STAFF & LEADERSHIP
We provide help and hope for low-income families.
We are professionals, community leaders and volunteers dedicated to assisting underserved local families. We are committed to finding and connecting resources to build confidence, self-sufficiency and financial well-being in families.
Meet Our Staff
Erica Chianelli, Executive Director
Erica leverages more than 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience and service as she leads efforts to strengthen and empower low-income, working families at FamilyForward. Erica came to FamilyForward in December 2021, bringing strong interpersonal and communication skills and focused energy and passion for making a difference in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. She believes the important work of FamilyForward has a ripple effect across neighborhoods as families learn and grow and become self-sufficient, contributing to the well-being of the greater community at large.
Sarah Harte, Program Manager
Sarah joined FamilyForward in May 2018. Her work experience includes Special Olympics, adult day services for people with dementia, and hospital-based day rehabilitation. She holds a master's degree in social service administration and she has volunteered at several social service organizations in Arlington Heights.
Pam Van De Walle, Case Manager
Pam has worked with students at the Special Education District of Lake County (SEDOL), seniors in residential and home settings, and currently with the families of FamilyForward. During her time as a case manager at FamilyForward, she believes she has been educated, challenged and inspired to advocate for neighbors who are in need of not only financial mentoring, but guidance and support in their everyday lives.
Board of Directors and Committees
Tim Wayman, Chair
Co-owner of AlphaGraphics Lisle
Greg Ford, Vice Chair
Retired assistant manager for the Village of Arlington Heights
Chris Farnsworth, Corresponding Secretary
Retired sales and forecasting coordinator
Donna Anderson, Recording Secretary
Educator and former chair of FamilyForward, formerly known as Faith Community Homes
Tina Richards, Treasurer
Ex-American Red Cross instructor; community volunteer; ex-financial analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Vice President at Village Bank and Trust, Arlington Heights
Business Development Director, Palatine Chamber of Commerce
Retired Kohler Company executive
Courtney T. Podkowa
Attorney at Drost Kivlahan McMahon & O’Connor (DKMO) law firm
Executive Director, For Papa’s Sake Home Care
Retired International Minerals & Chemical Corporation executive; former chair and board member, Northwest Community Hospital Foundation
Arlington Heights realtor
Retired AT&T director
FamilyForward has five standing committees comprising board members and volunteers from the community. Contact us if you are interested in serving!
Greg Ford, Chair
Monitors low-income housing availability in our community and advocates with local government and others for additional affordable housing.
Tina Richards, Chair
Reviews our financial position regularly and develops the operating budget for the fiscal year. This committee also engages an outside accountant for an annual review.
Jane Drezen, Chair
Plans and organizes annual events, sends a yearly appeal letter and seeks out new and innovative ways to raise funds.
Marketing and Communications
Chris Farnsworth & Kris Mainellis,* Co-Chairs
Plans and organizes newsletters and curates website, social media, marketing and branding material.
Jen Strimling, Co-Chair
Works to establish and maintain relations with stakeholders such as churches, service clubs, local government bodies, chambers of commerce and local businesses.
* Non-FF Board member
CO-CHAIRS, BOARD LIAISONS
Courtney T. Podkowa
Operations Manager, Onboarding and Employee Success, For Papa’s Sake Home Care
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Trainer & Consultant, Mosaic Consulting Service
Food Drive Coordinator, All Saints Food Pantry
Social Worker and Trustee, Arlington Heights Memorial Library
Real Estate Broker, The Ortman Group, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Starck Real Estate
Realtor, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Starck Real Estate
Attorney, Drost Kivlahan McMahon & O’Connor, LLC
Attorney, Lavelle Law
HR Executive, Royal Power Solutions
Financial Analyst, Grainger
Creative Culture Leader, Arity
Vice President & Controller, Grainger
Assistant Branch Manager, Village Bank & Trust