it a blast.

Q. What are your goals for working with the residents at MWC?

My goals is to provide the best care for our residents and follow our mission of making everyday life possible for our residents.

Q. What challenges do you face in this role?

The challenges I face during this role is being short staffed during these times and feeling burnt out.

Q. What would you say to other people thinking about a career move to Marklund?

I would say to come with a heart and to come with a desire to follow our mission and to remember this quote, “They don’t live in our workplace, we work in their home.”

Q. What vision would you like to see for MWC as the world moves on from the pandemic?

As we move on from the pandemic, I would like to see MWC return to having volunteers and social events.

I started working at Marklund Day School as a temporary summer school employee. By the end of summer, I loved it so much I didn’t want to leave.
Click here to learn more about Charity Bothwell's Marklund story

Charity has been with Marklund Day School for 20 years (in June), moving up from a paraprofessional to an RBT at Marklund Day School-Bloomingdale.

 

Q. What attracted you to Marklund Day School?

I started working at Marklund Day School as a temporary summer school employee. By the end of the summer, I loved it so much I didn’t want to leave.

Q. What attracted you to this position as an RBT?

When the Life Skills program opened, I was the first paraprofessional to work in the classroom.  I had no experience working with individuals on the spectrum and learned a lot from the ABA therapists that were contracted out. When the position of RBT became available through Marklund, I was immediately drawn to it. I most enjoy the problem-solving part of the job.

Q. What are your priorities for working with other teachers and the students?

My priority is that the staff in my room feel close like family. I want them to feel supported and valued.  I also want to make them laugh especially on a tough day. My priority for the students is that they feel safe and happy and to create the best environment possible to allow for learning.

Q. What would you say to other people thinking about a career move to Marklund Day School?

It’s a wonderful and rewarding job, but it is very challenging.  There will be difficult and frustrating days. You have to get through the bad days and not give up.

Q. What vision would you like to see for MDS’s faculty and staff as the world moves on from the pandemic?

I would love to see a full school again with staff that stay working here 5 plus years.

Q. A favorite memory from your tenure at MDS is:

My favorite memory is when a previously nonverbal student said my name for the first time.

Q. What challenges do you face in this role?

The biggest challenge is the staff turnover. It’s frustrating to spend so much time training a new staff to work in the room just to have them leave after a few months.

Marklund is known for exceptional care and having innovative ideas.
Click here to learn more about Kimberly Kahl's Marklund story

Kim has been with Marklund for 3.5 years, starting in 2020 as the Marklund Wasmond Center Community Day Services Program Manager, and moving into her current role in 2022.

Q. What attracted you to Marklund?
I’ve spent my entire career (approximately 15 years), working at local non-profits, serving individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Marklund is known for exceptional care and having innovative ideas, which is what initially attracted me. I knew coming to Marklund would be a new challenge I was ready to take on.
Q. What attracted you to this position as Director of Community Day Services?
The Director role allows me the opportunity to oversee four different CDS sites (179 clients), each one is so very different. Playing a role in all four of these sites, creates the variety and challenge that I thrive on. The addition of the Bridge Builder program at NEC, really brings this full circle, and allows me to use my variety of skills, each and every day.
Q. What challenges do you face in this role?
Funding from the Illinois Department of Human Services is severely lacking, which impacts every aspect of programming, especially staffing levels. Due to this, expanding services continues to be significantly challenging for providers, even though there is a significant need for more services within our community.

