Our Team


Our staff members bring diverse experience and skills, but share two qualities: the genuine appreciation for the unique personalities of our participants and a commitment to helping them succeed every day.

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Cindy O’Donnell

Program Manager

Cindy has extensive experience in special education. She was the Chairperson of the Special Education Department at Schaumburg High School for over 30 years. She has a BS in Special Education and an MS in Educational Administration. Cindy retired from teaching in 2016. Our Place is thrilled that Cindy has chosen to return to work with us.

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Michelle Patzke

Finance & Administration Manager

Michelle joined the Our Place staff in 2013 after spending over 11 years working as a lawyer before beginning a career for a hedge fund in Chicago. That work did not satisfy her soul and after a brief stint on the Our Place Board she joined the staff as a Job Coach and Administration Manager. mpatze@ourplaceofnewtrier.org

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Development Supervisor

Sara fell in love with nonprofit work as a teenage volunteer. Inspired by her volunteer work at a camp for children with autism, she developed a deep passion for social work and received her BSW from James Madison University and her MSW from Loyola. Sara joined Our Place in October 2016 and has brought her experience with children, teens, and adults of all backgrounds along with her management of community relations and fundraising.



Program Leader

Bio coming soon!


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Senior Program Leader &
Staff Development Coordinator

Aidan started as a volunteer for Our Place in the winter of 2016.  When a part-time position opened at the beginning of 2017, Aidan jumped at the opportunity and soon his part time job became a full-time one.  He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and majored in psychology and minored in educational psychology and human relations.

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Senior Program Leader,
Registration Coordinator &
Social Media Coordinator

Catherine has 10 years of experience in Special Education. She has volunteered with individuals with disabilities since high school and worked for the NSSRA throughout high school and college. She received her BS in Special Education from Northern Illinois University after which she worked in schools and then an adult day program as a counselor. Catherine started her work with Our Place in the fall of 2017 and has enjoyed working here ever since.

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Jack Hattendorf

Program Leader &
Media Production Coordinator

Jack started as a volunteer for Our Place in the winter of 2018. A part time position opened up a few months later and he was thrilled that he was asked to become a part of the team. Soon after, Jack was taken on as a full-time staff member and is really enjoying the Our Place life. He got his Associate in Arts from Oakton Community College and is looking forward to continuing his education and learning new things every day at both Our Place and in school.

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Senior Program Leader & Transportation Coordinator

Sterling has been working with young adults with developmental disabilities for over 16 years. Before coming to Our Place in 2011, he worked as a teacher’s aide at New Trier High School. He attended Loyola Academy High School where he played football and basketball and received an Associate’s Degree from Grand Canyon University.

Senior Program Leader & Participant Support Coordinator


Senior Program Leader & Participant Support Coordinator

Emily has been with Our Place from the beginning. She was inspired to become a volunteer in 2010 by her brother, Josh—a participant. Since she was young, Emily has known that her dream when she grew up would be to work with people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to live her dream at Our Place. Emily is currently completing her studies to become a  speech-language pathologist.

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Frank Kisslinger

Senior Support Coordinator

Frank joined Our Place after a career as a librarian and corporate information manager, where he worked in a wide range of libraries from corporate real estate to public elementary schools. Frank is the Senior Support Coordinator, which means he helps out with administrative and development areas as well as technical and computer related functions.  Frank has a BA in History from Kalamazoo College and an MLS from the University of Missouri. When Frank is not at Our Place, he can typically be found at the Old Town School of Folk Music discovering new genres and helping out at weekend concerts.

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Brittany Mussen

Senior Program Leader & Scheduling Coordinator

Brittany leads programs that focus on individual growth and is inspired by how accepting and open the Our Place community is. Her favorite program is Book Club, because it’s the program that she sees participants growing the most in and where it allows her to work more one on one with the participants. Brittany also was an events intern at Autism Speaks. She is a graduate of Illinois State University.



Program Leader

Bio coming soon!




Program Leader & Development Coordinator

Jamie graduated from Creighton University in 2018 where she received her BSBA in International Business and Marketing, and a minor in Spanish. She supported individuals with disabilities in high school through peer mentoring and NSSRA, and continued in college through Best Buddies and employment coaching. The summer before she started at Our Place, she worked at an overnight camp for kids and adults with disabilities in Maryland. She loves Our Place’s commitment to live out their mission statement every single day.

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Senior Program Leader & Volunteer Coordinator

Jamie began as an intern in the summer of 2013 and eventually became a full-time staff member.  Jamie received is BA in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is interested in psychology because he loves understanding how people’s minds function. He finds working with individuals with developmental disabilities incredibly rewarding.


Our Board

Matt Cohen

Matt Cohen is the founder of Matt Cohen & Associates and is well known for his work in special education law. He has served on boards at both the national and local levels and has lectured nationally on a wide variety of special education topics, as well as on mental health and confidentiality law and has authored numerous articles on these subjects.

Camille De Frank

Camille De Frank is a Founding board member, and Officer, Women’s Advisory Board, Misericordia. Member of Impact 100 Chicago.

Cathy DiVincenzo

Cathy DiVincenzo is a pediatrician and founder of Kids First Pediatrics  Partners in Skokie, IL.   

Robin Downe

Robin has a degree in education and specialized in teaching children with developmental delays in Toronto, Canada. After moving to Chicago, she worked as a substitute teacher and resource for students with learning disabilities.

Ann Dronen

Ann is an experienced information technology professional, most recently serving as an IT director at Northwestern University. She is also the parent lead for the Special Education Alliance for New Trier District 203 (SEA203). Ann currently serves as the treasurer on the Our Place Board Executive Committee.

Lisa Flanagan

The Cove School, Co-chair of gala and former PTO President, former litigator at CNA

Jane A. Gallery

Jane Gallery is the founder of Our Place and serves as President of the Board of Directors. She is also the Treasurer and Director of The Lowe Syndrome Association and a member of Impact 100 Chicago.

Natalie Kincaid

Natalie is project manager of the Literacy Program at Our Place. Her background is in language and design. 

Heather Martino

Heather is a former child advocate with Court Appointed Special Advocates. She serves people in need at Banque Alimentaire de Paris food bank. She is also a member of the Woman's Club of Evanston.

Pamela Sheridan Pappano

Pamela Sheridan Pappano is a practicing lawyer and also serves as Arbitrator, Cook County Board of Arbitration and as a Substitute Teacher at Loyola Academy.

Barbara Saavedra

Barbara Saavedra is a legal assistant and is involved in Special Olympics and special recreation projects.

Employment at Our Place

Please see open job listings below. If you're interested in working with Our Place,
but don't see an option that fits your skills, please reach out!

On my first visit to Our Place I knew I wanted to be part of this unique place. There were no openings, so I started volunteering. Now, I’m a full-time program leader. I couldn’t be happier with the friendships I’ve made with the participants and the sense of community I experience every day.
— Aidan Guimond, Our Place Program Leader

Open Positions

There are currently no openings.