Our Team

Barb Thayer
Executive Director

Barb joined the Robert Crown Center for Health Education in 2011 and currently serves as the center’s Executive Director.  Previously, she held several positions at RCC including Chief Operating Officer where she led the development of a long-term strategic plan for the organization. Barb has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and currently lives in Burr Ridge with her husband and three children. She is thrilled to be part of an organization with such a rich history and looks forward to making RCC more impactful to families in the Chicagoland area.

Kris Adzia
Director of Education

Kris has been at the Robert Crown Center for Health Education (RCC) since January 2011. In her current role, she oversees the delivery, updating, development, and evaluation of RCC’s educational programming. Prior to her current role, over three years of her work at RCC was focused on the creation, piloting, implementation, and evaluation of the Heroin Prevention Program. She has also managed many grants and other special projects. She was trained as an elementary educator and holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Learning. Her previous experiences include early childhood and elementary teaching, as well as program development and implementation for kids, families and teachers at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago along with other community organizations.

Betty Barsley-Marra
Health Educator

Betty Barsley-Marra began her career as an Early Childhood Development Specialist with the University of Missouri initiating a statewide system for the early identification of children with special needs. Upon returning to Illinois, she joined the faculty of Roosevelt University teaching psychology and education courses. She has taught and mentored countless students, teachers, counselors, youth development professionals, parents and community members regarding physical and mental health related issues through her work at Roosevelt, Merrillville High School and as a family life educator with University of Illinois Extension. She considers it a great privilege to have worked across the lifespan with infants through seniors. Betty earned her undergraduate degree at Northern Illinois University in Family Development and Early Childhood Education and her MS Ed from University of Illinois Chicago in Educational Studies with a specialization in Human Sexuality Education and Counseling and post Masters work in Clinical Psychology. In her free time, she enjoys long distance cycling and indulging her love for the arts including pop culture. Her claims of “I saw him/her when” can be attributed to her habit of frequenting obscure venues to see bands, plays, performances and exhibits.

Liz Carter
Health Educator

Liz received her Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education from Illinois State University. During that time, she became a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) through The National Commission for Health Education (NCHEC). Liz joined the Robert Crown Center as a Health Educator in April 2017.

Lisa Gaines
Health Educator

Lisa began working with Robert Crown Center in September 2017.  She started her career working as a registered nurse.  Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Public Health.  For more than 15 years, Lisa has been motivating and empowering both youth and adults to lead happy, healthy and successful lives.  She has worked within the community conducting workshops, trainings and seminars both nationally and internationally.  Her goal is to serve others by promoting an enhanced understanding of how to achieve and maintain optimal health, thus giving them hope that regardless of past decisions, there is always an opportunity for new beginnings.

Karime Lopez
Administrative Assistant

Since joining the Robert Crown Center in 2008, Karime has become the welcoming face and voice for the Center. She is responsible for the reservation system and schedules nearly 80,000 students a year,providing program confirmations and invoicing. With her mastery of the system and understanding of all of RCC’s offerings, she is able to guide teachers and parents toward programs that meet their needs. Additionally, she coordinates vendor visits and provides administrative support throughout the Center.

Shelly Nicholson
Grants Manager

Shelly joined the Robert Crown Center (RCC) staff in October 2015 as the Grants Manager. Prior to RCC, she worked for the McHenry County Department of Health as a grant writer and manager of a community outreach, education and health insurance enrollment grant as part of the initial roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. She has a Master’s in Public Health from Tulane University and a BA in International Relations from Tufts University. Shelly worked as a health educator for the US Peace Corps in Ecuador early in her career and is very happy to help sustain and expand RCC programming for the next generation.

Mishawn Purnell-O’Neal
Health Educator

Mishawn Purnell-O’Neal joined the Robert Crown Health Center in the Fall of 2016. As a Health Educator, she strives to pique the interest of young audiences by delivering science-based content while making the real-world connection. She is a double-alumni of Benedictine University, receiving a Master in Public Health, and a Bachelor of Science in Health Education. Mishawn has worked in several Public Health settings (March of Dimes, American Academy of Pediatrics, and SIDS Alliance). To broaden her Public Health outreach, she publishes books, educational activities, and board games designed for children and youth. Mishawn is a passionate Public Health professional, and is delighted to be a member of the Robert Crown Health Center family.