I wanted to be able to serve those with special needs but do so in a supportive, family-like atmosphere.
Click here to learn more about Kevin Gatto's Marklund story

Kevin has been with Marklund for 6 years, starting as a Developmental Instructor/Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional and in Jan. 2023 became the Bridge Builder Program Manager, helping to develop the program from the ground up.
Q. What attracted you to Marklund?
A good friend told me about Marklund. On my tour, most of the staff were interacting with the clients and smiling and laughing, especially George. Seeing that sealed the deal for me. I wanted to be able to serve those with special needs but do so in a supportive, family -like atmosphere.
Q. What vision would you like to see for the Bridge Builder program?
Illinois is in the bottom 15% of states for services for adults with disabilities over the age of 22. I want to ensure that those who need services, have programming available to serve them. I would love for Marklund to be able to expand using this model program, so that many more clients can receive services that they need. Programming wise for Bride Builder, I would love for our clients to have their own micro business onsite and then to be able to go out in the community during the day for competitive paid employment and volunteer opportunities.
Q. A favorite memory from your tenure at Marklund is:
When Heather and Shelly played a switch activated basketball game and had a big stare down when Shelly made some shots when it was her turn.

I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to know many of our clients/residents, staff, volunteers and families. Scott’s life and mine have been enriched in so many ways because of Marklund.
Click here to learn more about Laura Karlins' Marklund story

Meet Laura Karlins, Member, Marklund Board of Directors since August 2019

Positions held on Marklund Board?

I am on the Governance Committee and the Chair of the Development Committee at Marklund.

What do you admire most about the Marklund mission/vision? 

Our vision/mission “A happy, safe, purpose-filled life for every individual with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”  The words “purpose-filled” really stands out to me.  I truly believe everyone has a purpose.  I love seeing the joy, camaraderie and companionship shared by our clients, staff, volunteers and families.

What inspired you to get involved with the developmental disabilities’ arena and specifically the Marklund Board of Directors? 

My brother, Scott, has been a resident at Marklund’s Haverkampf Home for five years.  From the beginning, I was impressed by the care and interest taken by the staff to get to know Scott as an individual.  I immediately noticed that Scott was not just being cared for on a physical level, but there was a deep interest in his psychological and social needs as well.  I was so happy to find that the staff cared about Scott as a person.  In my years as Scott’s guardian, I had never been asked about Scott’s likes or dislikes, I was amazed.  I knew right away I wanted to be involved with Marklund in any capacity, not just for Scott, but all those we serve and will serve in the future.

What are your goals/priorities as a board member? 

Expand our mission to meet the needs of more individuals living with profound disabilities–serving not just them, but their families as well.  I try to spread the word about Marklund to everyone I know and meet.

What do you enjoy most about serving on the Marklund Board of Directors or favorite experience so far? 

I love being a part of the big picture and planning for the future of this organization.  It is an honor to be part of this Board and to have met so many smart and generous people.  I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to know many of our clients/residents, staff, volunteers and families.  Scott’s life and mine have been enriched in so many ways because of Marklund.

Background/Education:

Bachelor of Science Degree in Clothing and Textiles from SIU, Carbondale, IL

Career:

I spent many years in retail, with various positions including salesperson, buyer and store manager.   My area of specialty was women’s fashion.  I also participated in the startup of our family business, that specialized in the disposal of regulated specialty waste for the health care and industrial settings.

Additional Community Involvement:

Starlight Children’s Foundation—volunteer roles included granting wishes, setting up entertainment and coordinating parties at area hospitals for pediatric patients and their families.  Chelsea’s Light Foundation—fundraising and event planning.

Marklund has an exceptional management team and Board. It is truly an honor to serve along with these individuals as we all share the same goals of assisting Marklund execute its mission and vision to serve.
Click here to learn more about Jerry Finis' Marklund story

Meet Jerry Finis, Member, Marklund Board of Directors since June, 2020

Background:

Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, University of Illinois; MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management with a focus in Real Estate and Finance.

Career:

In 2000, I co-founded Pathway Senior Living, an affordable senior housing company focusing on developing, owning and operating affordable senior housing and assisted living. Retired in 2022.

Community Involvement:

Served as a Member/Chairman of the Village of Inverness Zoning Board of Appeals for 10 years.

What role(s) do you play on the board?

Serving as Treasurer of the Board and Chair of its Finance Committee

What do you admire most about the Marklund mission/vision?

Marklund’s mission and vision is totally focused on the individuals we serve.

What inspired you to get involved with the developmental disabilities’ arena and specifically the Marklund Board of Directors?

