Our Team


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


Cindy O'Donnell
Program Manager

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

Contact Cindy-


Michelle Patzke
Administration Manager

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Michelle joined the Our Place staff in 2013 after spending over 10 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.

Contact Michelle -


Sara O'Keefe
Program Supervisor

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Sara joined Our Place in October 2016.  She has an MSW and BSW from Loyola and James Madison University, respectively.  Sara brings a wealth of experience to her job at Our Place. She has worked in camps for children with autism, managed community relations and even helped with fundraisers in previous positions and internships.  

Contact Sara-

Riley Dahiya
Program Leader

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Riley graduated from Illinois State University in 2018 where she received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Riley worked for NSSRA in high school and continued working with individuals with disabilities throughout college.  She is very excited to be part of the team at Our Place.

Contact Riley -


Aidan Guimond
Senior Program Leader

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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.  

Contact Aidan -aguimond@ourplaceofnewtrier.org

Catherine Hattendorf
Senior Program Leader

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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.

Contact Catherine-

Jack Hattendorf
Program Leader

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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.

Contact Jack- 

Sterling Humphrey
Senior Program Leader

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Sterling has been working with young adults with developmental disabilities for over 15 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.

Contact Sterling -



Emily Kerzner
Senior Program Leader

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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.

Contact Emily-

Jamie Weller
Senior Program Leader

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Jamie began as a volunteer at our Place in the winter 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.

Contact Jamie-

Frank Kisslinger
Senior Support Coordinator

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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.

Contact Frank-

Brittany Mussen
Senior Program Leader

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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.

Contact Brittany-

Our Board

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

Director of Student Enterprise Systems, Northwestern University.

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.

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.

Ellen Hayden

Ellen Hayden is a designer and also serves as an officer of the Woman’s Club of Evanston, fundraiser for Life Span, and is an Auxiliary Board Member of The Ted Fund.

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.

Avidan Stern

Avi is a founding board member. He is Associate General Counsel of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons and serves as secretary for the Board of Directors of Our Place.

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, roughly eight months after I first felt the love of Our Place, 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