Katie Schram
Health Educator

Katie Schram joined the Robert Crown Center as a Health Educator in September of 2016. Her primary role is to deliver educational and medically accurate programs and maintain engaging classroom environments while teaching at the Center and in schools. Katie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education from Northern Illinois University. Prior to joining the Robert Crown Center, Katie worked as a Teacher’s Aid with the Day Reporting Program at the Juvenile Services Center in LaPorte, IN.

Laura Schwartz
Business Development Manager

Laura joined the Robert Crown Center for Health Education as the Business Development Manager in September of 2017.  Prior to joining RCC,  Laura worked in business development for Orange Theory Fitness in La Grange while raising her three children.  Early in her career, Laura taught 5th grade in Riverside, Illinois after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Dayton.  Growing up in the western suburbs, Laura has had the unique perspective of attending RCC when she was a 5th grader herself, bringing her 5th grade students to  RCC as a teacher, and being a parent of a student who recently attended RCC programs.

Joan Sheldon
Health Educator

Joan Sheldon joined RCC in August, 2015.  She is a graduate of Western Illinois University with a major in Health Education, and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University in Evanston.  She is a retired middle school Health teacher from Vernon Hills, IL. Joan used to bring her students to the Robert Crown Center. Joan is very appreciative of the opportunity to do what she is passionate about, educate our youth about their bodies and to lead healthy lives.

Olivia Starr
Health Educator

Olivia has worked with youth in a number of settings, starting as a tutor in schools and later serving as a program director for the Boys and Girls Club. She has a Bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in 2014 earned a Master's degree in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of Texas at Austin. In the two years prior to joining Robert Crown, Olivia worked as a Health Educator for the Hult Center for Healthy Living in Peoria, teaching a variety of classes for students ranging from Pre-K to 9th grade. Olivia loves working with adolescents and helping them empower themselves with the skills and confidence to make healthy choices.

LeeAnne Stifflear
Staff Accountant

LeeAnne joined RCC in January 2015 as Staff Accountant. Prior to joining RCC, LeeAnne devoted 13 years to raising her two children. LeeAnne lives in Hinsdale and has been involved with many community volunteer projects. She is excited to be part of the RCC team and to share in such important community education. LeeAnne previously worked in both public and private accounting firms. She earned her Bachelors of Science Degree in Accounting from Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

John Suffern
Data Analyst

John is a Data Analyst with skills and experience in analyzing nonprofit key performance indicators to assist the organization with  strategic thinking, team development, and operational effectiveness. John co-founded a nonprofit organization in 2003 and served as its Executive Director for 10 years. Career Advancement Network provided workforce development programs for the city of Chicago, Cook County, state of Illinois, and the Department of Labor. During this time under John’s leadership, the organization assisted thousands of hard to serve populations in Chicago including ex-offenders, domestic violence survivor’s, and dislocated workers. After leaving CAN, John transitioned to run NPO.net and doubled revenue. Since leaving that position, John has been providing consulting to organizations such as Lets Sponsor, Inner Voice, the Wentcher Foundation, and the Vietnamese Association of Illinois.

Roseanne Tenuta
Health Educator

Rose joined the Robert Crown Center for Health Education in July of 2008 as a Health Educator.  In her role at RCC, she is also responsible for assisting with  curriculum development.Prior to joining the Robert Crown Center, Rosanne taught Biology and Health Education at Oak Park & River Forest High School for 30+ years. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Illinois, a Masters degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in curriculum from Northern Illinois University, and an Ed.S. degree from Northern Illinois University in Counseling.

Lance Williams
Senior Health Educator

Lance received his Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health Education from Illinois State University. After graduating, Lance began working with the Kane County Health Department as a Health Contractor, aiming to lower childhood obesity and tobacco use within the community.In February of 2011, Lance joined the Robert Crown Center as a Health Educator. In addition to teaching, Lance contributes to curriculum development and educator scheduling.

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