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.

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.

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Amanda Byrne
Manager of Special Events & Annual Giving

Amanda joins the Robert Crown Center team with more than fifteen years of development experience. Amanda has been fortunate enough to work for some of the most exceptional nonprofit organizations in the area. She spent much of her career working in the arts and has also been integral to the development teams at child and animal welfare agencies. Amanda was drawn to these organizations out a deep sense of commitment for their missions.

Amanda is proud to be a member of the Robert Crown Center team and an organization that is dedicated to making an impact on the health education of so many students. Amanda looks forward to meeting friends of the Robert Crown Center at upcoming events and programs.

Amanda holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern Illinois University and a Master of Science degree from Roosevelt University. Amanda and her husband currently live in Palos Heights with their three children.

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.

Maureen Denja
LMS Administrative Assistant

Maureen joined the Robert Crown Center for Health Education in December of 2018, and currently serves as the Learning Management System (LMS) administrative assistant. Previously, Maureen taught with the Center for Talent and Development at Northwestern University. Maureen has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northern Illinois University, and a Masters of Education from DePaul University. Maureen supports teachers as they implement the new LMS program which provides students with pre and post learning activities related to health, sex, and drug education. Maureen currently lives in La Grange with her husband and three children.

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Sheila Evans
Social Media & LMS Coordinator

Sheila Evans has worked with multiple nonprofits, including the Field Museum, communicating science through public relations and social media. She has helped organizations collaborate with both local and national outlets including National Geographic, Smithsonian, and LiveScience. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Purdue University. With RCC, Sheila manages the social media accounts and assists teachers in utilizing the learning management software. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, and dancing.

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Eleanor Evins
Health Educator

Eleanor joined the Robert Crown team in May of 2019 as an intern and transitioned to becoming a health educator with the organization in August of the same year. She is a double-alumni from Northern Illinois University (NIU) and holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Public Health specializing in health promotion. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing Education from NIU and hopes to eventually teach the next generation of nursing students within a university setting. Eleanor has a variety of professional and academic interests and has worked as a registered nurse in a number of different healthcare settings such as inpatient critical care, outpatient surgery, and reproductive medicine. As a nurse and health educator, she values the role of primary prevention in addressing health disparities and promoting optimal health. She is excited to work with an organization that gives her the opportunity to continuously provide primary prevention and health promotion education to the students served by RCC.

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Kimberly Fronk
Health Educator

Kim Fronk joined Robert Crown in August of 2019. She has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Miami University in Ohio and a Masters in Educational Administration from Northeastern Illinois University. She has been a 4th – 6th grade teacher at Chicago Public Schools, Oak Park District 97 and a K-8 substitute teacher at LaGrange Highlands. Kim has always had a passion for teaching and sharing her love of science with her students. As an educator and parent, Kim wants to help children navigate this often challenging world and support them in making informed and healthy decisions. She is excited to be part of an organization that encourages parents and youth to ask questions, talk openly about puberty, sex education and the impact of drugs and alcohol while looking at it through a scientific lens. In her spare time, Kim enjoys spending time with her family, being active in her church and playing tennis.

Katie Gallagher
Director of Education

Katie joins the Robert Crown team after working for over twenty years as a teacher and administrator at the elementary and middle school levels. She has a rich background in child development, curriculum development and social emotional learning. As a building principal, Katie provided teachers with ongoing feedback, curricular support and professional development opportunities. She implemented progress monitoring tools to allow for more data-driven decision making regarding student needs and curriculum updates. She worked to improve school/parent communication through the implementation of a schoolwide LMS (learning management system). Katie is looking forward to using her experience in her role as Director of Education at Robert Crown. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s degree in Instructional Leadership from Loyola University Chicago. Katie knows first-hand the value of Robert Crown programs to students, teachers and families in the schools we serve.