I met Gil as a member of a CEO group. Over those years, I heard about Marklund and the services they brought to the underserved.  I was attracted to the similarities with  my affordable assisted living business in serving an underserved population.

What are your goals/priorities as a board member?

As a board member, my priority is to provide guidance for the long-term viability and success of the organization so it can continue giving great services to individuals with profound disabilities.

What do you enjoy most about serving on the Marklund Board of Directors?

Marklund has an exceptional management team and Board.  It is truly an honor to serve along with these individuals as we all share the same goals of assisting Marklund execute its mission and vision to serve.

Working with the staff and other volunteers and getting to know the clients served by Marklund has enriched my life.
Click here to learn more about Carol Donahue's Marklund story

Current profession or if retired, previous profession:

I have been retired for many years.  My last paid position was V.P. Commercial Lending at Amcore Bank.

Background/Education:

I have lived in Geneva for many years, I have two grown children and one granddaughter. I enjoy hiking, biking, gardening, plant-based cooking, and beekeeping. I have a BS in Psychology from Iowa State University.

Community Involvement:

I volunteer at several local organizations most notably Marklund where I am Vice-Chair of the Board.  I am also passionate about working with the Chicago Area Track & Field Organizing Committee to raise interest and financial support for the newly developed Settler’s Hill Cross Country Track.  Once a landfill, the area has become a premier high school and collegiate running venue.

Years on Marklund Board:

2015-2018 and 2021 to present

Positions held on Marklund Board:

member of Development Committee, Finance Committee, Vice-Chair

Reason for accepting appointment to Marklund board:

I had volunteered at Marklund for many years in the Aqua-therapy program, Top Hat Ball committee, and Run, Walk, & Roll committee before accepting a position on the Board.  I was privileged to see the level of care Marklund provides and to witness the daily miracles.  Working with the staff and other volunteers and getting to know the clients served by Marklund has enriched my life.  Accepting a position on the board has given me the opportunity to help plan for the future at Marklund.

Priorities/goals:

Use my time and talents to continue our mission of making everyday life possible for individuals with profound disabilities.

I have always felt that the [Marklund Wasmond Center] culture was epitomized in the Cheers lyrics which I paraphrase as ‘you wanna go someplace where everybody knows your name.’ My goal is to keep the expanded MWC as that place for Karen.
Click here to learn more about Gerry Estes' Marklund story

Occupation:

Retired, LORD Corporation, Vice President, Global Business Development

Other service:

Past Trustee, Thomas Lord Foundation, Duke University; external advisory committees at Princeton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Delaware, and Duke.

Education:

Princeton University, Bachelor of Science, Engineering

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Doctor of Philosophy; Master of Science Chemical Engineering.

Family:

3 children; daughter Karen has been a resident of the Marklund Center/Little Angels since 1985. He and his wife, Charlotte, reside in Chapel Hill, NC.

Why you joined the Marklund board:

When the “merger” of Little Angels with Marklund was nearing approval, I attended a question-and-answer meeting at Marklund in Bloomingdale for parents of Little Angels residents and other stakeholders.  I was impressed with Gil Fonger’s presentation and his answers to questions regarding the merger, and particularly the vision that the consolidation would be positive for both organizations in the future.  Strategic objectives including the diversification of revenue sources, achieving economies of scale and integration of the patient-facing workforce all resonated with me.

Following this meeting I was asked if I would be interested in joining the Board and eagerly accepted the opportunity to participate in the planning and execution of strategy to meet these objectives.  I joined the Board in December.  Since that time, I have been a member of the Finance Committee.

The integration of the Marklund and Little Angels organizations has been successful, although not without a lot of hard work and periodic rough patches while wrestling with COVID.  I am proud of both organizations for their creativity, flexibility and persistence during this period.

Today, the foresight by Marklund leadership to anticipate the value that the Little Angels organization and facility could have to Marklund is recognized in the plan to expand MWC to accept residents from MPC and then to expand the total resident population for the future.

