Noelle Allen is a full-time, tenured professor of sculpture and ceramics at Dominican University, with over 15 years of experience teaching at the college level. Noelle holds a BA from Smith College and an MFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Grace Winston and her family live in Oak Park, Illinois. As a veteran in broadcast radio and
television, Grace has 30+ years of experience in using its power to help businesses and
members of the community survive, grow, and thrive. At WAIT AM 850 in Crystal Lake she
developed the skills to create innovative ways to raise funds for the station while helping others reach their financial goals. During her later tenure at 97.9 WLUP “The Loop” Grace enjoyed being on the team during the regime of Jonathon Brandmeier, Kevin Matthews, and Danny Bonaduce, as well as contributing to the radio broadcast success during the Chicago Bulls championship years. In 1998, Grace helped to develop and manage the broadcast sales team at the new ESPN Radio 1000, served as their manage for over eight years, and was the two-time recipient of the coveted Walt Disney “Circle of Excellence” award.
Now in her 16th year at WTTW PBS Chicago and 98.7 WFMT Chicago’s Classical radio, she
continues to raise funds to help the stations and the community, both behind the scenes and on-air. Grace developed and managed three community engagement initiatives to focus on three areas of highest need:
1) Educate children and families on the long-term positive effects of making good
2) Educate parents, caregivers, and children about the power of reading and the long-term
educational benefits within.
3) Connect seniors and children through mutual respect exercises to form bonding and
Grace enjoys balancing a fun home life, a career, and serving the community. She can often be seen coaching baseball, rollerblading, and gardening, while enjoying sports and activities with her 22-year-old son, Cassidy, and 8-year-old son, Ryan, along with the love of her life, Chris.
Cathy Starr and her husband and six year-old son live in Oak Park, IL. Cathy is Head of Global Parts Operations for CNH Industrial with 20 years experience in operations, project management, purchasing, and leading global teams. Cathy is the founder and executive chair of iGLOW, a 1000+ member Employee Resource Group for Women at CNH Industrial and is the Chair of CNH Industrial’s DEI Sub-Committee on Inclusion where she leads a team of senior directors to design organizational changes to increase inclusion across all sectors of the company. Cathy is also passionate about event planning and her experience includes end-to-end planning and sourcing for large scale corporate, private, and non-profit events including planning and executing a multi-day Women’s Leadership Summit, Non-Profit fundraising gala, weddings, and private events ranging from 15 to 300+ guests. Cathy is also a professional performance and studio musician and has performed and recorded with many Chicago based bands over the past 20 years. Cathy’s husband Frank Veraldi is an ecosystem biologist for the US Army Corp of Engineers, a published author, musician and composer, and a professional carpenter and woodworker.
Pem Hessing is a communications professional who has lived in Oak Park since 2013. A self-described helper, she has been a successful organizer for local causes and nonprofits believing that incremental changes can lead to big changes in culture and policy. Pem has been passionate about the Slowfire Foundation mission since the global pandemic, when she saw, through her daughter, how art can transform mental health.