|HISTORY||BOARD OF DIRECTORS||CENTER STAFF||CAREERS||VOLUNTEER|
About Us » Center Staff
Chief Executive Officer
R.J. McMahon joined the Robert Crown Center for Health Education (RCC) on June 2, 2014 as Chief Executive Officer. Prior to taking the leadership role at RCC, R.J. served as Vice President and Director of Development for Fenwick High School. At Fenwick, R.J. established constituent initiatives, restructured development operations, and formalized organizational structures. From 2006 to 2009, R.J. was the Director of External Relations for the Chicago International Charter School, preceding which he served as President of St. Martin de Porres High School in Waukegan. R.J. is the Chicago Region Chair for Boston College, Alumni Admissions, and a board member of the Peacebuilders Initiative, Bernadine Center Catholic Theological Union. He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from Boston College and an MBA in Operations and Marketing from Loyola University of Chicago.
Director of Education
Kris Adzia has been involved in both formal and informal education as well as program and project development throughout her career. She was trained as an elementary educator and holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Learning. Kris taught fourth grade for three years and took part in a Golden Apple Science Summer workshop and received a State of Illinois Museum in the Classroom technology grant.
After leaving the classroom, Kris joined the Education Department at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. She developed, taught, and managed community outreach programs both at the Museum and off site. She taught and updated learning labs (classes inside the Museum exhibits), as well as scheduled and trained facilitators to teach these classes. She also developed and taught teacher workshops.
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.
Senior Health Educator
David Bedney M.D.
G. David R. Bedney, MD, MPH began his work as a health educator for Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, at the County of Riverside Department of Health, in Riverside California in 1986, after receiving his Masters in Public Health from Loma Linda University in the same year. Finding his niche in adolescent health, he has taught scores of elementary and teen youth about relevant health issues, both in California and more recently here in Illinois. Choosing to augment his experience in health prevention and enhance his effectiveness, he received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, The Chicago Medical School, in 2002. He returned to use his skills at the Robert Crown Center in October of 2005. Dr. Bedney has personally taught almost 35,000 Chicagoland youth and their parents. David serves as a valuable resource to RCC’s curriculum development team. Dr. Bedney is married to Marcia Bedney, M.D. They are very proud of their two sons, Gerald, 19, and Gavin, 13.
Laura Carstons joined the Robert Crown Center as a Health Educator in April of 2014. Her primary role is to deliver educational and medically accurate programs and maintain engaging classroom environments while teaching at Hinsdale, Homan Square, and Outreach classes. Laura holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education from Northern Illinois University. Prior to joining the Robert Crown Center, Laura worked as a special education paraprofessional in middle and high schools and coached Girls’ Track and Field at Maine East High School in Park Ridge. In the summer, she teaches high school English Language Learner Health Education in Niles Township. Laura also holds a board position for the Illinois School Health Association.
Director of Development
Rebecca Gee joined the Robert Crown Center (RCC) staff in September 2014 as the Director of Development. Prior to RCC, she worked at Old St. Patrick’s Church in downtown Chicago as the Director of Youth Ministry and at Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, California as the Youth Development Coordinator. She holds a Masters of Nonprofit Administration degree from North Park University. After attending classes at RCC each year as a child, she is pleased to be helping to insure quality programming for the next generation.
Phyllis Gorman joined the Robert Crown Center for Health Education as a Health Educator in March 1995. In this role she is responsible for creating and delivering educational and scientifically accurate program content and establishing relationships with teachers, principals, superintendents and the community. She has taught thousands of students and hopes she has made a difference in keeping them healthy, happy and safe. Prior to joining RCC, Phyllis earned a B.S. Degree in Education from University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana and subsequently taught at Hinsdale Hospital and S.E. Gross Middle School.
Director of Communications
Katherine Leibforth joined the Robert Crown Center for Health Education (RCC) in June 2014. Prior to joining RCC, Katherine was Director of the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce Foundation, for which she created and produced events and educational programs and led all marketing communications efforts. She also worked in content creation and account management for Apple Computer, The Merchandise Mart and Encyclopaedia Britannica. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism and has completed post-graduate work in publishing and marketing.