I have always felt that the Little Angels culture was epitomized in the Cheers lyrics which I paraphrase as “you wanna go someplace where everybody knows your name.”  My goal is to keep the expanded MWC as that place for Karen.

[I accepted the position on the Marklund board because of] the mission and all of the LOVE that Marklund pours out to the residents, kids and staff.
Click here to learn more about Yaneth Medina's Marklund story

Occupation:

Yaneth is President of the Elgin State Bank, a Wintrust Community Bank.

Background/Education:

Growing up in Des Plaines, she attended Maine West High School, followed by Roosevelt University in Chicago, where she earned a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Business, with a Concentration in Finance.

Yaneth is currently a resident of Hoffman Estates.

Community Involvement:

Very active in the Elgin community, Yaneth is currently the Board Chair and member of the Executive Committee of the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce, a Board Member and Finance Committee Member of the Advocate Sherman Hospital, and a board member of the Gail Borden Library Foundation.

Current position on Marklund Board of Directors:

Board Member and Member of Finance Committee

Years on Marklund board:

3

Reason for accepting appointment to Marklund board…what attracted you to serving:

The mission and all of the LOVE that Marklund pours out to the residents, kids and staff.

Goal as a member of the Marklund Board of Directors:

Create awareness each and every day of the Marklund mission so that more and more people know of the amazing work that is done!

Marklund has also accentuated my life by learning better how love, care and compassion can be shared in a Marklund setting and be so beneficial.
Click here to learn more about Mike Herlihy's Marklund story

Occupation:

Mike Herlihy is the President, COO, CIO of Olsson Roofing Company, Inc., in Aurora, IL.

Background/Education:

A Resident of North Aurora, IL, Mike earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil-Structural Engineering, Iowa State, and an MBA in Strategic Planning and Management, DePaul University.

Community Involvement:

Olsson Roofing Board of Directors 1996-present, Moose Lake HOA President, Village of North Aurora Trustee 2001-2011

Current position on Marklund board:

Board Chair

Years on Marklund Board:

10+

Other positions held on Marklund Board:

Finance Committee Chair & Treasurer

Reason for accepting appointment to Marklund board…what attracted you to serving:

Joining the Marklund Board of Directors presented an opportunity to learn more about the needs of people challenged with very difficult circumstances, and to contribute my time and talent to help them live a happy and purposeful life. Little did I know how many people are affected and helped by the environments Marklund provides! We have extended family members and friends with similar needs and enjoy the opportunity to engage and give back.

One goal you have as a member of the Marklund Board of Directors:

Goals can be so woven together. Marklund has been blessed with the long-term vision and leadership of so many people in its 60+ year history. I believe spreading the mission and message further in the communities we serve, as well as to younger generations that can continue the outcomes, will well serve Marklund for generations to come! Understanding the value of and carrying out our M2030 strategic plan helps to further the purpose of Marklund to more people. Crossing the hurdles of certain State and Federal regulations to provide better opportunities to so many aging families with needs represents unending opportunity for those families who need it now and into the future.

Comments:

Living in the “rough and tumble” construction industry, Marklund has also accentuated my life by learning better how love, care and compassion can be shared in a Marklund setting and be so beneficial. I often remark when I visit Marklund or engage in a meeting, I learn more than I give! For that I am very grateful! I have enjoyed that during my tenure on the board, Marklund has grown in a practical, measured and healthy manner and added a number of resources and facilities for the betterment of the families and communities we serve to be better served. We call them “projects” but they are really wonderful opportunities! Buildings and facilities aside, the true heart of Marklund is its people!

Nancy Montes, Nurse, with resident Maggie
“I started working in 2013 as a CNA while still in high school. At that time, this location was Little Angels. As a CNA, I trained new hires as an On-the-Job Trainer (OJT). I graduated from nursing school in 2018, and began working as a nurse in July of that year. Two years later, I earned my bachelor’s degree in nursing and was happy to have been able to use Marklund’s Tuition Reimbursement benefit to help me with that.
I started at Marklund so young but am still here because of the residents. You get connected to them.
This field may be challenging, but it definitely is very rewarding. Helping to make a difference in the lives of the residents we care for is truly beautiful.”