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Terence Hodges
Health Educator

Terence Hodges joined the Robert Crown Center December 2019 as a Health Educator. This is Terence’s second time working for the center. He previously worked for RCC in 2015 and 2016. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Roosevelt University, an MA degree in Human Services from Concordia University Chicago, an M.Ed degree in Health Education from Carroll University, and a Doctor of Health Science (DHS) Degree from Midwestern University. He is also a certified alcohol and other drug counselor (CADC) and a certified health education specialist (CHES). Prior to joining RCC, Terence worked as a Department Chair and Assistant Professor at Methodist College in central Illinois, and most recently he worked as a full-time instructor in the Health Science department at Northern Illinois University. Terence is looking forward to impacting the lives of young people through RCC’s various programs.

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Nicole Holmes
Health Educator

Nicole Holmes, BS, CHES, is a new health educator with the Robert Crown Team. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health Education at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Some career highlights include presenting at the National Sexual Health Conference (Two presentations - Bisexual Health Symposium, Bisexuality 101 for Healthcare Providers) and contributing to The Consent Guidebook as well as a Vice article about FC2 (Female condom, receptive partner condom). Nicole is excited to broaden her public health horizons with teaching youth under high school age and she is excited to be a member of such a dynamic and supportive team that is considered a health education powerhouse. Nicole is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., a season Ticket Holder for the Chicago Sky (WNBA Team), an avid movie fan and she enjoys trying new restaurants with her mom, friends, and or/partner.

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.

Sandi Metcalfe
Health Educator

Sandi joined the Robert Crown Center as a Health Educator in the Fall of 2018. Prior to joining the RCC team, Sandi spent several years working in DuPage County managing a Special Olympics sports program in a community special recreation cooperative for youth and adults with disabilities. It is here where she realized her passion for helping school aged children feel empowered and in control of their health and lifestyle choices. She looks forward to continuing this passion through delivering community health, sex, and drug education programs under the mission and vision of the Robert Crown Center. Sandi received a Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation and Master of Science in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from Illinois State University.

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.

Sarah O
Administrative Assistant

Sarah joined the Robert Crown Center for Health Education as an Administrative Assistant in July of 2018. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology from Northern Illinois University, Sarah worked for five years for a non-profit organization helping adults with disabilities live full and abundant lives. The following six years were spent working for Northwestern Medicine in the inpatient Behavioral Health and Addictions settings. The topics of general and mental well-being are important to Sarah and she believes that educating children on these topics can lead to healthy, productive adults.

Jessica Puri
Health Educator

Jessica joined RCC in December 2018 as a health educator. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Loyola University and Masters in Public Health from DePaul University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Integrated Health Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her research interests are in child health literacy and adolescent development. She also volunteers with non-profit organizations including SoapBox PO, Center for Community Health Equity and Chi Alpha Campus Ministries.

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.

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Andros Garcia Saldivar
Health Educator

Andros earned his B.S. in Health Science from Boston University and a Master of Public Health from the University of Kansas Medical Center.

He worked at the University of Kansas Medical Center seasonally throughout high school and college, largely focusing on the health of the Latino community within JUNTOS: Center for Advancing Latino Health. After undergraduate school, he briefly worked at a start-up in Boston that specialized in fitness tracking hardware geared towards collegiate, professional, and other elite athletes. At the same time, he has consistently mentored young students in different tutoring and academic enrichment programs. Later during graduate school, he also had the opportunity to work as a Teaching Assistant for graduate-level epidemiology courses. He’s now working as a Health Educator with the Robert Crown Center for Health Education. Andros is happy for the opportunity to make a positive impact in students across the greater Chicago area and to become familiar with the region and its people. Andros also has a passion for photography, whether it’s portraits, cityscapes, landscapes, or concerts, he loves every minute of it. He can also get lost wandering without a care while hiking in Mexico or at art museums.

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.

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Rachel Simmons
Health Educator

Rachel joined the Robert Crown team in August of 2019. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health in 2017, having earned the Bronze Tablet distinction. Rachel later graduated with her Master of Science in Health Administration in 2019. While at Illinois, Rachel was a teaching assistant for an introductory statistics course, as well as the instructor for a medical ethics class. Rachel also had the experience to intern at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District in the Department of Wellness and Health Promotion. As a part of RCC, Rachel is excited to provide important and accurate information regarding health topics to youth with the goal of giving them the tools to better understand their bodies and make positive choices in their lives.

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.

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
Education Manager

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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