Since joining the Robert Crown Center three years ago, Karime has become the welcoming face and voice for the Center. She is responsible for the reservation system and schedules nearly 85,000 students a year. She also provides the follow-up confirmations and invoicing for the RCC classes. With her mastery of the system and understanding of all of RCC’s offerings, she is able to guide teachers and parents toward the right class. Additionally, she coordinates vendor visits and provides administrative support throughout the Center. Besides playing a key role in the administration of RCC, she always gives a warm first greeting to all the RCC guests.
Emily is a Health Education Intern at RCC. She will have completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health Education from Illinois State University in May of 2015. Emily is passionate about substance abuse prevention and sex education.
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 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.
Heroin Prevention Program Manager
Mark E. Robinson
Mark began working at the Robert Crown Center in March 2012 and thoroughly enjoys teaching, particularly about reproductive health, STD prevention, and helping teens build effective decision making skills. He received his Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education and Master of Public Health in Community Health Education from Southern Illinois University (SIUC.) During that time he became a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) through The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC). As a student, he conducted his Master’s practicum as the Sexual Health and Wellness intern for the SIUC Student Health Center Wellness Center. Partnering with Jackson County Health Department, this experience consisted of offering free STD screenings and treatment to students and members of the community to promote behavior change, healthy lifestyles, and overall lower STD rates in Jackson County - grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mark also worked for Brehm Preparatory School in Carbondale, Illinois as a Lead Dorm Parent focusing on empowering students with complex learning disabilities to recognize and achieve their full potential.
Hector is a bilingual educator who is passionate about health and education. He is certified by the state as a Physical Education and Health & Wellness teacher, and has experience working with students from Kindergarten through high school. His participation in a previous nonprofit parent-teacher organization and as coach of varied sports activities has enriched his relationships with communities. He is an avid participant in intramural sports and works consistently to advance professionally and improve as an educator. Hector has served Chicagoans and the surrounding areas well and is an important part of the team at The Robert Crown Center for Health Education.
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 and Outreach classes. 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.
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.
Rosanne Tenuta joined the Robert Crown Center for Health Education in July of 2008 as a Health Educator. In this role she was responsible for delivering educational and scientifically accurate program content, new program development, and maintaining engaging classroom environments.
Rose has also been responsible for developing curriculum for the Robert Crown Center. She has helped revise existing programs and aligned them with the State of Illinois Learning Standards as well as national standards from the CDC and other health organizations. Rose also a valued part of the RCC team creating “Stealth Health” workshops for area teachers that help them learn to incorporate health topics into math and science curricula. She continues to also serve as a Health Educator.
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 B. S. degree from University of Illinois in Teaching of Biology with a minor in Health Education. She also holds a Master degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in curriculum from Northern Illinois University and an Ed.S. degree from Northern Illinois University in Counseling.
Chief Operating Officer
Barb Thayer joined the Robert Crown Center for Health Education (RCC) in November 2011 as Special Events Coordinator. Barb has also held the position of Development Associate and currently serves as the center's Director of Operations.
Prior to joining RCC, Barb devoted 10 years to raising her three children. Barb lives in Hinsdale and has been involved in volunteer projects with many local Hinsdale organizations. She is thrilled to be part of the RCC team and is very excited to share her passion for children while working for a local organization. Previously, Barb enjoyed a successful career in the retail industry, working as a Department Manager, Buyer and Planning Manager for Marshall Fields, Montgomery Ward and Spiegel. Barb has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.
Special Events Coordinator
Val Walls joined the Robert Crown Center (RCC) in October, 2016 as the Special Events Coordinator. Prior to joining RCC, Val devoted 15 years to raising her four children. She lives in LaGrange and has volunteered with and led many school, parish, and community events. She is excited to be part of the team and to lead all of RCC’s community events. Prior to having children, Val was a SVP for Prudential as an Institutional Equity Trader for 12 years. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Finance at Governor’s State University.
Lance Williams received his BS 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 his role, Lance is able to connect with students and create a safe environment where kids feel comfortable discussing information that would generally make them feel otherwise. He is also able to keep the audience entertained with both knowledgeable content and an appropriate amount of humor.