Nancy’s story is one of MANY such accounts of employees paving their own career paths while working at Marklund. Some people follow a linear path through one field, advancing into roles with more responsibilities. Others shift roles into new arenas as career goals and interests change, and opportunities arise. Marklund supports career growth by offering continuing education opportunities, tuition reimbursement, onsite training, and career planning support.

“The employees that sustain Marklund’s mission are among the most valuable assets to our organization,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Marie Loiacono. “As such, we want to provide as much resources and assistance to help with the development of their careers.”

Click Here to Learn More About Brittany Nguyen's Marklund Story

Brittany Nguyen, 2019

Paraprofessional > Registered Behavior Technician > Behavior Specialist

Foglia Education Center at Marklund Day School, Geneva

I started at Marklund in 2019, as a paraprofessional at Marklund Day School’s Ann Haskins Center in Bloomingdale. After a year, I interviewed to be a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) for the Foglia Education Center (FEC) in Geneva, which was the new Day School location opening in the summer of  2020. I was turned down for that position but I continued to work on building my knowledge and understanding of behavior. Another opportunity arose for an RBT position there, and I was offered the job. I’ve worked at FEC in three different Life Skills classrooms since the first day the building opened. In June 2023, the FEC Behavior Specialist position became open and I was given the opportunity for the job.

Working at Marklund Day School is an extremely difficult job but is the most rewarding job at the end of every day when you get to reflect on the smiles and laughs that you were able to provide for the students that we serve. I come to work each and every day for the students here at MDS and everything I do here is for them.

Click Here to Learn More About Mike Jones' Marklund Story

Mike Jones, 2009

Therapeutic Activity Aide (TAA) > Community Integration TAA > Lead Personal Support Professional (PSP) > Lead PSP Coordinator > Community Integration Program Manager > Gift Processing Associate

Supporting all Marklund locations

I joined Marklund  in 2009. Over the years, I held the following titles: Therapeutic Activity Aide (TAA), Community Integration TAA, Lead Personal Support Professional (PSP), Lead PSP Coordinator, Community Integration Program Manager, and a partridge in a Pear Tree.

Marklund is more than a facility … it’s a family. Marklund focuses on providing exceptional care that allows each individual we serve to discover their special abilities and potential. As a place to work—once you find your passion, you know, and for myself, Marklund was that stepping stone.

Click Here to Learn More About Amanda Nordmeyer's Marklund Story

Amanda Nordmeyer, 2016

Paraprofessional > Registered Behavior Technician > Behavior Specialist

Ann Haskins Center of Marklund Day School-Bloomingdale

I started at Marklund Day School in 2016 working first as a paraprofessional and then as a Registered Behavior Technician.

Marklund is a great organization that offers many different career paths for growth. Some of these career paths are Teaching, Behavior Analysis and Nursing. Marklund is a great organization that allows for employees to be able to work while accomplishing their educational and career goals.

Click Here to Learn More About Kayla McKee's Marklund Story

Kayla McKee, 2020

Personal Support Professional (PSP) > Community Day Services PSP > PSP Trainer > Recruiter

Ann Haskins Center of Marklund Day School-Bloomingdale

I started at Marklund Day School in 2016 working first as a paraprofessional and then as a Registered Behavior Technician.

Marklund is a great organization that offers many different career paths for growth. Some of these career paths are Teaching, Behavior Analysis and Nursing. Marklund is a great organization that allows for employees to be able to work while accomplishing their educational and career goals.

Click Here to Learn More About Bev Gallagher's Marklund Story

Bev Gallagher, 2007 & 2018

CNA > Staff Nurse > School Nurse > Nurse Manager > Director of Nursing

Marklund Hyde Center Campus, Geneva

I began my career at Marklund in 2007, left in 2015, returned in 2018.

Over the years I’ve held the positions of CNA at the Marklund Haverkampf and Dreher homes in Geneva, staff nurse at the Sayers Home in Geneva, staff nurse at the Philip Center in Bloomingdale, school nurse for the Ann Haskins Center at Marklund Day School-Bloomingdale, and Nurse Manager Richard and Dreher homes in Geneva

I was very fortunate to start my healthcare career at Marklund. I have always enjoyed the company of supportive peers, co-workers and supervisors. Marklund allowed me the flexibility to work while in nursing school.  When I was seeking a full-time nursing spot, I was encouraged to apply in Bloomingdale and got to work with awesome residents and peers.  It gave me the opportunity to work with a new level of care and that experience has been invaluable. With our continued growth, there are so many avenues for nurses of any skill set. I would encourage any nurse looking for a meaningful connection in their career to check us out.  Our residents challenge your minds while they capture your hearts.

Click Here to Learn More About Johnathan Walsh's Marklund Story

Johnathan Walsh, 2017

Personal Support Professional (PSP) > Lead PSP > Purchasing Agent

Serving all Marklund locations

I started in 2017 as an overnight Personal Support Professional (PSP) at Marklund’s Haverkampf and VanDerMolen homes in Geneva. Then I became an overnight Lead PSP, transitioned to days and was Lead PSP for the VanDerMolen Home.

In April of this year, I made a big career transition to become a Purchasing Agent for Marklund’s Finance Department.

Let my experience be an example that Marklund is an employer who invests in its employees, allowing them to grow and take on many different roles.

Click Here to Learn More About Sybil Alex's Marklund Story

Sybil Alex, 2013

Part-time speech-language therapist > Lead Therapist > Therapy Manager

I began my career here in 2013.  At that time, I was a part-time employee with three young children at home.  As Marklund grew, I was able to grow in my position and eventually become Lead Therapist then Therapy Manager for our Day School’s Foglia Education Center and Ann Haskins Center locations.  This year will be my 10th year working at Marklund.  I came here looking for a place I could feel like part of a team working toward a big goal of making a difference. I can say that the biggest difference has been a change in me.  I am now connected to my coworkers as friends. I am deeply impacted by what I see at work each day.  I have a greater empathy for lives affected by disabilities. My hope continues to be that as a speech pathologist is that I can teach skills that make our students and residents feel more connected to those around them.   Working at Marklund has been a great experience for me.

Click Here to Learn More About Tyler Frieson's Marklund Story

Tyler Frieson, 2019

Personal Support Professional > Developmental Instructor > Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional

Marklund Dreher Home, Geneva

I joined Marklund in 2019 as a Personal Support Professional at the Dreher Home.

I then became a Developmental Instructor for the Community Day Services program in Geneva in August of 2020. This past August, I moved into the QIDP role.

This job may not be all that you think it would be, you get what you make of it. Be you and have fun while doing it.

Click Here to Learn More About Brittany Colyer's Marklund Story

Brittany Colyer, 2013 & 2018

CNA > Therapeutic Activity Aide > Front Desk Receptionist > Benefits Coordinator > Senior HR Generalist > HR Manager > Finance Associate > Senior Finance Associate

Supporting all Marklund locations

I first joined Marklund in 2013, moved out of state, then re-joined Marklund in March of 2018.

Over the years, I’ve been a CNA, Therapeutic Activity Aide, Front Desk Receptionist, Benefits Coordinator, Senior HR Generalist and HR Manager. In 2022, I joined the Finance Department as Finance Associate.

Career growth at Marklund is entirely possible, not just a straight path, but also in a curvy path, such as my own. Paired with supportive coworkers and amazing tuition reimbursement benefit, this was all possible while earning my Associates Degree, Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree while working at Marklund. Marklund has set me to be successful in my career now and in the future.

Click Here to Learn More About Thomas Straza's Marklund Story

Thomas Straza, 2022

QIDP > Community Day Services Program Manager

Marklund Wasmond Center

I started at Marklund in 2022 as a QIDP at the Wasmond Center.

Earlier this year, I moved into my current role as Community Day Services Program Manager

I think Marklund is invested in developing their employees Marklund provides opportunities wanting us to grow and develop.  I am grateful for the opportunity to  work at Marklund. I am also thankful for my supportive supervisors from being a QIPD and now as a Program manager. They offer guidance and their knowledge allowing me  to continue to work and work through situations to  develop my skills and  potential as a professional.

Click Here to Learn More About Tiffany Zurek's Marklund Story

Tiffany Zurek, 2018

Personal Support Professional (PSP) > Public Relations Specialist > Social & Digital Media Coordinator > Social & Digital Media Manager

Supporting all locations

I joined Marklund in 2018 as a Personal Support Professional (PSP) for the Marklund Tommy Home and Hyde Center in Geneva. I moved into the Marketing & Communications Team in late 2019 as the Public Relations Specialist, and then Social & Digital Media Coordinator.

Working at Marklund has truly been a transformative experience for me, allowing me to grow both personally and professionally. The organization’s commitment to providing an exceptional level of care to individuals with developmental disabilities is what drew me here, and it now inspires my work in my role as a Social & Digital Media Manager. But while working as a PSP at Marklund, thanks to the support of my manager, I was encouraged to share my other skills and passion in Marketing through my photos, participation in events, getting to know people in other departments, and my enthusiastic and sparky personality. Most importantly, I was encouraged to apply for open positions. Thanks to that advice, I now have best of both worlds and have found that not only does Marklund change the lives of the residents I adore, but they also change the lives of their staff.

Click Here to Learn More About Brenda Ortiz Gabriel's Marklund Story

Brenda Ortiz Gabriel, 2015

Cook > Personal Support Professional > Nurse

Marklund Wasmond Center

I started with Little Angels in 2015 as a cook in the kitchen. With the merger with Marklund in 2016, I continued with this position until 2017 were I was able to switch to a Personal Support Professional position. In August of 2023, I started my new role as a nurse.

I think there’s always room to grown, as a person and career wise. I was able to accomplish my career goal with the flexibility MWC offered. This is a very special facility; I’ve met some great people, which is why I decided to continue working here as a nurse 😊.

Click Here to Learn More About Emily Douglas' Marklund Story

Emily Douglas, 2020

Administrative Assistant to the Director of HR > HR Generalist > HR Manager

Supporting All Locations

I started at Marklund in 2020 as Administrative Assistant to the Director of HR. I then transitioned to HR Generalist in 2022, and earlier this year moved into my current role as HR Manager.

Marklund has invested in me and my career by providing me the opportunity to advance my career further than I had ever envisioned for myself. This stemmed from my supervisor recognizing my potential, providing me with training and empowering me to take my career to a level that I had not otherwise envisioned for myself.

Click Here to Learn More About Gunjan Patel's Marklund Story

Gunjan Patel, 2004

Part-time Physical Therapist > Full-time PT > Therapy Manager > Director of Therapy, all sites > Administrator, Marklund Philip Center, Bloomingdale > Director of Residential Services

Supporting all locations

Started in August 2004

Titles: Part-time Physical Therapist, Full-time PT, Therapy Manager,

Marklund is a magical place.  Not only do you grow professionally, but personally and emotionally.  The ties you make at Marklund are forever lasting.  Staff have every opportunity to grow and challenge themselves to new individual development.

Click Here to Learn More About Krissy Dolen's Marklund Story

Krissy Dolen, 2013

Staff Nurse > CDS Nurse > Nurse Manager > Director of Nursing > Administrator

Marklund Hyde Center Campus

I joined Marklund in 2013. I have always worked at the Hyde Center in Geneva progressing from Staff Nurse, CDS Nurse and Nurse Manager to Director of Nursing and Administrator.

There have always been opportunities to learn and grow professionally in every role I have held at Marklund. There has been so much support and encouragement from both my peers and supervisors as I pursued additional licensures and certifications during my tenure. I’m sure this won’t be my last stop in my career at Marklund, and I am excited to see what the future holds as the organization continues to expand and deliver our mission to more amazing individuals.

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